When we were talking about the Arabian Oud last week for our #ThrowbackThursday post we mentioned an even older instrument, the Barbat, and left you with the teaser “of which more on another occasion”.
Well, the good news is that this is the occasion.
The barbat is one of the oldest instruments in the world and is thought to have originated in Central Asia. A two-stringed lute, the barbat was an important instrument of the Arab Ghassanids in pre-Islamic times. The earliest image thought to be of the barbat dates back to the 1st century BC from ancient northern Bactria; although there is a clearer image of it from a Gandharan sculpture dating between the 2nd-4th centuries AD.
According to Encyclopedia Iranica, this type of instrument may have been introduced by the Kushans and later adopted by the Persians. Whatever it’s origins, by the 7th century, the barbat was developed by the Arabs into the oud.
We hope you’ll forgive the poor quality picture under the circumstances.