Texts, photos, videos: © Patrick Kersalé 1998-2020, except special mention.
Although known in ancient India, no lute is represented in the Khmer iconography. However, two
pre-Angkorian terms seem to refer to it: lāv and trisarī. The latter is probably a tricorded lute as the prefix of the word
The instrument opposite has been reconstructed according to the epigraphy and iconography of Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Java.
The pyriform lute existed in India during the Gupta period. A few rare sculptures corroborate the Thai, Cham and Indonesian representations mentioned below. The lintel of Pawaya, visible at the Gujari Mahal Archeological Museum also known as the Gwalior Fort Archeologic Museum, shows clearly, at the bottom left, a lute with a pyriform sound box.
The instruments which compose this orchestra are to be compared to the lists of instruments of the Lolei temple (9th century).
Let us dare to compare the lists of donations of Lolei's inscriptions (K.324S & N, 327S & N, 330S & N, 331S & N) and the iconography of the same period in other territories: Thailand (picture 2), Vietnam (3), Borobudur - Java (1, 4, 5). All these lutes have in common a piriform or oblong-shape soundbox. They all from two to the five strings.
Let us now observe the Borobudur's sculpture (1):
The instrumental ensemble of Thailand (2) is composed of three instruments belonging to the list of Lolei, from right to
left: zither, small cymbals, lute. As for the sculpture in photo 4, it presents a lute and a harp, instruments belonging to the list of Lolei. The zither seems to be made of
the big bambou and a gourd resonator. It
could be an idiochord zither like it still exists in Southeast Asia.
It is tentatively concluded that between the 7th and 9th centuries the lute was played in the Hindu and Buddhist area of Southeast Asia.