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date: 14 December 2019

Kamāncheh [k‘aman, kamancha, kamanche, kamanja, k‘emanch‘a, kemanche, kemence] (Pers. ‘little bow’)locked

  • Jean During,
  • Robert Atayan,
  • Johanna Spector,
  • Scheherazade Qassim Hassan
  •  and R. Conway Morris


[k‘aman, kamancha, kamanche, kamanja, k‘emanch‘a, kemanche, kemence] (Pers. ‘little bow’)

Term applied to various types of fiddle found mainly in Iran, the Caucasus and Turkey. The word kamāncheh is documented from the 10th century, and the instrument probably reached Byzantium in the 11th or 12th century via Anatolia. Related instruments are found in Arab countries (kamanja, but alternative terms are more common) and in the Balkans.

The kamāncheh is the spike fiddle of Iran, Armenia (k‘emanch‘a), Azerbaijan (also kamancha) and Georgia (kemanche). This instrument has a spherical body built of tapering wooden sections or carved in one piece; the type used in popular music may have a cone-shaped body open at the back, or be made of a spherical gourd. It is often decorated with mother-of-pearl and bone. The bridge rests on a circular sound-table which is made of animal membrane or fish-skin. The rounded neck is fixed to a spike which passes through the body and acts as a support for the instrument; the total length is usually 65 to 90 cm. Formerly the ...

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