Paul's Guitar Museum

9. Guitar-shaped Lute

guitar-lute, 1st centuary AD
Central-Asian guitar-shaped lute: detail of a frieze (1st centuary AD) from Airtam, near Termez, Uzbekistan (Hermitage Museum, Leningrad)

The earliest occurrence of the guitar shape in a short-necked lute was in central Asia shortly after the beginning of the Christian era (<<< see picture). At this time central Asian lutes were of many kinds; the guitar shape is found in examples dating from 1st to 4th century. The type is not met again until its appearance (as a bowed instrument) in Byzantine miniatures of the 11th century. From this time the guitar form was similarly depicted in medieval iconography, but it is notably absent in the many plucked lutes of the Middle Ages. From "The New GROVE Dictionary of Music and Musicians", Guitar: Origins, Vol.7, p.827 © 1980 Macmillan

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