Art/ Collection/ Art Object


late 19th century
Iranian (Persian)
Bone, wood, brass, parchment, various materials
32 3/4 × 6 1/2 × 4 1/2 in. (83.2 × 16.5 × 11.5 cm)
Credit Line:
The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889
Accession Number:
Not on view
The tār first appeared around Shiraz and was quickly adopted in Afghanistan and Caucasia where it was modified. Iranian style tārs have bodies with two unequal heart-shaped openings which are covered by a thin lamb fetus membrane, a horn bridge and three double courses of strings. The skin belly is very responsive to the player’s touch and thus demands a high degree of virtuosity when plucked with a brass plectrum.
In addition to lutes like the ūd, with large, vaulted backs, wood bellies, and relatively short, unfretted necks, the Middle East possesses a large number of long necked lutes. These may be identified by carved or carvel-built (strips of wood glued together) tear-shaped bodies, fretted necks, wooden bellies, and pegblocks which extend from the lute's neck (sāz, tanbūr types), or by bodies that incorporate a waist, bipartite, parchment-covered bellies and openwork pegboxes (tār type). Linguistic connections may be made between these instrument names and those from other cultures; for example, tanbūr and tambūrā (India); tār and sitar (India), among others.
Mary Elizabeth Adams Brown
Jayson Kerr Dobney, Bradley Strauchen-Scherer. Musical Instruments: Highlights of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. First Printing. @2015 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. New York, 2015, pp. 138-139, ill.

Catalogue of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments: Asia, Gallery 27. 2. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1903, vol. II, pg. 73.

Catalogue of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments: Gallery 27. 1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1901, vol. I, pg. 73.

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