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Early Belgian Dulcimer (or Hackebrett) from the Hans Adler collection.[1]

A dulcimer is a type of musical string instrument. It is a species of zither. Among its forms are:

  • Hammered dulcimer, free-standing, most frequently but not always trapezoidal in shape, with many strings struck by handheld "hammers". This type of instrument is found in many cultures, expecially in England, in the British isles and in the north of the european continent.. Most countries have their own name for the instrument, and many have different tuning systems. Being a struck string instrument, it is considered to be among the ancestors of the piano.
  • Fretted, three or four strings, generally played on the lap by strumming; including
  • Other

The name, though perhaps not the design and sound, of the instrument is familiar to English-speaking readers from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem (published 1816) Kubla Khan:

"A damsel with a dulcimer

In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora."