Late 19th century

Not on view

This is a French bellow’s blown bagpipe. The bag is covered with plum-colored velvet, and the bellows are upholstered in the same material. Both the bag and bellows are trimmed with multicolored passementerie, and the chanter/tenor drone stock opening is decorated with a woven ribbon adorned with multicolored tassels. The rectangular stock is characteristic of bagpipes from Central France. The red circle framed with black lines painted on the stock points to instruments made by Jean Déchaud (1829-1904) from Commentry in the Allier, France (Chassaing 2015:26-27). The pipes (melodic pipe and drones), however, seem to come from a cabrette (Blanc 1987), an instrument invented in Paris in the late eighteenth, early nineteenth century and played by diasporic musicians from the Auvergne region. As such, this seems to be a hybrid instrument, merging two popular bagpipes in practice at the time in different regions of France.

(Cassandre Balosso-Bardin, 2023)

Technical Description
Conical single wooden chanter 373 mm, 7/1 holes, 2 ventholes, double cane reed, metal staple;

2 drones, smaller in 1 section 175 mm, larger (incomplete) 224 mm, reeds missing (probably single cane reeds); single fold bellows and sheepskin bag covered with plum velvet with red, green, and white braid following seams, the bag also with red, green, and silver tassels fixed at chanter, bellows, and near drone stock;

rounded rectangular chanter stock bored with 2 holes for chanter and drone, separate stock for drone and bellows;

all stocks wood, chanter stock tipped with bone mount and painted with red open-centered circle outlined in black, bass drone with matching red/black motif;

turned decoration on chanter tenon and bell, on drone and on bellows stock;

large drone without turning but finished with ivory at end.


Bernard Blanc, 1987. Notes in instrument file #89.4.856. Musical Instrument Department Archive, New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Chassaing, Jean-François, 2015. Béchonnet et les cornemuses en France. Jenzat: Centre de recherche sur les musiques traditionnelles.

Cornemuse, Wood, bone, ivory, sheepskin, velvet, French

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