Monoxyl lute made in Yemen by Fu’ad al-gu’turi, luthier in Sanaa, who disappeared in 2016 during clashes in the capital.

The origins of the instrument appear to come from Central Asia before the start of the Christian era.

“This lute would then have spread to the Hellenistic world then, through Sassanid Persia, into the Arab world, a little before the birth of Islam. » (1)

The extent of the Arab empire, then the establishment of trading posts, contributed to the spread of the qanbus around the Indian Ocean.

It appears under different names in Zanzibar (gabus) Oman (gabbùs), Comoros Archipelago (gabusi) Indonesia, Malaysia (gambus), Saudi Arabia (qabùs), Madagascar (kabosa) … (2)

“We then realize that by following the common thread of a single musical instrument, it is possible to trace the bushy path of certain major currents of civilization and human thought.”(1)

Materials: Wood, skin, copper oxide.


(1) Qanbus, Tarab. The monoxyle lute and the music of Yemen. Collective work under the direction of Jean Lambert and Samir Mokrani. CEFAS GEUTHNER, Paris 2013.

(2) Grove Dictionary. T. IV, p.187… Christian Poché. Laurence Libin, Oxford University press 2014.