Lute (shamisen) and plectrum

before 1820

Object Place: Japan


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


Medium or Technique

Persimmon wood, shitan wood, cat skin, ivory

On View

Musical Instrument Gallery (Gallery 103D)


Musical Instruments



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.


The case has various inscriptions


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