On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 681

Derived from the Chinese sanxian, the shamisen is used for narrative songs, Bunraku (puppet theater), Kabuki (drama), and koto chamber music, where it is called sangen. Although modern versions often use plastic, the shamisen’s belly was traditionally made of dog- or catskin, and different sizes appear in specific genres. Purely soloistic interludes (ai-no-te) are played between sections of nagauta (love songs).

Shamisen, Wood, cloth, skin, Japanese

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