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Kamancheh: Wikis


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This article is about the Persian/Azeri kamancheh. For the related but different Pontian Greek, Turkish or Armenian instrument see Kemenche.
Hasht-Behesht Palace kamancheh.jpg
Woman playing the kamancheh in a painting from the Hasht Behesht Palace in Isfahan Persia, 1669.
String instrument
Classification Bowed
Related instruments
A traditional kamancheh player, photographed in 1860s or 1870s.

The kamānche or kamāncha (Persian: کمانچه ) (Azerbaijani: kamança) (violinette) is a Persian bowed string instrument related to the bowed rebab, the historical ancestor of the kamancheh and also to the bowed lira of the Byzantine Empire, ancestor of the European violin family. The strings are played with a variable-tension bow: the word "kamancheh" means "little bow" in Persian (kæman, bow, and -cheh, diminutive)[1] . It is widely used in the classical music of Iran, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, with slight variations in the structure of the instrument.

Traditionally kamanchehs had three silk strings, but modern ones have four metal ones. Kamanchehs may have highly ornate inlays and fancy 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 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 viola. The end-pin can rest on the knee or thigh while seated in a chair.

Famous Iranian kamancheh players include Ali-Asghar Bahari, Ardeshir Kamkar, Saeed Farajpouri, and Kayhan Kalhor.

The Turkish and Armenian kemenche or kemençe is a bowed string instrument with a very similar or identical name -- but it differs significantly in structure and sound from the Persian kamancheh. Other bowed string instruments akin to the kamancheh, yet differing more than slightly from it, include the kemenche of the Pontic Greeks of the black Sea, the old Russian Gudok, the Persian Ghaychak, and the Kazakh Kobyz.

Persian traditional classical music also uses the ordinary violin with Persian tuning. The kamancheh and the ordinary violin are tuned in the same way and have the same range but different timbres due to their differing sound boxes.

A kamancheh is depicted on the reverse of the Azerbaijani 1 qəpik coin minted since 2006[2] and on the obverse of the Azerbaijani 1 manat banknote issued since 2006.[3]



Arab kamanjeh performer in Jerusalem, 1859. From Thomson.
Other names Kamanjah
Related instruments

The kamanjah (Arabic: كمنجة‎; plural كمنجات, kamanjāt; pronounced kamangah in Egypt, and also known as jose) or kemençe (Turkish) is an Arab violin made from half a coconut and covered with sheep hide or fish skin). This instrument is played holding it in the lap, sitting on the floor cross-legged. One to four strings pass down a long, un-fretted neck and over a small, spherical, wooden body covered with skin (sheep hide or fish skin). It is one of the predecessors of the medieval lute, and is part of the spike family of instruments (so named for the spike that originates from the bottom of the sound-box and props on the floor.). The term kamanjah may also be used to refer to the violin.


The chagane is a four-stringed instrument [4]that was used in Azerbaijan up until the end of : the 19th century. The Russian artist G. Gagarin, who visited Azerbaijan in the first half of 19th century, depicted the chagane in his work "Shamaha Dancers".

Information about this instrument appears in the works of Gatran Tabrizi, Imadaddin Nasimi, Seyid Azim Shirvani and many other classical poets. The chagane has a pear-shaped body, a neck and a head. This reconstructed instrument was presented at a scientific symposium in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2000 and made a significant impression on the participants at the symposium.

The oblong body of the chagane consists of nine parts. It is assembled from pieces of nut wood, sandalwood and beech. The body and neck of the instrument are connected with a long iron probe that goes from the bottom part of the body and plays the role of a core. The face of the body is covered with a five-mm-thick sounding board made of pine. Resonator apertures are bored through this board. During the performance, the instrument is held in a vertical position, and the probe rests on the floor. The sound is produced with a bow that is held in the right hand.

The total length of the instrument is 820 mm. The body is 420 mm long, 220 mm wide and 140 mm tall. Its range goes from the "fa sharp" of the great octave to the "fa sharp" of the second octave.

See also


  1. ^ Persian dictionary online,KamanchehDehkhoda Dictionary
  2. ^ Central Bank of Azerbaijan. National currency: New generation coins. – Retrieved on 25 February 2010.
  3. ^ Central Bank of Azerbaijan. National currency: 1 manat. – Retrieved on 25 February 2010.
  4. ^

External links

Kamanche at The Metropolitan Museum of Art:

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