African-American Banjo

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Description (Brief)
This banjo was made by an unknown maker in the United States around 1835-1865. It has undergone considerable scrutiny and analysis at the Smithsonian because of its attribution to American slave origins. So far, studies have been inconclusive. While the sun design carved on the body may have African origins, the polygonal shape, wood top (instead of a skin), and carved head pegbox lie outside the traditions of banjos brought to America by Africans. Nevertheless, the instrument was likely made by someone familiar with Black culture.
Location
Currently not on view
subject
African American
Blacks
National Museum of American History
Credit Line
Gift of Robert S. Jamieson
Physical Description
wood (part material)
metal (part material)
Measurements
overall: 31 in x 10 in x 3 1/2 in; 78.74 cm x 25.4 cm x 8.89 cm
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Banjos
place made
United States
1835-1865
Object Name
banjo
ID Number
1990.0164.01
accession number
1990.0164
catalog number
1990.0164.01