In early 1899,the Colombian painter, musician, and composer Pedro Morales Pino(1863-1926) had photographs taken of his Lira Colombiana, an instrumental ensemble he
had founded in the previous years. In those months, the Lira was preparing to initiate aforeign tour that—because of a sudden change of plans—finally took them through Central America to the United States to participate in the Pan American Buffalo Exhibition inaugurated in May 1901.As part of the farewell tour of the ensemble, Melitón Rodríguez—undoubtedly the
foremost Colombian photographer of his day—made in Medellín the two mentioned group portraits of the ensemble.Both images show an instrumental group modeled on the late
19th-century Spanish ‘estudiantina,’ but in one of them (Fig. 1) we find one violin and four pear-shaped instruments locally known as ‘bandolas’ (also named ‘liras’ in the Medellín area) as melodic instruments, accompanied by two guitars, two tiples (small four course treble guitars), and one violoncello.