Armos Nonengu Item in Manifold Sky | World Anvil

Armos Nonengu

An armos nonengu (literally "the dish sings" in Iuxat, also known simply as armos) is a Rostran musical instrument featuring both precussion and string elements.

Manufacturing process

The wicker-and-frame variant of the armos can only be used as a string instrument, making it somewhat less popular than the all-wooden variant (though by no means defunct). Wicker-and-frame armos are constructed using many of the same methods as basket-weaving. All-wooden armos are hewn out from large planes or stumps of hardwood using an adze; the surfaces are then worn smooth and treated with a sealing agent. In both cases, notches are carefully cut along the rim, and loops of strings are bound through these notches parallel to one another. The length of a string varies based on where its notches fall along the rim; this variation causes the strings to vibrate with different frequencies when plucked. Additional notches are cut to allow for some degree of positional tuning.   Low Rostran traditionalists insist that the only 'true' armos nonengu feature wooden dishes and organic strings. Such traditional-style armos are often prized art objects, with bodies decoratively carved from dark ironwood and strings wrapped at the edges with brightly-colored cloth ribbons. The aesthetics of an armos can be further enhanced through the application of paint and inlays of precious metals or nacre. Such decorations can be applied to both the convex and concave surfaces of an armos, though armos makers are cognizant of the fact that doing so may change the sound. Particularly ornate armos can cost thousands of NGC for aesthetic reasons alone.   Some armos are constructed with partial bowls, flexible wood rims, additional toggles at the string mounts, or built-in resonant chambers, though many consider these to be different instruments entirely.


An armos nonengu is a versatile object in High and Low Rostran cultures. Originally, the armos was a broad, shallow dish of wood or wicker supported by a circular wooden brace. Even at this early stage, solid wooden armos could be turned concave-side down and struck with bare hands as a form of precussion instrument. As Rostran textile technology improved, strings of plant fiber or animal gut were sometimes strung taught across the opening, creating a harp-like instrument with a deep, resonant tone. Regardless of heritage, for Rostrans, the warm notes of a strummed armos nonengu evoke memories of home and stories of old told around the hearthfire.   When isolated Rostran tribes would encounter one another or Ovinex slaver-raiders, armos would frequently find themselves pressed into service as improvised shields. As such conflicts continued to occur over the years, combat-specialized variants of the armos were created. These featured a set of straps in the basin for the wielder to slip his arm and hand into. Military armos lended themselves well to close formation tactics during the Rostran-Ovinex War. When not employed as a shield, a battlefield armos was still useful as a means of coordinating rowing or marching through music as well as a form of entertainment at camp. Traditional Rostran martial arts still teach the use of the armos as a shield in combination with a spear, paddle, or ba'amba.   The modern armos nonengu has evolved as a musical instrument at the expense of utility, with popular peripherals including a panel with a hole in it (creating guitar-like sounds), padded sticks (for faster, sharper drumming sounds), metallic strings (for sharper plucks and for use with magnetic pickups), tuning screws along the rim, and specially shaped metallic bodies (emulating the sound of a steel drum). Many modern armos also include a floor stand for ease of seated play and storage.
Item type
Musical Instrument
Related ethnicities
Armos nonengu are common throughout the territories of the Rostran Archipelago Confederacy and the Hermitage Island Fellowship. It's known that at least a few members of the Avarix Corps, known as eunova armos ("dish-men"), use the sound of armos to maintain morale and communicate overland in the vast Red Velvet Desert.
Up to 10 lbs
Up to 3' diameter; up to 8" deep parabolic dish
Base Price
300-600 NGC

Cover image: by BCGR_Wurth


Author's Notes

While editing and doint some additional research for this article, I found an example of a very similar string instrument on youtube. As an armos nonengu is up to three feet in diameter, I suspect it would have a much lower tuning than the sounding bowl presented in the video. A wicker (or rarer 'open-hoop') design would probably sound closer to a harp; a flexible wooden rim and partial bowl would perhaps produce a sound closer to that of a kithara.

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