Dari Language Blog

Rubab, a Famous Music Instrument in Afghanistan Posted by on Oct 25, 2012 in culture

As Part of our introduction to Afghan culture and languages, I have written about the Attan and the Afghan music, but since I am visiting Afghanistan, I will take the opportunity to introduce you to an Afghan Music instrument, Rubab, which sometimes is referred to as “the lion of instruments”.

Rubab is a string instrument with three main strings which are made of goat intestine or nylon. As shown in the video the body is made of a single piece of wood carved hollow to make the sound chamber which is covered with a membrane. It also has 13 metal strings which are rarely used in playing songs. These extra strings help in producing the unique sound of the three main strings.

Rubab is played in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, India, and some other countries in the region, however, Hanif, a Rubab master in Kocha-e-Kharabat, which is the Mecca of Afghan music, explained that Rubab is originated in Afghanistan.

In rural areas in Afghanistan where other forms of entertainment are rare, Rubab has proven to be very entertaining and unifying for Afghan young men. Young men in these areas gather and listen to the Rubab Music, usually played by amateur Rubab players.  In the Accompanying video we have a Rubab Master, playing a love-song on his Rubab.

The following are some music related vocabulary in Dari:

English            Transliteration           Dari

Song                aahang                        آهنگ

Music              museeqee                   موسیقی

Concert           kaansart                      کانسرت

Singer              awaaz-khaan          آواز خوان

Lyrics               shaeer                           شعر

Flute                toola                              توله

Drums             dool                              دُهل

Sitar                 sitar                             سه تار

Arabic drum    zair-baghalee        زیر بغلی

Guitar              geetaar                       گیتار

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About the Author: Sayed Naqibullah

Sayed Naqibullah speaks Pashto and Dari as his native languages. Since 2004 he has been teaching Dari and Pashto and working as cultrual advisor to NGO workers, foreigners who live, work, or are visiting Afghanistan. Sayed has worked as a linguist for several companies that produce language course-ware. He has worked as a guide, interpreter and translator of a number of NGOs working in Afghanistan. Sayed is also a blog writer on Afghan culture and languages. He is the author of a Dari language textbook called “Dari as a Second Language”.


  1. aijaz ahmad:

    i highly inspired by this instument, i likethis one