ČAḠĀNA, the name given to four types of musical instruments. This spelling is found in most dictionaries. Sachs’ Real-Lexikon (p. 99) has čaqāna, and other forms are also found: čaḡān (Enjū Šīrāzī, II, p. 1425; Borhān-e qāṭeʿ ed. Moʿīn, II, p. 643), čaḡana (ibid., p. 646), and čaḡba (Dehḵodā, s.v.); in Arabic jaḡāna or jafāna (Ebn ʿEmād, V, p. 148). The four types are:

1. An instrument of the percussion family also known as jerengī (i.e., jingle or rattle) instruments. Two varieties are in use. One has a spherical or oval case made of wood, metal, or a dried gourd, with an aperture through which small bells or pebbles are put in, and an attached handle. A dancer playing a similar instrument is depicted on a silver flask from Kalārdašt possibly from the Sasanian period in the Īrān-e Bāstān Museum at Tehran (Figure 30; cf. Ghirshman, pl. 256). The other variety consists of a piece of springy wood carved in the shape of a pair of tongs; the player inserts his forefinger in the gap and by withdrawing it at the required moment causes the bulbous ends of the tongs to snap loudly together. A dancer playing a similar instrument is depicted on a silver bowl from Māzandarān possibly from the Sasanian period in the Īrān-e Bastān Museum (Figure 31; cf. Ghirshman, pl. 257).

2. A rhythm instrument of the qāšoqak family (Far­mer, Preface, p. xxiii), akin to the castanets of the Spaniards. It consists of two slightly concave pieces of wood attached to the other by an elastic band. It is still in use in certain villages in Fārs (Radio Iran Archives, report no. 6378 dated 16 Ābān 1341 Š./7 November 1962).

3. A stringed instrument of the “free string” family, played with a plectrum (Loḡat-e fors, ed. Eqbāl, p. 428 n.). According to the Borhān-e qāṭeʿ (II, p. 643), it was described by some people as the same as the qānūn.

4. A bowed instrument with three strings and played with a bow that Sachs states is found in Persia, Afghanistan, and Caucasia. A four-stringed čaqāna belonging to the kamāṇča (violin) family is found in Soviet Dagestan (Atlas, fig. 535).



Atlas musykal’nykh instrumentov narodov SSSR, Moscow, 1963.

Ebn ʿEmād Ḥanbalī, Šaḏarāt al-ḏahab fī aḵbār man ḏahab, 8 vols., Cairo, 1350-51/1931-32.

Mīr Jamāl-al-Dīn Ḥosayn Enjū Šīrāzī, Farhang-e jahāngīrī, 3 vols., ed. R. ʿAfīfī, Mašhad, 1351-53 Š./1972-74.

H. G. Farmer, The Sources of Arabian Music, Leiden, 1965.

R. Ghirsh­man, Iran. Parthians and Sassanians, London, 1962.

Ḥ.-ʿA. Mallāḥ, Ḥāfeẓ o mūsīqī, Tehran, 1351 Š./1972, p. 87.

K. Sachs, Real-Lexikon der Musikinstrumente, Berlin, 1913.

Figure 30. Musician depicted on a silver flask, possibly Sasanian. Mūza-ye Īrān-e Bastān (drawing Ḥ.-ʿA. Mallāḥ)

Figure 31. Dancer depicted on a silver bowl, possibly Sasanian. Mūza-ye Īrān-e Bastān (drawing Ḥ.-ʿA. Mallāḥ)

(Ḥosayn ʿAlī Mallāḥ)

Originally Published: December 15, 1990

Last Updated: December 15, 1990

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Vol. IV, Fasc. 6, p. 613