Gaita Asturiana


late 19th century

Not on view

The single-droned gaita is a large family of bagpipes played across Portugal, Asturias, Northern Zamora and Western Cantabria (Carpinteiro 2010). The bagpipes vary slightly across the regions, and each have developed slightly different sonorities and repertoires. This mouthblown bagpipe, from the second half of the 19th century, is an Asturian gaita with one drone and one melodic pipe. Asturian bagpipes are played with closed fingering, a distinctive use of this Western type of bagpipe. According to gaita maker Cristóbal Prieto, the insufflation pipe is turned in an Asturian fashion, as is the drone.

This instrument was bought in 1904 from Ad. Gutsche in Berlin. In the summer of that year, Mary Elizabeth Brown corresponded with Gutsche, who wrote that this ‘Spanish bagpipe’ was built around the year 1868 (Gutsche 1904). The mouthblown bagpipe is made of boxwood and has a melodic pipe and one drone. It is covered with a red bag, a common colour on early bagpipes from Western Iberia, which is laced with brown shoelaces, and trimmed with a woven band, adorned with red and yellow pompons. The melodic pipe stock is covered with a black fringe, and the drones are adorned with blue tassels. These types of decorations are still in use to this day.

(Cassandre Balosso-Bardin, August 2023)

Technical description

Conical single chanter of boxwood 340 mm, 7/1 holes, 3 ventholes, 2 lateral and 12 higher in back, reed missing (typically cane double reed with metal staple);

1 boxwood drone in 3 sections 803 mm, tuning slides, single upcut cane reed;

blow-pipe 176 mm, leather flapper valve;

Goat or deerskin bag covered with red cloth with red and yellow ball fringe, and black fringe at changer stock;

3 cylindrical stocks;

chanter and stocks with grooved tuning, blowpipe and drone with elaborate fluting.


Carpinteiro, 2010. ‘Gaitas de Fol Sinxela’, Consello da Cultura Galega, [last consulted August 24, 2023].

Gutsche, Ad. 1904. Letter to Mary Elizabeth Brown (N.D.). Musical Instrument Department Archives, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gaita Asturiana, Wood, goat- or deerskin, leather, cloth, Spanish

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