Today’s Artwork of the Week might not technically be considered a work of art, but it is in an art museum, so let’s go with it.
This is a sesando from the Javanese people from the Timor Island of Indonesia. A sesando is a musical instrument–a string zither. If you look closely at the picture, you can see the strings run the length and circumference of the bamboo tube in the center. I think it also looks small in the picture than it actually is. The height of the instrument is nearly 2 feet (22in/56cm) tall.
Before reading further, think about what you think this might sound like. If you are with your kids, ask them to imagine the sound it might make.
The musician uses both hands to play this kind of like a harp. The left hand plucks the treble strings while the right hand plays the bass. The pitch can be adjusted with the pegs and bridges (Source: Met Museum).
The instrument is used in special ceremonies like weddings and funerals, and the Javanese believe that it carries special powers.
See a video below of a man playing a sesando. He is playing this solo in a tourism environment, but the sesandos traditionally were used to accompany singing.
You can read more about this artwork on the Met Museum’s website, and check out this page on the Met Museum website with 17 other Oceanic musical instruments to learn about. Also, visit my post on Vanuatu slit gongs to learn about another Oceanic instrument.
If you liked this artwork, you might also like this other resources on Oceanic art: