Pandouris

Pandouris

Length 85cm, width 23cm, depth of sound box 12cm.
Etymology: “pân” (whole) + “dóry” (wood) i.e. an instrument constructed entirely of wood.

The Pandouris first made its appearance in the Mesopotamia area towards the end of the third millennium and became more popular in the Egyptian kingdoms towards the middle of the second millennium.

On a goblet made of faience found in Cyprus and dating back to circa 1400-1200 B.C., there is an illustration of a woman playing the Pandouris clad in a transparent garment indicating a clearly evident Egyptian influence. However it seems that the instrument did not appear in the Hellenic world before the 4th century B.C. One can observe about 12 versions of this instrument in Greek art between the periods circa 330 B.C. and 200 B.C., especially on pottery.

The most common form seems to take the shape of a concave sound box which narrows at the neck with no distinguishable connecting lines. One illustration shows the presence of a thread board (“tastiera”) on the neck presumably to enable more accurate rendering of specific musical sounds. Julius Pollux (D 60) says that the three-stringed Pandoura was invented by the Arabs, but the Assyrians use to call it pandoura.

During antiquity and in later periods we come across this instrument with a variety of names such as: three-stringed, Pandouris, Pandourion, Pandouros, Pandoura, Phandouros, Tambouras.

Pandouris can be considered the ancestor of many contemporary European and also eastern instruments with neck, such as the Arabic oud, lute, bouzouki, guitar, and others.