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Peacock-shaped Mayuri from India

NMM 2903.  Mayuri, northern India, 19th century

NMM 2903.   Long-necked lute (mayuri), India, 19th century. A peacock-shaped, bowed instrument that was popular in the Indian courts of the 19th century. Moveable, arched metal frets and parchment belly. Wood body carved and decorated to represent a peacock, including an actual peacock bill and feathers. The mayuri, or peacock, is a symbol of India; it is associated with Saraswati, the goddess of music; and, is also a symbol of courtship. Sixteen frets, four melody strings, and fifteen sympathetic strings. The mayuri is tuned and played like the esraj from which it is derived. Ex coll.: Clifford A. Allanson, Delmar, New York. Purchase funds gift of Lydia and Edwin Downie, Hamilton, New York, 1981.

Front, Top, and Bottom Views

Click on images below to see larger views

Front view
Top view

Bottom view

Details of the Peacock Head, Hitch Pins, and Body

Side of crest, view 1 Side of crest, view 2

Side of peacock's head, view 1 Side of head, view 2 Side of peacock's head, view 3

Front of mayuri head Back of mayuri head Side of head, view 1 Side of head, view 2

Hitch pins Detail of a hitch pin

Top of soundboard
Bottom of mayuri
Right side wing


Restoration of Peacock-shaped Mayuri Head

Detail of peacock head on mayuri
Restoration of Museum's mayuri

Restoration of the hand-painted peacock required many hours of delicate, tedious inpainting in the NMM's Conservation Laboratory to return the instrument to its former splendor.

Details of the Pegbox, Nut, Frets, and Decoration on Neck

Pegbox Nut Frets Lower end of neck


Bridge Bridge, close-up

Literature:  Thomas E. Cross, Instruments of Burma, India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, The Shrine to Music Museum Catalog of the Collections, Vol. II, André P. Larson, editor (Vermillion: The Shrine to Music Museum, 1982), p. 12.

Thomas E. Cross, Instruments of Burma, India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, M.M. Thesis, University of South Dakota, May 1983, p. 26, plate IX.

"Behind the Scenes . . . The Art of the Conservator," Shrine to Music Museum, Inc. Newsletter 9, No. 4 (July 1982), pp. 1, 3-4.

André P. Larson, The National Music Museum:  A Pictorial Souvenir (Vermillion: National Music Museum, 1988), pp. 9 and 29.

Ido Abravaya, Music at First Sight II: Musical Instruments (Ramat-Aviv, Israel: The Open University of Israel, 2006), front cover.

Ted Muenster, "South Dakota's Shrine to Music," Prairie Fire 3, No. 4 (April 2009): 14.

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A postcard of the Mayuri is available from the Gift Shop

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Most recent update:   December 6, 2013

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