Stories We Like: A Guide to the Comma
[1676+; fr the tarpaulin garments they made and wore]
(Iranian: "string"), long-necked lute descended from the tanbur of Sasanian Iran and known in a variety of forms throughout the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. Its name traditionally signified the number of strings employed-e.g., dutar ("two-strings"), setar ("three-strings"), and cartar ("four-strings")-but this is no longer true, as the sitar of India has up to seven strings. The body of the tar is hollowed out of a single piece of wood and is rounded out in two bulges so that the membrane-covered belly is like a figure 8 or hourglass. The instrument, which is played with a small metal pick, has movable frets and lateral pegs for the metal strings that are rib-fastened. The word tar is also a generic term for Middle Eastern tambourines.