Guitars of the Europeans, Sitars of the Indians and the Rubab of the Afghans. Similar instruments from different societies.
In that sense, the world is a collection of paradoxes. To say that it is a global village is a paradox. To say that despite their differences, all cultures are, in the end, similar, which is again a paradox. To say that the world is a collection of paradoxes is a paradox in itself!
No matter how different we may seem, we’re all the same, and so are the things we use. And with “things,” we are coming back to the Afghani Guitar; we’ll turn our attention to what’s Rubab?
1. Also known as a “Robab” or “Rabab,” the national instrument of Afghanistan. More than 1000 years old, this instrument is a cultural treasure of the Afghani folk.
2. Its name is derived from the Arabic, Rebab, meaning “played with a bow”. However, unlike its Arabic cousin, a Rubab is plucked using the fingers and differs in construction.
3. The instrument isn’t exclusive to Afghanistan. It is also found in Iran, Pakistan and Kashmir in India.
4. It is classified based on its size. The largest is Shah Rubab (king-sized) which has 21 strings and 15 sympathetic strings. Smaller than that is the variant with 19 strings and 13 sympathetic strings. The smallest is the Zaliche Rubab which has only 5 sympathetic strings.
5. The design consists of a hollowed-out piece of wood with a membrane stretched over it. A single body is carved from a single piece of wood (preferably from a Mulberry tree).
6. Many ancient texts of the region have mentioned Rubab. However, they have written about the Seni Rubab, which is different from the modern Rubab, i.e., the Kabuli Rubab. The two rubabs slightly differ in desig
8. Guru Nanak, the first Guru of the Sikhs, had a great love for Rubabs. It is said that he sang the Gurbani to the tunes of the instrument. Its use in the Gurmat sangeet is responsible for its re-popularisation.
9. Historical evidence suggests this is the forebearer of many Indian instruments! The Sarangi, the Sarod and the Saringda are the ones that first come to mind.
Though Rubab is almost a thousand years old, the love and interest it has generated in people’s hearts today make it look like a recent sensation. The artistic melodies of a Rubab at the hands of an artist like Daud Khan Sadozai are something that everybody must experience at least once in their lives!
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I am Rakshit Aswal, a recent graduate of English Hons. from University of Delhi. I like to play videogames and read books while on my pursuit to experience amazing stories.