Oud industry in Baghdad. An ancient journey


A mix of sweet music and the sounds of anvils and hammers pulls you through the traditional Rashid Street in central Baghdad, and you find yourself on the doorstep of a market that specializes in making the ancient Iraqi musical oud.

Ali Al-Abdali, the owner of a workshop for the manufacture of the Iraqi oud, inherited the profession from his father Muhammad Al-Abdali, one of the well-known oud makers, who has been practicing his profession for about 40 years, said, "The oud industry in Iraq is an ancient industry, dating back to the Sumerian, Babylonian and Akkadian civilizations, and developed over time until the well-known artist Ziryab appeared in the Abbasid era, who added a new chord to the oud, which consisted of three strings, so it became four, and when he traveled to Andalusia, he increased it to five strings, increasing the aesthetic of playing the Oud."

He added that «one of the golden periods experienced by the oud industry in modern Iraq is the period of the seventies and eighties of the last century, where cultural and artistic festivals, concerts and music clubs continue throughout the year, and the study has expanded in institutes and colleges of fine arts and musical departments in them».

Pointing to a series of photos that covered part of the store's wall, Abdali explained that many famous Arab artists and singers visited the shop, including Wadih al-Safi, Farid al-Atrash and Baligh Hamdi, as well as leading Iraqi artists.