While engaged in research on the long-necked lute called Herati dutar in 1974, I was frequently told about a virtuoso dutari (dutar player) who had died a few years earlier after a fight with a gang of 'thugs' in the city of Kandahar. His name was Amin-e Diwaneh. The Persian word diwaneh means 'crazy', and was applied to people who (in terms of Western psychiatry) might be classed as 'insane', though the cause of insanity was usually attributed to spirit possession. Diwaneh was also a description for individuals who were particularly erratic in their behaviour, and was often used affectionately. Amin the dutari was such a person.
Amin-e Diwaneh was said to have been a remarkable dutar player; in his hands the dutar 'talked', or 'shouted', it sang like a crazy spirit. He was said to have a special gift from God (bakshish-e Khodai). He was described as the best dutar player in Afghanistan; no other dutari could 'play in front of him'. Although he was a self-taught musician it was claimed that he played better than the hereditary professional musicians (sazandeh), who received musical training from an early age. He was very eccentric, certainly in terms of Afghan norms of behaviour. He wore his shirt front undone, exposing his chest, a degree of public nakedness which was considered quite unusual, and he wore metal amulets (tawiz) around his neck. He always carried his dutar around with him, whereas other musicians concealed their instruments in public, for they were often criticised by orthodox Muslims for engaging in 'the work of Satan'. Amin would play anywhere, in teahouses, even in the bazaar.
He was said to be 'deep' in his life; although he moved in this world he seemed to be in another. Many people were frightened by him and his reputation for being a diwaneh, a madman, but he appealed to the 'Majnun types', those who rejected the norms and conventions of society at large, and who, like Majnun (in the famous tale of Leyli and Majnun) wanted to get away, to be alone in the desert. Such people, described as having complexes about life, sadness, dissatisfactions - who rejected the world of material things - they liked him and called him Diwaneh out of respect and admiration. And he liked such people and responded to them. He was a charsi, a habitual smoker of hashish (or chars as cannabis resin is called in Afghanistan) and he could be very aggressive. Towards the end of his life he gave up living in the city and became an itinerant amongst the ziyarats, the shrines of Sufi saints which abound in the Herat valley. He was then likened to a malang, a type of religious mendicant who inhabited such places. These were the kinds of comments made about Amin-e Diwaneh by other dutar players.
Herat, where Amin lived and died, is the third largest city in Afghanistan, and is located in the west, 80 miles from the border with Iran, and far from Kabul, Afghanistan's capital, situated in the east. Herat was a provincial city, which since the 1930s had in musical terms been orientated towards Kabul, although Herat's urban music was based on older types of Kabuli music and had not come under the influence of the latest developments in popular music, notably a softer and more relaxed singing style, with Western instruments (such as electric organ, electric guitar, trumpet and trap drums) used for accompaniment. Some of the relationships between Herat and Kabul in terms of popular music have been discussed by Baily (1981).
The dutar is a type of long-necked lute, an ancient form of instrument in this part of Asia. The name means literally 'two strings', and until the late 1940s the version of the dutar played in the villages of Herat had only two strings, made of gut. Beginning in the late 1940s a series of changes were made to the dutar and a three-stringed instrument with metal strings and played with a metal plectrum was established by 1950. By 1965 a much larger kind of dutar with fourteen metal strings was being played. Most of the added strings were sympathetic strings with tuning knobs along the side of the neck, and the shortest also served as a high drone string. A full account of the changes in the dutar is given by Baily (1976). The new dutar was a 'neo-traditional' instrument, in that the plucked lute models which guided its development, the short-necked rubab and the long-necked tanbur, were themselves traditional Afghan instruments.
