EOL 4: Kavals and Dzamares (Tammer

7. Thoughts on the Origin of Ornamentation of the Dzamara

The town of Ioannina, capital of the province of Epirus, is located by a lake. There is an island in this lake upon which was built the fortress of Ali Pasha, an Albanian warlord who defied several Ottoman Sultans in the early nineteenth century before he was finally beheaded. On the island is a small museum, which I visited in 1987. Among the exhibits, two identical dzamares, lumped together with unrelated artifacts, were identified by the curator as Ali Pasha's "smoking pipes" (see Appendix 1, sketch G). These dzamares had no tone holes, at least as far as I could tell, for a piece of cheap embossed tin plate had been crudely nailed to one side of each instrument, where tone-holes should have been. But they were finely made, slender in the manner of Ferati kavals. Again, they existed as a pair, were faceted at the distal end, and had raised mouthpiece ends. It was impossible to tell what wood they were made from, as they were painted black.

While wandering around the museum, quiet in the absence of automobiles, I could not help wondering why the Macedonian kaval and the "Sarakatsan" dzamara are both cut with facets on the lower end. I had asked Islam this question ten years earlier, but could get no answer. Now Islam was deceased, as were both of my kaval teachers, and such mysteries seemed to be folded ever deeper in opaque curtains of time. As I pondered, walking down the dusty aisles between glass cases of old firearms, I noticed that the barrels on many of the guns were also faceted, at the breech end. Could that be it? Were prized flutes once made out of gun barrels, with later, wooden flutes emulating them with vestigial, reminiscent ornamentation?

I originally thought the idea of flutes-from-gun barrels absurd, since rifle barrels were heavy, thick things, and what about the fluting, the rifling, inside? A little exploration is enough to show that muskets barrels, developed before the rifling of modern firearms was employed, are smooth-bored, thin-walled and relatively light in weight. That flutes in general have been made of gun barrels is evidenced by two specimens of North American Indian vertical whistles (items 845 and 1157) of the Dayton C. Miller flute collection in Washington, DC. These instruments are described as being made from gun barrels.

Hadjimikalis relates that she has been told that the best metal dzamares are made from palia kariophelia, old (in the sense of old-fashioned) gun barrels (Hadjimikalis 1957 ii:151). The word "kariophelia," according to Fermor 1962,  is a Greek adaption of Carlo e Figlia (Carlo and Sons) Italian gun makers whose arms were popular in the Balkans. Anoyanakis 1979 says:

The fingerholes of the iron or bronze "floghera," which is usually an ordinary piece of pipe or tubing or the barrel of an old gun, are opened by the village blacksmith, under the guidance of the shepherd.

The term "floghera" (floyera) is a generic one, referring to any end-blown flute; the dzamara may be considered by some to be a long floghera. I have no evidence that Anoyanakis or Hadjimikalis ever saw for themselves a flute made from a gun barrel. And to this date neither have I. Yet they did, and do, exist. My friend Pyrrhus Ruches, of Greek ethnicity, told me his father kept an old gun-barrel flute by the front door of his New York apartment as a precaution. The irony of this weapon-to-musical-instrument-to-weapon transformation was not lost on us. Another friend, Vasil Bebelekov, from the village of Devin, in the Rhodopes of Bulgaria 15 miles from the Greek border, owns a gun-barrel flute, given to him by his grandfather Atanas Kurtev.

Next section: 8. A Wider Geographic Domain For The Paired/One Piece Kaval

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