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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Musical Instruments of Jharkhand: Jharkhand History - JPSC/ JSSC

Musical Instruments of Jharkhand

There is a predominance of music and dance in the lifestyle of the people of Jharkhand. The culture of Jharkhand state is wealthy and assorted as an effective exclusive in its own way. Tribal music plays a significant role in the picture of music at the national level. 

Musical Instruments of Jharkhand: Jharkhand History - JPSC/ JSSC

In everyday life, music and dance are mandatory in almost every kind of ceremony/ritual. Birth, christening, marriage rituals, agriculture, and various kind of religious occasions are not organized with music. Without musical instruments the enjoyment of Jharkhandi music is incomplete. Therefore, according to the geographical and cultural environment of Jharkhand, the instruments are provided by the available resources at the local level. All the communities of the society cooperate in the making of these instruments. Often, different materials are required to make these musical instruments to which the craftsman communities of society contribute significantly. The specialty of these instruments is that almost all the instruments except the cymbals and kartals are played by men. 

The instruments of Jharkhand can be divided into 4 (four) categories according to their design

A. First category

Musical instruments in which sound is produced by rubbing or piercing a string are called 'string instruments'. These are the instruments, which consist of silk string, iron, copper, or brass wire. They are played in two ways:

  • Silk string, string, or metal wires are pierced with fingers, elephant teeth, strikers, wood, etc. such as Kendra, Banam, Byung, Tuila, and Ektara fall into this category. These instruments are rigged or pierced with a finger or gazelle, which produces a sound. The sounds produced by sanding are controlled by the operation of the fingers of the other hand.

1. Kendra: 

Kendra is a popular stringed instrument in the Chota Nagpur region, producing gentle and compassionate vocals. In Hindustani music, this place can be given to Sarangi. Due to the intensity of the voice being slow and soft, its tone becomes secondary when played with Mandar, nagara, or dhol. For this region, it is often played with a solo song when the leather instruments stop.

It is made by tying two circular shells of dry gourd at both ends of hollow bamboo sticks of about four feet. At both ends, there are wooden poles, on which the wires are tied. The remaining strands of wire are tied into another piece adjacent to it. It looks like an indigenous form of the veena but in it, the sound emanates from running yards or seams on the strings.

2. Banam:

This string instrument is a favorite instrument of the Santhal community. It is used as an accompaniment to the song. It is made by cutting the coconut shell in half and overlaying Goh leather over it. Goh is a chameleon species, but several times larger than half of the reptile, which is abundantly available in the Santhal Pargana regions. Its leather is strong. A wooden or bamboo latch is attached to the overlaid shell. At the upper end of this sentence, there are two knots on each side. There are four strands of wire are taken out from the peg in the lower end of the coconut shell and taken from the top of the overlaid leather, and tied separately in the pegs on the upper end of the latch. Don't touch the skin or wire leather, so a thin wood is placed almost in the middle of the coconut leather shell. All four or three of its wires rise above the surface of the leather and remain taut. These wires produce a slightly thick sound when 'rubbed or sanded' by the tail of the horses. It is an indigenous form of stringed violin used in western music.

Musical Instruments of Jharkhand

Fig: Banam

3. Buang:

This is the favorite instrument of the Santhal community. This instrument consists of two parts- 1.) bow, 2.) dry gourd's Tumba, with one end open. Usually, where the bow is held, that is, in the middle, about one and a half feet tall gourd is hung around it. The lower end of the tube is open. To play it, the bow is held from the left hand, and string is played from the right hand which produces the sound of 'buang-buang'. This produces the same type of tone, so it is played on the level of the beat.

4. Tuila/Tohila:

This is an instrument with a soft tone. Its players are now extinct, as the process of playing this instrument is very complex. Due to its soft tone, it is not played with other musical instruments.

To make this, hollow sticks about 3-4 feet are taken. On the thicker end of the sticks, a dry groud's half-cut shell is placed from the base and roots. The mouth of the severed half remains open. Inside this half, the metal ring is tightened with a thick thread of silk. The silk thread is tied two to three places on the other side of the hollow sticks. The player holds the tuila/tohila with one hand in his chest and rubs silk thread with the fingers of the other hand. With this, it removes the open end of the gourd adjacent to the chest and sometimes retracts it. This produces the desired gentle and compassionate voice.