Although the groundwork for this innovation was laid in the city of Herat, the perfection of the design of the fourteen-stringed dutar was usually credited to the Herati musician Karim Dutari, who worked for seventeen years as a dutar player at Radio Afghanistan in Kabul. Karim Dutari wanted to improve the dutar, formerly regarded as a rural instrument, so that it could hold its own in an urban music ensemble. It did not take long for the new dutar to be adopted in Herat, where it soon became the predominant instrument of music-making in that city. The dutar was traditionally played by amateur musicians in the villages, but in the process of becoming an urban instrument some players of the dutar became professional musicians, and a few joined groups of hereditary professional musicians, who worked in bands with a singer accompanied by harmonium, rubab and tabla drums. The hereditary musicians never played the dutar themselves, and regarded it with some disdain as an amateur instrument, a point we shall return to later.
People in Herat first became aware of the new instrument from hearing it played by Karim over the radio, both in radio ensembles and as a solo instrument. Amin-e Diwaneh was one of the first to play the new instrument in Herat. He perhaps saw Karim's new dutar in Kabul. He travelled about a good deal and at one period in his life worked as a kalinar (from the English word 'cleaner'), a lorry driver's assistant, whose duties include cleaning the lorry and handling the massive wooden chock used to prevent it from slipping backwards on steep hills. He certainly had the opportunity to visit Kabul frequently, and could have been one of the first people to bring back to Herat a precise description of the kind of instrument that Karim was playing. 
The Only known Photograph of the virtuoso dutar player; Amin-e Diwaneh
By all accounts it was Amin who created the style for playing the fourteen-stringed dutar which was adopted by other dutaris in Herat. It differed from Karim's style in one important respect: Karim developed a right-hand technique in which the main playing stroke was an upstroke flick of the index finger wearing a metal plectrum over the finger tip (see Baily 1977, pp. 294-5). Amin devised another technique, in which the metal plectrum was held between the forefinger and the thumb and the downstroke was the main playing stroke (as on the rubab). This allowed for a faster and more 'aggressive' style of playing, and was less fatiguing than Karim's upstroke style - a very important consideration. It was this aspect of Amin's playing that was adopted by virtually all other dutaris in Herat.
My main sources of information about Amin-e Diwaneh were two other amateur musicians who had grown up with him and often played with him when they were young. One was Bacheh Matari,  who played the zirbaghali, a single-headed goblet drum made of pottery, the usual drum played with the dutar by amateur musicians. He later became a good friend of mine and helped me greatly with my research. He had in his possession the only photograph of Amin-e Diwaneh that I was able to find, much creased, wearing two of his famous metal amulets, and with his shirt unbuttoned. The other source of information was Qasem Asiawan (asiawan means 'miller'), who also played the dutar, and was a few years younger than Amin-e Diwaneh. He was said to play the dutar very much in the style of Amin, and to emulate his behaviour, though in both respects he apparently could not quite match his friend and mentor. I only met him a few times. The first occasion was in the house of a wealthy young admirer and dutar enthusiast who had arranged for me to record Asiawan in the company of a few friends. As Asiawan did not have his fourteen-stringed dutar with him he played on a three-stringed dutar that was to hand.  He also recorded some lengthy reminiscences about Amin, as recounted below. From the accounts of Bacheh Matari and Qasem Asiawan the following brief biography has been constructed.
Amin-e Diwaneh was born in the region of the Herat Valley called Ziyaratja, some miles south of the city, and seems to have been an only child. His father was from Herat, while his mother came from Kandahar, Afghanistan's second city, located in the south. When he was young his family moved to the village of Qafaslan, very near the Kandahar Gate of Herat's old city. As a boy he worked on the land, and it seems likely that his father was an impoverished share-cropper; he died when Amin was young. Amin probably began playing the dutar when he was thirteen or fourteen, initially the old-fashioned two-stringed dutar with gut strings, which he was said to play very fast, with a lot of riz, the fast tremolo that is the hallmark of this instrument. Later he obtained a three-stringed dutar. He had already acquired the nickname of Diwaneh and Bacheh Matari described their friendship of that time, when they used to play dutar and zirbaghali together. At one period, when they had a job cleaning pistachio nuts, they would go off to a teahouse for an hour or so after work to play music before returning home. The teahouse they favoured was run by Salam Nazan, who was also from Qafaslan. Bacheh Matari described Amin-e Diwaneh as the best friend he had ever had; since his death he had never found another friend like Amin, whom he also referred to him as his master (khalifeh). Sometimes they would quarrel and fight, then a few minutes later they would make it up and embrace and kiss each other. Occasionally they would be asked to play at parties, or weddings, in the area round the Kandahar Gate.
