late 19th century
Iranian (Persian)
Bone, wood, brass, parchment, various materials
L. 32 3/4 × W. 6 1/2 × D. 4 1/2 in. (83.2 × 16.5 × 11.5 cm)
Credit Line:
The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 684
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.