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Dáf is a percussion musical instrument from drum family with a large hardwood ring frame, which is covered by skin on one sided. This instrument is played in most regions of Iran and in many other places around the world. Dáf is referred by various names in different regions based on the local language or dialect. For instance, in Northern Khorasan it is called Dap and Dazeereh. In other regions of Khorasan and in some areas of Baluchestan, it is known as Sama (Mohammad Reza Darvishi 2005, p.398). In Kurdistan, apart from Daf, it is also called Erbaneh, Bander, Def, and Defeh (Dieter Christensen, 2005, p.53).
The Turks in Iran and turkey call this instrument Qavol and Def, respectively. In many other regions they refer to it as Dayereh (Behrooz Vojdani, 1998, p.567).
In Sufiism, the journey of a seeker towards the truth (i.e. God) is called Jazabeh if it is from one’s within self; and if it is from outside it is called Dáf (Ahmad ibn mohammad Tusi, 1981, p.3).
Today’s name of Dáf is originated from Arabic word Dof. The researchers believe that this word in Persian is Dap (Mohmoud Haerian Ardakani, 2004 p.105). Others relate the origin of this word to Dob in Sumer language, which means tablet and writing. They believe this word has evolved and entered into Akady language and has taken the form of Dubo or Dupo. Then, it has been transferred into Aramy language and once again has been changed back to Dub. From there, it has entered Persian language by Arab servants who travelled to Persia. It then became known as Dáf in those regions of Persia that were populated by Arabs (Mehran Poor Mandan, 2000, p.77). The origin of word Dáf can also be taken to Hebrew word Taft, which means beating and hitting (Encyclopedia of Hebrew & Persian culture, 1965).
In most ancient cultures, rhythm is central to the celebrations and religious ceremonies/rituals and Dáf has played a central role in these ceremonies. This central role can be noted from the Dáf playing bodies during the various ceremonies in these events. From an ancient matriarchal era of ancient Persia, women who were responsible for agriculture played Dáf in rituals that was thought to increase crop production (Keyvan Pahlavan, 2009, pp.537-41). The circular shape of this instrument is symbolic to the Moon, wheat sieve, and fertility. Taboorak, which is also another name for Dáf means sieve (Muhammad Husayn ibn Khalaf Tabrizi, 1797). For example, the woman marble statue (called Sami the daughter of Aja) who is playing Dáf in one in one of the temples of the goddess (Hatra) can be named, which belongs to the second century AD (Souri Ayazi, 2004, p.77).
The image of Dáf or Dyereh was for the first time seen on a wall of an ancient temple in Anatolia in 800BC. After the immigration of Arians to Persia (current Iran) and the culture of Patriarchy becoming more dominant in Iranian culture, women and following that Dáf lost their dominant role and started to be put aside and take a lesser role in the society. Dáf or Dayereh cannot be seen in any of the images or painting configurations from During the Median and Achaemenian dynasties (Keyvan Pahlavan, 2009, pp.540, 543).