5. Ektara:

It is commonly used by saints, monks, and fakirs to make them compatible with devotional songs hymns. The same tone emanates from this, providing the vocal base as well as maintaining the rhythm. 

To make this, half a chopped dry gourd is opened, over which the leather is applied. In the two ends of the gourd, two skulls of about three and a half feet of bamboo are tightened. The upper end of the skulls is added and bamboo or wooden peg is inserted in the middle. A wire is drawn from the center of the gourd shell and wrapped in a peg inserted in the center. The peg may rotate left. This helps in tightening or loosening the wire. The player holds both the bamboo scabs with the palm of one hand in such a way that his index finger is free to pierce the wire. When the wire is pierced, the tone is released, which is tightened or loosened on the slab to make it thin or thick at will. A triangle piece of metal is also worn to protect the finger from shock.

Musical Instruments of Jharkhand
Fig: Ektara

6. Sarangi:

Sarangi has a texture like banam. The difference is that both its base and the upper part are wider than banam. It is played with the neck by placing the upper part on the shoulder, keeping it in the lap from the base. Its tones are controlled by placing the fingernails back and forth on the strings.

Musical Instruments of Jharkhand
Fig: Sarangi

B. Second category:

Musical instruments played by mouth blowing, such as flute, shehnai, singa, mural, madanbheri, etc.

1. Bansuri (Flute):

Basuri is a popular instrument in the Jharkhand region. In the Santhal Pargana region, it's a common area to see shepherd grazing cow, bulls, and playing the flute.  

To make this, a piece of hollow bamboo about one and a half inch diameter and two and a half feet is taken. One end of this hollow bamboo piece is cut from the top of the knot so that the tips remain open. The diameter of a piece of bamboo can be less or even larger. By this thickness, the fine or thicker tone of the flute is determined. A thick or thin iron rod is heated by placing it in the fire when it becomes hot and turns red, the round end of the bamboo knot is pierced with a hot wire at a distance of about four fingers from the knot. After this, six holes are made by this process, starting with a gap of about ten to twelve fingers from this hole towards the end of the bamboo. The lip is blown by placing the lips of a hole made from this knotted end and the other areas are controlled by closing or opening with three fingers of both hands.

In the Santhal Pargana region, traditionally the top holes are closed with two fingers of the left hand and the remaining four holes with four fingers of the right hand. There is a huge difference between the playing style of Hindustani music and the tribal playing style.

Musical Instruments of Jharkhand
Fig: Bamboo Flute

2. Murali:

It is another form of the flute. The instrument which is available in the market is called Murali. The sounds come out by blowing it in the mouth. The number and size of vowel counting holes in it are also similar to that of the flute, but the difference is that the end where the mouth is blown off and half of that end is peeled off and another wood of about the same diameter is farming this way. There is little left for air to go. At this end, a small rectangular hole is made on about two fingers. Putting the splintered head in the mouth and blowing it creates a tone.

3. Kendri:

This is the favorite instrument of Santhal. It is also known as the 'Jharkhandi violin'. Its Tumba is made from turtle coconut shells. Bamboo or wood lashing is attached to Tumba. There are three wires on it. The gauze is made from the hair of the horse's tail. The rubbing of the gauze and the strings produce sounds.

Musical Instruments of Jharkhand
Fig: Jharkhandi Violin

4. Singa:

Singa is made from buffalo's horns. Its pointed end is blown. The other end of wide mouth and it bends towards forward. It is played to chase away animals during hunting. Shepherd also plays songs to control animals.

Musical Instruments of Jharkhand
Fig: Singa 

5. Dhamsa:

It is a giant instrument. It is used as an instrument such as Mandar, dhol, etc. Its shape is like a pan. Its structure is made from iron-sheet. It is played with the support of wood. Its voice is serious and weighty. In Chhau dance, the voice of dhamsa embodies scenes like war and military march.