Karim Dutari playing the 14-stringed dutar at his home in Herat
Bacheh Matari recalled how they had met Asiawan, who as a boy worked as a miller, and used to ride from his village into town with a string of donkeys laden with flour. He would come to the teahouse and watch and listen to the two of them play. One day he took Amin-e Diwaneh's dutar and played himself. 'I saw that his fingers were moving on the dutar very well, like Amin's fingers. I told Amin, "He's got the idea, he will become a good dutar player." They often saw Asiawan in their teahouse and for two or three years they played music there together, becoming very good friends.
Amin-e Diwaneh had been working in a sweet shop near the Kandahar Gate, but then he went off to Kandahar and started his intermittent residence in that city. He probably had relatives there. He seems to have liked Kandahar because the people were 'more pailuch' than the people of Herat. Pailuch means 'barefoot' and describes a type of ruffian or gangster, a professional thief or robber. The pailucha (pl. of pailuch) of Kandahar were bands of impoverished young men from the poorer classes, who maintained their own criminal subculture. The pailucha were apparently much given to homosexuality (patronising glamorous youths in this connection), and to smoking chars. Amin liked the criminal underworld, and felt more at home with such people, though his friend Asiawan was at pains to deny that Amin was homosexual. While in Kandahar Amin used to work on the lorries, especially on the run to Spin Boldak, a border town on the frontier with Pakistan and a major centre for smuggled goods.
When Amin was called up for his military service, he served it - for at least some of the time - in Herat. He was in a dutar orchestra organised by one Naleh, the military band-master in the Herat barracks, at the time when the five-stringed dutar enjoyed a brief spell of popularity. Bacheh Matari played zirbaghali in this orchestra, even though he was not in the army. Towards the end of his two years of military service Amin-e Diwaneh deserted from the army. This was the cause of much trouble for him, for according to the current law this meant he had to start another two years' period of service. Again he deserted after some months. The final outcome is unclear but it is possible that he was excused further service on medical grounds: it appears that the diwaneh side of his personality became more prominent after his experience of military service. Alternatively, he may have remained on the run from the authorities, which could be why he chose later on to live out in the ziyarats of Herat.
Bacheh Matari playing the Zerbaghali at a spring fair
By this time Amin-e Diwaneh was playing the fourteen-stringed dutar and forging the style that was to become so influential in Herat. He made his own modifications to the instrument. In Karim's version of the dutar, made by a master instrument maker in Kabul, the sympathetic strings were supported above the neck of the instrument by small bone bridges sunk into the wooden neck. Amin devised another way of doing this, with the top halves of needles driven into the wood, so that the strings passed through the needles' eyes. Both Asiawan and Bacheh Matari claimed to have been with him when he undertook this experiment and it is quite possible that he modified more than one dutar in this way. They said it gave a very clear sound, as one might expect.
At my meeting with Asiawan in 1974, when he recorded his reminiscences of Amin-e Diwaneh, he told us a number of revealing anecdotes, most of which I reproduce here in précis form. We started off asking why people called him Diwaneh?
