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date: 14 December 2019


  • Mireille Helffer


Tibetan oboe used in Buddhist rituals. The name derives from the juxtaposition of two terms: rgya, meaning either ‘China’ (rgya-nag) or ‘India’ (rgya-gar), and gling-(bu), meaning ‘flute’. It could also derive from the Tibetan translation (rgyal-gling) of the Persian shahnai (royal flute), the pronunciation of which is similar to rgya-gling. The conical hardwood tube, about 60 cm long, has seven equidistant fingerholes (stopped by the second phalange of the finger) and one thumbhole. Metal rings, ornamented with semi-precious stones or coloured glass, surround the tube between the holes. The conical metal staple, whose base is often surrounded by one or two balls, one above the other, is encircled at the top by a disc-shaped pirouette and surmounted by a double reed (pi-pi) made from a folded blade of marsh grass or somtimes of bamboo or nowadays a plastic straw. The widely flared bell, of copper and brass or engraved silver, is sometimes decorated with semi-precious stones and ornamental metal bands....

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