Anasayfa | Makale Bilgi Sistemi | Konu Dizini Yazarlar DiziniKaynaklar Dizini | Makale-Yazar Listesi |  Makale Sayýsý-Tarih Listesi | Güncel Türkoloji Kaynakçasý


Atatürk Araþtýrmalarý || Çukurova Araþtýrmalarý || Halkbilim || Dilbilim || Halk Edebiyatý || Yeni Türk Dili || Eski Türk Dili
Yeni Türk Edebiyatý || Eski Türk Edebiyatý || Dil Sorunlarý || Genel || Tiyatro || Çaðdaþ Türk Lehçeleri



Roger FINCH*




Music is the most evanescent of all the arts. The ancient civilizations of China, India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome have left their legacies in architecture and the plastic arts and much of their literature has survived in written form, but the music that once animated the court, the temple, the places of entertainment, and the homes of these great nations of the distant past are forever lost in silence. To a certain extent, presentday folk music indigenous to each of these regions may echo the traditions of the past, but it is only an echo of the rich blend of melody, rhythm, and harmony that these civilizations must have produced; it is only where a civilization develops a system of musical notation that the music of the past may be reconstructed in living form, but even then systems of musical notation may be difficult to interpret and may not capture every nuance present in performance. 

One tangible aspect of music does survive the ages, and that is the musical instruments of a civilization; not often the instruments themselves but their representations in sculpture or paintings, their description in literature. If it were not for the survival of musical instruments in art and mention of music and musical instruments in literature, we might not be certain that the ancient world had music, but we see portrayed groups of musicians celebrating important historical events and hear tell of the wonderful sounds they made and so we know that the atmosphere of those ancient lands must have been vibrant with music. 

One area whose music is particularly difficult to imagine is that of Eastern Turkestan, which lay on the route between the Chinese sphere of cultural influence and the Indo-Iranian sphere of cultural influence and was also exposed to cultural influence from the south, from Tibet. Eastern Turkestan is named by Chinese commentators as a source of Western or ‘barbarian' influence on Chinese music, and at the same time Arabic and Persian and Indian writers on the history of music speak of influences from the nomadic peoples of Central Asia and of Chinese influences which must have traveled along the Silk Road through this same area; the question is whether Eastern Turkestan served only as a transmit­ter of musical ideas between the Near East and the Far East or whether it had a fully developed musical identity of its own. If the music of the citystates of Kucha and Agni and Khotan and of the Uigur Empire was simply a blend of the musical styles of India and the Near East, on the one hand, and the vastly different music of China and Tibet, on the other, it must have been a music of great complexity and of unusually exotic beauty; perhaps, though, whatever it is that the music of the Near East, India, Tibet, and China have in common may be due to the native music of Central Asia. 

Though the nature of the ancient music of Eastern Turkestan itself must remain highly conjectural, the musical instruments as a tangible aspect of that art may be traced in their history with a fairly high degree of certitude. In the surviving murals and sculptures and other minor arts of Eastern Turkestan, certain musical instruments that flourished in the Uigur Empire have been portrayed, and the names of some of these in­struments have been mentioned in Uigur literature; unfortunately, not all of the instruments that have been pictured have been named and, judging from the history of the musical instruments of the neighboring lands to the east and to the west, not all of the instruments that must have been used in the Uigur Empire have been portrayed in the art of the period. Using comparative evidence of a musicological nature, certain additional musical instruments may be hypothesized as current in Eastern Turkestan during the pre-Islamic period and, using comparative linguistic evidence from the Altaic language family, it may be said which of these instruments were of probable Central Asian origin and which were borrowed. 

1. The musical instruments of Eastern Turkestan 

1.1 The earliest musical instruments of Central Asia 

The musical instrument which has been most intimately associated with Central Asia is the drum; it is the most important piece of the shaman's equipment. In general a frame drum, a flat drum with a single head, in form similar to a tambourine without the metal disks or jingles, it has been joined in shamanistic rituals in Eastern Siberia by other per­cussion instruments such as the Chinese drum and cestanets; among the Kazakhs and the Kirghiz by the gobuz or gopuz, a bowed string instrument, and the dombra, a plucked string instrument; and in Korea by the flute and the taykim, a kind of shawm, the haykim, a single-stringed fiddle, as well as other percussion instruments such as cymbals and gong, but these may be considered as extra voices to augment or ornament the magic power of the drum. 

There must have been other musical instruments in use in Central Asia before the peoples of the region are known from historical sources. Chinese influence must have penetrated at an early date, for as far back as 52 A.D. the Northern Huns sent an embassy to the Chinese Emperor asking for some new musical instruments to replace their old ones, presumably Chinese, in exchange for a large number of horses and fur garments. 1 Unfortunately we do not know just what those instruments were. 

By the fourth century, Kucha had achieved such a high degree of civilization that their music favorably impressed the Chinese aristocracy and later, in the sixth century, orchestral parties were invited by the We emperors to perform in the Chinese court. The Kuchean musicians were reputedly so fond of music and so skillful that they could imitate the sound of water falling into fountains with their musical instruments. 2 These in­struments included the transverse flute, the p'i-li (Tatar horn or pipe), the conch, cymbals, gong, drum, the p'i p'a or lute, and the k'ung-hu a sphinx-headed instrument with 23 or 25 strings. Toward the latter part of the sixth century, there were three Kuchean orchestras in the Chinese capital and Kuchean music became extremely popular with the people. 3

 1. 2 Influence of the music of neighboring areas on the music of Eastern Turkestan 

Kuchean music is said to have been influenced in turn by Indian music; between the 4th and the 8th centuries A.D., the musical instruments at­ tested in India by references in Vedic literature or represented in basreliefs or sculpture were the bamboo flute, the conch, cymbals, bells, drums of various sizes and shapes, including the bhumidund, an earth drum formed by stretching hides over a pit, the vina, or lute, and a hundred-stringed dulcimer. 4 

In Mesopotamia, most of the instruments portrayed in Babylonian and Assyrian bas-reliefs were harps and other stringed instruments, but double pipes, trumpets, cymbals, tambourines and drums were also ap­parently in use. 5 In the Sasanian basreliefs at Taq-i Bustan, dating from 590- 628 A.D., three types of harps may be distinguished: and angle harp with lower sound chest, and angle harp with upper sound chest, and a frame harp with lower sound chest. Other instruments which appear in these bas-reliefs are the oboe or reed pipe, panpipes, mouth organs, clarions or trumpets, small and large kettledrums, and the hourglass drum or waisted drum, but we know from references in Firdaudi's Shāhnānmeh and in other texts in Pahlavi, Persian, and Arabic, that there existed numerous other musical instruments in Persia during the Sasanian period. These were the flute, several types of oboe, the double oboe or reed-pipe, a bent trumpet, an animal-horn trumpet, the conch, cymbals, rattles, the ‘jingling johnny', the goblet-shaped drum, the cylindrical drum, and several different types of lutes, including the barbut or barbiton, a lute with a hollow neck, the tambür or pandore, a long-necked lute, and the rubāb, a lute with a waisted sound chest. 6 A number of these instruments appear in the frescoes of Eastern Turkestan, and we may conclude that the influence of Persian music on the music of Eastern Turkestan was in time stronger and more direct than that of Indian music.

