Tuesday, June 28, 2005

a hundred bows

Today, as ever, I'm wasted with wine.

Shut the mind's door; touch the bow to the string.

There are a hundred ways to pray, to kneel,

To bow at the shrine of my friend's beauty.

#82: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

Search words: wine

I've woken a little the worse for wine and I'm joining Rumi in this. However, it was the reference to a bow and string that has captured my imagination. I thought it odd that a violin would turn up in a Rumi verse since these are of fairly recent development. I went in search of early bowed musical instruments and came across the bowed psaltery, the Russian gudok, the Hindu sarangi (also esraj or dilruba), and finally the main instruments of Arab music, the plucked oud and bowed (or plucked) rebab. It is probably the last that Rumi is referring to.

Here are more links and photos of this instrument:

Rababs, once introduced into Europe, developed into rebecs in about the 14th century and these in turn developed into the classical violin in the 16th century. Given the image below of a 12th century rebec, it's entirely plausible that Rumi might have known an instrument quite similar to the modern violin.

from King David's minstrel,

XII century (@ rebecs)

All this research into early and world musical instruments has been one of the hundred ways in which I can honour Rumi, honour beauty, honour life, and honour love itself.


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