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Musical Instrument Museum, Part 6

Moorish music of Mauritania is a pastiche of Arab, Berber and West African elements that is performed by members of a hereditary class of professional musicians known as griots. This instrument is an Ardin, a harp-lute — combining elements of instruments that we know as a harp and a lute (guitar-like). This example is from the early 20th century and is constructed of a large gourd, lemon wood, hide and iron.

This photo shows a Qanun, a form of zither, which is played by plucking the strings. This instrument was made of walnut, beech and lemon woods.

The next exhibit shows a Mevlevi costume, used by followers of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi-Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet, Islamic theologian and Sufi mystic. These folks, located in modern-day Turkey, are also known as the Whirling Dervishes due to their famous practice of whirling as a form of dhikr (remembrance of God).

Here we see a Tanbur (plucked lute) which is one of the instruments which accompanies the Mevlevi dancers. This instrument was made in the 20th century of wood, cord and steel.

During the Ottoman Empire, the Mehterhane was one of the most important institutions connected directly with the royal court. The musicians called Mehters, were a component of the Mehterhane and had a rich and diverse musical repertoire that featured ceremonial music played outdoors, ranging from religious and processional to militaristic. This photo shows a modern reconstruction of a Mehter costume modeled after 18th- and 19th-century miniatures and illustrations of musician Mehters.

This drum is called a Kös (kettledrum) from Istanbul, made in 2008. It is made of copper, camel skin and wood. They are always played in pairs.

Sri Lanka is an island country in South Asia, located to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and to the southeast of the Arabian Sea. It is separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait. This shows a Ves (dance costume) worn during festivals. It is make of textiles and silver.

Also from Sri Lanka is this Gata Bera, a double-headed barrel drum made of neem tree wood, bear monkey skin and cow skin. Drumming is part of their ceremonies to drive away dancing demons, kings and other characters of Sinhala kolam masked drama.

The melodies of a Horanava (quadruple reed pipe) were also part of Buddhist temple ceremonies. This one is made of fishtail palm wood and metal.

An ancient Hindu story tells of Lord Shiva performing a classic dance to cleanse the universe for creation. Today, India's eight classical dance forms are living reminders of the country's ancient culture. This Bharata-natyam costume would be a modern part of such dances.

Next up are a pair of hand cymbals used by those same Indian dancers.

Last for today is a Gottuvadyam, a plucked lute from India — this one made of jackfruit, rosewood, plastic, animal bone and metal. Players of this rare instrument bend notes by moving a slide along the length of the strings. The unusual gourd near the top of the neck resonates with the notes played to produce a unique harmonic sound.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com