To the east, in China, transverse flutes, panpipes, cymbals, and drums of various shapes and sizes are also found; these probably originated in­dependently in China and in the West. The oboe and other double-reed instruments, possibly the trumpet, the various kinds of lutes and fiddles and the dulcimer would seem to be importations from the Near and Middle East through Eastern Turkestan; typically Chinese musical instruments are the shêng or mouth organ, possibly the vertical or end-blown flute (which has a mouthpiece unlike that of the recorder), the ocarina of globular flute, clappers, wood blocks, gongs, all of those fixed-pitch percussion instruments-sets of bells, stone chimes, metal chimes, and cym­bal chimes mounted in frames - which are so richly represented in South-East Asia and Indonesia, as well as the several long zither-type instruments 7. Aside from the mouth organ, which appears frequently in the murals of Eastern Turkestan, the only other instruments of un­mistakably Chinese origin known to have been used there are the clap­pers, the wood block (in the form of the ‘wooden fish', a wooden slit gong), and the long zither; the vertical flute was probably common to Central Asia and to China and none of the fixed-pitch percussion instruments appears to have been adopted by the peoples of Eastern Turkestan, though a ‘tray of bells' has been mentioned in use among the Kirghiz in the 9th century. 8 

Traditional Tibetan religious music consists entirely of wind and per­cussion instruments. These include flageolets, trumpets, conchs, cym­bals, gongs, and various sorts of drums. Tibet shares with Central Asia the frame drum (half-drum or tambourine) used in shamanic rituals. The conch as used in Buddhist religious ceremonies in Eastern Turkestan is probably a borrowing from Tibet and the metal trumpet may have been introduced into China as well as Eastern Turkestan from the West via India and Tibet. The typical Tibetan instruments, the very long straight trumpet, the thighbone trumpet, and the skull drum are found outside of Tibet, particularly in Mongolia, with the spread of lamaism. 9  

2. Musical instruments in. the art of Eastern Turkestan and in Uigur literature 

In traditional Indian musical theory, musical instruments are divid­ed into four categories : 10 

1. Sushir, wind instruments 

2. Ghana, percussion instruments played with hammer or sticks  

3. Avanaddha, drum varieties 

4. Tata, string instruments 

These categories correspond to the four categories of aerophones, idiophones, membranophones, and chordophones of the Sachs-Hornbostel classification system. The following list of musical instruments from the period of the Uigur Empire follows this classification system; in this list, the Uigur name of the instrument is given, where known, or is reconstruc­ted from the evidence of other Turkic dialects. 

2. 1 Aerophones 

sibizyu , end-blown flute (Chag. sipuzya ‘flute', Alt. Shor sibisqi, Küär. siqirtqi, Tel. siyirtqi ‘fife  *siburt-yu, cf. Krm. sisliq ‘piping', Koib. Sista-, Osm. siziq- ‘pipe' perh. < *sibuz- from the same root *siburt- ‘cause to make a piping sound'; Mo. sibsiyur sobsiyur ‘pipe, whistle' appear to be directly from sibsi- ‘whisper; conjure' and sobsir- ‘call animals' + VN ending /-GUr/, instrument, but the root *sob- in *sobsir- is likely to be from *sibu(r)- and the variant cibcigür ‘small pipe for calling animals' suggests a compound of the root *sib- + cuyur ‘a kind of reed pipe' ( ~Tel. coyor cör soyor, Alt. coqur ‘fife') < *cuyu (written cuu) <*cuy < the same root *cav in OT cav ‘rumor, noise'. The root *sib­‘whis-pering' or ‘whistling' may be a variant of the root *sim-  *cim­‘suck' found in Bar., Toba sýmraq ‘pacifier (for children)' Mo. cime cimegeN ‘sound, noise', sime- simi- ‘suck up', simegür ‘reed used for sucking up liquids'; Ma. cimilan ‘whistle sounded by sucking air through it' <*cim-, Ev. cume- ‘suck', cf. Sag. soral, Leb. soröl, Alt. soryül ‘piping' <sor-’suck'; Chuv. sapâr ‘bagpipes' is probably from *sibir- from the same root *sib- as OT sibizyu, but it also recalls Akk. ‘ sapparu, Heb. söfar; Ar. sabbür ‘conch or animal horn trumpet'. 

Ref.: von Gabain, Qoco, p. 152. 

Because of the meaning of the roots *sib- ‘whistle' and *sim   *cim­‘suck' it is likely that the sibizyu was a vertical or end-blown flute rather than a transverse flute. 

This flute may be seen played by a putta or cupid kneeling inside a medallion on the cover of a 7th-century reliquary from Kucha. The flute is of a dark color, and would be about 20 cm. long. The medallion is flanked by peacocks, a design of Iranian origin, but the iconography of the cupid, who wears a pearl necklace, is characteristic of Mirân (PAC pp. 86-7). 

*tütük, transverse flute (ET düdük ‘flute', Chag. düdük ‘shawm; flute', Tk. düdük ‘fife' < an Altaic root *düdü found in Mo. düdüne- ‘mumble', Ma. dudu ‘turtledove'; possibly borrowed into Chinese as ti ‘transverse flute' < MC *tâk, cf. Jap. -teki in ryuteki ‘a seven-holed transverse bam­boo flute'; Mo. lingbü N limbü ‘flute' is from Tib. glin-bu 'flageolet'). 

Ref.: von Gabain, Qoco, pp. 151-52. 

