In Central Asia there is

In Central Asia there is a simple one-stringed instrument, the tar -- 'tar' means string -- and it's played by wandering bards and mystics, fakirs. The idea of the tar seems to travel to ancient Persia, where one string became two, and it was called the dutar. And then in India it became the more familiar sitar. The string seemed to travel China and also westward, and in Arabian countries it's known as quintara, with five strings, and in Greece it's known as the chitara, which was much like a zither. And in the form of a stringed lute, it travels to Spain, and it is known as the guitarra, and then to America, where it is known as the guitar . . . and so if you're following the terminology of stringed instruments, you're following the influence of the Silk Road.
The single theme of this year's Smithsonian Folklife Festival is The Silk Road, an early trade route which linked Asia and Europe, reaching from Venice to Japan.
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