Rabab - Aga Khan Museum
Aga Khan Development Network
The Aga Khan Museum: Wood and Lacquer - 19th century  Place your mouse over the image
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Wood and Lacquer

Object name

Central Asia

19th century

Materials and technique
Wood, bone, mother-of-pearl, skin

length 98 cm

Accession number


A string instrument which probably originated in Afghanistan, the rabab was the lute of the ancient royal courts. This is one of only a few short-necked lutes originating in Central Asia and is the main plucked lute instrument of Afghanistan. With the neck and body carved from wood, rababs have an odd form perhaps best described as ‘boat-like’. The body is usually covered with stretched goatskin while the reverse and neck are often intricately inlaid with mother-of-pearl and bone, decorated with colourful beads and tassles. The rabab has three or four strings, made from tied-on gut or nylon, which are attached to flower-shaped pegs set in the pegbox, which is also finely carved. Most rababs have a number of sympathetic strings (9 to 12) which are tuned by pegs set along the base of the neck.

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21 pieces found