Apkhartsa is Abkhazian two-stringed bow instrument spread in Georgia and it is distinguished with the external form from other instruments.
Apkhartsa is made by leaf varieties (fig, maple, lime, etc.) that fall in Abkhazia. According to the ethnographic material, Apkhartsa had been made by bitter pumpkin, plush and vine roots in old times. Often it had been made directly by performers.
Apkhartsa’s head, throat and the body is wholly made by wood. It has flat deka (Rhododendron caucasicum), which is attached to the body with nails. The holes for sound are cut out on the deka. Strings are made by horsehair and fastened to the end of body with screws. Joraki is relatively higher and bow is regular. The horsehair of the bow is greased on the front of the rear side of the resin.
Generally Apkhartsa is accompanist in the Folk music practice for the solo or choral song. The function of Apkhartsa is accompaniment for primarily historical – heroic songs. During the battle all the units had their performers who always had Apkhartsa with them attached to the saddle.
It is said that this instrument had been made to alleviate sadness and sorrows. It is known the so-called Abkhazian "Songs of wounded peoples” accompanied by Apkhartsa, during alleviatin the pain of the wounded – removing the bullet from the leg. As well as Apkhartsa had been performed with accompaniment of e.g. Hunter’s Song, "Atsunukhi” – rules challenging the rain …).
According to the Abkhazian faith, the soul is separated from the body of drowned people and troubles the dead at nights while it isn’t caught and the and joined the body. Therefore, when the drowned is already buried the relatives gathered at the river for “catching the soul” in order to bury it together with the body. Because of this they fastened a new “Guda” with open throat to the river and in this throat was put the tape of silk or silver. The second end of “Guda” was put in the water (the very place where, presumably, the spirit separated from the body). All participants were praying, joining and performing wordless song “Apstgaga” with Apkartsa’s accompaniment. When “Guda” is filled with air that meant that soul went into there. This time Apkhartsa players and singers kept silent in order not to frighten the soul and not to refuse it to stay on. A man sitting nearby tied up the “Guda”. After that they were going to the cemetery with joyful songs, then let the soul out and played on the Apkhartsa.
The same procedure was performed by Abkhazians for the people chopped off rock, fallen from the tree or dead with unnatural death outside the house.
Apkhartsa was played at the burial of the dead in the previous night. According to the rules in Abkhazia for fathers is forbidden bemoan the son, so he facilitated his sorrow while playing the Apkhartsa, what according to their faith ennobled not only the soul of the dead, but also alleviated his father’s sorrow.
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