From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The saung, also known as the saung-gauk or the Burmese harp, is an arched harp used in traditional Burmese music. It is regarded as the national musical instrument of Myanmar. It was possibly introduced as early as 500 AD from southeastern India, based on archaeological evidence of Burmese temple reliefs that depict a long-necked harp similar to depictions found in Bengal. The earliest evidence of the saung itself is at the Bawbawgyi Pagoda near present-day Prome. At that site, there is a mid-600s sculptured relief depicting the arched harp with about five strings, appearing with musicians and a dancer. It has survived continuously since that time, and has been mentioned in many texts, pictorial representations and Bagan temples. Burmese chronicles describe harps in ceremonial ensembles at medieval Pagan, and female harpists who performed for royals. This 19th-century saung is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.Photograph credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art