Our oldest Nahat

This Damascus-made oud is without doubt the most impressive and – to the best of our knowledge – the oldest surviving instrument made by the Nahat family. Until recently it was assumed that the brothers Rufan and Abdou Nahat (Ikhwan Nahat) founded the first Nahat carpentry workshop in 1880. It is not yet clear whether…

The oldest surviving oud?

To date this instrument is the oldest Arab oud we know, and it may be the oldest surviving Arab string instrument at all. Its significance is all the greater for its having 7 double courses, which means that we can refer to it as an oud al mukmal, the term used for the oud introduced…

Alexandria to Brussels, 1879

There’s a bit of a mystery surrounding this oud. Victor Mahillon, curator of the Museum of Musical Instruments at the Brussels Conservatoire, acquired it from Alexandria in 1879. Saskia Willaert, curator of African Collections at the museum, has gathered sources relating to the purchase, and from these we learn that Mahillon bought the oud and…

Oud of a luthiery student

We know nothing of Mustafa, the maker of this oud, apart from the fact that he was studying carpentry or instrument making. So Stockholm’s Swedish Museum of Performing Arts (Scenkonstmuseet) is home to the instrument of an intermediate-level student. Why might the instrument be significant? Part of the answer lies in the instrument’s provenance. It…

Adana to Stockholm

The label of this oud tells an interesting story. It seems to have been made by a man called Mustafa, who was a student registered as ‘no. 77’ at a vocational school of arts in Adana. The date of the making is noted in the Rumi calendar, which translates to the Gregorian as 14 March…

Damascus to London c.1880

Some time between 1878 – when it was made – and 1894, when it was presented as a gift to the Prince of Wales in London, an oud travelled to London. It is the first one we know that has a label inside revealing the maker, the place of the workshop, and the year in…

But is it an oud?

This oud, which arrived in England in 1867 thanks to some international diplomacy, may be the oldest surviving instrument of the North African oud family (today often referred to as kwitra, oud ramal and oud ‘arbi). It is not yet clear where it was made, whether in Algeria or Tunisia, or in Egypt on the basis of…

Cairo to London, 1867

England’s first oud arrived in 1867 thanks to some obscure international diplomacy involving Ismail Pasha, the Khedive of Egypt. The French state mounted its second Exposition Universelle in Paris that year, and it involved not only massive displays of French industry, but also exhibits from other nations. Many of these presented musical instruments, and the…