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date: 18 January 2020

Ṭanbūra [ṭambūra, ṭanbūr, ṭumbura etc.]locked

  • Christian Poché


[ṭambūra, ṭanbūr, ṭumbura etc.]

Bowl lyre of Egypt, the Sudan, Djibouti, Yemen, southern Iraq and the Gulf. It was known formerly also in Zanzibar, where it was called the ṭambira. The name is a dialectal mutation of the classical Arabic ṭunbūr (lyre), a survival from a rich variety of lyres in that part of the world. Arabian authors seldom mention it, as they recognize the ṭunbūr as a long-necked lute, and it is this that makes it difficult to identify the instrument organologically. The more recent version, ‘ṭanbūra’, dates from the 19th century.

The term ‘ṭanbūra’, mutated from ‘ṭunbūr’, was borrowed by the Arabs from the Sassanids and was used for the lyre from the beginning of the Islamic era in the 7th century. It is found again in the Nile valley during the period of the Ottoman Empire, often paired with other instruments. The lyres known as ṭanbūra probably originated in upper Egypt and the Sudan (...

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A. Lavignac and L. de La Laurencie, eds.: Encyclopédie de la musique et dictionnaire du Conservatoire
Revue d'histoire et de critique musicales