IMZAD. THE INSTRUMENT
NE cannot improve upon the description of the ‘imzad’ by Père de Foucauld in his Touareg/French dictionary t.lll pp 1271-1272:
“… the imzad consists essentially of a semi-spherical gourd called the “ateklas” or “elkas” which is fitted with a shaft of “tabourit” wood (the neck of the violin). Across it is stretched a skin “elem”, and then a single string “aziou” made of horsehair. A bridge made of two small pieces of wood tied together in the shape of an ‘X’ and called “tizioun” (little rods) holds the string above the skin of the violin; two sound-holes, each known as “tit” (eye) are cut in the skin, one on the left and one on the right of the bridge. Some rare imzads have only one sound-hole, which might be located on either the left or the right of the bridge. Sometimes the two holes or the single hole are not beside the bridge but are between the bridge and the neck of the instrument. When there is only a single sound-hole, it is usually directly beneath the string.
The imzad does not have a peg [to wind the string taut]. Each end of the string is attached by a thin strip of leather. One end goes over the [top] end of the neck of the instrument, is wound around it and tied in a knot. The other end is hooked on to the [bottom] end of the piece of wood which forms the neck. A thin strip of leather “tessarit” (the noose) which is moveable and tied to the neck holds the string against the neck at a greater or lesser distance from the end of the neck.
The diameter (…) of the skin stretched across the gourd varies normally between 20 and 50 cm (…). One plays the imzad sitting down, with the instrument resting on one’s knees, the left hand holding the neck of the imzad and pressing down on the string, and the right hand holding the bow. The bow “taganhe” is a stick bent into a semi-circle, with a horse-hair string “aziou” tied from one end to the other. The bow is made from a type of wood called “eserir” …”