The transverse flute may be seen in frescoes at Kizil, Cave 38 (Preaching Buddhism. Detail. Western and Eastern Chin: QM Fig. 24) and in the Prayer-Wheel Cave, 600- 650 A.D. (Divine-Musician: AASR, p. 93, Fig, 29); in the latter, the flute is dark brown, very thin and reed­like, and may be made of bamboo or another type of reed. A fragment of a wooden vessel from Yarkhoto (8th-9th centuries) shows the remains of a divine musician holding a flute to this lips. The flute is light col­ored, possibly bamboo, with a knop at the mouthpiece end, and would be about 50 cm. long (AASR, pp. 190-191, Fig. 130). 

In a wall painting from Sanyim Ayiz, Temple 7 (7th century A.D.), a naked yakþa child plays a flute about 40 cm. long (BACA 2, p. 46 and Fig. 82) and in a wall painting from Bazaklik (8th century), a demon musician plays a light-colored (metal?) flute about 55 cm. long (PAC, p. 103, illus.). What is remarkable about these paintings is that the musi­cians are shown holding the flute to the left, rather than to the right, with the right hand facing in and the left hand facing out. It might be assumed that this is a mistake on the part of the artist, and this might be the case in the painting of a Celestial Palace Musician in Kizil, Cave 76, where the hand placemet of the female musician is irregular, with the right hand close to the mouthpiece and the left hand close to the end (QM, Fig. 5), but the position to the left was an alternative method of holding the flute and may even be seen in a print entitled "Ein Feld Pfeiffer bey den Carlstattischen Trouppen;' by Martin Engelbrecht (1684-1756), in the Zenetörtáneti Müzeuma, Budapest. 

Evliya Chelebi names 6 types of düduk in use in Turkey in the l7th century, and the surviving examples range in size from 20 cm. to 43.5 cm. Farmer calls these (2, pp. 650-52), as well as the Tatar tütik (1, p. 93), 'recorder' or ‘beaked flute'; if so, then the transverse flute may have been called in Uigur by another name, possibly *qaval (Tk., Az. qaval ‘flute, shepherd's flute', Chuv. kaval ‘small horn': Kor kal ‘reed, reed pipe', possibly borrowed into Chinese as kuan (cf. Farmer, 2, p. 136, though in Chinese kuan is a ‘recorder' or ‘double flute'). 

There is another instrument, ET balâman, Ott. balâ6an, a ‘shepherd's flute' or ‘reed flute', from a root *bal- or * bâl-which is possibly a variant of the Altaic root *pil- *bil- ‘blow' fund in Mo. biskigür < *bilskigür (cf. iskire- ‘whistle' <*pils-ki-re-); Ma. bile ‘reed pipe'; Kor. phili ‘flute, fife, pipe'; the same root *pil- (*pül-) is at the base of Ma. ficakû ‘six­holed bamboo flute' and ficari ‘eight-holed bamboo flute' < fca- ‘blow' < *pil-ea-, Ev. pievun ‘whistle'< *pil-ca-, Neg. pipixân ‘flute', Ulc. pupaei­‘whistle' (probably with reduplicated root *pil pil); MM. hüli'e­‘blow' *pülige-; Ma. fulgiyeku ‘whistle, pipe' < fulgiye- ‘blow' < *pulgige­<*pulq- (*pulk-), Ev. huv-, Nan. pü- ‘blow' < *pulq-; Jap. fue ‘flute'; fuk- ‘blow' < *pulk- or *pulg-. Chin. p'i-li ‘the Tatar horn or pipe' is from some Eastern Turkestan dialect (.lade FluLe, p. 63) and the Proto­Turkic form may have been *pili or *pile < *pil(i)ge.


The panpipe or syrinx is well represented in the art of Eastern Turkestan but the name it went by is unknown. Since the panpipe ex­isted in China as early as the Shang Dynasty, l5th century B.C. (,lade Flute, p. 63), as well as in Anicent Egypt (Farmer 2, p. 316) it could have made its way into Eastern Turkestan from either China or the West. In the fifteenth century A.D., the panpipe was known to the Persians and Arabs as müsiqâr (Farmer 2, pp. 143; 145), from Greek, and it is possi­ble that the instrument may have been introduced into Bactria and from there into Central Asia at the time of Alexander the Great.  

Ref.: von Gabain, Qoeo, p. 152. 

This instrument appears in murals at Kizil (Caves 76, 77, 190: QM, Figs. 3, 6, 7, 8, 9) dating from 600- 650 A.D. The gradation in the size of tubes is not always observable but, when it is, the shorter end is toward the musician's left. The size varies from about 20 cm. to 35 cm. wide. The number of tubes of which the instrument in composed is not always clear, but it has been pictured as having anywhere from 10 or 13 to 30 tubes. The color varies from near white to medium brown, suggesting a variety of materials, and the binding is sometimes visible at the bot­tom, top, and diagonally across the middle. 

*surnay 'shawm' or 'oboe' ( < Pahl. sürnay < sür 'festival' + nây .

( double) reed instrument', cf. Farmer, 2. p. 209, although Al-Fârâbi (died ca. 950 A.D.) has given the form suryânay, which means 'reed instru­ment from Syria' (Farmer 2, p. 68); Bar. surnai, Tar. sünai may be from the supposed Uigur form, but Kom. suruna, Ott. ,zurnâ are rather < Pers. surnâ < surnây. The Chinese borrowed the instrument, together with its name, which appears in the two forms su-erh-nai, probably from Uig. *surnay, and sona, from a later form *surna; Kor. söla 'conch' or 'shell trumpet' is an independent borrowing from Turkic *surna or Pers. sur­na, not by way of Chinese). 

In a mural from Bazaklik (8th century), a demon musician plays an end-blown conical-bore wind instrument like the shawm or the Indian sundari, about 30 cm. long (PAC, illus., p. 103). No reed is visible in this painting. 

The mouth organ, which is of undoubtedly Chinese origin, may have been known to the Uigurs under the name *senq < Chin. shenq, or possibly by the name *mustaq < mustak, the Pahlavi name for the instrument (Farmer, 2, p. 210).  

Ref.: von Gabain, Qoco, p. 152. 

