1895 Historical Hawaii Rajao


Considered one of the parent instruments, “the mother”, of the modern day ukulele, the ukulele is believed to have received its current tuning of G-C-E-A from the Rajao, which is tuned D-G-C-E-A. To my knowledge there are only a few examples of these early historical instruments in existence that have been made in Hawaii.

This extremely rare 1895 Historical 5-String Rajao is a world class collectible over 100 years in age. The instrument originated on the island of Madeira, Portugal and was handcrafted in Hawaii by an unknown luthier who was likely exposed to the works of one of three Portuguese cabinet makers – Jose do Espirito Santo, Augusto Dias, and Manuel Nunes upon their arrival in Hawaii. This instrument is known to have been made in Hawaii, being that it was handcrafted entirely out of Hawaiian Koa wood. It is likely that the builder of this instrument had access to examples of Maderian made rajao, specifically those handcrafted by Joao Gomes, a renowned luthier from Madeira whose instruments were known to have made the long journey from Madeira to Hawaii onboard the Ravenscraig and other early ships carrying Maderians to Hawaii.

A very serious collectible piece which many museums have never seen. The face, back, and sides were handcrafted of Hawaiian Koa wood. It’s extremely light in weight and very resonant. There have been some repairs done to the instrument over the course of its life. All in all, it’s an amazing historical piece with a very unique tone and personality all its own. ID#:180156


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