Expressions of the Tonbak

A Note by Dr. Peyman Nasehpour


Dombak: Another name of tonbak. It is derived from the Pahlavi (Persian ancient language) word, dombalak. It seems the American name doumbek (also spelled dumbek, dumbeq, doumbeq) comes from the Persian name dombak.

 Dombaki: A slightly derogatory term for a tonbak player.

 Dombalak: Pahlavi name of tonbak.

 Dombalak-e-ayyubi: Dombalak attributed to Ayyub. It is interesting to say that Ayyub is a Middle Eastern rhythm to be played in belly dance.

 Donbak: Another name of tonbak.

 Donbalak-e-Moghren: An ancient drum that was a pair of tonbaks.

 Jam-Danbolak: A kind of drum similar to tonbak. It should be mentioned that Jam literally means cup.
 Khombak: Another name for tonbak. 

Khonbak: Some believe that khonbak was a small kettledrum with metallic body. Then it was made of clay and now it is made of wood and it is same as today tonbak.

 Ruyin-khom: Kettledrum. Please refer to khom-e-ruyin.

 Tabang: Another name of tonbak (Persian goblet drum).

 Tombak: Another name of tonbak. There is a kind of cylindrical drum in Baluchestan province of Iran. Its name is tombak but it can be compared with Indian khol. Khol also called mridang is a folk drum of northeast India. It has a body made of clay, a very small head on the right side (approximately 4 inches), and a larger head on the left side (approximately 10 inches).

 Tombak-e-zourkhaneh: A kind of tonbak to be played in zourkhaneh (Traditional Persian Gymnasium). Zourkhaneh literally means house of power.

 Tombaknavaz: A respectful term for tombak player.

 Tonbak: Persian goblet drum. (This is the shortest definition for tonbak but for more info of tonbak, please have a look at my articles.)

 Note: There are many names for this instrument. Some of them are: 1. Dombar 2. Dombarak 3. Tabang 4. Tabnak 5. Tobnak 6. Tobnok 7. Tobnog 8. Tonbik 9. Tonbook 10. Tontak 11. Khonbak 12. Khombak 13. Khommak 14. Damal 15. Dambal 16. Donbalak 17. Dombalak 18. Khoorazhak 19. Khomchak 20. Tonbak 21. Tombak 22. Donbak 23. Dombak 24. Zarb.

 Tonbak-e-bazmi: A kind of tonbak to be played in parties.

 Tonbak-e-razmi: Tonbak-e-zourkhaneh.

 Tonbak-e-Ta'lim: A kind of tonbak for training the athletes in zourkhaneh (Traditional Persian Gymnasium).

 Tonbak-e-zourkhaneh: A kind of tonbak and bigger than ordinary tonbak that it is played in zourkhaneh (Traditional Persian Gymnasium).

 Tonbaknavaz: A respectful term for tonbak player.

 Tonbook: Another name of tonbak.

 Zarb: Another name of tonbak.

 Zarb-e-zourkhaneh: A kind of tonbak to be played in zourkhaneh (Traditional Persian Gymnasium). Zourkhaneh literally means house of power.

 Zarbgir: An old and respectful expression for zarb player and it comes from the verb zarb-gereftan that means to play on zarb.
 Zarbist: An English term for zarb player, similar to sitarist and guitarist.

Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran