A 19-YEAR-OLD music student from Taiwan is frantically searching for a rare violin valued at $172,000 that she left on a bus from Boston to Philadelphia, police said Thursday night.

The Megabus on which MuChen Hsieh was riding pulled into the bus area behind 30th Street Station around 11 p.m. Tuesday.

"She forgot that she had the violin in the upper overhead compartment," said Lt. John Walker, of the Southwest Detective Division.

After she was picked up by a Devon family hosting her while she is in the Philly area, she realized in the car that she was missing a very important - and very expensive - piece of luggage.

"She made frantic calls to the company to check the bus, and it wasn't there," Walker said.

The violin was made in 1835 by Vincenzo Jorio in Naples, Italy, and was loaned to Hsieh by the Chi Mei Culture Foundation in Taiwan, Walker said.

"We believe that somebody may have grabbed the item without realizing its value," he said.

Hsieh, a student at the New England Conservatory in Boston, will likely have to end her studies and return to Taiwan if she does not find the violin, Walker said.

The violin is made of maple, and has a golden-brown varnish and a serial number of V310, Walker said. It has flames descending from the center joint and still bears its original label, according to a certificate of authenticity from Andreas Post, a violin dealer based in Amsterdam.

Walker said the instrument may be turned in at any police district, no questions asked.

Anyone with information on the violin is asked to call the Southwest Detective Division at 215-686-3183, or the tip line at 216-686-TIPS (-8477).