Mayuri (peacock), 19th century
Wood, parchment, metal, feathers; L. 44 in. (112 cm)
The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889 (89.4.163)
Popular at nineteenth-century Indian courts, this bowed lute borrows features of other Indian stringed instruments, such as the body shape of the sarangi and the frets and neck of the sitar. There are four melody strings and fifteen sympathetic strings, which sound when the instrument is played to accompany popular religious song. The peacock is the vehicle of Sarasvati, the goddess of music, and it appears in Indian poetry as a metaphor for courtship.