North African, early 20th century
The ’ud is traditional lute of the Arabic world. It is notable not only for its importance in the musical traditions of the Near East and Northern Africa, but also for its position in history as the precursor to the European plucked short lutes, a family that includes both the lute proper and the guitar family. The ’ud was in widespread use in Arabic culture from the 7th century on, and it is believed to have made its way into Europe through the Moorish occupation of Spain. Today the ‘ud is popular in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, where it is made with either four or six courses (pairs) of strings. In contrast to the European lute, the ’ud has a shorter neck, a pegbox less acutely angled from the neck, and three soundholes in place of the single one on a European lute.
Piriform body made up of seventeen hardwood articulated by strips of band inlay. The central three ribs are inlaid with small circles, keys, and hearts of mother-of-pearl. Table of spruce
pierced by three sound holes with elaborately carved roses. Fingerboard veneered with bone with arabesque inlay of hardwood. The back of the neck is covered with alternating strips separated with band inlay to match the ribbing of the body. The six double courses of gut strings are tightened by twelve pegs. Overall length 91.0 cm; width 39.0 cm; vibrating length of
strings 62.3 cm.
Gift of Theodore Woolsey Heermance
Accession No. 4450.1977