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94/3/1 Zither, tube, idiochord, bamboo / cotton / glass, probably made by T'boli or Bagobo people people, Midanao, Philippines, 1940-1970. Click to enlarge.

Filipino Zither

This tube zither is representative of music making and instrument making in the Philippines, in Southeast Asia, and as an example of the instruments that traditional music is played on. The tube zither is widespread throughout the Philippines and is known by many names. It is used in a variety of contexts from individual music making to accompanying songs and dances at more public events such as weddings. It is also sometimes played in conjunction with long necked lutes such as the kudyapi and …


Object No.


Object Statement

Zither, tube, idiochord, bamboo / cotton / glass, probably made by T'boli or Bagobo people people, Midanao, Philippines, 1940-1970

Physical Description

Hollow tube cut from a length of bamboo. The upper node is pierced with a sound hole. Six bamboo strips are cut from, and raised above six lengthwise grooves in the tube. These strips are held in place by bands of platted fabric at each end of the tube and are raised by short, narrow strips of cane acting as movable bridges. Each end of the tube is decorated with a band of woven fabric ornamented with glass beads in various colours, yellow, white, red, blue and black. There is loop of woven fabric attached to the top end, to hang the instrument from a strap or hook.


No marks.



Probably of the T'boli people or Bagobo people of the Philippines in the Southeast Asian region. The zither was made between 1940 and 1970, using traditional techniques and locally available materials, although the glass bead ornamentation on this particular example is unusual.



This is a folk instrument common to many cultures in the Southeast Asian region, including the Philippines, Bali, Borneo, Burma, India and Thailand. In many of these cultures the tube zither is a woman's instrument. In the Philippines, tube zithers are used in various musical contexts, to accompany ceremonies, singing, chanting and dancing. This exmple was purchased by the vendor in the Philippines in 1979.


Credit Line

Purchased 1994

Acquisition Date

11 January 1994

Cite this Object


Filipino Zither 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 13 May 2021, <https://ma.as/141324>


{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/141324 |title=Filipino Zither |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=13 May 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}