The shênq or mouth organ is a distinctive instrument consisting of reeds of varying lenghth fitted upright into a cup-shaped wind chamber with a short flared mouthpiece. Two of these instruments may be seen in the Tâq-i Bustân bas-reliefs and in a fragment of awall painting from Kumtura (7th-8th centuries A.D.) representing a Pure Land, a sheng player may be seen together with a harpist and a dancer (BACA 1, p. 25 and Fig. 48). 

boryuy ( boryu) ‘trumpet' (Ott. bürü < a root *burq or bury, cf. ET burgura- ‘bellow (of a camel)'; this same root may be at the base of Pahl. büq ‘trumpet'). 

This instrument is mentioned in the Maitrisimit (Claus. 361a). 

A front-vowel variant of this root is found in Mo. büriyen ‘trumpet , horn' < *büri gen, Ma. buren ‘conch horn, brass horn, trumpet' < *büren, bürde- ‘blow on a conch';cf. also Ma. buleri ‘horn, trumpet' ( <*büleri) Nbileri ‘wind instrument with eight holes and a metal mouthpiece', a kind of surna or oboe, bile ‘reed pipe', and other instruments mention­ed under balâban above.

Another trumpet may have been known in Eastern Turkestan; this would have been the *garnay or *gornay (Uzb. kornai ‘large brass trumpet', Kir. kdrünöi ‘trumpet' < Pahl. karranây, qarnây, or karnây, possibly of Semitic origin, cf. Akk. qarnu, Heb. qeren, Ar. qarn, though Persian lexicographers hint that it may originally have been xarnây (xâr =‘ass'), probably on account of its hoarse tone, Farmer, 2, p. 217). Ibn Ghaibi (died 1435) describes the karranây as a trumpet with its tube bent back (Farmer, 2, p. 662).

Another instrument, nafir, a cylindrical trumpet, is mentioned in the Thousand Nights and One Night but it was unknown by this name until the 11th century (Farmer, 1, p. 93). This instrument was deacribed by Evliya Chelebi and by Ibn Ghaibi, who says it was 168 cm. long, and in the l7th century was different from the bürü (Farmer, 2, p. 660), un­doubtedly because of its cylindrical bore. The word passed into Korean, possibly by way of medieval Uigur, as naphal ‘trumpet' or ‘bugle'. 

labay ‘conch' ( < Chin. lo pai <MC *luâ pâi, though a variant , la pa is a phonetic apelling and must be a transcription of a foreign word; another word for ‘shell trumpet' is  pa-la ( > Kor. pâla), also a phonetic apelling an the transcription of a foreign word. 

Ref.:von Gabain, Qoco, p. 152. 

The loud sound of this instrument is spoken of in Uigur literature: labai-ya kalsör, bu labainiŋ üni öküs (tjinlY-lar-ya isidilür (TT II, 28.30-31) "When someone plays the conch, the sound of the conch is heard by many people : ' 

2. 2 Idiophones 

caŋ ‘bell; cymbal' (ET canq ‘bell, small bell', Koib. saŋ, Alt., Tel. saŋ, Chag. caŋ, Tk. can ‘bell'; Mo. canq ‘cymbals', Ma. can ‘small cymbals', cang cang ‘sound of bells', cangga ‘small gong'; a denasalized form of the root is found in Ma. cak-siku ‘small cymbal' < caksi- ‘rattle vibrate' (cf. Mo. cakil-’strike, flash'); Kor. ceykim 'small cymbals' < *cey­< *ceg- perh. < *eaki- + -kim, generalized word for musical instruments < Chinese; Jap. chappa ‘pair of small cymbals' (but cf. Mo. cab 'suddenly', Tk. carp- ‘bump, hit'). Clauson derives Uig. caŋ from Chin. cheng ‘gong' (actually ‘sorte de petite cloche qu'on frappait pour arreter la marche des soldats', Couv. 954b) or Pers. cang ‘harp; lute; cymbals' but, because of the onomatopoeic nature of the base, it cannot be stated with certain­ty that the Uigur word is borrowed from another language; the presence of the same root and its variants in cognate Altaic languages is evidence that the word is not, in fact, a borrowing (if it were, Tib. qgan. ‘a flat bell made of bell metal (li) and rung with the mouth turned upward' (Nebesky­Wojkowitz, p. 398) is another possible source. Ma. jung (Njungken) ‘bell' is clearly a borrowing from Chin. chung ‘bell'. 

Although caŋ means both ‘bell ' and ‘cymbals', in the passage silkmis uluy caŋiŋiztin/önmis ünnüŋ tikisin/ yont taytaqi quvraqiŋiz barca asidür yanqusin (Suv. 490.17) "All of your herds of horses on the mountains will hear the reverberation from the sound of the bell you have rung and its echo," seems to refer more specifically to the sound of a bell. In the Uigur Book of the Dead, in anta basa cang tamaru töprantip (UT 1325-6) "then sounding the bell and the damaru (drum)," caŋ refers to the hand bell used in Lamaist ceremonies. 

Ciŋ-ray refers more specifically to the ‘cymbals' and is derived from caŋ *ciŋ, var. of *taŋ N *tir~ (ET cingrayu ‘bell', tongrayu ‘small bell' , 

Chag. ciŋqrau ‘bell', Tar. siŋgirdaq ‘small bell'; Mo. dingsay (perh. < *tirray) ‘small cymbals used in certain Buddihst rites'; Ma. tanggiri ‘small finger cymbal' (but cf. Chin., tang small gong').  

Ref.: von Gabain, Qoco, p. 150.

Cymbals are well-represented in Uigur art. They are shaped like a flat hat with a round crown and a wide brim. In von Le Coq's Atlas (Table 16, Fresco-Fussboden), three pairs may be seen (in the ratio 3.5: 4.25:

5) with red scarves fastened to a grommet in the center of each cymbal; apparently these scarves were used to hold the instruments. From two frescoes found at Bazaklik (8th century), it appears from the way the musician is holding these cymbals that they were sounded by striking the convex sides together (PAC, p. 101, illus. pp. 100 and 103), although it is difficult to see how this would be possible if they are to be held by the scarves fastened to that same side. 

