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Images from The Beede Gallery

Pair of Shawms (Rgya Gling), Tibet, Late 19th Century

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NMM 2584 A/B.  Pair of shawms (rgya gling), Tibet, late 19th century.

NMM 2584 A/B.  Pair of shawms (rgya gling), Tibet, late 19th century. Double-reed woodwind instrument with hardwood body and copper and brass bell. Blue- and red-colored glass embellishments. Acts as primary melodic voice in monastic ensemble playing. Pirouette facilitates the technique of circular breathing, which allows musicians to play extended passages. Board of Trustees, 1979.

Tibetan ensemble

Postcard image of a group of Tibetan musicians, ca. 1905-1920


Views of the Pirouette With and Without Metal Disc in Place

Front of pirouette Three-quarter view of pirouette

The rgya gling's double reeds are made from a single stem of marsh grass, folded and creased sharply, then rounded at the upper end. The player's entire mouth is placed around the reed, but does not touch it; rather, the lips are pressed against the flat metal disc below the reed, which facilitates circular breathing.


Image of a Procession Including Pair of Shawms, From an Undated Postcard

Procession with shawms


Front, Back, and Side Views of the Bell

Front of bell Back of bell Side of bell


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. 28.

Thomas E. Cross, Instruments of Burma, India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, M.M. Thesis, University of South Dakota, May 1983, p. 71, plate XXVI.

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Most recent update:   October 9, 2010

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