The history of the Oud, Aoud, or Lute can be traced back to Lamak, a descendant of Biblical Cain, according to the Persian mythology. As the story goes, on the death of his son, Lamak hung the young man’s remains on a tree and the desiccated skeleton suggested the form of an oud.


Throughout history, versions of the instrument have made their mark in various civilizations from Spain to China. The Oud first appears in Mesopotamia during the Kassite period (1600- 1150BC) with a small oval body. A larger variety, similar to the instruments present day dimensions, appears at Alaca Huyuk in Anatolia dating from the Hittite New Kingdom (1460-1190BC). Today, the Oud is known as ut or ud in Turkey, laouta in Greece, udi in Africa and barbat in Iran. In Arabic, the word means "wood", "twig", "flexible rod", and also "aromatic stick".

The construction of the oud has a large, pear-shaped sound box, a short broad arm without moveable frets, and its head almost at right angles to the arm, with tuning keys at the sides. Its sound box is a little larger than that of the lute, about 37cm at its widest point. The oud is usually about 87cm long, and 20cm of which consist of the head with its tuning keys.

Traditionally, an eagle feather is used as a plectrum, though modern day performers often use plastic picks. The original gut strings, too, have been replaced with silver-wound nylon strings similar to those used on a classical guitar.

The art of oud making reached its golden period during the turn of the twentieth century. The master Greek luthier, Monol, began constructing ouds in Istanbul, which produced a sweeter, more refined sound. Later, an Armenian by the name of Onnik Karibyan built ouds which became the favorite of many throughout the Middle East.