Crafting and playing the Oud
Iran (Islamic Republic of) and Syrian Arab Republic
Inscribed in 2022 (17.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
The oud is a traditional, lute-type instrument played in Iran and Syria. The musician places the short-necked instrument on their leg, fretting with one hand and plucking the chords with the other. In both countries, the oud consists of a pear-shaped sound box made of walnut, rose, poplar, ebony or apricot wood. Crafting an oud takes up to twenty-five days, during which the wood is left to dry and harden and is then treated with water and steam for fifteen days to build its durability. Ouds are crafted in different sizes for different sized-bodies and decorated with wooden carvings and mosaic patterns. They typically have five twin strings, though a sixth string can be added. With its bass and baritone ranges, the instrument can produce melodic and harmonic tones. The oud is played solo or in ensembles and is accompanied by traditional songs and dance in a wide range of events. Its practice is transmitted through apprenticeships and in musical centres, colleges and universities in urban areas. Crafters are mostly men, although in recent years young women have developed an interest as well.