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…

The oud as a luxury toy

When in 2006 Ritter Instruments made an oud in its ‘Royal’ series that sold at auction for $620,000, it pushed the so-called King of Arab instruments into new territory. The price was partly a result of its materials, but wood was not the deciding component. Rather, it was the 103-carat black diamond, 24-carat gold and…

Why do we collect?

In 1974 the Italian writer Italo Calvino wrote an essay called ‘Collection of Sand…

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…