'Well, he was diwaneh! If someone offered him ten thousand afghanis to go and play at a wedding party he wouldn't go. He'd rather buy some chars and go off to the ziyarats to smoke it with the malangs and play the dutar for them free. He smoked a lot, but he wasn't a bacheh baz ("boy player"), he wasn't homosexual, though he had plenty of opportunity. He had a huge moustache, wore a long turban and went round with his shirt open, exposing his chest. He had blue tattoos all over his body, on his hands, his back, and his chest. On his hands was tattooed Ya Shir-e Khoda, "Lion of God". He was very strong and practised body building. He could break bricks by hitting them with his head. When he was fighting with the Kandaharis, at the time of his epic battles, he attacked them with his head. One blow from his head was enough to put you out of action. If he punched a dried mud wall with his fist, then his fist would sink into it. When he was unhappy or sad about something he used to hit himself, punching himself or knocking himself against a wall. He always carried a short stick (like a cosh) tucked away in his baggy trousers.'
'In the world of dutar playing people are very jealous. On one occasion some people took Karim Dutari in a jeep to Qasr-e Shirin, a village in the direction of Badghis, to play at a party at the Hazrat's place. Amin was invited too, but he went there on foot. Karim played the fourteen-stringed dutar for them. Late on in the evening someone said, "Let's give the dutar to Amin and see what he can do." Karim said, "Amin can't touch this dutar, he doesn't know how to play it." Amin was very angry and upset about this and started punching himself and hitting his head against the wall. Later he asked the Hazrats, "Won't you let me play?" and they said, "Yes, you take the dutar, Diwaneh." And he played and played and played so that everyone was marvelling at how good he was and they forgot about Karim. Then Amin said, "With your permission I will cut all the frets off this dutar and play it without frets," which he did, and the people liked it very much. Later he said, "Karim, this is your dutar, I've got some nylon in my pocket and I can tie the frets back on, or if you like you can play it like this." But the people said, "No, you must play," and so he played till morning. In the morning they took Amin back to Herat in the jeep and Karim had to walk home - they wouldn't give him a ride. It was after this that Amin went to Kandahar and put in the needles as bridges for the sympathetic strings. Later he told Karim, "You have made this fourteen-stringed dutar and now I am going to make another kind of dutar; I am the Diwaneh of God."'
Qasem Asiawan playing the three-stringed dutar
'Many people liked him. They were always inviting him to go and play at weddings and at parties but he wouldn't go. Late on in the evening he'd search for a get-together of dutar enthusiasts, the kind of people he liked, and he would arrive unexpectedly, with his dutar and his turban and his stick. As he made his entrance he'd growl, "Diwaneh has arrived," and he would play for them and do his special act. People liked him very much for his playing, for his talking and his acting. He communicated with them. He played the old tunes, new songs, filmi tunes [from Indian films], any kind of song and tune he heard. Sometimes he made up his own tunes. He never went to the cinema or theatre. If people asked him to go with them to the cinema he'd say, "I don't want to go, my spirit (del) and fingers are cinema enough for me. India, Pakistan, Iran, they are all under my fingers. I don't need the cinema, why should I go and spend my ten afghanis?" If he were still alive he would be very famous and would have everything. One time when he was playing in the evening at Chisht-e Sharif [a Sufi shrine to the east of Herat] the nightingales flew down and perched on the tuning pegs of his dutar and sang with the music. '
'Amin was not after money, but sometimes people gave him a lot. He never told people in advance how much they should pay him. It's sinful to ask in advance, if people want to give you money it's okay, if they don't, then it doesn't matter. When someone gave him some money he'd go off and spend it. He'd buy a kilo of chars and an expensive turban, some metal amulets, these things. Then he'd go and smoke the chars and when it was finished and he didn't have any money he'd go and sell his new turban or those things he'd bought for himself. If he'd bought the turban for a thousand afghanis he'd sell it for five hundred and buy more chars.'
