Saung’ means harp and ‘gauk’ means bent, which is what this instrument literally is, a bent harp. The body of this harp, which is made out of carved wood is boat shaped and lacquered with the effect of black gloss. The wooden arch is made from the central root of the ‘acacia’ tree. A strip of deerskin has been stretched across the open top of the instrument to act as a vibrating membrane. There are two sound holes either side of the bridge and the deerskin has been ornately decorated with fig motifs in inlaid glass. The instrument has thirteen strings, which would have originally been made of hand-twisted silk. The long curved neck sits on the musicians left shoulder. There is another harp in the collection, (accession number: 290/1911, 19th Century, Burma, donor C.E. Pitman), but its condition requires attention. Harp 50/1925 can also be dated to 19th/20th Century.

The harp is the mainstay of Burmese chamber music and in the days of the Burmese kings was the most popular instrument in the palace. A similar example can be seen in the Laura Boulton Collection, Indiana University, U.S.A. (www.indiana/edu/mathers/collections/music/burma).
Accession Loan No.
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Musical instruments
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musical instrument
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wood; pigment; glass; mirror glass
Collection Area Region
Collection Continent

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