Hammered Dulcimers Around the World

The hammered dulcimer has been known and played throughout many parts of the world for many centuries; scholars of music history differ on what criteria can be used to verify its original location, thus you can hear it said to be “as much as 800 years old” all the way to “as much as 3,000 years old!” Players in Iran and India claim their lands (the original Persian Empire) to be the inventors, and we don’t see a reason to dispute that, so we tend toward the earlier date. If that’s true, then the santur probably spread eastward to the Asian lands long ago and westward perhaps during the Crusades. There’s reason to believe it was brought here to the Virginia colony from England in the 1600s. For further information you may want to look at the articles in Wikipedia, starting with “Hammered Dulcimer.”

Below are names of the hammered dulcimer in many countries where it is played, with special links to those Wikipedia articles.

Santur (santūr, Santoor, Santour) in Iran (سنتور), Afghanistan, Armenia, Turkey, Pakistan, Iraq, and India (Shatatantri vina in ancient sanskrit writings)

Salterio in Italy, Spain (also dulcémele), and Mexico

Saltério in Brazil (Brasil) and Portugal

Santoor, sandouri, or santouri (σαντούρι) in Greece

Yangqin, yángqín, yang quin, or yang ch'in (扬琴 from 揚琴) in China and Tibet; also a silk-strung version hudie qin (蝴蝶琴)

Chang in Uzbekistan

Yanggeum 양금 in Korea

Joochin in Mongolia

Khim ( ขิม) in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos

Tam-thap-luk or đàn tam thp lc in Vietnam

Darushimaa ダルシマー in Japan

דולצימר פטישים in Israel

Tsymbaly (цимбалы) or dultsimer (Дульцимер) in Russia

Tsymbaly in Belarus (Цымбалы), and Ukraine (цимбали), Moldova, and Poland (cymbały)

Tsimbal (цимбал) in Serbia

Tsimbl in Yiddish communities

Cimbalom, cimbalom, cymbalum, ţambalin Hungary (Magyarország)

Cimbal in Slovakia

Ţambal in Romania

Tiompan (Scottish Gaelic) or tiompán (Irish) in Scotland and Ireland

Psaltérion and tympanon in France

Cimbal, cimbale in Croatia

Cimbál in Czech Republic

Cimbalai, cimbolai in Lithuania

Cymbal, cimbole in Latvia (Latgalia)

Cimbale, oprekelj in Slovenia

Hackbrett in Austria (Osterreich), Switzerland (Schweitzer) and Bavaria (Bayern, in southern Germany)

Hakkebord in Belgium

Hakkebræt in Denmark (Danmark)

Hakkebord in the Netherlands

Hakkebrett in Norway

Hackbräde, hammarharpa in Sweden

Hammered dulcimer in England

Hammered dulcimer, Whamdiddle, Lumberjack Piano in Early North America

For more information on dulcimers, check out Dulcimers 101.