Tar (from the Persian “string”) is a plucked stringed musical instrument.
The Azerbaijani tar significantly differs in many respects from tars widespread in other countries of the Orient. The tar is hollowed out from a tree in a form resembling a guitar. The body is shaped like two bowls and covered with a stretched membrane of an animal bladder or fish skin, with a long neck and head.
The Azerbaijani tar has 11 strings (for example, Iranian has 6 strings).
The tar is held at the chest in a horizontal position, clutching the tar’s body to the chest. A creator of the updated tar is Azerbaijani musician and designer Sadigjan (Mirza Sadiq Asadoglu, 19th century), nicknamed “Father of the tar”. In Azerbaijani music, the tar is used as the main instrument within a mugham trio. The tar is one of the few folk musical instruments for which pieces of music are especially composed. At the beginning of the 20th century, a new music genre, the “mugham opera“, spread in Azerbaijan. In all mugham operas, vocals are accompanied by the tar. Azerbaijani composers have created many great works, among them concertos for the tar with an orchestra.
In 2012, the Azerbaijani performance art of the tar was inscribed in the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO.