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By Rafiullah Khan

MINGORA, July 31: Rabab, a musical instrument that resembles guitar, is considered an important part of Pashtun culture and it is also called the king of sweet rhythms.

The Rabab, also called Rubab, is national musical instrument of Afghanistan. The name is derived from the Arab word rebab, which means “played with a bow”. However, the Central Asian instrument is different in form. This musical instrument is mainly used in areas of Pashtuns, Tajiks, Kashmiris, Balochis and Iran.

The Rababs, made in Swat, are famous in Pakistan and in foreign countries, especially United Arab Emirates.

A Rabab maker in Mula Baba area of Swat, Mr Muhammad Zahid, said they made three different types of Rabab, including a small rabab that’s priced 8000 rupees, medium size rabab costing 10,000 rupees, and large size rabab that’s priced up to 11,000 rupees.

He said he had been associated with the business of Rababs for the last 30 years.

“When the Taliban emerged in Swat a few years ago, our business was severely affected. Many Rabab players abandoned the profession in those times,” he recalled. However, he added that now their business has got much better after restoration of peace in the picturesque Swat district.

Asked about monthly income, he said it was not fixed. “At times a single client purchases several Rababs, while sometimes the situation is different.”

A Rabab player in Swat, Mr Samiullah, told TNN that Rabab could also be played with English music.

“The Rababs made in Swat are liked in Dubai and other countries,” he said.

Another Rabab player, Mr Arif Khan, said his family did not allow him to play Rabab. “But it is my passion since childhood. I feel satisfaction when I play a Rabab,” he added.

He said that every evening he joins his friends at a hujra where he plays Rabab to entertain his friends.

Hujra is an important part of Pashtun culture. It is a building attached to the main building of a house and it is used to entertain and serve male guests.

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Mr Muhammad Shahid, Editor Online based in Peshawar, has contributed to this report.