'He was always going to the ziyarats to play his dutar and smoke chars with the malangs. One night he'd be in Gazergah-e Sharif, the next night at Sayed-e Mukhtar [two shrines close to Herat], then the next night at another ziyarat a day's walk from the town. He just moved around amongst the ziyarats. He was frightened of only one thing, of being assaulted and "raped" at someone's party.  A lot of this is going on these days. If someone's getting too full of himself, becoming a big kakeh or badmash,  then he's in danger of being attacked in this way in order to bring him down, by making him a laughing stock. Even if they don't actually do it people may start a rumour to say that somebody has been disgraced like this. It's not good to reveal these things but Amin was present and playing the dutar when Aziz Kakeh [another kakeh character] was raped like this. Amin said, "Since I am a chars addict, some time when I'm playing I might say something bad to somebody and he might be angry with me and to take his revenge invite me to a party with forty or fifty others to rape me. Then what could I do? I'd have to kill myself. No, I'm not sazandeh [a hereditary professional musician], I'm not a jat ['gypsy musician'], I'm not going to just anybody's house." That's why he was usually living out at the ziyarats.'
'In Kandahar one time he got into a fight with five or six Kandaharis. They had knives, he was fighting with his head, one blow from which was enough to lay you out. He was stabbed from behind by one of them and the point of the knife came out from his chest. His friends told him to go to the police but he said, "I'll never go to the police or to the government but I shall take my revenge." When he recovered from his wounds he went back to Herat, living out in the ziyarats with the malangs, planning his revenge. He returned to Kandahar to look for the men who had wounded him. When he found them he kept pestering them, saying, "Come on, let's go, let's go out to the desert and settle it," and they would reply, "Go away, you are just like a tourist in this town, go away and leave us alone." But he wouldn't be put off, saying, "I don't care if you kill me, I want to be killed by you." So finally one day they went out to the desert, there were five or six of them and just him with his stick. This time they didn't fight with knives but they beat him. When they got him to the ground they beat his abdomen to hurt his insides without making him bleed. After that, a big lump grew from his belly. He got back to Herat and went home. He couldn't leave his bed. The swelling from his abdomen got bigger and bigger and then it opened up and blood and things were coming out. His mother looked after him.'
'Half-an-hour before he died he asked his mother to give him his dutar and he sat up in bed and started to play. A relative of his who knows about music and plays the dutar, Gol Agha Barut, was there too. He told me that first Amin played "Magam-e Jal" ("The Melody of the Lark") and then a new tune that he'd never heard before, in Rag Markaus or something. Then he let go of the dutar. The tears were rolling down his cheeks, his mother was wiping them away. He said to his mother, "My del ('spirit') is getting weaker and weaker." His mother took the dutar from him and put it away, hanging it on the wall. Then she turned back to him. But he had gone, he was dead.'
'This is life and it's impossible to buy off death. But if it were possible to buy off death then a lot of people would pay a lot of money for Amin to be alive. I would be happy to die if Amin could be alive, I would be happy if my own brother were to die if it meant that he could live.'
The date of Amin-e Diwaneh's death is uncertain but I estimate that it was in the late 1960s, when he was in his late twenties. Bacheh Matari told me that at the time he had been away from Herat doing his own military service. Amin-e Diwaneh was buried in the village of Qafaslan.
Amin-e Diwaneh's is a story which is familiar to students of Western popular music. It touches on a persistent myth in our own culture, evoking ideas of youthful genius doomed to burn itself out and die an early and tragic death. He had many of the attributes of the Chicago Jazz musician in the late 1940s as described by Becker (1951) and further examined by Merriam and Mack (1960). His was a mysterious and unschooled gift. He was a rebel, a drug user, seen by society at large as anti-social. He dressed distinctively and behaved eccentricly. He identified with 'underworld culture' and as regarded as a 'character', the subject of anecdotes about his 'crazy' antics and adventures. His competition with Karim Dutari is a variant on the classic 'sudden success' story (see Merriam and Mack 1960, pp 218-19), the acknowledged master challenged and toppled by a self-taught interloper. He is in every respect an example of the musician as 'folk hero'. (See also the classic description of the musician given by Merriam 1964, chapter VII).
