By Ayaz Raza

PESHAWAR, 23 August: The concept of Pakhtunwali is unimaginable without hujra or male guest house. Beds, pillows and rabab and mangay (picture) are considered important components of gatherings at hujras. The tradition of rabab and mangay music in hujras has diminished to some extent. However, the traditional music instrument of rabab still attracts people in rural life of Pakhtuns. The attractive music of rabab can be heard in the hujras of Pakhtuns on the occasions of marriages and long winter nights.

The Pakhtun youth relax themselves by playing and hearing rabab music at the hujras at night after the daylong activities. One amongst them is Rahimdad from Khyber Agency.

“Whenever our friends desire, we arrange a gathering at the hujra and play rabab and mangay. We don’t charge any money as we do it as a hobby,” Mr Rahim told TNN.

He said a small rabab contains 16 strings and the larger rabab contains 21 strings. “This rabab in my hands is 27 inches long and it contains four layers. It has two main strings and 13 other strings,” he said.

It is believed that the history of rabab is as old as the Pakhtun history. Ustaz Sarfaraz, who makes rababs in Jamrud area of Khyber Agency, said rabab is a Turkish invention. The 65-years-old Sarfaraz is making rababs for the last 25 years.

“According to my knowledge of history, rabab was invented by Turks thousands of years ago. Later on, the people of Kabul embraced this instrument and also introduced decoration on it. After that the art was transferred to the areas of Sub-Continent. People who were recruited in lashkars (military) used to play rabab. We also copy the style of Afghans while making rababs,” Mr Sarfaraz told TNN.

Nowadays a small rabab in the market costs Rs5,000 and the larger rabab costs up to Rs15,000.

Mr Sarfaraz said he makes smaller and simple rabab in 15 days and large and decorated rabab in a month. He said good rabab can be made from the wood of mulberry tree.

“Rababs are also produced in Peshawar but I also make rababs for sale. Mulberry wood is best suited for rabab as it is durable,” Mr Sarfaraz said.

Music lovers are of the view that the art remains incomplete without rabab. They consider rabab as father of music instruments.