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Pandoura 001.jpg
Modern lithograph of a bas relief from Mantineia (4th century BC), exhibited at National Archaeological Museum of Athens. The image shows a muse playing a pandoura, and the original is the oldest image of a pandoura currently known.
Related instruments

The pandura[1] (Ancient Greek: πανδοῦρα, pandoura) is an ancient Greek string instrument from the Mediterranean basin.

Lutes have been present in ancient Greece since the 3rd century BC.[2]

They were also present in Mesopotamia since the Akkadian era, or the third millennium BCE.[3]

Human pottery figurine, Susa, first half of 2nd millennium BC
Moulded figurine, Susa. Medo-Elamite period. 14th–12th centuries BC


Ancient Greek Tanagra figurine, 200 BC

The ancient Greek pandoura was a medium or long-necked lute with a small resonating chamber. It commonly had three strings: such an instrument was also known as the trichordon (McKinnon 1984:10). Its descendants still survive as the Greek tambouras and bouzouki, the North African kuitra, the Eastern Mediterranean saz and the Balkan tamburica.[citation needed]

There were at least two distinct varieties of pandura.[4] One type was pear-shaped, used in Assyria and Persia and introduced by way of Asia Minor into Greece, whence it passed to the Roman Empire.[4] In this type the body had graceful inward curves which led up gradually from base to neck.[4] These curves changed at the bottom end off the instrument to a more sloping outline, an elongated triangle with the corners rounded off.[4]

The oval type, a favourite instrument of the Egyptians, was also found in ancient Persia and among the Arabs of North Africa.[4]

Renato Meucci (1996) suggests that the some Italian Renaissance descendants of Pandura type were called chitarra italiana, mandore or mandola. In the 18th century the pandurina (mandore) was often referred to as mandolino napoletano.


Under the Romans the pandura was modified: the long neck was preserved but was made wider to take four strings, and the body was either oval or slightly broader at the base, but without the inward curves of the pear-shaped instruments.[4]

Memorial stele for a 16-year-old Roman boy, Lutatia Lupata, showing him playing the Roman variant, the pandurium. C. 2nd Century A.D. Found in May 1956 in Merida, Spain, at the Roman Necropolis, Augusta Emerita. Kept at the Museo Nacional de Arte Romano, Merida, Spain.[5][6][7]

Regional variations[edit]


Main article: Phondar

A similar instrument is found in Chechnya and Ingushetia, where it is known as Vainakhs Phondar.

Main article: Panduri

In Georgia the panduri is a three-string fretted instrument widely spread in all regions of Eastern Georgia: such as Pshavkhevsureti, Tusheti, Kakheti and Kartli. A similar Georgian instrument is the chonguri.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Not to be confused with pandora, pandore, bandura, a queer-shaped guitar of the 17th century; see: Willi Apel, Harvard Dictionary of Music, Taylor & Francis, 1970, p. 551.
  2. ^ Alexander Lingas, "Musical instruments" in Encycolpedy of Ancient Greece p 385.
  3. ^ Scheherezade Qassim Hassan, R. Conway Morris, John Baily, Jean During (2001). "Tanbūr". In Sadie, Stanley; Tyrrell, John. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians xxv (2 ed.). London: Macmillan. pp. pp. 61–62. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911, Volume 20
  5. ^ Flicker based photo of the museum information sign for the stele.
  6. ^ Jonathan Edmondson, Trinidad Nogales, Walter Trillmich, Imagen y memoria: monumentos, funarios, con retratos en la colonia Augusta
  7. ^ [Museo%20Nacional%20de%20Arte%20Romano Museo Nacional de Arte Romano, Merida, Spain, online page for Lutatia Lupatia stella.]


External links[edit]