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Cither Viol

1767 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

The cither-viol or sultana, as it was also known in English, was played with a bow and usually had five pairs of wire strings or 'courses', although this example only has six single strings. It made a brief appearance in the British Isles from about 1760 until 1800, and was similar to the Northern German version of the viola d'amore, a bowed instrument with five wire strings. Thomas Perry of Dublin (1744-1818), who signed this example, is the only known maker of this type of instrument. He was also regarded as one of the best violin-makers in Ireland.

Object details

Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Planed pine soundboard with mother of pearl beading inlaid along the edges; planed sycamore back, planed ivory fingerboard and tailpiece; brass ringed tuning-pegs
Brief description
Cither viol, Irish (Dublin), with ivory finger board and tail piece, by Thomas Perry, 1767.
Physical description
"High arched belly of a single piece of pine, with "flame" holes and mother-of pearl inlay round the edges. Arch back of one piece of sycamore, with two painted black lines. Back and belly edges are flush with sides. The neck is set a little backwards and without frets. The head, with a square finial similar to that of English guitars, has six enclosed brass machines tuned by ring-shaped fingerpieces along the sides, as is also found on some English guitars. There are indications that this machine-head, though of an eighteenth century pattern, replaces original pegs. The tailpiece has an ivory slip over ebony and the fingerboard is ivory with ebony edging. Six wire strings, three steel, one brass, and two overspun." - Anthony Baines: Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard instruments. (London, 1998), p. 13.
Dimensions
  • Length: 76cm
  • Soundboard length: 36cm
  • Depth: 4.3cm
  • Upper bout width: 19cm
  • Lower bout width: 23.5cm
Marks and inscriptions
  • Made by Thos. Perry / in Christ Church / Yard Dublin 1767 (Label in ink)
  • Perry Dublin (On the button of the instrument)
Object history
This instrument formed part of the collections of Carl Engel (1818-1882) and was bought £3 - 10 - 0 (£3.50) by this Museum in 1882.
Summary
The cither-viol or sultana, as it was also known in English, was played with a bow and usually had five pairs of wire strings or 'courses', although this example only has six single strings. It made a brief appearance in the British Isles from about 1760 until 1800, and was similar to the Northern German version of the viola d'amore, a bowed instrument with five wire strings. Thomas Perry of Dublin (1744-1818), who signed this example, is the only known maker of this type of instrument. He was also regarded as one of the best violin-makers in Ireland.
Bibliographic reference
Anthony Baines: Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard instruments. (London, 1998), p. 13
Collection
Accession number
156-1882

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Record createdOctober 22, 2007
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