Lute (sarasvati vina)

19th century

Object Place: Probably Karnataka, India


Length 110 cm, width 29 cm, depth 30 cm (Length 43 5/16 in., 11 7/16 in., depth 11 13/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Jackfruit wood, gourd, silver, ivory

Not On View


Musical Instruments



Hemispherical jackfruit wood body with integral neck and flat belly. Inlaid ivory in foliate design flanked by two carved mother-of-pearl flowers, at upper end of belly. Ivory strips with incised floral decoration along upper edges of body and neck, and outer edges of belly. Silver plaque with chased foliate decoration and two lions rampant, screwed to end of body. Large gourd with silver ferrule at top with chased foliate decoration, attached to neck with threaded iron bolt and nut. Pegbox terminates in carved dragon head with ivory eyes and teeth. Four bilateral turned wood tuning pegs, with ivory heads, in pegbox. Three later lateral turned wood tuning pegs, with white painted heads, in bass side of neck. Twenty-four cylindrical brass frets set in mixture of wax and lamp-black along raised ledges atop neck. Areas inside pegbox and below frets painted red. Brass nut and string holder. Carved and incised ivory bench-shaped bridge with brass cap on top and arc for side strings.


Before 1995, apparently found in a music school, Calcutta, India, and sold to a dealer in the Soho District, New York; by 1995, sold by New York dealer to Joseph Peknik, III, New York; 1995, sold by Peknik to the MFA. (Accession Date: May 24, 1995)

Credit Line

Edwin E. Jack Fund