Ottoman oud histories

Who are these women? Who are they playing oud for? Where did they learn the oud? This vintage postcard surely has a story to tell. It may have been taken in the early years of the Turkish Republic, but the instruments are likely to be older.

Historians and oud enthusiasts have always been curious about the oud‘s ancient origins. So we are well served by accounts drawing on sources from the 9th, 12th and 14th centuries that address the instrument’s construction and its relationship to music theory.

But histories of the oud during the Ottoman era are thinner on the ground. What kinds of ouds were played and where? Who made them? Who were the players?

We are launching with instruments that we know have survived. But we will expand our sources gradually to include pictures such as this one. Please get in touch if you would like to contribute with your own histories.