*qoŋraq ‘bell', possibly ‘hand bell' (Shor qoŋrâ, Kom. qoŋrau ‘bell' < qoŋrau, possibly a rhyme form of taŋrayu., cf. ET toŋrauu ‘small bell'; a root *goŋ-is found also in Mo. gonggu ‘bell, hand bell', gonggina- ‘ring', qonggir qanggir ‘ringing'; Kor kotilkay ‘horse bell; cow bell'; and possibly Alt. qözo < *qoŋra-Yu (where *-ŋ-r-> -z-); if so, Tel. küzüŋü would be a front-vowel variant of this, < *köŋregü. Mo. qarangya ‘gong' is pro­bably < Tib. kharma ‘gong', but cf. qalang kiling (metallic clinking sound) and salanq ‘cymbal', a rhyme-form of qalanq. 

*caq or *saq 'wooden clappers' (Ott. saqsaq ‘castanets' < saq 'clapper'; Mo. cargil ‘castanets' < eargi- ‘rattle, make a hoarse sound' < car ‘noise'; Ma. carki ‘wooden clapper' < carki- ‘rattle'; Jap. shaku­in shakubyoshi ‘pair of small wooden clappers': cf. also Ott. cankla. zünklö., a front-vowel variant of eaq with nasal infix; Jap. sasara ‘a scraper or rattle' may be from *saq-saq-ra < *saq-saq-ra or from sar-sar-, cf. Tk. sars ‘shake', Mo. sar sar (rustling, pattering sound).

There may have existed in Uigur another word for ‘wooden clappers' from the verb ur- ‘hit', ef. Khal. hur- ‘hit' < *pur-, the same root found in Ma. forikû ‘wooden clapper' < fori- ‘strike, knock'.  

Ref.: von Gabain, Qoco, p. 150.  

*toqiYu ‘drumstick', possibly also ‘wooden fish' <tuqi ‘hit, knock' (Mo. toysiyur -tongsiyur ‘watchman's rattle' <toysi- tongsi- ‘beat , knock'; Ma. toksikû (toksitû) ‘wooden fish (musical instrument)', toksin ‘square wooden musical instrument' toksi- ‘knock, strike'; Kor. ttaktaki ‘wooden clappers' < ttak ‘with a bang' < *ttolc; < *tok; Ma. ioi, ‘wooden musical instrument made in the shape of a reclining tiger', a friction in­strument played by rubbing a stick across the ridges in the animal's back, is from Chin. 'yü < MC *ngiwo ‘a kind of musical instrument'; the fish shape must have been suggested by the similarity of the word yü to yü ‘fish'; this instrument is preserved in Japan as the mok­ugyo ‘wooden fish', a wooden slit-gong used during Buddhist ceremonies.  

Ref.: von Gabain, Qoeo, p. 150. 2. 3 Membranophones 

*qaŋal (*qayal or *qaval) ‘tambourine' (Az. qaval ‘tambourine'; Ott. qanqa ‘a kind of tambourine' may be connected with Tk. kangal ‘coil, skein', from the shape, but cf. Mo. qanqyur (cracking, crashing), qanggina- ‘resound' < a root *qaŋ-; Mo. kece ‘tambourine' may be from a front-vowel form of this root, * )keŋ-. 

The tambourine may also have been called *tap, *tav, or *tam, from Pahlavi (cf. Tar. dap ‘hand drum'); Kom. taf and Ott. taf ‘tambourine' are < Pers. daf a word of Afro-Asiatic or possibly Sumerian origin: Eg. tab, Heb. tof Ar. duff; Sum. dub; this was a square tambourine, as op­posed to the more familiar round tambourine (Farmer 2, p. 316); the word passed into Chinese as ta pu, probably through the propesed Uigur form *tap. 

*tabulya ‘kettledrum' (ET tubulya ‘kettledrum', ultimately from Ar. ,tabl ‘drum', cf. OT tavil, Ott. tabil (N tavil- dabil - davil) from the same source. Evliyâ Chelebi mentions a tabl-i bâz ‘hawking kettledrum' (Farmer 2, p. 645), the same as Kaz. daulpaz ‘hunting drum used to call a falcon'. This may be connected with Mo. damaru (dambaru) ‘small hand drum, made of skulls, used in tantric and shamanistic rites' ( < Tib. damaru < Skŋamaru), also a variety of vessel drum. 

It may also be that the kettledrum (or one size of kettledrum) was known in Uigur as *tümbak or *tumbaq (Chag. tünbak, dumbaq, Ott. tümbük, which refer to various kinds of drum or kettledrum) or *tümbülük ( Chag., Ott. dümblük 'kettledrum'). All five types of dun­balalc (dünbülük) discussed by Chelebi are varietiea of kettledrums (Farmer, 2, pp. 646-7). 

Chelebi names a third type of kettledrum, the naqqâra (Chag. na­qara, Ott. naqara -nayara < Ar. naqqârât), a small kettledrum that could be suspended from the neck and was sometimes used in pairs (Farmer, 2, p. 645). This instrument might have been known in Uigur as *naqara, for it passed into Chinese as na-lca-la (na-ko-la), but it was probably a later development. 

Ref.: von Gabain, Qoeo, p. 150. 

*tümbük or *tumbaq ‘goblet drum' (Chag. tünbök -dumbaq, Ott. tümbtik, types of drums, from a root *tüŋ or *tüq found in Alt., Koib. tüŋür ‘shaman's drum', Tk. döv- < *döq- ‘beat'; Mo. dünggür ‘shaman's drum', dünggin.e- ‘make a hollow sound', tünq ‘sound of a drum beat', tügs'i- ‘palpitate, knock'; Jür., Ma. tungken ‘drum' < *tür ken, Ma. tung tung ‘sound of a drum', Sol. tuŋke ‘shaman's drum', Neg. toŋ-toŋ ‘boom­boom'; Kor. ttayngttayng-i ‘a paper tambourine with beads inside' Jap. tsuzumi ‘hourglass drum with 2 heads; drum' < *tüŋ-tüŋ-mi or *tüq-tüq-mi (but cf. Skr. dundubhi ‘large conical drum', Deva, p. 67; Tam. tuti. ‘ small hourglass drum', tutumai ‘a kind of drum', Kan. tudubu, Tel. tudumu ‘kind of drum, tomtom)). This has been identified as a goblet drum on the basis of Pahl. tumbak, Pers. tunbak - dunbak ‘goblet drum' (Farmer, 2, p. 218), but it may also have been an hourglass drum. From the etymologies, it is likely that the name was of Central Asian origin. 

*tümbülük ‘hourglass drum' or ‘waisted drum' ( Chag., Ott. dümbülök ‘kettledrum', ET tiberek ‘tambour de basque' (DTO 252), a derivative of the above *tümbök). 

