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Collection Tour

Japanese Musical Instruments

  • The MFA’s Musical Instruments Collection contains over 1,100 examples from around the world, ranging from ancient times to the twenty-first century. Explore a selection of Japanese instruments from the Museum’s holdings.

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  • Rattle (shakujo)

    19th century

    Object Place: Japan

    Description

    Provenance

    Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945), Hatfield Regis, England; 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1916, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 5, 1916)

    Credit Line

    Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 29.2 cm, width 6.7 cm (Length 11 1/2 in., width 2 5/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    17.2162

    Medium or Technique

    Wood, brass

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Idiophones

    More Info
  • Barrel drum (taiko)

    19th century

    Object Place: Japan

    Description

    Inscription

    In ink on body: [several Japanese characters]

    Provenance

    Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945), Hatfield Regis, England; 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1916, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 5, 1916)

    Credit Line

    Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    Height 9.2 cm, diameter 19.7 cm (Height 3 5/8 in., diameter 7 3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    17.2148

    Medium or Technique

    Wood, animal skin

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Membranophones

    More Info
  • End-blown flute (shakuhachi)

    19th century

    Object Place: Japan

    Description

    Provenance

    Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945), Hatfield Regis, England; 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1916, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 5, 1916)

    Credit Line

    Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 58.1 cm, diameter 5.5 cm (Length 22 7/8 in., diameter 2 3/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    17.2154

    Medium or Technique

    Bamboo

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • End-blown flute (shakuhachi)

    probably 1930s
    Yamaguchi Shiro (Japanese, 1885–1963)

    Object Place: Tokyo, Japan

    Description

    Music: Asa Kaze (“Morning Breeze”) by Nakao Tozan, 1938 (performed by Mary Ellen Miller)

    Markings

    Two stamps, one on each section, of name [Shiro]

    Provenance

    By the 1930s, sold by the maker to a wealthy family whose son was studying with him; after their son's death (sometime after World War II), by descent to his family; 2003, sold by a member of the family to an antiques dealer specializing in vintage shakuhachi, Yokohama, Japan; 2003, sold by the antiques dealer to John Singer, Hawaii; 2004, sold by Singer to the MFA. (Accession Date: March 24, 2004)

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated by William and Deborah Elfers

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 55 cm (21 5/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    2004.130

    Medium or Technique

    Bamboo

    On View

    Musical Instrument Gallery (Gallery 103D)

    Collections

    Asia, Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Transverse flute (ryuteki)

    early 20th century

    Object Place: Japan

    Description

    Cylindrical body of dark bamboo wrapped with wisteria bark (?). Wrapped in two upper sections and between the seven finger-holes. Heavily lacquered on inside with red.

    Provenance

    Before 1984, sold by Bill Gribbon, Greenfield, Massachusetts, to Douglas Deihl, Northampton, Massachusetts; 1984, sold by Deihl to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 13, 1984)

    Credit Line

    Helen and Alice Colburn Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 41.4 cm, diameter 2.4 cm (Length 16 5/16 in., diameter 15/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    1984.280

    Medium or Technique

    Bamboo, wisteria bark

    On View

    Musical Instrument Gallery (Gallery 103D)

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Transverse flute (ryuteki)

    19th century

    Object Place: Japan

    Description

    Provenance

    Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945), Hatfield Regis, England; 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1916, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 5, 1916)

    Credit Line

    Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 38.2 cm, diameter 2.2 cm (Length 15 1/16 in., diameter 7/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    17.2158

    Medium or Technique

    Bamboo

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Transverse flute (shinobue)

    19th century

    Object Place: Japan

    Description

    Provenance

    Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945), Hatfield Regis, England; 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1916, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 5, 1916)

    Credit Line

    Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 46.2 cm, diameter 2.1 cm (Length 18 3/16 in., diameter 13/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    17.2080

    Medium or Technique

    Bamboo

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Oboe (hichiriki)

    19th century

    Object Place: Japan

    Description

    Provenance

    Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945), Hatfield Regis, England; 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1916, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 5, 1916)

    Credit Line

    Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 21.8 cm, diameter 2 cm (Length 8 9/16 in., diameter 13/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    17.2156

    Medium or Technique

    Bamboo, wood bark

    On View

    Musical Instrument Gallery (Gallery 103D)

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Mouth organ (sho)

    1715
    Fujiwara Masaoki (Japanese, active early 18th century)

    Object Place: Yawata, Japan

    Description

    Wind chamber of gold-lacquered wood, decorated with chrysanthemum blossoms. Short, elliptical mouthpiece, covered at end with plate of silver. Seventeen pipes of bamboo, three with finials of silver, all held in place by ring of silver.

