The Darbukas are an hourglass or goblet-shaped drum which is played with both hands, and held horizontally either under the arm or between the legs. The head of the darbuka was formerly covered in leather, goatskin or fish skin, although synthetic materials are now preferred. The head can be held together by nails or glue, so that in order to tune the instrument the skin needs to be heated to obtain the right sound, or the skin is passed over a hoop, and the instrument is tuned by stretching the skin with screws.
Instruments similar to the darbuka, of various shapes and sizes, were used by civilisations in Anatolia, Mesopotamia and Central Asia in ancient times. In later periods, these changed and developed, but continued to be used in the same areas. The instrument has been known by different names at different times and in different places. These include: dümbek, dümbelek, deplek, deblek, dönbek, tömbek, darbeki and debulak.
It is very common in Tunisian homes for darbukas to accompany celebrations. Darbukas are also found in Turkey, Syria and Iraq and in classical Arabic music. Across the Mediterranean, well-known western European composers used the darabukka in their orchestral works, for example, in Berlioz's Trojan Opera (1869) or Carl Orff's Prometheus (premiered in 1968).