By Rachel Beckles Willson
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 1907. So it falls within the reign of Abdülhamid II (1876-1909), a ruler who established many vocational schools of arts and handcrafts.
It is preserved as ‘X5078’ in the Swedish Museum of Performing Arts (Scenkonstmuseet) in Stockholm, which was founded as the ‘Musikhistoriska museet’ in 1899 following the Stockholm Art and Industry Exhibition of 1897, and opened to the general public in 1901. Unfortunately the museum has no record of how the oud got there, but the current curator, Eva Olandersson, guesses it arrived between the late 1970s and 1990.
Who might have owned it before then?