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Name of Instrument: kasso

Maker / Brand:

Stearns Catalog #: 0971

Country of Origin: West Africa

Region of Origin: Africa

Instrument Category: Chordophone

Date of Fabrication:

Description: The kora is a unique harp/lute or bridged harp found particularly amont the Wolof and Mandinka tribes of Senegal and Gambia. It is usually used to accompany praise songs or narratives sung by the same performer (the griot or jali). The remaining original strings which survive in the 19th Century example seen here show that they were originally made of twisted leather. Today, kora players prefer to use nylon strings.

The instrument is held before the performer with three fingers of both hands placed on the outside of the two protruding sticks, and it is played by the thumb and forefingers inside those sticks. Tuning is accomplished by moving the leather circles along the central pole. This kora's body is covered with antelope skin. A sound hole is seen below the sticks.

Research: Stearns Staff

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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower