Rawap is one of the most popular musical instruments for Uyghur people. The Uyghur people are accustomed to taking their Rawap wherever they go, be it a small gathering on the farm or during the long distance travel when riding on the camel.
Rawap has three main parts, ear, handle, and head. The goat’s horns are a very unique feature to Uyghur Rawap .
In the old days Rawap is faced with horse or donkey hides. Today, however, snake skin is used for the highest quality Rawap , while Ox skin is also commonly used.
Several different types are played by the Uyghurs, such as Kashgar Rawap , Qoychi Rawap , Qumul Rawap . Kashgar Rawap are the most popular ones.
Kashgar Rawap , which is called after the town Kashgar where it is found, is a long-neck lute, around 90cm, unlike the Afghan Rawap, which is a short-neck lute.
The body and the beginning of the neck is carved from one piece of mulberry wood, in a kind of half coconut shape, with two bended horn-like extensions at both sides at the beginning of the neck. The front is covered with a thick skin, often made of python skin. The long half round neck is joined by a V-join to the horns. The frets are tied-on nylon in 3-double windings in an almost chromatic scale. At the left side of the neck is a groove.
The peg box is glued to the neck, and turns quite sharply backwards in a curve. There are 2 pegs on the right and 3 pegs on the left side of the open peg box. The pegs are T-shape, but rounded. There are 5 metal strings, with only the first one fingered and a bit separate from the others which serve as drones and resonance strings. The strings run over a small loose wooden bridge on the skin to two pins at the end of the body. There is lots of inlay decoration of black and white horn in fishbone, triangles, stripes, etc. Also the back of the body has inlayed lines.
The Kashgar Rawap has more recently become a professional virtuoso solo and orchestral instrument with six metal strings tuned. An equivalent bass Rawap has also been added to professional orchestras.
The player holds the instrument horizontally, at about shoulder level, and plucks with a plectrum in the right hand while pressing the strings with the left hand. Tremolo is its characteristic playing technique. The sound is extremely echoing due to the resonance strings via the skin. It is used in accompaniment of folk songs and dances.
by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com
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