The gudastviri is a droneless, double chantered, horn belled bagpipe played in the Caucasus region between Europe and Asia. The word comes from the words guda (bag) and stviri (whistling). In some regions, the instrument is called the chiboni, stviri, or tulumi.
It is made up of two parts, the first being a whole sheep or goat skin, or a sewed, rectangular leather bag (“guda”). The second is a yoked double chant pipe (“stviri”), terminating in a single horn bell, which makes the gudastviri a member of the hornpipe class of bagpipes.
The gudastviri is used for vocal accompaniment. A majority of recitative songs were performed with its accompaniment, in the region of Racha. The gudastviri player’s repertoire consists of historical, epic, satirical, comic, and lyrical verses, which are performed as one part songs. These songs are recitatives and it is the text, not the melody, that is the most important part of the performance.
Traditionally, only men play this instrument, and Rachian gudastviri players were strolling musicians, who were welcomed as guests at every family party or wedding. It was a profession that served as the main source of the player’s income. Gudastviri players often took part in the Georgian improvisation competition known as berikaoba, where they had to invent a witty epic, lyrical or comical poem accompanied with gudastviri music.
In the region of eastern Javakheti, gudastviri pipes are made of very young branches of a dog rose. One should possess special knowledge to design it. Jewelers are hired to make ornaments on the instrument. The gudastviri itself is nomally designed by the player. The player’s tastes and preferences determine where and how the ornaments should be attached.