Art of crafting and playing with Kamantcheh

Art of crafting and playing with Kamantcheh

Art of crafting and playing with Kamantcheh

Kamancha is one of the Iranian traditional and original musical instruments with a long history. The name of Kamancha has been appeared in some poems and texts from early Islamic periods. The first historic evidence of Kamancha is related to Farabi’s Kitab al-Musiqa al-Kabir in 4th century AH.  He called Kamancha is his book by its Arabic name “Rebab”; therefore, some believe that Kamancha has been made by the evolution of Rebab.

Some poets as Masud Sa’d in 8th century AH have referred to the name of this instrument and also we can observe the depiction of Kamancha player in Chehel Sotoun Hall of Isfahan (Safavid period). Kamancha was one of the most authentic musical instruments in Iran during this period. It is placed in the group of bowed string musical instruments constituting of three parts of bowl, handle and base made of metal, bone and skin.

The bowl in the instrument is the producer of sound used as a sound box. It had firstly three strings and the forth one was added in Qajar period in an imitation of Violin. In the past, the bowl was being made of maple and walnut wood and decorated using inlay and shell, however, today it is mostly made of berry wood. The bowl is covered by skin on which the bridge and strings are set.

The Kamancha bow is made of a narrow wood with parallel threads of horsehair stretched between two ends. Kamancha is played in sitting down mode held by the left hand vertically and the player moves the bow on the strings horizontally.

Violin entered Iran in the period of Mozaffar ad-Din Shah and it became mostly the substitute of Kamancha by many players. Therefore, Kamancha was shelfed for a long time up to 1332 SH when Ali Asghar Bahari put lots of efforts into teaching Kamancha; when the national radio broadcasted his solo Kamancha for the first time many people became increasingly interested in learning Kamancha and it was flourished again.

Nowadays, we cannot fine a traditional musical group without the sound of Kamancha. Among the most prominent Kamancha players in Iran Ali Asghar Bahari, Kehan Kalhor, Rahmatollah Badiei, Mojtaba Mirzaheh and Ardeshir Kamkar must be referred. In 2017 Art of crafting and playing with Kamantcheh was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.