Name: Biwa.
Type: Chordophones > Composites > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.321.6
Era: Nara Period [710-794].
Country: Japan.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The term biwa [琵琶] applies to a series of similar shaped bowl lutes whose lineage is descendant from the Chinese Pipa. The biwa is the chosen instrument of Benten. The goddess of music, eloquence, poetry and education in Japanese Buddhism.

History: The biwa is said to have to have been introduced into Japan from China originally in the form of the Chinese pipa during the Nara period [710-794] in the 7th century. It ordinated from the Oud or barbat from in Persia.

This type of biwa is called the gaku-biwa it was used in gagaku ensembles and it was the most commonly known type. While the route of introduction is unclear, another type of biwa found its to the Kyushu region. This type of biwa is called [moso-biwa or kojin-biwa] it was used in ceremonies and religious rights.

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