Ukulele is of German origin…

The Buckingham Post of 9 December 1938 told the locals that the ukulele was not of Hawaiian origin after all.  It found its way to Honolulu via Portuguese sailors a while back, and the natives liked it. But further back, the Portuguese apparently sneaked it from the Germans. This revelation came via the Royal Library at Stuttgart, where drawings and descriptions of a uke-like instrument have been found dating back to AD 1180. 

I don’t know if I buy that view — maybe the Germans modelled their ancient uke on the Chinese Zhong Ruan which seems to date from the Qin dynasty (221-207 BC). But then again, maybe I invented it and used a time machine to give the impression that its origins were ancient and mysterious … curiouser and curiouser.

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Published in: on October 28, 2010 at 5:32 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. The Zhong Ruan looks a lot like a banjo uke and the Pi Pa is more like a Fluke uke. How did you find that interesting website of Chinese instruments I wonder. Seriously though, there was, you’ll remember, a late medieval guitar precursor that seemed very uke-like.


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