Kokle, psaltery or box zither. The triangular body is carved from a single piece of lime wood. The sound-board is of spruce with three decorated roses. The saddle holding the metal tailpiece bar and the finial are of apple wood, as is the key for turning the tuning pegs. Thirteen wire strings are attached to the tailpiece at one end and to rear-entrant sagittal tuning pegs at the other. The strings are arranged in a divergent pattern. The instrument is covered with incised decoration in traditional patterns.

The kokle is used in Latvian folk ensembles to accompany singing, and with other instruments, dancing. It has strong associations with Latvian musical heritage, and is considered by some to be the national instrument. The strings of the kokle are plucked with the fingers of the right hand, and dampened with those of the left hand. Sometimes a plectrum is used to increase the volume. It is played seated, resting on the knees or on a table.

Collection Information

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