Crna Gora, the middle of the 19th century
cutting, turning, carving
length = 91 cm
body = 16 x 30,5 cm
length of the neck = 55,6 cm
length of the bow = 44,3 cm
The Collection of Musical instruments by Franjo Ksaver Kuhač
According to the information available from Kuhač’s writings, we are talking aboutthese are gusle from Montenegro, made out of two pieces of wood, joined together by a tin sheath. The neck ends with a carved out shape: a man astride a horse. A tuning peg is inserted into the neck, and a string is attached to it (missing in this case). The resonant body is made of wood, and is covered by a wooden board on which several tiny holes are bored. The wooden neck and resonant box are richly decorated with carvings. The sound is obtained by pulling a bow over the strings. The bow is made of one single piece of curved and processed wood, and strings are made of horsehair, and tied at both ends of wood bow by rope.
These gusle were painted for Kuhač’s work “Appendix for the history of music…” by the Czech painter Zverina who published his work in 1874 in the Czech magazine “Svetozor”. In addition to carvings, the gusle are adorned with tin.
“People take care of these precious old gusle with respect, and will not sell them at any price; also, they consider such gusle, decorated with various symbols and ancient markings and other handiwork, as important as charters which testify to the alleged noble ancestry of their owners.” (Kuhač 1877: 6)