    Inscription

    Inscriptions on one of the pipes indicate that the instrument was made in 1715, apparently by a Shinto priest, of the rank of Negi, named Fujiwara Masaoki for the Iwashimizu Shrine.

    Provenance

    Before 2002, sold by source unidentified, Japan, to a gentleman; by 2002, gift of the family of a gentleman to Steven Wayne, Newburyport, Massachusetts; 2002, sold by Wayne to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 26, 2002)

    Credit Line

    Foster Charitable Fund, Samuel Putnam Avery Fund, Frank M. and Mary T.B. Ferrin Fund, John Wheelock Elliot and John Morse Elliot Fund, Alice M. Bartlett Fund, and Joyce Arnold Rusoff Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Height 49.5 cm, diameter 7.2 cm (Height 19 1/2 in., diameter 2 13/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    2002.136

    Medium or Technique

    Wood, bamboo, silver, lacquer

    On View

    Musical Instrument Gallery (Gallery 103D)

    Collections

    Asia, Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Deer call (ippaki ni)

    Ainu people
    19th century

    Object Place: Japan

    Description

    Provenance

    Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945), Hatfield Regis, England; 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1916, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 5, 1916)

    Credit Line

    Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 9 cm, width 7 cm, depth 1.6 cm (Length 3 9/16 in., width 2 3/4 in., depth 5/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    17.2157

    Medium or Technique

    Wood, animal skin

    Not On View

    Collections

    Asia, Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Shell trumpet (hora)

    19th century

    Object Place: Japan

    Description

    Provenance

    Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945), Hatfield Regis, England; 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1916, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 5, 1916)

    Credit Line

    Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 38.5 cm, width 21 cm, depth 14 cm (Length 15 3/16 in., width 8 1/4 in., depth 5 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    17.2161

    Medium or Technique

    Seashell, silk cord

    On View

    Musical Instrument Gallery (Gallery 103D)

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Zither (koto)

    19th century

    Object Place: Japan

    Description

    Music: Rokudan no Shirabe (“Composition in Six Movements”) by Yatsuhashi Kengyo, mid-1600s (performed by Ayakano Cathleen Read on a koto made by Yoshida, Tokyo, 1974)

    Provenance

    2005, gift of the New England Conservatory to the MFA. (Accession Date: April 27, 2005)

    Credit Line

    Gift of the New England Conservatory of Music

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 190.9 cm, width 25 cm, height 15.7 cm (Length 75 3/16 in in., width 9 13/16 in., height 6 3/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    2005.212

    Medium or Technique

    Paulownia and other woods, lacquer work, tortoiseshell, ivory, silver

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Chordophones

    More Info
  • Zither (koto)

    19th century

    Object Place: Japan

    Description

    Provenance

    Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945), Hatfield Regis, England; 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1916, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 5, 1916)

    Credit Line

    Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 162.4 cm, width 24.2 cm, height 7.3 cm (Length 63 15/16 in., width 9 1/2 in., height 2 7/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    17.2149

    Medium or Technique

    Paulownia wood

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Chordophones

    More Info
  • Miniature zither (koto)

    19th century

    Object Place: Japan

    Description

    Provenance

    Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945), Hatfield Regis, England; 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1916, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 5, 1916)

    Credit Line

    Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 53.8 cm, width 11.2 cm, height 8 cm (Length 21 3/16 in., width 4 7/16 in., height 3 1/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    17.2150

    Medium or Technique

    Kiri wood, tortoiseshell, ivory, silver

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Chordophones

    More Info
  • Zither (nigenkin)

    late 19th century

    Object Place: Japan

    Description

    Inscription

    In ink on underside: [three? Japanese characters]; paper label on underside: [several? Japanese characters]

    Provenance

    Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945), Hatfield Regis, England; 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1916, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 5, 1916)

    Credit Line

    Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 109 cm, width 12.4 cm, depth 4.5 cm (Length 42 15/16 in., width 4 7/8 in., depth 1 3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    17.2159

    Medium or Technique

    Bamboo

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Chordophones

    More Info
  • Lute (biwa)

    19th century

    Object Place: Japan

    Description

    Probably a gakubiwa.

