Qanun player, Jerusalem, c.1859   [59 x 56 cm]

Source of image:
Embroidery: Jan Chalmers

This image of a Qanun player is based on a woodcut published by William McClure Thomson in 1860 (The Land and the Book: Or, Biblical Illustrations Drawn from the Manners and Customs, the Scenes and Scenery, of the Holy Land Vol II, p. 577).

The qanun is a stringed instrument with origins in Assyrian Mesopotamia in 19th century BCE. The name of the instrument derives from an Arabic word meaning “rule, law, norm, principle”, which is borrowed from the ancient Greek word κανών (rule), canon in Latin. The qanun is either played solo, or more usually as part of an ensemble in much of the Middle East, North Africa, West Africa, Central Asia, and south eastern regions of Europe. Arabic qanuns are somewhat larger than Turkish qanuns, allowing the three and a half octave range to be extended to include extreme bass and extreme treble strings.

Era: Ottoman Period (1516—1917)

Further reading