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ClassificationPercussion instrument
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For other uses, see Kus (disambiguation).
ClassificationPercussion instrument
More articles

A Kus (Persian کوس kūs) is a large-sized ancient Persian kettledrum, similar to a 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[edit]

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

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 of it. 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 the wars to encourage the army. The instrument was also played in 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 for describing the war fields have mentioned to Kus and Karnay in 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 Arsacid dynasty were using Kus as warlike instruments.[3]

Apparently after the introduction of Islam the word Naghghāreh has been used to mention to 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 have mentioned the name Naghghareh such as the great Persian mystic poet Molana Jalal al-Din Rumi.

See also[edit]


  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

External links[edit]