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'Ud (Lute)
19th-20th century
Wood, ebony, ivory, and mother of pearl

36 3/4 x 14 3/4 x 8 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of Franci Neely Crane in honor of her son Andrew Ellingson Beck III


The 'ud (Arabic for ìluteî) is one of the most characteristic Middle Eastern musical instruments. Although lute-like instruments were already in use in ancient Greece, modern lutes were first introduced to Europe through the court of the Umayyad caliphs in Spain in the course of the 9th and 10th centuries.

Today, the 'ud is very different from the old prototypes, and the Turkish 'ud, of which this is an example, differs from the Arabic 'ud in playing style and shape. The Turkish version of the instrument is a transformation of the Arabic 'ud that is attributed to Manolis Venios, a well-known Greek luthier who lived in Constantinople (now Istanbul) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.