The kemenche, kamānche or kamāncha (Persian: کمانچه) is a Persian bowed string instrument related to the bowed rubab. It is the historical ancestor of the kamancheh and also to the bowed lira of the Byzantine Empire, ancestor of the European violin family. The strings are played with a variable-tension bow: the word 'kamancheh' means 'little bow' in Persian. It is widely used in the classical music of Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, with slight variations in the structure of the instrument. In Kashmir, the kemanche is known as saaz-i-kashmir.