Names of Frame Drums

Names of Frame Drums

by Peyman Nasehpour

Introduction. Frame drums are the musicologist's term for a class of percussion instruments constructed of a shallow cylindrical frame over which a skin is stretched and may or may not have jingles. In the following, we discuss different names of frame drums popular in the world, in particular, in Iran and neighboring countries.

Adufe. The "adufe" is a traditional square tambourine of Moorish origin, which is used in Portugal and Galicia, as my friend, Juanjo Fernández reports.

Al-dafi. The expression "al-dafi اَل دفی" is a combination of the Turkic name "al اَل" and the Persian name "daf دف" and "i ی" meaning "hand", the frame drum "daf", respectively, and the Turkic suffix "i ی" which is used for relating. Therefore, by "al-dafi", it is meant that it is a frame drum "daf" played by bare hands. The name "al-dafi" is popular among Turkic-language people in North Khorasan. Note that some frame drums like "Indian daf" and "Irish bodhrán" are played with a stick or two sticks.

Arabaneh. The "arabaneh اربانه" is the name of a special frame drum popular in Yazd (Iran) and it is usually a bit larger than the standard dayereh and a bit smaller than the standard daf. Not to be confused with the Arabic frame drum called "arbani عربنی".

Bendir. The "bendir بندیر" is a large-sized frame drum, having snares but no jingles, and is popular in North African countries. It is amazing that in some Persian dictionaries, it is explained that "bendir" is a "daf" with jingles! Setayeshgar reports that "bendayer بندایر" is another name for "bendir".

Chambah. The name "chambah چمبه" is a frame drum in "Paktia پکتیا" of Afghanistan. In old Persian, "chanbar چنبر", also known as "chambar چمبر", is a general name for a frame. I guess the Paktian "chamba" is a dialect of "chambar".

Boumbouk. In Nurestan of Afghanistan, there is a frame drum called "boumbouk بومبوک".

Cheldermah. The name "cheldermah چِلدِرمَه" is used to indicate a frame drum in Zarafshan region in Tajikistan.

Daf. The "daf دَف" is usually the name of large-sized frame drums popular in Iran and the Badakhshan in Afghanistan. The name "daf" has been used in Persian literature extensively. For example, Rudaki says:

آن خر پدرت به دشت خاشاک زدی مامات دف و دورویه چالاک زدی

آن بر سر گورها تبارک خواندی وین بر در خان‌ها تبوراک زدی

Note that the daf is the Arabicized of the "dap دپ".

Dafif. In some Arab-speaking countries, the name "dafif دفیف" is another name for the "daf".

Daires. The "daires" is a Greek dialect for dayereh.

Dap. The "dap" is the pre-Islamic name of the frame drum "daf" and it is used in some regions of Iran such as "Isfahan", "Kashan", "Kerman", and Khorasan. The name "dap" is also used in Uyghuristan to indicate the Uyghur frame drums. The smaller Uyghur frame drums are called "kichik dap". Note that the Turkish term "kichik" meaning small is related to the Persian term "kuchak کوچک", also meaning small.

Darah. The name "darah دارَه" is a pre-Islamic name of the "dayereh". The name "darah" is still applied in some Iranian cities, in particular, in Dezful, Shushtar, and Zabol.

Dariyeh. The name "dariyeh داریه" is a dialect of the "dayereh دایره" and is popular in many regions of Iran and "Ghazni غزنی" of Afghanistan.

Das-dayereh. The name "das-dayereh دس‌دایره" is a combination of the Mazani name "das" (meaning "hand") and "dayereh". Note that the Mazani name "das دس" is the Mazani version of the Persian name "dast دست" meaning hand. Note that the name "das-dayereh" is also popular in Katul County of Iran and the expression "das-dayereh" is equivalent to the name "al-dafi" popular in North Khorasan.

Davrah. The name "davrah دَورَه" has been given to a frame drum (dayereh) in Nishapur city of Iran.

Dayra. The name "dayra دایرا" is a dialect of "dayereh دایره" which is a medium-sized frame drum in Iran. This name is popular in Zanjan of Iran and some regions of Afghanistan, Armenia, and Turkey.

Dayra-dast. The name "dayra-dast دایرا دست" is a frame drum played by bare hands popular in Afghanistan. For more, refer to the "das-dayereh" and the "al-dafi".

Dayereh. The "dayereh دایره" is a general term for medium-sized frame drums applied in Iran and other countries like Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan.

Def. The name "def" is a dialect of the "daf" popular in Turkey. Its Greek version is called "epirotiko defi".

Dep. The name "dep دِپ" which is a dialect of the name "dap" is given to some medium-sized frame drums popular in Armenia, Arran (Caucasus), and Turkmenistan. It is just another name for the ghaval.

