The History of Ney


 Ney is the oldest wind instrument ever known. It is told that there was a double pipe whistle which was taken to China by Şan-Kiyen in 1249 BC. In Turkistan, a similar instrument which is called “Koş-Ney” is still in use. It is supposed to be the oldest Turkish instrument.

Neyzen : Zeki Sözen

 Ney is a very ancient instrument that has been played continuously since 3000 BC. Two of the oldest ones are displayed in the University of Pennsylvania, Museum of Archaeology.

 The details of the oldest ney ever known are as follows:

 Accession Numbers: 51-46-81a and 51-46-81B

  Provenience: Egypt

  Date: 19th Century AD

 Source: Mrs. William D. Frishmuth Musical Instrument Collection

 Credit Line: Gift of the Philadelphia Museum of Art 1951

  Description: Reed with seven holes

  Size: L. 23'

  L. 2' 5 3/4'

  Repository: Penn Museum (formerly University Museum), African Section

İlk Ney
The Oldest Ney

 Ney was firstly used in old Mesopotamia (the region between the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers) by Sumerians. Its name comes from the Farsi words "nay" and "na" that mean “reed”.

 On the left, you can see the photo of the oldest ney. It is not too different from its todays shape. As seen, it does not have a mouthpiece (called “Başpâre” in Turkish).

  Some Egyptian historians state that ney was an instrument used in the religious ceremonies made for the god of the afterlife, Osiris.

  In Egypt, ney was named either “Mam” or “Sebi” according to the playing position. It is also told that there was another type of ney which was played by only women in ancient Egypt. In Tanakh, a kind of ney called “Hagub” is stated

  As known, Turks accepted Islam after the Battle of Talas (751 AD). However, ney gained its importance in Islam World after 13th century. Undoubtedly, Mevlânâ Celâleddin-i Rûmî had a great role in this.

 In the second half of the tenth century, Farabi used the first Turkish musical notation as "Ebced Notası". It is supposed that Karahitays (East Karahan State) used an original musical notation called "Ayalgu" after 1124. This notation is quite different from the today’s one.

  We can learn from Hodja Gıyaseddin Nakkaş’s travelbook that ney was used by Karahitays too.

 Neyli Minyatür

  Aztecs also used some instruments similar to ney in their ceremonies. The only answer of the question how ney came to Mexico is probably the migrations from Central Asia through Alaska.

 Asteks Ney

  COPYRIGHT Polıcy belongs to the web-site pictures.


 The Oldest Ney:
Accession numbers: 1902-58,a
'Flutes (2) (Nays)'
Description: Reed with seven holes
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. William D. Frishmuth, 1902
Size: L. 23'
L. 2' 5 3/4'
Deaccessioned: Given to the University Museum 1/7/52


The Oldest Ney




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