Arion playing a vihuela on the back of a Dolphin

(1538) - Narváez, Los seis libros...
instrument: vihuela de mano | century: 16cent/2/mid | catalogue nº: 16-201

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Creator Fernández de Córdoba, Diego (I)

Medium Artwork: Woodcut


City Valladolid | Region Castilla-León | Old kingdom Castile

Body Waisted Strings 5 strings? Neck Long Pegbox Flat rectangle
Bridge Fixed Frets Yes Back Not visible Pegs Rear
Technique Plucked fingers thumb out

The frontispiece of Narváez’s vihuela book, Los seys libros del Delphin, features a woodcut that shows the mythical figure Arion seated on the back of a dolphin playing the vihuela. It depicts the legend of the shipwrecked Arion being rescued by the dolphin Amphion due to the sweetness of his vihuela playing. Approx 115 x 160mm.

A a small-bodied vihuela with a long neck. Given the small size of the print, it is difficult to see great detail or to assume that all the detail is accurate. The body shape appears accurate with the bridge close to the lower end, and the strings attached to it. There is one soundhole with rosette in the middle iof the upper bout. Furhther detail is less preceise: the instrument has only five strings, yet 8 tuning pegs. It has frets that are placed equidistantly. The vihuela is being played in a fashion that appears credible. The player appears to be plucking using the “figueta española” technique for plucking the strings, with the thumb outstretched.