Deryeh. The "deryeh دِریِه" is a frame drum (similar to dayereh) popular in some regions of Iran, and also, among Hazara people in Afghanistan.

Deyreh. A kind of frame drum called "deyreh دِیرِه" is popular in Birjand. In Birjand, it is also called "daryeh دَریه".

Dezeh. The "dezeh دِزِه", also spelled as the "dizeh دیزِه", is the name of a frame drum popular in North Khorasan (in particular, in Bojnord city).

Diyareh. The "diyareh دیاره" is the name of a frame drum in Gilan province similar to the dayereh.

Dof. The name "dof دُف" which is an Arabic dialect of the name "daf" is the name of a special kind of frame drum popular in some Arab-language countries. The Arabic definite article is "al ال". Therefore, the Arabic expression "al-dof الدُف" means "the dof" though it is pronounced "addof". The Arabic plural of "dof" is "dofuf دفوف".

Doryah. The dayereh has been called "doryah دُریَه" by Jewish people in Tehran.

Doya. The "doya دُیه" is a Talysh name for dayereh related to the name "doryah دُریَه" used by Jewish people in Tehran.

Ganga. The "ganga غانغه" is an old Turkish name standing for a large rough frame drum without jingles.

Jing. The "jing جینگ" is a kind of tambourine popular in Hormozgan and Khuzestan provinces in Iran.

Kanjira. The "kanjira" is a small-sized frame drum popular in South India.

Mazhar. The "mazhar مزهر" is a bass version of "riq" popular in Arab-speaking countries. In old Turkish, the "mazhar" was called "mizher مظهر" and played by dervishes, as Redhouse reports.

Pandeiro. The "pandeiro" is a kind of frame drum popular in Brazil.

Pandereta. The "pandereta" is a kind of frame drum popular in Latin America, Philippines, and Spain.

Pandero. The "pandero" is a kind of frame drum popular in Spain.

Riq. The "riq رق" is a small-sized frame drum popular in Arab-speaking countries.

Sama. The "sama سما", also spelled as "sama سَمَه", is the name of a frame drum played in the Hormozgan province of Iran.

Tar. The frame drum "tar طار" is played in the Hormozgan province of Iran as well as Egypt.

Tef. The "tef" is a kind of large-sized frame drum popular in Turkey.

Tof. The Hebrew name of a frame drum related to the name "tef".

Zanjari. The "zanjari زنجاری" is the name of a frame drum popular in the Khuzestan province of Iran.

Zhang. Pahlevan reports that the "zhang ژانگ" is a small-sized frame drum with small plates incorporated in the frame of the drum as jingles. It is usually played by men accompanying other drums on festive occasions in Baluchistan of Iran.

For more on frame drums, see my notes listed in the following:


[BD] Bahman Boustan and Mohammad Reza Darvishi, Morouri bar Musighi-ye-Sonnati va Mahalli-ye-Iran, Tehran, 1991.

[C] David R. Courtney, Fundamentals of Tabla, Vol. I, Sur Sangeet Services, Houston, 1998.

[Da] Mohammad Reza Darvishi, Dayeratolma'aref-e-Sazha-ye-Iran, Mahoor Publications, Tehran, 2001.

[De] B. Chaintanya Deva, Indian Music, New Delhi, 1974.

[Du] Jean During, Musique et mystique dans les traditions de l'Iran [Music and Mysticism in the Traditions of Iran], Institut français de recherche en Iran, Paris, 1989.

[M] Yaser Montazeri Hedeshi, A research about the instrument arabuneh (in Persian: "Pazhuheshi darbareh ye saz e arabuneh پژوهشی درباره ساز اربونه", The culture of Yazd quarterly (فصلنامه فرهنگ یزد), Vol. I, No. 2, pp. 82-95 (1398) [2019].

[Pa] Keivan Pahlevan, Daf and Dayere, in the history of Iran, in Farsi literature, and in Iranian world, Arvan publishers, Tehran, 2014.

[Po] Mehran Poormandan, The Encyclopedia of Iranian Old Music, Tehran, 2000.

[R] James W. Redhouse, A Turkish to English Lexicon, Librairie du Liban (New Impression, 1987), Beirut, 1890.

[Sa] Cemsid Salehpur, Türkçe Farsça Genel Sözlügü, Tehran, 1996.

[Se] Mehdi Setayeshgar, Vazhe-Name-ye-Musighi-ye-Iran Zamin, Tehran, Vol. I (1995) & Vol. II (1996).

Keywords. frame, drum, drums, doyra, doira, dayere, ghaval, daf.

Also, check the encyclopedia of Persian percussion instruments.

Peyman Nasehpour on the daf

Peyman Nasehpour on the daf

Peyman Nasehpour on the ghaval

Peyman Nasehpour on the ghaval