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COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Langhalsluit met 1 snaar TMnr 2997-19a.jpg
A traditional Ethiopian masinko or chira-wata
String instrument
Classification chordophone
Hornbostel–Sachs classification321.311
(spike bowed lute)
Related instruments

The mesenqo (also spelled mesenko, mesenqo, mesenko, mesinko, or mesinqo in Amharic) or chira-wata (in Tigrinya) is a single-stringed bowed lute commonly found in the musical traditions of Ethiopia and Eritrea.[1] As with the krar, this instrument is used by Ethiopian minstrels called azmaris ("singer" in Amharic) .[2] Although it functions in a purely accompaniment capacity in songs, the masenqo requires considerable virtuosity,[1] as azmaris accompany themselves while singing.

Construction and design[edit]

The square- or diamond-shaped resonator is made of four small wooden boards glued together, then covered with a stretched parchment or rawhide. The single string is typically made of horse hair, and passes over a bridge. The instrument is tuned by means of a large tuning peg to fit the range of the singer's voice.[3] It may be bowed by either the right or left hand, and the non-bow hand sits lightly on top of the upper part of the string.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Shelemay, Kay Kaufman (2001). Sadie, Stanley; Tyrrell, John (eds.). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. viii (2 ed.). London: Macmillan. pp. 355–356.
  2. ^ Kebede, Ashenafi (January 1975). "The "Azmari", Poet-Musician of Ethiopia". The Musical Quarterly. 61 (1): 47. doi:10.1093/mq/lxi.1.47.
  3. ^ Teferra, Timkehet (2009). "The One-Stringed Fiddle Masinqo: Its Function and Role in Contemporary Ethiopian Music and its Future". Horizon Ethiopia. Retrieved 12 Sep 2011.