The kamancheh (also kamānche or kamāncha) (Persian: کمانچه) is an Iranian bowed string instrument, used also in Armenian, Azerbaijani, Turkish and Kurdish music and related to the rebab, the historical ancestor of the kamancheh and also to the bowed Byzantine lyra, ancestor of the European violin family.[1] The strings are played with a variable-tension bow. It is widely used in the classical music of Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kurdistan Regions with slight variations in the structure of the instrument.[2]

Woman playing the kamancheh in the painting "Musical banquet" by Ibrahim Jabbar-Beik (1923-2002)
String instrument
Other namesKamancha, Kamanche, Kemancheh, Kamanjah, Kabak kemane
Classification Bowed Strings
Playing range
Related instruments
Art of crafting and playing with Kamantcheh/Kamancha, a bowed string musical instrument
CountryAzerbaijan and Iran
Inscription history
Inscription2017 (13th session)

In 2017, the art of crafting and playing with Kamantcheh/Kamancha was included into the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.

Name and etymology

The word "kamancheh" means "little bow" in Persian (kæman, bow, and -cheh, diminutive).[3] The Turkish word kemençe is borrowed from Persian, with the pronunciation adapted to Turkish phonology. It also denotes a bowed string instrument, but the Turkish version differs significantly in structure and sound from the Persian kamancheh. There is also an instrument called kabak kemane literally "pumpkin-shaped bow instrument" used in Turkish music which is only slightly different from the Persian kamancheh.[4]


In the Safavid and Qajar periods, Kamancheh was one of the most important instruments which was used in celebration scenes. Furthermore, it was described in celebration and war scenes paintings, from Mongol and Timurid periods. A wall fresco at Chehel Sotoun Palace in Isfahan shows a Kamancheh player among a group of court musicians at the royal court. A banquet scene of Shah Abbas II in honor of Nader Mohammad Khan emir of Turkistan in 1646 was depicted in the wall painting. Additionally, a woman playing the Kamancheh was painted in another wall painting at Hasht Behesh Palace in Isfahan.


The kamanche has a long neck including fingerboard which kamancheh maker shapes it as a truncated inverse cone for easy bow moving in down section, peg box in both side of which four pegs are placed, and finial[5] Traditionally kamanchehs had three silk strings, but modern instruments have four metal strings. Kamanchehs may have highly ornate inlays and elaborate carved ivory tuning pegs. The body has a long upper neck and a lower bowl-shaped resonating chamber made from a gourd or wood, usually covered with a membrane made from the skin of a lamb, goat or sometimes a fish, on which the bridge is set. From the bottom protrudes a spike to support the kamancheh while it is being played, hence in English the instrument is sometimes called the spiked fiddle. It is played sitting down held like a cello though it is about the length of a viol. The end-pin can rest on the knee or thigh while the player is seated in a chair.

Kamancheh is usually tuned like an ordinary violin (G, D, A, E).

Notable kamancheh players

See also


  1. "Iranian string instrument 'Kamancheh' to be inscribed on UNESCO list". 11 April 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  2. "Pastimes of Central Asians. Musicians. A Man Practising the Kamancha, a Long-necked Stringed Instrument". World Digital Library. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
  3. loghatnaameh.com. "کمانچه – پارسی ویکی". Archived from the original on 2008-10-17.
  4. "Kabak kemane ve Kemancha hakkında rehber".
  5. Ch, R. A. M.; 51, Rakausika राम च (2013-03-08). "The Masters of Kamanche". A World,s Heritage Of Native Music. Retrieved 2017-05-16.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.