Byzantine lyra

The Byzantine lyra or lira (Greek: λύρα) was a medieval bowed string musical instrument in the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire. In its popular form, the lyra was a pear-shaped instrument with three to five strings, held upright and played by stopping the strings from the side with fingernails. The first known depiction of the instrument is on a Byzantine ivory casket (900–1100 AD), preserved in the Bargello in Florence (Museo Nazionale, Florence, Coll. Carrand, No.26).[1] Versions of the Byzantine lyra are still played throughout the former lands of the Byzantine Empire: Greece (Politiki lyra, lit. "lyra of the City" i.e. Constantinople), Crete (Cretan lyra), Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Croatia (Dalmatian Lijerica), Italy (Calabrian lira) and Armenia.[citation needed]

Byzantine lyra
Earliest known depiction of lyra in a Byzantine ivory casket (900 – 1100 AD). (Museo Nazionale, Florence)[1]
String instrument
Other namesByzantine lyra, lira, lūrā, Rum Kemençe, medieval fiddle, pear-shaped rebec
Hornbostel–Sachs classification321.321–71
(Necked bowl lute sounded by a bow)
Developed9th century AD
Related instruments

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