kacapi

noun
ka·​ca·​pi | \ kə-ˈchä-pē How to pronounce kacapi (audio) \
variants: or kecapi
plural kacapi or kecapi

Definition of kacapi

: any of several oblong zithers of the Sunda Islands with movable bridges and six to 21 strings that are plucked by the fingers of both hands A boat-shaped box provides the resonator for the kacapi, the plucked zither played in Sundanese areas of West Java, where it makes a popular combination with the suling.— Eric Taylor, Musical Instruments of South-East Asia, 1989 Kecapi is as close to what we might call a “folk” instrument as any in South Sulawesi, comparable in many ways to guitar in some parts of the United States.— R. Anderson Sutton, Calling Back the Spirit, 2002

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First Known Use of kacapi

1820, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for kacapi

borrowed from Javanese kacapi, kecapi (phonetically kəčapi), going back to Old Javanese kacapi “kind of lute,” borrowed from Sanskrit kacchapī “lute,” feminine derivative of kacchapaḥ “tortoise, turtle” (probably from the resemblance of the lute's body to a tortoise shell), variant (probably conformed to kaccha- “bank, shore, marshy ground”) of kaśyapaḥ, going back to an Indo-Iranian noun of uncertain shape (perhaps *katsyapa-), whence Young Avestan kasiiapō “tortoise,” Khotanese khuysaa-, Persian kašaf, Ossetic (Iron dialect) xæfs “frog,” wærtdžɨn xæfs “turtle” (literally, “frog with shield”)

Note: Variants of the etymon, perhaps all eventually traceable to the Old Javanese word, are found in Indonesian Malay and a number of languages of the Sunda Islands and the southern Philippines. See Arsenio Nicholas, “Early Musical Exchange between India and Southeast Asia,” Pierre-Yves Manguin et al., editors, Early Interactions Between South and Southeast Asia, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2011, pp. 349-53.

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Cite this Entry

“Kacapi.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kacapi. Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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