Iranian tanbur

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This article is about the Iranian-Kurdish instrument. For origins and variants, see tanbur.
Kermanshahan tanbur
String instrument
Other names Tanbūr, Tembûr, Tanboor, Kurdish tanbur, Iranian tanbur
Classification Plucked string instrument
Related instruments
Iranian women playing the Ney, Tanbur and Santur, painting in Hasht Behesht palace, Isfahan

Kermanshahan tanbur or Kurdish tanbur or Iranian tanbur[note 1] or tembûr, or Tanboor (Persian: تنبور‎),[1] a fretted string instrument, is a main form of tanbūr.[1][2] It is highly associated with the Ahl-e Haqq religion in Kurdish areas and in the Lorestān provinces of Iran.[2] It is currently the only musical instrument used in Ahl-e Haqq rituals, and practitioners venerate the tembûr as a sacred object.[3]

Nowadays tanbur is played allover Iran, but Iranian tanbur is mainly designed in Kermanshahan (about Kermanshah Province), Kurdistan Province and Lorestan. Kermanshahan tanburs are more famous and accepted and are specially designed in Kermanshahan's Goran Region and Sahneh. Tanbur is locally called tamur, tamureh, tamyarah or tamyorah (تَمیُرَه ، تَمیرَه ، تموره, تمور) there.[1]

The tembûr measures 80 cm in length and 16 cm in width.[2] The resonator is pear-shaped and made of either a single piece or multiple carvels of mulberry wood.[2] The neck is made of walnut wood and has fourteen frets, arranged in a semi-tempered chromatic scale.[2] The tembûr employs two steel strings, and may be tuned in fifth, fourth, or second intervals.[2][3] The higher string may be doubled with a third string.[2][3]

It has a narrow pear-shaped body that normally is made with 7 to 10 glued together separate ribs. Its soundboard is usually made of mulberry wood and some patterened holes are burned in it. the long neck is separate, and has three metal strings that the first course is double. The melody is played on the double strings with a unique playing technique with three fingers of the right hand. Iranian tanbur is associated with the Kurdish Sufi music of Western Iran.[4]


  1. ^ According to Darvishi's Encyclopedia of the Musical Instruments of Iran, There is also a Taleshi tanbur in small region Talesh in the north of Iran, and Tanburak (Tanburg) in Balochistan in the southeast of Iran. But Kermanshahan tanbur is the main and the most famous tanbur in Iran. See "تنبور (یا تمبور/ طنبور)". Encyclopaedia Islamica. Retrieved March 3, 2013.  and Encyclopedia of the Musical Instruments of Iran, pages 95, 213, 303.


  1. ^ a b c "تنبور (یا تمبور/ طنبور)". Encyclopaedia Islamica. Retrieved March 3, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Scheherezade Qassim Hassan, R. Conway Morris, John Baily, Jean During (2001). "Tanbur". In Sadie, Stanley; Tyrrell, John. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians xxv (2 ed.). London: Macmillan. pp. pp. 61–62. 
  3. ^ a b c Shiloah, Amnon (2001). "Kurdish music". In Sadie, Stanley; Tyrrell, John. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians xiv (2 ed.). London: Macmillan. pp. p. 40. 
  4. ^ "ATLAS of Plucked Instruments - Middle East". ATLAS of Plucked Instruments. Retrieved February 27, 2013. 

See also[edit]