Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Zurna, davul and other ancient Anatolian instruments

After so many language shifts, something that was well preserved from bronze age Anatolia is the terminology of musical instruments.

Our first pick is the Turkish zurna, which is a wind instrument. It derives from the PIE word *krn 'horn' and is first attested as the musical instrument zurni in cuneiform Luwian. Other Indo-European examples are the Anc. Greek σύριγξ, Mod. Greek ζουρνάς, Sanskrit śrṅga and of course Old English horn (proto-Germanic *hurnaz). If it does not derive from the Luwian zurni, Turkish got it through Persian.

Davul is the drum accompanying the zurna. This one is a bit controversial as it includes etymologies of various backgrounds, including Arabic. Albanian daulle 'tambour', Latvian dauzities 'beat, drum' and Indo-Iranian tab(e)la 'small hand drum' speak strongly for an Indo-European origin. To that we may add the presence of Lydian daul- 'pressure' in kandaules 'dog bane'. For sure it requires more investigation.

Moving away from the Indo-European world, the Hattic word zinar is sometimes erroneously considered the root for zurna. Zinar is usually a stem in compound words denoting a string instrument. It survives in Armenian as ӡnar or knar 'lyre, harp' and Hebrew kinnor. Greek has also inherited κινύρα 'string instrument', a substratum (pre-Greek) word related to the Hattian zinar. A lot can be said about the last one, but we'll save it for another post.

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