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A jíbaro guitar is found in New York


In 1912,  a wealthy lady donated a small jewel of folk art to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It was a guitar carved from a single block of wood which she had acquired during her visits to the distant island of Puerto Rico during the nineteenth century. The instrument was decorated with geometric chip-carvings all around its sides and back, done in motifs that recall Ghanaian decorative art.
     The instrument had remained buried in the museum vault during much of the twentieth century, having been exhibited only once, when a illustration was published in a New York magazine in 1971. That issue came to the attention of the Puerto Rican Cuatro Project, and our chief investigator, Juan Sotomayor went to the museum and inquired about it. The curator had to search deeply in the museum's archives to find it. Thanks to the care and protection afforded to it by the museum, it remains today in excellent condition, while most all the native Puerto Rican instruments of its period have vanished, victims of neglect, disdain, ...and termites.


Ken Moore, curator of musical instruments at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, displays the old jíbaro guitar found in the museum's collection as a result of the Cuatro Project's request. It was subsequently taken out of deep archive and placed in a prominent place on display.




Color photos below courtesy Chris Miekle