Woman playing the santur in a painting from the Hasht-Behesht Palace in Isfahan Iran, 1669
Ancient Babylonian Santur Drawing of Relief
Santur (Persian: سنتور, also santūr, santour, santoor) is an Iranian hammered dulcimer, consisting of a trapezoidal box of horizontal strings, played with small mallets known as mezrab. It's origins might be traced back to the Indian Santoor which has been referred to as shatatantri vina (100-stringed vina) in ancient Sanskrit texts. The Iranian classical santur has 72 strings of brass or copper and steel, 18 sets of four tuned in unison, with two or three rows of bridges providing a range of some three octaves.
A variant of the instrument is played in Turkey. Similar types of hammered dulcimer are found widely spread in Europe and Asia; the Indian santoor is wider, more rectangular and has more strings.
The term santoor is of unclear etymology, though theories include the meaning "one hundred strings" in Persian, or derivation from the Greek term psalterion.
Two rows of nine bridges called kharak (literally "little donkey") divide the santur into three positions. Over each bridge crosses four strings spanning horizontally across the right and left side of the instrument. The Iranian santur is primarily tuned to a variety of different diatonic scales utilizing quarter tones, which are used in the twelve dastgahs (modes) of Iranian classical music called the radif.
^Somnath Dhar (1999). Jammu and Kashmir. National Book Trust, India. p. 135. ISBN978-81-237-2533-8. - The most favoured instrument is the 100- stringed santoor (san means 'hundred' and toor, is strings, in Persian)
^Jean Claude Sillamy (1976). Histoire de l'évolution du langage musical. J.-C. Sillamy. p. 52. - Ces chevalets - appelés Kharak-s , "petits ânes", sont divisés en 2 rangées de 9, entre lesquelles se situent le registre grave
^New Outlook. New Century Foundation. 1958. p. 290. - Unlike occidental music, the santur is tuned to quarter tones which make it sound strange to Western ears