lute

Biwa.  prior to 1876, Japan.  Wood, laquer, gold inlay.  

This biwa is very beautifully decorated by black lacquer and gold hiramakie on the sides and back of its body. On the back are asymmetrically arranged circular medaillons with flowers and tendrils in finely worked gold inlay. On the sides the gold inlay depicts minutely carved insects in a very vivid and realistic manner.  The biwa is a short-necked lute with a bent neck, a pear-shaped body, two crescent-shaped resonance holes, four frets, and four strings which are plucked with a plectrum. Weltmuseum Wien, Austria.