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date: 27 January 2020


  • Gini Gorlinski


Lute of the Iban people of Sarawak, Malaysia, and the Maloh group of peoples in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. It was rare in the late 19th century and virtually unknown by the 21st. The resonator and integral, unfretted neck are carved from a single block of wood. The neck constitutes up to nearly two-thirds of the instrument’s total length of roughly 80 to 90 cm. The resonator is hollowed from the top and covered with a thin wood soundtable, perforated with several small soundholes. The end of the neck is often ornamented with the carved head—sometimes including the preserved beak—of a hornbill, a bird emblematic of Iban culture.

The belikan has two strings, made of rattan, that pass through small holes in the neck to two tuning pegs, which pierce the neck laterally. At the other end, the strings are affixed to two small pieces of wood that are inserted into a wooden block raised from the soundtable. The left hand fingered a melody against the neck of the instrument, while the fingers of the right hand plucked or strummed the strings....

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