Also:       chimoni      chiponi      

Title: chiboni demonstration by Shmagi Pirtskhelani; 28 December 2010. Format: DVC.

Contextual Associations

The chiboni is a bagpipe aerophone of Georgia, Western Asia. One Georgian ethnic group associated with the chiboni is the Acharians, who are concentrated in the southwest province of Achara on the border with Turkey. Tsitsishvili (2006) reports that "In some regions [of Georgia], such as Racha and Achara, men play bagpipes, whose shrill and loud sound is designed for outdoor performance. The bagpipe is the only instrument played at weddings by professional male musicians." (p. 459) This instrument therefore carries a male gender association. It is also used to accompany work and dances such as the khorumi, an Acharian and Gurian military dance in 5/4 meter (Jordania, p. 836).


The chiboni is a two-chanter bagpipe with single-reeds in each chanter. The bladder, spanning 20 in. from extreme ends, is fashioned from an un-tanned kidskin with its hair removed and then oiled with tallow. The hindquarters are synched inside the bladder while the forelegs and neck act as openings for the blowpipe, chanters, and a decorative mirror housing respectively.  The cylindrical cane chanters, stviri, are housed in half of a tubular wooden frame and both terminate in a single cow horn. 5.5 in. of each chanter are exposed while the total length extending into the bell and bag is 9.5 in. The left drone-chanter has three equidistant holes burnt into the lower half of the pipe (of which the bottom is usually used as a bell hole). The right melodic-chanter has five holes burnt into its pipe with the upper two at varying distances. A cane reed is seated at the mouth of each chanter and sealed in place with beeswax. The entire chanter complex is held together, and into the bladder, with twine and is sealed against air leakages with beeswax. A short carved wooden blowpipe with a one-way valve extends from the opposite foreleg. The neck of the kid is gathered and glued around a wooden circle into which a mirror has been inlayed and whose edges are protected by more wax. 

Player - Instrument Interface and Sound Production

The player inflates the bladder through a blowpipe. The blowpipe, equipped with a one-way valve, then traps the air inside the bag (bladder), building up pressure. The musician squeezes the bag forcing the air out through the reeds of the chanters. The piper then manually alters the length of the reedpipes by opening and closing their fingerholes. A constant stream of air is required to maintain a consistent pitch, and the instrument is therefore limited to one dynamic. Both chanters are tuned to a diatonic scale. The melodic-chanter sounds the first seven notes of G mixolydian (G3 – F4) and the drone chanter, the first four an octave lower (G2 – C3). The chanters are divided between bass and melody, where the bass pipe sounds an ostinato on two or three pitches. In many cases the bagpipe’s player, will also perform as a solo singer. This self-accompaniment is made possible by the blowpipe’s one-way valve. This style of performance is common across regions with morphologically similar instruments.


Hornpipes with cow horn mounted on the end, bag-less or in bagpipe form, are disturbed from Atlantic Europe and the Maghrib to the Urals and India and have their origins in antiquity.  Sonically and mechanically there is very little difference between a bag-less specimen and a bagpipe. The chiboni is similar both in design and performance practice to the Turkish and other folk bagpipes of peoples living in the Caucuses and Asia Minor.

Bibliographic Citations

Baines, Anthony. 1960. Bagpipes. London: Oxprint LTD of Oxford.

"Chiboni [chimoni]." 1984. NGDMI v. 1: 349-350.

Jordania, Joseph. 2000. "Georgia." In Garland Encyclopedia of World Music v.8. ed. Timothy Rice, James Porter, and Chris Goertzen. New York: Garland Publishing, pp. 826-849.

Tsitsishvili, Nino. 2006. "'A Man Can Sing Better than a Woman': Singing and Patriarchy at the Georgian Supra Feast," Ethnomusicology 50/3: 452-493.


Instrument Information


Continent: Asia

Region: West Asia

Nation: Georgia

Formation: Acharian

Classification (Sachs-Von Hornbostel revised by MIMO)

422.221.2-62 aerophone--set of cylindrical-bore reedpipes with single reeds; each pipe has a [single] reed consisting of a lamella which periodically opens and closes an aperture, controlling the flow of air; at least one pipe has fingerholes; with flexible air reservoir

Design and Playing Features

Category: aerophone

Air cavity design: tubular - cylindrical with open distal end

Source and direction of airstream: airstream from squeezed sack reservoir of pressurized air channeled into air cavity; unidirectional

Energy transducer that activates sound: encased percussion (single) reed

Means of modifying shape and dimensions of standing wave in air cavity: opening fingerholes to reduce space or shorten length of standing wave in air cavity

Overblowing utilization: not used

Pitch production: multiple pitches - changing length/shape of standing waves within two cavities with fingerholes


20 in. length (bladder, deflated) 9.5 in. total (chanter) 5 in. length (bell) 2.25 in. length (blowpipe)

Primary Materials

membrane - mammal skin
reed - cane
horn - mammal

Entry Author

Gaelyn Hutchinson