For other uses, see Kus (disambiguation).

Percussion instrument
More articles

A Kus (Persian کوس kūs) is a large-sized ancient Persian kettledrum, similar to the timpani.


Kus is a Middle-Persian military term meaning, "march". According to Von Mohl the term was Kūša, and seemingly, borrowed from Aramaic, probably during the Arsacid dynasty (248 BCE-224 CE).[1]

Historical background

It seems the instrument was invented during the Achaemenid dynasty (550-330 BCE) of Iran for military purposes.

The instrument was a pair of drums, made of clay, wood or metal in the form of a hemispherical kettle, with skin stretched over the mouth. Kus was played with drumsticks of leather or wood (The leather drumstick was called Daval). Kus usually was carried on horseback, camelback or elephant during war to encourage the army. The instrument was also played on many occasions such as festivals, weddings and decamping.

In ancient times, Kus was accompaniment by Karnay (Persian trumpet or horn). Particularly the Persian epic poets Ferdowsi and Nizami in describing battles mentioned Kus and Karnay in a number of entries.[2] Many Persian miniatures paintings show the presence and importance of the Kus and Karnay in the war fields.

According to the Greek historians, drum belonged to Persians, and Plutarch tells of the Iranian warriors at the time of the Arsacid dynasty using Kus as warlike instruments.[3]

Apparently after the introduction of Islam, the word Naghghāreh was used for small-sized kettledrums. It seems that the word Naghghareh comes from the Arabic verb Naghr- that means to strike and to beat. A few poets mentioned the name Naghghareh, such as the great Persian mystic poet Molana Jalal al-Din Rumi.

See also


  1. Von Mohl J., (ed. trans.), Firdausi, Le Livre des rois, Paris (1831-68), pp137, 178.
  2. Pope U., An Outline History of Persian Music and Musical Theory, in Survey of Persian Art, Vol. VI, pp. 2783-2804.
  3. Plutarch, Crassus, chapter XXiii, 10
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/21/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.