33. Haunting Tunes at Wadi Rum, Jordan

The shadows were lengthening as sunset neared at Wadi Rum, also known as Valley of the Moon, a desert that cuts into sweeping red sand dunes and strangely shaped towering arches of sandstone and granite rock.

I heard what I initially thought was the wind blowing through these arches of the Wadi, a strangely plaintive sound.  As I walked closer, I spotted a Bedouin musician sitting playing on a flat board instrument I later learnt was called a Rababa.  The tune was haunting, I did not understand the accompanying song he sung in a low tone but it had a sense of longing, a rhythm of a caravanserai.

Rababa, meaning ‘a bowed (instrument)’ is one of the oldest string instruments, dating at least as far back as the 8th Century, when it was found in Arabia and Persia. It travelled along with trade routes to Europe where it inspired the violin, to much of North Africa, the Middle and Far East from the 10th Century onwards.

The instrument is a string with two sides of goatskin attached to a wooden frame.  The instrument is played with a bow. There is no fretboard, the bow is placed directly on the string directly and the rababa placed on the lap of the musician.

The goatskin was painting in cobalt blue with vibrant orange flowers. I listened for a while, left some money on a mat placed in front and I walked on. The strains of the music followed.

I have painted the glorious Wadi burning orange red in the setting sun with the Bedouin musician and his rababa, a magical image burned into memory that day in the desert.


Original:  Oil on canvas ; 12 x 16″  (305 x 410mm) ; framed

Limited Edition Print : Available as Giclee print on finest quality paper or  canvas. International shipment

Sizes available: 8 x 12″(203 x 305 mm); 12 x 16″(305 x 410mm); 18 x 24″(457 x 610 mm); 24 x 32″ (610 x 813mm)

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Will post rolled up  in  a tube with Certificate of Authenticity, number of the print and artist’s signature.