cittern

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cittern

cittern (sĭtˈərn), stringed musical instrument of the guitar family having an oval body, a flat back, and a fretted neck. Its strings, made of wire and varying in number, were plucked. It was first made in the Middle Ages and at that time was usually called citole or sitole. The name cittern was given it in the 16th cent. in England, where, as in all western Europe, it was very popular until the early part of the 18th cent. It has also been called cister, cistre, cithern, cithren, citharen, cetera, cither, cithara, gittern, and sittron.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Cittern

 

an ancient plucked stringed instrument. The cittern, which had a pear-shaped body, resembled the modern mandolin; it had four to 12 pairs of metal strings and one treble string. It was common in Germany, Italy, and other Western European countries from the 15th to the early 19th century and was especially popular among the urban population in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The instrument was subsequently supplanted by the guitar. Special types of citterns included the archcittern, the tenor cittern, and the English guitar. The cittern is still played in Spain.

REFERENCE

Sachs, C. Handbuch der Musikinstrumentenkunde, 2nd ed. Leipzig [1966]. Pages 205–09.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Referring to Rossetti's "The Blessed Damozel," Buchanan complains: "On the whole, one feels disheartened and amazed at the poet who, in the nineteenth century, talks about 'damozels,' 'citherns,' and 'citoles.'" As we can see, Buchanan allies himself with the nineteenth-century present, against Rossetti's attempt to reclaim the diction of an idealized past.
Here is Plutarch, in North's translation, on Antony's first glimpse of Cleopatra: [S]he disdained to set forward otherwise, but to take her barge in the river of Cydnus, the poop whereof was of gold, the sails of purple, and the oars of silver, which kept stroke in rowing after the sound of the music of flutes, howboys, citherns, viols, and such other instruments as they played upon the barge.
Thus, The conscience is converted into palms, Like windy citherns hankering for hymns.