Ref.: von Gabain, Qoco, p. 150, Abb. 181, lower right. 

In the Story of the Hetupratyaya mural from Kizil, Cave 224, a musi­cian plays with both hands an hourglass drum which is supported diagonal­ly at chest height, probably by a strap or thong around his neck. The body of the instrument is red-brown and the drumheads and W-style lac­ings are cream colored (QM, Fig. 25). In a mural of the same story from Kizil, Cave 163, the instrument is shaped like the Indian huduk, the drumheads are square, and the lacings are visible only at the corners (QM, Fig. 31). 

The proposed Uig. *tümbölük must be a borrowing from an Iranian language since Pahl. dumbalak ‘a small drum with a cylindrical body' appears to be the diminutive of *dumbal (Farmer 2, p. 218), but the root of the word is probably Altaic. 

kövrüq (küvrüq) ‘drum' (ET kevürge ‘large drum'; Mo. kögerge (kögürge) ‘tambourine; drum', probably rel. to kögere- ‘rejoice' <köq ‘music' < *keq; a nasalized root *)ceŋ is found in kenggerge ‘drum, tambourine' < *keŋger, cf. kengkere- (= kenggere-) ‘stratch or touch the skin lightly'). 

Ref.: von Gabain, Qoco, p. 150. 

The word kövrüq is the general word for ‘drum' in Uigur but, judg­ing by the frequency with which the barrel drum occurs in the art of Eastern Turkestan, kövrüq is probably more specifically this drum. 

In most representations it is a medium-sized drum, shaped like the Indian dhol or dholak, and is suspended diagonally at waist level or chest level from the player's neck (Kizil, Cave 77, Southern and Northern Dynasties, QM, Fig. 2; Fig. 43;Kizil, amall cupola, AKCZ, Pl. V). The drumheads are usually fastened to the drum by netted lacings, but in a mural from Bazazklik (8th century) portraying a demon musician beating a drum, the drumheads are fastened to the body by means of tacks or cleats (PAC, illus., p. 103). In another mural from Kizil, Cave ?6, one man carries a rather large barrel drum on his back by means of a strap fastened to handles on the sides of the drum while a musician hits the drum with curved club-like beaters (QM, Fig. ~l). The drumheads of this drum are also fastened to the body by means of tacks or cleats.

This drum was used to arrest the attention of the people at the time a proclamation was made: küniŋa munculayu küvrüq toqip yarliy yarliyqap (CB 32.8-33.2 )u "Day after day they beat the drum in this man­ner and repeated the proclamation"; yüttinc kün taŋ taŋlayur arkün üdgü ögli tügin uluy küvrüg toqitip inca. tap yarryqadi (CB 31.6-32.2) "On the seventh day, when dawn began to break, Prince Kalyanamkara ordered the great drum to be beaten and proclaimed what follows;' and probably from this usage appears as an omen in the Altun Yaruq: ol ymö. altun kövrüq kün tüŋri tilgtini tüg tügirmi körkl yaruq özö qoptin sirar yarutu yaltridu turur ürti (Suv. 92.17) "and the golden drum shone like the disk of the sun with beautiful light in every direction: ' 

tavil ‘cylindrical drum' ( < Ar. ;a61 ‘drum', through an Iranian language, cf. Ott. tabil N tavil). Clauson states that this ia the drum beaten to call the falcon when hunting, but that drum is the tabl-i bn.z, a kind of kettledrum, as mentioned above. The tawil (or dâwul) cited by Chelebi was a cylindrical drum, like the European drum, which occurred in varios sizes from the small side drum to the large bass drum (Farmer, 2, pp. 647-8) . 

Other drums are mentioned by von Gabain (Qoco, loc. cit.), but they may have been called by the general name kövrüq.  

2. 4 Chordophones  

2. 4. 1 Harps 

In the Tâq-i Bustân bas-reliefs, there appear there harps of distinct types. Farmer has identified the frame harp with lower sound chest as Pahl. kannâr (Heb. kinnör, Ar. kinniýra, Skr. kinnara; the angle harp with lower sound chest as Pahl. vön. ( or vün, Pers van, cf. Skr. vinâ, Copt. boine, Eg. bain-t or 6an-t); and the angle harp with upper sound chest as Pahl. eanq (Pers. canq: 2, pp. 214-15). The harp is one of the most common instruments in the frescoes of Eastern Turkestan, but it is neither a frame harp nor an angle harp; it is a bow harp. Although once popular in Eastern Turkestan, it has disappeared without a trace, leaving behind not even the memory of its name. In Uigur it might have been called *van, or *qinar or *qanar, but probably it was known by the more general name of *caŋ.  

Ref.: von Gabain, Qoco, p. 151. 

In general this harp is similar to the Assyrian bow harp (cf. bas-reliefs of Ashurbanipal reclining at a meal, with musicians and attendants, in the British Museum, Handcock, plate XXI), but it is quite slender, curves in at top and bottom, is about 70 to 90 cm. long, and has a resonator toward the bottom which takes up about one-third the length of the in­strument. This resonator is sausage-shaped or kidney-bean-shaped and may be made of leather, for the bow of the harp appears to thread through the incurved side of it and in some examples the bow passes into the sound box through a narrow mouth which appears to be tied shut around the bow with thongs. Where the strings of the harp are visible, they run straight up and down, the way a hunting bow is strung, not at an angle to the bow; there may be as many as 10 strings (Musician Bodhisattva), Kizil, Cave 76, QM, Fig. 12; Kumtura, wall-painting, 7th-8th cent., A.D., BACA 1, p. 25, Fig. 48). The musician holds the harp vertically, with the resonator under the right arm, the bow of the instrument facing outward, open side inward (Musician. Bodhisattvas, Southern and Northern Dynasties, Kizil, Cave 80, QM Fig. 10; Musician Bodhisattva, Tang Dynas­ty, Kizil, Cave 99, QM Fig. 11; God and Gandharva, von Le Coq, Atlas, Table 7), or horizontally, with the bow side down and the open side up (Musician Bodhisattva, Kizil, Cave 76, QM Fig. 12; lunette from the "Hip­ pocampenhöhle;' von Le Coq, Atlas, Table 1). The instrument was hung over the musician's right shoulder by a strap fastened at each end of the resonator (Musician, Western and Eastern Chou, Simsim, Cave 43, QM Fig. 59 ) . 

