World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0000766675
Reproduction Date:

Title: Kanklės  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Gusli, Plucked string instrument, Kokle, Baltic psaltery, Kantele
Collection: Box Zithers, Lithuanian Musical Instruments
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Kanklės of the Žemaitija regional style

The kanklės (pronounced ) is a Lithuanian plucked string musical instrument (chordophone), of the zither family. The instrument is similar in construction and origin to the Latvian kokle, Russian gusli, Estonian kannel and Finnish kantele.


  • Construction 1
  • Playing 2
  • Regional types 3
    • Northeastern Aukštaitija 3.1
    • Žemaitija and Northwestern Aukštaitija 3.2
    • Suvalkija and Northwestern Žemaitija 3.3
  • External links 4
  • References 5


The body of the kanklės is constructed of one trapezoidal piece of hardwood, hollowed out to make a cavity. A thin sheet of softwood (usually spruce) is used to make a sounding board, which covers the body. Sound holes, which traditionally take the shape of a stylized flower or star, are cut into the sounding board, allowing sound to project outward.

At the narrowest side of the body a metal bar is attached, to which the strings made of wire or gut are anchored. The opposite ends of the strings are attached to a row of tuning pegs inserted into holes at the opposite side of the body.


It is usually rested on the player's lap and played with the fingers or a pick made of bone or quill.

Regional types

Large kanklės used by a Lithuanian traditional dance troupe along with birbynė

Within Lithuania, there are three basic regional types of kanklės, although there are variations within each type and some overlap of areas. Each type has its own playing technique.

Northeastern Aukštaitija

The simplest and most ancient form, most frequently having five strings, and having a rounded bottom like a boat.

Žemaitija and Northwestern Aukštaitija

Somewhat larger than those of Northeastern Aukštaitija, usually having between eight and twelve strings. They have a flat bottom, and in some cases, the shortest end is carved with the stylized figure of a bird's or fish's tail.

Suvalkija and Northwestern Žemaitija

Usually the most highly decorated type, and kanklės used in concert performance are most often based on this variety. The most prominent identifying feature is the addition of a carved spiral figure to the point of the instrument's body and sometimes, the rounding of the narrow end of the body. Typically these instruments have between nine and thirteen strings.

External links

  • Video of performance by Regimantas Zitkauskas at
  • Lithuanian stringed instrument kankles
  • Anthology of Lithuanian Ethnoculture
  • Lithuanian Folk Instruments


  • Ancient Lithuanian Kanklės, Romualdas Apanavičius, Institute of Ethnomusic, Vilnius, Lithuania
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.