String Instruments

The Art of Kanun Making: An Inside Look at the Craft


If you’ve ever listened to Middle Eastern or Mediterranean music, you’ve probably heard the distinct sound of the kanun. The kanun, also known as the qanun in Arabic, is a stringed instrument with a trapezoidal shape and a rich history.

But have you ever wondered how a kanun is made?

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the craft of kanun making and the artisans who bring this beautiful instrument to life.

The History of Kanun Making

The earliest mention of the kanun can be traced back to the Assyrian Empire in the 7th century B.C. Over time, the instrument spread throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean region, becoming an integral part of the music of many cultures.

Kanun making is an intricate craft that has been passed down through generations of artisans. Today, kanun makers continue to use traditional techniques, while also incorporating modern tools and technology to create their instruments.

The Process of Kanun Making

The process of making a kanun typically involves several stages, including selecting the wood, carving the body, attaching the strings, and tuning the instrument.

The first step is selecting the wood, which is typically made from a variety of hardwoods such as walnut, rosewood, or maple. The wood must be carefully chosen to ensure that it has the right balance of density and flexibility to produce the desired sound.

Once the wood has been selected, the body of the instrument is carved using specialized tools. The shape of the kanun is important as it affects the sound quality and resonance of the instrument.

After the body is carved, the strings are attached to the instrument. The kanun has between 72 and 78 strings, which are made of nylon or metal. Each string is carefully tuned to produce the correct pitch.

Finally, the kanun maker applies a finishing coat to the instrument to protect it and enhance its appearance.

The Artisans Behind Kanun Making

Kanun making is a highly specialized skill, and artisans who make these instruments are revered in their communities. In many cases, kanun making is a family tradition that is passed down from generation to generation.

One of the most renowned kanun makers in the world is Özgür Çiftçi, who hails from Turkey. Çiftçi has been making kanuns for over 20 years and is known for his attention to detail and impeccable craftsmanship.

Çiftçi and other kanun makers like him are not only skilled artisans, but they are also important cultural ambassadors. Through their work, they help to preserve the history and traditions of the instrument, while also showcasing its beauty to the world.


In conclusion, the craft of kanun making is a blend of tradition and modern innovation. Kanun makers use traditional techniques and materials that have been handed down through generations, while also incorporating modern tools and technology.

The result is a beautiful instrument with a rich history and a sound that has captivated audiences for centuries. Thanks to the skill and dedication of kanun makers like Özgür Çiftçi, the art of kanun making will continue to thrive for generations to come.

You may be interested in Boma Music’s Kanuns.

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