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93/316/1 Lute (kudyapi or kusyapi), wood, Palawan, Philippines, Southeast Asia [1940-1950]. Click to enlarge.

Lute (kudyapi or kusyapi), wood, Palawan, Philippines, Southeast Asia [1940-1950]

This instrument is significant to the Museum's collection as it is representative of music making and instrument making in the Philippines, in Southeast Asia, as well as being an example of the type of instrument that traditional music is played on.

A variety of long necked plucked string lutes, which are called by different names, are found in the southern Philippines; this lute is known as a kudyapi or a kusyapi. Some can also be differentiated from particular regions by slight variations in their construction. Instruments from the island of Palawan are noted by having their frets on the front of the neck whereas lutes from other areas can have frets on the sound board. Played by plucking its two strings, one used as a drone and the other for the melody, this family of instruments is used in both solo playing and in small ensembles with zithers, flutes and fiddles.

This instrument also helps to explain the passing on of traditional techniques of instrument making and the use of local materials. More broadly the kudyapi can be used to show links between the other types of long necked plucked string instruments used in many cultural groups both within the Philippines and throughout the world. Although musical instruments from other cultures within Asia are represented in the Museum's collection they largely focus on Korea, Japan and China. This example from the Philippines, in Southeast Asia, helps to describe aspects of musical performance and the role of music in a culture outside of Australia and its role in local music-making, festivals and rituals.

Further Reading:

Corazon Canave-Dioquino; "Philippine Musical Instruments" on Philippines National Commission For Culture and the Arts website,

J Maceda, L Orosa Goquingco & LR Kasilag; "The Philippines" in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, S. Sadie (ed.) (Macmillan, London, 1980, Vol.14 pp.631-652).

Ramon P Santos; "Traditional Forms Of Music" on Philippines National Commission For Culture and the Arts website,

Michael Lea
Curator, music & musical instruments
July, 2012


Object No.


Object Statement

Lute (kudyapi or kusyapi), wood, Palawan, Philippines, Southeast Asia [1940-1950]

Physical Description

Kudyapi or kusyapi made of wood (possibly Narra, a Philippine hardwood) with a shaped soundbox with square ends and swelling sides. Carved projection at lower end and two discs of yellow plastic at lower corners of the soundbox. There is a crack in the soundbox that has been previously repaired. The removable panel with three holes at the back of the soundbox is held by two dowels. The long narrow neck has traces of a black substance (possibly a wax or resin) on its front where a series of frets were once located and which just extends onto the upper part of the body. The hook-shaped head has two tuning pegs of wood which are carved into the form of animal heads. The bridge is missing. The two metal strings have been previously repaired.


No Marks.



130 mm


180 mm


1620 mm



This instrument was made in Palawan, a group of islands forming the western part of the Visayan Archipeligo of the Philippines, in Southeast Asia. It is thought to have been about 50 years old at the time of donation so was possibly made between 1940-1950.



This instrument was once part of the private collection of the donor.


Credit Line

Gift of Ms Eva Toledo, 1993

Acquisition Date

27 August 1993

Cite this Object


Lute (kudyapi or kusyapi), wood, Palawan, Philippines, Southeast Asia [1940-1950] 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 26 November 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Lute (kudyapi or kusyapi), wood, Palawan, Philippines, Southeast Asia [1940-1950] |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=26 November 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}


This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.