2. 4. 2 Lutes 

qupuz 'lute' (ET qobuz, Shor qobus, Alt. qom s, Kaz. qo6uz, Ott. qopuz < *qop-Yursu < qop- ‘snap' (as the string of a musical instrument), cf. Ma. kob ‘right on the mark'; Mo. quyur ‘stringed musical instrument played with a bow' < *qob-Yur, <gob- Yur; Ma. hüru ‘mouth harp' < *gob­yur, Ev. kördâvun. ‘ stringed musical instrument' < *qobyurda' Yun; Jap. koto ‘long zither with 13 strings and high movable bridges' < *qob-t , cf. Mo. qobdu ‘case; long, narrow box'. Chuv. kobza 'instrument like a guitar' is a secondary form through Slavic < Turkic qobuz. Tib. kophons' ‘a guitar tuned in 3 fourths' is from Uig. gopuz) or quŋqau (N quŋqayu) ‘lute' ( < Chin. k'ung-hu, MC *khuŋ-hu; Hamilton surmises that the Chinese is a Han Dynasty transcription of Turkic *qupyuz, CB, p. 119b, but the form on which the Chinese was based was probably *qom-Yur). It is difficult to say if there was a real difference between Uig. qopuz and qur~qau; Chelebi states that the qupüz qopüz) had three strings, but Ibn Ghaibi (died 1435) states that it had a slim belly and five strings (Farmer, 2, pp. 666-7), while the Chinese k'unq-hu eventually evolved into a horizontal zither-type instrument (]ade Flute, p. 63) with twenty­-three or twenty-five strings (Couv. 680a, but surely not a ‘guitar'). Perhaps during the period of the Uigur Empire the difference between them was more in the manner of playing, perhaps one with the fingers, the other with a plectrum. 

Ref.: von Gabain, Qoeo, p. 151.  

In general, the qopuz has a pear-shaped body like the p'i-p'a, but the sides of the neck are straight and taper gradually into the shoulder of the instrument, suggesting that the neck is solid, not hollow like that of the p'i p'a. The pegbox is bent back and in some examples sound holes are visible. The outline is similar to that of the saz, and the instrument is about 75 to 90 cm. long (Kizil, small cupola, AKCZ Pl. V). In a wooden statuette of a Gandharvi from Subashi, 5th-6th cent. A.D. (BACA, p. 46 and Fig. 85), the instrument appears to be provided with sound holes. The instrument may have 4 strings (Preaching Budhism, detail, Western and Eastern Chin, Kizil, Cave 14: QM Fig. 17) or 5 strings (Flying figures, "16 Schwerttrögerhöhle," 600- 650 A.D., BACA p. 46 and Fig. 86 ; Preachinq Buddhism, Western and Eastern Chin, Kizil, Cave 14: QM Fig. 19). 

In the Prayer-Wheel Cave at Kizil (600- 650 A.D.), there is a wall pain­ting showing a divine musician with a lute that appears to have up to 10 strings, 4 or 5 over the fingerboard and the rest at one side of the finger­board; perhaps this instrument is the qurqau. 

In two other murals from Kizil, one from Cave 38 (QM Fig. 23), the other from Cave 98 (QM Fig. ), musicians are portrayed with a smaller lute, only 50 or 55 cm. long, but there is no way of knowing if this smaller instrument went by a different name. 

The manner of playing these plucked string instruments was different than the way they are played at the present time; the musician held the boy of the instrument up against the chest or the left shoulder, the neck of the instrument pointed down, and plucked the strings with the right hand, in the same way a violinist does when playing pizzicato. 

Both the quŋqau and the qopuz are mentioned in the tale of Prince Kalyanamkâra and Prince Papâmkâra : mana üdgü saqinciŋ az bar ür­sür maŋa amti bir quŋqayu tilüp ktilürün kürürün. (CB 69.5-70.1) "If you have good thoughts of me, ask now for a lute and bring it to me"; tegin qopuzqa ürtirü ux erti... elgi qopux itizu ayzi y"ýrlayu olurdi (CB 70.6-7l.2) "The prince was extremely skillful on the lute... He was seated, his hand playing the lute and his mouth singing: ' In these passages, the prince asks for a quŋqau and is given a quŋqau (CB 70.2-4), but he is said to be playing the qopuz; if there was much difference between them, this would not have been possible. Possibly quŋqau was a general term for a plucked string instrument.  

poci ‘lute' ( < Chin. ? p'a-tzu, Claus. 293a). It is not certain ust whast this instrument is, but in a painting of Hâriti on linen from Yarkhoto, a nearly naked child is pictured playing a small hourglass-shaped instru­ment like the Turkish waisted tar, but the upper part of the body is a triangle; the pegbox bends back and is comparatively long, and four pegs may be seen on one side (AKCZ, Pl.XXVI). Perhaps this instrument is the poei. 

*barbat (or *pipa) ‘barbiton or mandore' ( < Iranian, cf. Pahl. bar­büt or barbot, Pers. barbat < Gr. barbiton. The Uigur form was probably the immediate source of Chin. p'i p'a, whence Mo. biba, Ma. fi­fan ‘four-stringed lute' (an early loanword), Kor pipha ‘Korean mandolin'; Tib. pi-wari N pi-ban ‘guitar' would seem to be independently derived, perhaps from another language of Eastern Turkestan, not from Skr. vinö; Jap. biwa ‘lute', from Chin. p'i p'a, is also phonologically irregular. Folk etymology has played a part in the derivation of this word, e.g., Pers barbat is said to be from bar ‘breast' + bat ‘duck', from the resemblance of the instrument to the breast of a duck, and in Far Eastern languages the shape of the instrument has been likened in shape to the loquat, cf. Chin. p'i-pa, Kor. pipha, Jap. biwa ‘loquat' (but Ma. pipa ‘loquat')).  

Ref.: von Gabain, Qoco, p. 151.  

The barbat or p'i p'a is a pear-shaped hollow-necked instrument with a gradual slope from the neck to the body. The instrument varies from 70 cm. to 85 cm. in length. The player usually holds it with the body against his chest and the neck straight out to the side (Celestial Musi­cians, Southern and Northern Dynasties, Kizil, Cave 196: QM Fig. 46). The end of the pegbox bends back. The instrument may have three strings (Celestial Musicians, Eastern Han, Kizil, Cave 69: QM Fig. 34; Kizil, Small Cupola Cave: AKCZ, Pl. V); four strings; or five strings (Celestial Musicians, Southern and Northern Dynasties, Kizil, Cave 8: QM Fig. 29). In a fresco from Bazaklik (8th century), the frets are clearly visible (PAC, illus., p. 103). 

