The marímbula, (also marímbola), is an African-derived folk instrument found across the Caribbean. Large enough for its player to sit on, this instrument consists of a large, resonating box with metal strips that are plucked to provide a simple bass accompaniment. Its affordability, ease of construction, and portability (it can be strapped to its player like a marching drum), made it adaptable to many styles of folk music, from the roving aguinaldo of the Christmas season to a street-corner plena.
Description (Spanish)
La marímbula, o marímbola, es un instrumento derivado del folklore africano que puede hallarse en todo el Caribe. Es lo suficientemente grande como para que el intérprete pueda sentarse sobre él. Consiste en una caja de resonancia con flejes de metal que se puntean produciendo un simple acompañamiento de sonidos graves. Dado que se trata de un instrumento accesible, fácil de construir y de transportar (el intérprete puede colgárselo con una faja al igual que un tambor de marcha), se lo adaptó a diferentes estilos de música folclórica, desde el aguinaldo de la época navideña hasta la plena.
Currently not on view
Date made
20th century
Place Made
Puerto Rico
Physical Description
wood; metal (overall material)
wood (overall material)
metal (overall material)
overall: 45.5 cm x 67.5 cm x 19 cm; 17 15/16 in x 26 9/16 in x 7 1/2 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Teodoro Vidal
Puerto Rico
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Ethnic
Cultures & Communities
Music & Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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