WATCH: Kurdish city in Iran hosts festival honoring 'daf' percussion instrument

The Iranian Kurdish city of Sanandaj (Sine) inaugurated a three-day event celebrating the frame drum instrument referred to in the region as the daf.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Iranian Kurdish city of Sanandaj (Sine) inaugurated a three-day event celebrating the percussion instrument referred to in the region as the daf.

This event marks the ninth of its kind to be organized in the city, known to many as the "daf capital of the world" for its local popularity and the number of esteemed daf players the city produces.

The daf, sometimes also called a dap or riqq, is traditionally used in Kurdish and Persian music.

Much like a larger, deeper western tambourine, it consists of a frame covered with stretched goatskin, with rows of metal rings or chains that add a jingling effect. A wide range of sounds, from light taps to a sonorous bass rumbles, can be achieved by striking the goatskin head in different locations and with different parts of the hand.

The semi official ISNA news agency reported that performers from 20 provinces in Iran as well as a number of daf groups from other countries were present, though it did not name which nations they represented.

Many famed musicians and vocalists, Kurdish or otherwise, attended the festival to preside as judges over several varying competitions by male and female instrumentalists of all ages. They also included solo and group performances, for which the organizers would present winners with awards. The genres the performers typically explore are religious in nature, played during various Islamic rituals.

The festivities opened to a warm day in front of Sine’s Bahman Cinema with many worrying it would impede playing, one daf player at the scene told Kurdistan 24. As the hours passed, he added, a light drizzle began to fall, adding further concerns. Despite this, performances continued.

In the end, however, the organizers cut the event short as rain began to pick up and people were forced to move away from the open area where the festival was held.

“It wasn’t the raid that stopped the festival,” another participant in the event told Kurdistan 24. In fact, he said, “not one person” among the audience left the premises, “but some of the organizers said [the rain] could bother” the viewers. 

Sine is the capital of Kurdistan province in Iran. The province is not to be confused with Greater Kurdistan as a national concept or the autonomous Kurdistan Region in Iraq.

Editing by John J. Catherine