The Lubu is an almost disappeared jaw harp from the Tayal tribe in Taiwan with bamboo frame and brass tongue(s). The decorated cord is functional to pluck the harp and to bring the tongue(s) into vibration. Lubu jaw harps exists with up to eight tongues, which enables the player to switch between different modes.
The Lubu is a key instrument in the Tayal tribe musical heritage. Though playing the instrument may seem easy from an outsider’s point of view, skillfull playing can take many years. According to Tayal traditions, harps can be used to communicate with the spirits of nature and with ancestors. In the past, the Lubu was also used by hunters traveling through the forest to identify themselves when passing through another tribe’s territory.
During the Japanese occupation years, playing the Lubu was banned because the Tayal used it to signal each other when Japanese soldiers entered their sacred lands.