Last Sunday, after sixteen years, I got another Rabab from Dabgari Bazaar, Peshawar. We are getting used to each other – here is a test run in D# Harmonic Minor:

Download mp3 audio file (right-click and save).

Click image to view all photos.

چه نسبت است به رندی صلاح و تقوا را

سماع وعظ کجا نغمه رباب کجا

what connection can free-spiritedness have with prayer and piety?
the hearing of the preaching where? the melody of the rabab where?
Divan-e Hafez {5,2}

Rubab or Robab (Persian: رُباب Rūbāb, Hindi: रुबाब) is a lute-like musical instrument from Afghanistan. It is not to be confused with the rebab, which is played with a bow. The rubab is mainly used by Afghan and Iranian Kurdish classical musicians. A short-necked lute made of wood, with goatskin covering the body, the rubab has three melody [nylon] strings tuned in fourths, three [two] drone [steel] strings, and 11 or 12 [or 13] sympathetic [steel] strings. The instrument is made from the trunk of a mulberry tree and the strings are [used to be] made from the intestines of young goats, brought to the size of thread.

The rubab is attested since the 7th century. It is mentioned in old Persian books, and many Sufi poets mention it in their poems. It is the traditional instrument of Khorasan (present Afghanistan), and is thus also widely used in countries neighbouring Afghanistan, such as Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Rubabs made in Iran slightly differ from those of Afghanistan, as the Afghan rubab (mostly known as Kabuli rubab) is known to be the more traditionally modeled. The rubab is known as The Lion of instruments, and is one of the two National Instruments of Afghanistan (together with the Zerbaghali).

The rubab possibly can be deemed the ancestor of the North Indian sarod and sarangi[?], which are often used in Hindustani classical music, but – unlike the sarod – it is a fretted instrument. – Wikipedia


4 thoughts on “Rabab

  1. Hans Brandenburger

    Thank you for the beautifull robab pictures!!!
    I wish, I could go to Pekhawar some day.
    The Kerwaani-tune played on your new robab is very nice too.
    The Pekhawar-style robabs seem to be a little bit higher (D g c?), my afghan robabs are tuned lower (H e a). But this way it sounds very fresh. Keep on playing
    All the best Hans brandenburger (Germany)

  2. Taimur Khan Post author

    I primarily play the sarangi, but am very fond of the rabab as well. This one from Peshawar is usually tuned to E as the tonic, and is made by the grandson of the late award-winning rabab maker, Samanadar Khan.

    Sourav, I cannot read Devanagri. Is it possible to convert your poems into Urdu or Roman script, or find English translations?

    1. sourav894


      Unfortunately, these poems have not yet been translated to any language. I had a few offers though, but it’s too early to translate them…

      I’ll definitely let you know if something like that happens 🙂

      Happy blogging 🙂


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