Art/ Collection/ Art Object


19th century
Possibly Algerian
Wood, brass, mother-of-pearl, gut, leather, bone
Total L. 59 cm x W. 11 cm x D. 7 cm (23 1/4 in. x 4 5/16 in. x 2 3/4 in.) Width lower bout 11 cm (4 5/16 in.), waist 9 cm (3 9-1/6), fingerboard 11 cm (4 5/16 in) Upper section L. 32.5 cm (12 13/16 in.), W. at nut 3.5 cm (1 3/8 in.), Body D: lower section 7 cm (2 3/4 in.), upper section 6 cm (2 3/8 in.)
Credit Line:
Gift of Joseph W. Drexel, 1889
Accession Number:
89.2.186 a, b
Not on view
This type of rabāb is one of the most important instruments in traditional Arabic ensembles of Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. It made its way into Spain with the Moors and from about 1300 lent its name to the early European fiddle, the rebec, which was orginally played with the rounded end on the lap just as the rabāb is played today. Short-necked, bowed lutes from Algeria are made with decorative pierced brass fingerboards while those from Morocco use wood to cover the hollowed neck. The dolphin represented on the back of the instrument is a symbol of good luck for these Mediterrian cultures.
Joseph W. Drexel
"Musical Instruments in The Metropolitan Museum." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (1978), Vol. XXXV, No. 3, pg. 26-27, ill.

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