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The kusle is a zither played by the Volga-Finnic Mari people of Russia. It is played in the lap, with both hands, and was played on some occasions such as ritual sacrifices, and to accompany dancing.[1] The instrument is shaped like a semi-circle, with 12-20 strings.[2] The instrument is described as resembling the Russian gusli or the Finnish kantele.[3]

Organologist Anthony Baines noted in 1969, regarding the medieval Russian gusli: ...and the instrument has latterly been revived, notably in the Mari province by the Volga.[4]


Alternate spellings include kysle, kannõld, kärsi,[5] karsh, kjusle and kiusle. Other sources simply refer to the Mari instrument as a zither, kantele, or gusli.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Paul Friedrich (14 January 1994). Encyclopedia of World Cultures: Russia and Eurasia, China. G.K. Hall. p. 258. ISBN 978-0-8161-1810-6. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  2. ^ Toivo Vuorela; American Council of Learned Societies (1964). The Finno-Ugric peoples. Indiana University. p. 251. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  3. ^ Gyula Décsy (2002). Eurasian studies yearbook. Eurolingua. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  4. ^ Anthony Baines (1969). Musical instruments through the ages. Penguin Books. p. 206. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  5. ^ Iveta Silova (10 December 2010). Post-Socialism Is Not Dead: (Re)Reading the Global in Comparative Education. Emerald Group Publishing. pp. 287–. ISBN 978-0-85724-417-8. Retrieved 17 June 2012.