Item Records

This page shows all the information we have about this item. Both the institution that physically holds this item, and RRN members have contributed the knowledge on this page. You’re looking at the item record provided by the holding institution. If you scroll further down the page, you’ll see the information from RRN members, and can share your own knowledge too.

The RRN processes the information it receives from each institution to make it more readable and easier to search. If you’re doing in-depth research on this item, be sure to take a look at the Data Source tab to see the information exactly as it was provided by the institution.

These records are easy to share because each has a unique web address. You can copy and paste the location from your browser’s address bar into an email, word document, or chat message to share this item with others.

  • Data
  • Data Source

This information was automatically generated from data provided by MOA: University of British Columbia. It has been standardized to aid in finding and grouping information within the RRN. Accuracy and meaning should be verified from the Data Source tab.


Thumb piano consisting of eleven metal prongs attached to a wooden base with a metal bar, secured with four hooks, and supported by a strip of metal sheeting. The prongs are flat at the tip and then curve upward at their ends, with balls of resin(?) attached underneath. The top and sides of the base have raised walls; the top wall is straight, sides curve inwards. The bottom flares outward and has a rounded edge. There are incised and burnt triangle designs on the sides and bottom of the base.

History Of Use

The sanza, or mbira (Shona language) is a plucked idiophone (or lamellaphone) that has been in use for thousands of years, and is played widely throughout the African continent. It is known by many different names, e.g., kilembe, likembe, kadono, akogo, timbrh, and thumb piano and has undergone variations, such as the kalimba, but the general style and function remain consistent. The instrument has been played for both secular and ceremonial use, e.g., around the fire during social evenings, or to commicate with the ancestors.


Purchased in Serowe by the donor in 1977. According to Hope, these were traditionally made by Khoisan families to sell to the Bomanwato.

Item History

With an account, you can ask other users a question about this item. Request an Account

With an account, you can submit information about this item and have it visible to all users and institutions on the RRN. Request an Account

Similar Items