    Provenance

    2005, gift of the New England Conservatory to the MFA. (Accession Date: April 27, 2005)

    Credit Line

    Gift of the New England Conservatory of Music

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 105 cm, width 40.3 cm, depth 7 cm (Length 41 5/16 in., width 15 7/8 in., depth 2 3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    2005.204

    Medium or Technique

    Shitan wood, leather

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Chordophones

    More Info
  • Lute (shamisen) and plectrum (bachi)

    19th century

    Object Place: Japan

    Description

    Inscription

    In ink on spike: [stamp] / [three Japanese characters]; paper label on inside of body: [three Japanese characters]; in ink on inside of body and at join of neck: [single Japanese character]

    Provenance

    Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945), Hatfield Regis, England; 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1916, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 5, 1916)

    Credit Line

    Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 98 cm, width 22.2 cm, depth 9.8 cm (Length 38 9/16 in., width 8 3/4 in., depth 3 7/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    17.2152a-b

    Medium or Technique

    Shitan wood, cat skin

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Chordophones

    More Info
  • Lute (shamisen) and plectrum

    before 1820

    Object Place: Japan

    Description

    Lacquerd hardwood body; neck and pegboard carved from one solid piece. Sides of body, base of neck, and back of pegboard decorated with various outdoor scences. At bottom of the body is metal plate in figure of boat, around which woven silk tailpiece is hooked. Belly and back of catskin. Includes tortoiseshell plectrum, cloth cover, and original hardwood case with various inscriptions.

    Inscription

    The case has various inscriptions

    Provenance

    By May 1820, Matsudaira, Lord of Shinano Province, present-day Nagano Prefecture, Japan. By 1992, sold by Hinata Antiques, Tokyo, Japan, to Tony Bingham, London, England; 1992, sold by Bingham to the MFA. (Accession Date: March 25, 1992)

    Credit Line

    Frederick Brown Fund and William Lindsey Fund, by exchange

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 96 cm, width 19.4 cm, depth 8.8 cm (Length 37 13/16 in., width 7 5/8 in., depth 3 7/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    1992.62a-b

    Medium or Technique

    Persimmon wood, shitan wood, cat skin, ivory

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Chordophones

    More Info
    Multimedia
    • audio

      MIAudio141.mp3

  • Plectrum (bachi) for lute (shamisen)

    19th century

    Object Place: Japan

    Description

    Provenance

    1992, sold by Hinata Antiques, Tokyo, Japan, to Tony Bingham, London, England; 1992, sold by Bingham to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 22, 1992)

    Credit Line

    Musical Instruments Curator's Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 21.2 cm, width 8.2 cm, thickness 2.2 cm (Length 8 3/8 in., width 3 1/4 in., thickness 7/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    1992.8

    Medium or Technique

    Ivory

    On View

    Musical Instrument Gallery (Gallery 103D)

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Accessories

    More Info
  • Fiddle (kokyu) and bow

    19th century

    Object Place: Japan

    Description

    Inscription

    In ink inside body: [three Japanese characters]

    Provenance

    Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945), Hatfield Regis, England; 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1916, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 5, 1916)

    Credit Line

    Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 67.7 cm, width 14.1 cm, depth 6.7 cm (Length 26 5/8 in., width 5 9/16 in., depth 2 5/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    17.2151a-b

    Medium or Technique

    Red sandalwood, cat skin, lacquer work

    On View

    Ann and Graham Gund Gallery (Gallery LG31)

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Chordophones

    More Info

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