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DAF, Sufi percussion


Daf, natural sheepskin frame drum supplied with its genuine leather protective cover

Origin : Iranian Kurdistan

Price : 320 euros + shipping costs: 60 euros

Daf : 53,5 x 5,5cm
Pochette : 58 x 6cm



Le daf, also called def, duff, deff, defi, defli or dap, is a large frame drum of the Persian tradition used (like the zarb) to accompany Iranian music, but which is also widespread (without its rings) in the Middle-East especially in Turkey. as Armenia and Azerbaijan up to the Siberia passing throughCentral Asia. It is undoubtedly at the origin of the Arabo-Andalusian tar widespread in Maghreb and which reached medieval Europe. It still survives in Portugal and Spain (as well as in Brazil and Guatemala) under the name of adufe, but also pandero or pandeiro.

The daf is also related to the riqq, (equipped with jingles), from which it differs only in the size and type of cowbell. It should not be confused with the bendir, smaller and deeper, which has a timbre of gut strings stretched against the skin, nor with the tar, equipped with jingles, nor with the doyre, smaller, with a more massive frame. and the least number of larger rings.

Terms " duff " or " final designate both the daf in certain Asian countries and an Arab-Andalusian version of the adufe drum.

The daf consists of a wooden frame on which an animal skin is glued, to which are sometimes added garlands of metal rings (or bells) to provide ringing. There are different sizes; the larger drums (60-80 cm in diameter) are played by men in spiritual rituals and the medium-sized drums (30-40 cm) can be played by women and are often confused with the doyre.

A daf has six parts:

  • The frame is made of wood. Its width is 5-7 cm. Its thickness from 1 to 2 cm. It often has a hole or hollow to hold it;
  • The goatskin is glued to the frame;
  • The pins are positioned behind the frame to keep the skin taut on it;
  • The hooks are positioned in order to carry the rings in the interior part of the frame;
  • The metal rings serve to produce the tinkles either among themselves or by striking the skin;
  • A leather band is included to help the musician wear it during long performances;
  • There may be calligraphy on the skin or stamps on the frame.

Jeu Magazine

Persian woman playing a frame drum; painting of the Chehel Soutoun Palace in Isfahan, XVIIe century.

It is played either seated or standing. The daf is held vertically on the left hand and struck with the right hand (flat or pointed) in the center, the fingers of the right hand at the edge closest to you, and the fingers of the left hand, at the edge where they hold the instrument. You can then play the rings by leaning the instrument forwards or backwards, for the slap against the skin, and you can also make it jump in the air, holding it or not, for the ringing of the rings alone. The game is very complex and quite physical. There are specific rhythms for the daf.

En Iran and Kurdistansufis use it during the ritual of dhikr (spiritual song) and worship Kurdish yarsan et Al-e Haqq. It has recently been included in Persian classical music, notably by the Kamkar ensemble.

Elsewhere, he confines himself to the music of the brotherhoods sufis Arab ou Turkey, folklore Indian and shamanism Siberian.


  • Daf (mystical drum) by Madjid Khaladj – Anthology of Iranian rhythms / Buda Musique – CD volume 2
  • John During, Music and mysticism in the traditions of Iran, French Institute for Research in Iran, Paris, 1989.

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