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‘A very mistaken identification’: the ‘sultana’ or ‘cither viol’ and its links to the bowed psaltery, viola d’amore and guittar

Poulopoulos, Panagiotis; Durkin, Rachael


Panagiotis Poulopoulos

Rachael Durkin


The origins and development of the ‘sultana’ or ‘cither viol’ constitute an organological enigma.1 So far the research concerning this instrument has been rather limited, and apart from a few dictionary entries and minor references in books, journal articles and museum catalogues, the instrument currently occupies only an obscure position in the literature of the viol family. Usually considered as the bowed equivalent of the wire-strung guittar,2 the ‘sultana’ or ‘cither viol’ has been described by several authors as a wire-strung type of viola d’amore with no sympathetic strings that was introduced in the 1760s by Thomas
Perry, the well-known violin and guittar maker of Dublin (Figure 1).3 This article will examine new evidence that has come to light, aiming to reveal the true identity of this
forgotten instrument and also to discuss its connection to the viola d’amore and guittar. Furthermore, it will provide new details on the manufacture and trade of the instrument
and analyse its promotion, reception and musical role in the British Isles during the late eighteenth century.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 1, 2015
Online Publication Date May 1, 2016
Publication Date Jun 23, 2016
Deposit Date Mar 22, 2016
Publicly Available Date May 2, 2018
Journal Early Music
Print ISSN 0306-1078
Electronic ISSN 1741-7260
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 44
Issue 2
Pages 307-331
Keywords Sultana; cither viol; instrument;
Public URL
Contract Date Mar 22, 2016


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Copyright Statement
This is a pre-copy edited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Early Music following peer review. The version of record
Panagiotis Poulopoulos, Rachael Durkin; ‘A very mistaken identification’: the ‘sultana’ or ‘cither viol’ and its links to the bowed psaltery, viola d’amore and guittar. Early Music 2016; 44 (2): 307-331. is available online at:

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