Apache Fiddle

Description (Brief)
This Apache Fiddle was made by Chesley Goseyun Wilson in Tuscon, Arizona in 1989. Honored with a National Heritage Fellowship Award in July 1989, Chesley Wilson crafted this instrument for presentation to the Smithsonian Institution. The tsii'edo'a'tl (Apache for "wood that sings") is
typically made from the agave plant and is also called ki'zh ki'zh di'hi (buzz buzz sound), which fairly describes its musical properties. It is used in social settings, especially for ceremonial and love songs.
Early documentation of the Apache fiddle is unclear. It may be aboriginal in design or modeled after European violins introduced through Spanish influence in the 19th century. While early examples (before 1920) are commonly ornamented with simple red and black geometric designs, more recent makers have incorporated more intricate and colorful decoration as seen in Chesley Wilson's work. An extensive collection of Apache fiddles is housed in the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History (Department of Anthropology) and Museum of the American Indian.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Wilson, Chesley Goseyun
overall: 17 1/2 in x 4 3/4 in; 44.45 cm x 12.065 cm
overall: 18 in x 5 3/4 in x 4 3/4 in; 45.72 cm x 14.605 cm x 12.065 cm
Place Made
United States: Arizona, Tucson
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Music & Musical Instruments
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Chesley Goseyun Wilson
Additional Media

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