Gourd Folk Fiddle

Description (Brief)
This folk fiddle was made in St. Mary's County, Maryland in the 19th century by an unknown maker. This fiddle and its accompanying bow are probably from the black slave cultural tradition of the American plantation. The instrument is made with a skin top nailed to a gourd body, and was recovered from an outbuilding of a large estate in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. This folk fiddle is made of a table of hide fastened with fifty-five iron nails to the gourd body which has two “slit” soundholes, neck of walnut with pegbox and four ash pegs, and a hardwood fingerboard and bone nut. The bow made for the fiddle is modeled after classical bow design.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
19th century
Physical Description
gourd (body material)
walnut (neck material)
skin (table material)
iron (nails material)
overall: 23 3/4 in x 6 in x 6 in; 60.325 cm x 15.24 cm x 15.24 cm
overall: 23 3/4 in x 5 7/8 in x 6 in; 60.325 cm x 14.9225 cm x 15.24 cm
Place Made
United States: Maryland, Saint Marys county
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
African American
Music & Musical Instruments
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Additional Media

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