National Music Museum No. 7323
Native to Tibet, China, and Mongolia, the Rkang-Gling is a type of trumpet traditionally made from a human thighbone, or femur. While many rkang-glings deviate from the use of a real femur, they retain the overall shape of the bone while being constructed from metals, animal horn, enamel, or jade. Typically, the instrument is played on the sawn end of the long bone with two holes drilled into the bony protrusions (condyles) at the natural termination (epiphysis) of the bone. A product of Lamaistic (Buddhism, the rkang-gling played a key role in Tibetan religious traditions and ceremonies.
This particular rkang-gling, on display in our new exhibition, Trumpets, Weird and Wonderful: Treasures from the National Music Museum, is constructed of a copper/brass alloy coated in cloisonné. The instrument also bears the head of makara, a sea monster that represents guardianship and protection in Bhuddist and Hindu mythology.