Lamellaphone (likembe)

Unknown people
19th century

Object Place: Democratic Republic of the Congo


Length 16.1 cm, width 8.6 cm, depth 3.2 cm (Length 6 5/16 in., width 3 3/8 in., depth 1 1/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood, iron

Not On View


Musical Instruments



One-piece box-shaped body of hollowed-out wood with cut-out section on back of top end and separate strip of wood on left side closing resonating chamber. Four randomly placed domed brass tacks on soundtable. Squarish soundhole (10 x 10 mm) at center of back and semicircular soundhole (15 x 8 mm) at center of bottom end. Ten lamellae of iron held in place by iron straining bar tied down with strips of cane. Backrest of wood capped by strip of cane. U-shaped bridge of iron, the ends tied with braided cloth cord strung alternately with cowrie shells and glass beads (blue, green, and black).


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