Wood and Lacquer
Materials and technique
Wood, bone, mother-of-pearl, skin
length 98 cm
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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