Azerbaijan International

Spring 2001 (9.1)
Page 10

Reader's Forum
Barbat - World Treasure!

I would like to congratulate Majnun Karimov on his work of reconstructing ancient musical instruments, especially the stringed instrument called the Barbat. I was very excited to come across the article about his work on Azerbaijan International's Web site [, Reconstruction of Azerbaijan's Medieval Instruments, AI 5.4, Winter 1997].

Undoubtedly, he has returned a great treasure to the world!

I, too, have been studying and building ancient instruments (mostly Far Eastern lutes directly related to the Barbat). It is a dream come true not only to discover Majnun, but also to find a magazine so dedicated to the Arts as yours. I would be so grateful to learn more about his research.

I am Japanese-American and have lived about 18 years in Japan. I am traditionally schooled in Japanese classical music. The ancient instrument I play is called a "biwa"; it comes directly from the Silk Road. The biwa has been in my family for at least four generations; I began playing it at a young age.

I've spent the past 16 years traveling to many countries to visit craftsmen, museums and artists. After researching, studying and building ancient instruments that are indigenous to the Eastern end of the Silk Road, how wonderful it would be to get a chance to study instruments that originate from the Western end.

I hope to find a university open enough to let me continue my study of ancient instruments and cultures so that one day I might be able to become a professor of Ancient Instruments. So far there are not many programs, let alone professors of Dr. Karimov's ability, to be found anywhere in the world.

I'm wondering if Dr. Karimov has published any of his reconstructions either in photos or journals, and whether he has made any musical recordings with these instruments. As there are many students who play ancient music, I'm wondering if it is possible to buy one of his reconstructed Barbats or other ancient instruments. And lastly, is it possible to visit, and/or study with him?

 J. Miura Hardy
Phoenixville, Pennsylvania

Editor: We contacted Majnun Karimov via our Baku office and found him very willing to oblige. He has almost finished the text of a 160-page book, of which 100 pages will be devoted to descriptions of Azerbaijani national music instruments, and the remaining pages, to photos. The text will be published in three languages - Azeri, English and Russian. He is currently trying to identify sponsors for this work - a culmination of 30 years of his own research - and he wants to make the same material available on CD-ROM, with sound samples to accompany each instrument.

As far as authentic replicas are concerned, he would be willing to consider custom-making them for both foreigners and world museums. He estimates that each instrument would take about 1.5 to 2 months to build. He is currently teaching "Introduction to Ancient Instruments" for the Department of National Musical Instruments at Baku's Music Academy, a class in which 15 students are enrolled. And finally, "yes, of course," he would be delighted to meet and consult with Mr. Hardy or anyone else who has a deep interest in ancient music.

Contact Majnun Karimov. Tel/Fax: (99-412) 98-69-72, or 91-09-72 (home); 91-95-48 (work), or email Azerbaijan International at

From Azerbaijan International (9.1) Spring 2001.
© Azerbaijan International 2001. All rights reserved.

Back to Reader's Forum
Back to Index AI 9.1 (Spring 2001)
AI Home
| Magazine Choice | Topics | Store | Contact us