English cittern, circa 1600. A stringed instrument dating from the Renaissance, descended from the Medieval citole, or citole. Its flat-back design was simpler and cheaper to construct than the lute. It was also easier to play, smaller, less delicate and more portable. Played by all classes, the cittern was a premier instrument of casual music making much as is the guitar today.
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Japanese Lute (Biwa) | Kuro urushi unryu raden biwa 黒漆雲龍螺鈿琵琶 16-17th century. The biwa is used in Gagaku and in the period of the imperial court, also was a solo instrument, as can be seen in the pictures illustrating the Tale of Genji.