Stringed Instrument thumbnail 1
Stringed Instrument thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
South Asia Gallery, Room 41

Stringed Instrument

19th century (made)

Musical instrument (tanpura) with keys for four strings.

Object details

Object type
Materials and techniques
Painted wood, inlaid with darker wood and ivory.
Brief description
tamburi (4 wood pegs); Musical, wood ivory, painted, Gwalior India, C19
Physical description
Musical instrument (tanpura) with keys for four strings.
  • Height: 93.3cm
  • Width: 34.2cm
  • Depth: 190mm
  • Diameter: 15.8cm
Gallery label
TAMBURA Painted wood and ivory with metal strings and rosewood pegs Possibly South India; acquired in Pune, Maharashtra, or Shivpuri, near Gwalior 1850-95 IM.238-1922 Given by Mrs Biddulph in accordance with the wishes of the late Colonel John Biddulph (1840-1922) The tambura is a plucked drone instrument used to accompany instrumental or vocal performances. This unusually small example is so profusely decorated it may have been made for display or for use at court. The front features images of the Hindu deities Ganesha, Rama, Sita, Hanuman and Lakshmana. On the back, Krishna dancing with the gopis (cow-girls) is flanked by four figures including Shiva, Brahma and the sage Narada.(15/09/2015)
Credit line
Given by Mrs Biddulph in accordance with the wishes of the late Colonel John Biddulph
Object history
This collection of Indian, Japanese and Persian arms and armour was formed by Colonel John Biddulph, a British soldier and military historian who had served in the political department of the government of British India including as Resident at the court of the Gaekwads of Baroda. [Letter from Colonel David Philips Chapman on behalf of Mrs Biddulph, RP 643-1922, John Biddulph (Mrs Julia) Nominal File, MA/1/B1370] The items were also acquired by the Department of Metalwork at the time. [RP, 3044-1922, John Biddulph (Mrs Julia) Nominal File, MA/1/B1370]

Given by Mrs Biddulph in accordance with the wishes of the late Colonel John Biddulph. This acquisition information reflects that found in the Museum records (Asia Department registers and/or Central Inventory) as part of a 2023 provenance research project.

R.P. 1922- 3043
Probably made in Sipri, Gwalior State, Central India
Bibliographic references
  • Skelton, Robert, et al, The Indian Heritage. Court life and Arts under Mughal Rule London: The Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982 cat. 565, p. 165
  • Jackson, Anna and Ji Wei (eds.) with Rosemary Crill, Ainsley M. Cameron and Nicholas Barnard, compiled by the Palace Museum, translated by Yuan Hong, Qi Yue and Liu Ran. The Splendour of India' Royal Courts : Collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Beijing: the Forbidden City Publishing House, 2013. Text in English and Chinese. ISBN 9787513403917. pps.82 and 83
Accession number

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Record createdJune 25, 2009
Record URL
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