*tambur ‘pandore' (Kaz. dombra, Krm. dambura, Ott. tambura tam­bur; Mo. dombura ‘Kalmuck instrument like a lute', possibly < Pahl. tambür, although there are possible Altaic origins in Mo. dombun ‘jug­shaped' or the root *tob in tobsiyur ‘any musical instrument played by plucking' < tobsi- ‘pluck').  

This instrument is quite distinct from the lute, having a large round body and a long, slender, almost straight neck. The instrument is about 80 or 85 cm. long ("Statuen-Höhle," Kizil-Kucha, Indo-Iranian style: KKES, pl. III). In some representations, scroll-shaped or half-lyre sound holes are visible (Celestial Musicians, Tang Dynasty, Kizil, Cave 118: QM Fig. 20; Musician Bodhisattva, Southern and Northern Dynasties,  

Kizil, Cave 77: QM Fig. 3). The instrument may have three strings (Lunette from the "Hippocampenhöhle," von Le Coq, Atlas Table 1); four strings; or five strings (Musician. Bodhi, sattva, Southern and Northern Dynasties, Kizil, Cave 77: QM Fig. 37). 

2. 4. 3 Zithers 

*yatuyan ‘long zither' (Chag. yatuYan, Tub. yadaYan, Bar. YadiYan , ShorcaYan ( < yat-'lie down') > Mo. yatuYa, Ma. yatuhan N yatugan. By analogy with yatuhan are formed Ma. gituhan '12-stringed long zither' < gida- ‘presa', setuhen '25-stringed psaltery' < Chin., and kituhan ‘seven-stringed lute' < Chin. ~ ch'in, MC *qi 8 m 'long zither; stringed instrument .

 Ref.: von Gabain, Qoco, p. 151.

3. Conclusion 

Altogether, there were between 27 and 30 musical instruments used in Eastern Turkestan during the period of the Uigur Empire and possibly more. These include about 8 aerophones, S idiophones, 7 mem­branophonea, and 7 chordophones, and amongst these instruments there are several which have fallen into disuse or are unknown at the present day in this area. Assuming that there was a style of music in which all of these instruments were sounded together, this music would have had a balance of tonecolor, unlike the present-day music of certain areas of the world which are unusually rich in wind-instrument tones, for exam­ple, or percussion tones. 

Of these instruments there are none, really, which we may say with certitude are of Central Asian origin, but that is only because there are certain basic principles of musical instrument construction which underlie all known musical instruments and thus many of these instruments of Eastern Turkestan may have been of independent origin in more than one area, undergoing modification due to prolonged cultural contact.

It may be presumed that several of these instruments, such as the shenq or mouth organ, the harp, and the long zither, are not of Central Asian origin because these instruments are rather specialized in nature and because something is known of their provenance and the history of their distribution. Other instruments may have existed in Central Asia in a prototypical form but may have given way to an imported form of the same musical instrument; a flute in a mural from Eastern Turkestan may be recognized as Chinese because it is made of bamboo, but the flute may have existed previously in this area, made of reed. Similarly, the idea of stringed instruments developed primitively from the hunting bow, and it would be surprising if the hunting peoples of Central Asia did not develop some form of stringed musical instrument, even though the forms of such instruments as attested in the art of Eastern Turkestan indicate a Near Eastern origin. 

This is where comparative linguistic evidence is useful. When an item is borrowed from one culture by another, the name for that item may also be borrowed along with it or a native word may be used to name the item, either by an extension in meaning or, less often, by modifica­tion of an old word or by a neologism. The majority of the names used in the varios Altaic languages for the musical instruments in the above list have a common Altaic root; this does not prove that all of these in­struments were invented by peoples of the Altaic language group or neighboring Central Asian groups, but it does indicate that at least some musical instruments of the type existed in Central Asia at an earlier period. What the exact form of these early instruments was may never be known, but from a comparative study of the morphology of the musical in­struments of Western Asia and the Far East, it is apparent that Central Asia played an active role in the diffusion of musical ideas from West to East and from East to West and in the shaping of musical styles.



AKCZ      Archöalogie und Kunstgeschichte Chinesisch- Zentralasiens   

ATH        Airs de Touen-Houanq      

Atlas        von Le Coq, Die buddhistische Spatantike in Mittelasien. Atlas zu den Wandmalereian      

BACA     Buddhism in Afghanistan and Central Asia        

CB           Le conte bouddhique du bon et du mauvais prince en version ouigoure

GMAC    Grottes et Monuments d Asie Centrale

K KS       Kunts und Kultur entlang der Seidestrange

PMTH     La peinture mural de Touen Houanq

QM         Qiuci Murals of Music and Dance           

Qoco        Das Leben im uigurischen Königreich von Qoco            

UT           Ein uigurisches Totenbuch            

WPAS     Wall Paintings from Ancient Shrines in Central Asia



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2 Bagchi, p. 77.

3 Bagchi, p. 88.

4 Shirali, p. 83.

5 Percy S.P Handcock, Mesopotamian Archaeology, pp. 221-22.

6 Henry George Farmer " The Instrumente of Music on the Tâq-i Bustân Bae-Reliefs," in Farmer, Studies in Oriental Musical Instruments, pp. 201-220. Farmer identifies the panpies in this bae­relief as a 'square tambourine', but the ehape ie identical to that of the numeroue representatione of the panpipee in the freecoes of Eaetern Turkeatan, elightly slanting at the bottom, and from the position of tbe instrument at the player'e mouth and the fact that their player appeare in a group of three other woodwind player, it in more likely that this instrument is meant to be paapipes.

7 For a list of these instruments, cf. T.C. Lai and Robert Mok , ,lade Flute: The Story of Chinese Music, pp. 57-58.

8 Parker, pp. 188-89. Parker does not specify the source of this information but mentions a Kirghiz embassy to the Chinese court in 841-46 during which sketches were made of the members of the embaesy; possibly the Kirghiz musical inetrumente are named in the text accompanying these sketches.

9 Nebesky-Wojkowitz, pp. 398-99.

10 Shirali, p. 84.


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