In order to understand more fully the significance of Amin-e Diwaneh to those Heratis who admired him we have to view him in relation to other kinds of musicians in Herat. In Herat, as in other parts of Afghanistan, an important distinction was drawn between shauqi ('amateur') and kesbi ('professional') musician status (Slobin 1976; Sakata 1983; Baily 1979). The distinction was based on two criteria: (a) economic support, the shauqi played because of a love of music, the kesbi to make a living; and (b) recruitment, the shauqi was a self-taught enthusiast, the kesbi a hereditary musician trained in that role from an early age. This dichotomy was expressed clearly by the contrast between dutar players (always amateur by recruitment) and members of hereditary musician (sazandeh) families, who had dominated the music profession in Herat since the 1930s. The sazandeh played both art music and popular music, and were proud of their knowledge of music theory and training as musicians. They aspired to a respectable status as 'artists', equivalent to writers, poets, calligraphers and miniature painters, and regarded the performance of music for payment as their rightful domain (see Baily, in press, for further details of sazandeh social organisation).
The distinction between amateur (shauqi) and professional (kesbi) status was respected by both the sazandeh and dutar players. The sazandeh for their part stressed that they acquired their profession and professional skill az pedari, 'from their fathers'. They were brought up to be musicians, were exposed to music from an early age, and trained in performance by their relatives. To learn music correctly one needed to be taught by a teacher, a master musician, who understood the 'science of music', could play a variety of instruments, and who had been the student of a teacher in his turn. Those who learned music without a teacher did not understand music 'scientifically', and what they did learn by ear they usually learned wrongly. According to the sazandeh, they (as kesbis) were pokhteh, 'cooked', while the shauqis were kham, 'raw'.
Amateur musicians on their part saw great value in their shauqi status. They played because of their enthusiasm (shauq) for music (see Slobin 1976, pp. 24-5), not to make a living. The 'true' shauqi dutari never deigned to accept payment for his music. He could even find a virtue in his own shortcomings as a musician, as though these proved his shauqi status. Shauqis were proud to be self-taught, perhaps precisely because training in music was associated with being a low status hereditary professional musician. Within their own amateur musician network shauqis disavowed having teachers, which meant that they did not feel beholden to others. In fact, they usually learned by copying one other performer, normally a relative or friend, without revealing what they were doing, listening and watching and then practising in private. They lacked the exposure to music as children that the sazandeh enjoyed, and were often actually discouraged from learning to play by their families. They had overcome many obstacles to learn to play the dutar.
Amin-e Diwaneh was the champion of the amateurs: he articulated in an extreme way the values inherent in shauqi ideology, even though he became, in a sense, a professional musician, for he seems to have lived from his music in later years. He represented the intuitive as opposed to the formal approach to music, the realm of feeling in contrast to intellect. He stood for individuality and freedom, for an ecstatic approach to life which had connections with Sufism. Indeed, he bore the same relationship to the 'orthodoxy' of the sazandeh that the Sufi had to orthodox Islam. This link with Sufism found a clear expression in his living in ziyarats, the burial places of Sufi saints, where he smoked chars (here a spiritual practice) and played the dutar for the malangs. He was Herat's answer to Karim Dutari's 'professionalism', acquired from mixing with hereditary musicians in Kabul; Amin showed an alternative to the 'scientific' and 'educated' style of Karim. His own frenetic dutar-playing, so appropriate for Afghan popular music, set the standard for those who followed.
Somehow I never got to ask Karim Dutari what he thought about Amin-e Diwaneh; perhaps I was worried about a sensitive reaction to such a question, for I doubt that he had an admiration for the man who stole his thunder. But Karim did tell me once that he was thinking of experimenting with a dutar without frets, the finger board covered with a fine sheet of steel (like the Indian sarod), so that he could play the meend, sut, and gamak ornaments of Indian music. It would be difficult to play, he said, and he would have to practice four or five hours a day over a long period of time to master it. Was he, I wondered to myself, also remembering a long walk home, a dutar newly stripped of its frets under his arm?