The Pontian TOULOUM

Harry Parharidis

Harry Parharidis Melbourne Australia 2000

The ancient Greeks called it Askavlo (Aski - skin, Avlo - flute).The Pontian Bagpipe constructed of lamb skin, a blow pipe and the double reed chanter.

Only played in small villages near Trabzon, today you will only find it being played near the villages of RIze. The Pontians in Greece tend to affiliate with

Depending on the player the blow pipe is fitted with a stop valve which allow air to flow only one way (in and not out). Some musicians prefer to use their tongues.

The Chanter which creates the sound consists of two reeds which sit in two flues. Each flute has five hole (so you have two sets of 5).



The Touloum was loved (and still is) for its lovely sound and lively feel. It was very popular for outdoor events because of its loud sound. The most difficult thing of playing the touloum is not only do you have to concentrate on playing the song but breathing and stopping is important (good lungs can help allot).


Pontian Picnic

Playing after Panagia Soumela festival

Touloum with cover

Touloum with a material cover (click to see Rob)


Unlike the bagpipes of other parts of the world and mainly the Balkans the Pontian Touloum doesn't have a separate pipe for the sound of the constant drone. The sound is created by having the two reads in tune with each other. This is only seen elsewhere in Greece on the islands(Note: their Chanter has less holes). However different varietys can be found around the world.

Touloum Chanter

The Touloums "flute" Chanter

Touloum Blow pipe

Touloum Blow pipe


A selection of Images showing the difference in size, shape of Ndaoulia from different regions.


The Pontian Touloum is made up of these parts:

1 . Post - Skin (bag) : Animal Skin

2 . Fisaktir - blowpipe : Wood or Bone

3 . Avlos - flute : Wood & Reeds

4 . Kalame - Reeds: Reeds

Touloum pic