Rejected Sources Series

This series of articles looks at various sources which have been claimed to represent bowed string instruments, but have been rejected. Some of these examples are quite well known, and others more obscure. In all cases we seek to explain the reasons why the source does not appear in the iconography database.

c.826 Utrecht Psalter

Once touted as the earliest depiction of bowed stringed instruments, this image has been mis-identified by many, and finally debunked by Werner Bachmann in 1964. Barry Pearce examines Bachmann's reasoning, and confirms why the source will not be added to the BSIP Iconography Database.

c.800-999, Banquet scene from hunting tableau, lacquer painting on belly of lute, Shōsōin, Nara.

Identified by Werner Bachmann, who claimed it shows an instrument being bowed. Barry Pearce provides a new perspective.

c.900-1099 Ceramic plate with k'amancha from Dvin

Mentioned in an article in 1991 following archaeological excavations, this source is said to be one of the earliest sources of bowing. Does it really represent bowing or is there another explanation? Barry Pearce re-evaluates the source and presents a new identification.

c.1100-1199 Cover of the Lothar Psalter

Identified by Werner Bachman as a bowed rote. A case of seeing things that aren't there? Barry Pearce investigates and suggests a new identification.

c.1775-1799 Watercolor of musician playing bowed qin(?)

Not a well known source, but the Metropolitan Museum of Art's given title suggests a bowed instrument. Barry Pearce investigates.