6. Thala:

Thala is a plate made up of bronze. Its rounded edge is raised 2-3 inches. There is a hole in the middle, in which the rope is bent. With the left hand holding the rope, it is played from the right hand with the corn stick.

Musical Instruments of Jharkhand
Fig: Thala

7. Shehnai:

It is used as the main instrument in dances like Chhau, Paika, and Natua. Apart from this, it is played on occasions of marriage, worship, etc. of Sadan communities. It is also a musical instrument of the same type as the Murali, but the difference is that while there are six holes to control the tone in the flute, the shehnai has seven holes, which are about one and a half feet long pieces of the hollow wood. At the thin end, where it is expected to be blown into, 'Panna' made from the palm leaves is tied with a thread. At the other end, there is a brass or bronze clove. A leaf made of palm leaves into the lips and blows out a thin and sharp tone.

8. Madanbheri:

This Shehani is played with other leather instruments at the time of the wedding, Chhau dance. Sometimes its sound is also used to drive away wild animals. This brings out the same tone. It has a brass tube attached at the front of a wooden tube about four feet long. The air pressure from the mouth is reduced or increased to control the tone. In addition to these instruments, the marking and piercing are prominent in the sound instruments.

Musical Instruments of Jharkhand
Fig: Madanbheri

C. Third category

Musical instruments consist of various types of leather instruments, which are beaten and played with palm fingers or a small stick of wood. All these are basically percussion, as they contribute to maintaining the rhythm of the song. Mandar, Nagara, Tamak, Dhol, Dhak, etc. fall into this category.


It is one of the oldest musical instruments of Jharkhand, which is used by all the Jharkhandi community. It may be small or large in different communities, but the structure is the same. Mandar is often used in all the Jharkhandi dances and rituals. 

It is made by the piercing of leather and either side of the open ends of a circular shell, about three to three and a half feet long, of clay or wood. Often monkey or goat leather is used for mounting. Thin leather is tightly wrapped around it to protect a long circular shell made of clay. The fabric is attached at both open ends by making small holes in the upper end of its rounding and attaching it to a thin strip of leather. By tightening these thin strips, the tension on both the sides gets tight and the tone increases when beaten and the tone becomes thicker when loosened. The diameter of the left-handed end of the mandar is slightly larger than the right-handed end. The leather on the right-hand end is slightly thick and rough. It is played with the palm and fingers of both hands hanging like a drum, around the neck. On a nocturnal night, both the chant and the beat of the temple produce a strange magical compelling sound.

Musical Instruments of Jharkhand
Fig: Mandar/Tumdak'


It is a major musical instrument of Jharkhand, just like the mandar. It is used on various occasions by both tribals and sadan communities. In most dances, its accompaniment to the mandar is considered indispensable.

The size of the nagara is determined according to the location and community such as large, medium, and small. A large-sized drum is played on the ground. Medium and small-sized nagara is hung by hanging around the neck or waist. The small-sized nagara is called 'Tamak' in the Santhal community in the Santhal Pargana region.

The open end of an iron domed shell is overlaid with thick buffalo leather to make a drum. The dome shell is fitted with a leather ring to provide a base on the ground. It is made up of leather lace. The ribs are tightening by placing them in holes made on the outer edges of the overlaid leather. Tightening increases the tone and loosening make the tone slower and thicker. Silt is applied in the middle of the overlaid leather. The same technique is also practiced in medium and small-sized nagaras. Thin and short sticks are used to play them.

Musical Instruments of Jharkhand
Fig: Nagara/Tamak (single-headed cattle drum)


Dhol is often played on occasions of marital ceremonies, festivals, and worship. Dhol plays the main role in various festivals of Jharkhand and many folk dances.

The dhol is usually made from jackfruit and mango wood. For this, a wooden shell of about three and a half feet diameter is opened. The middle part of the wood is slightly embossed. Both are open ends are covered with goat leather. To tighten the skin of these two ends, they are tied around the forehead. Tightening and loosening in the leather are done up and down by the threaded metal ring in these fibers. The drum is played by hanging it around the neck with the palm on the left side and beating it with a thin and small stick of wood.


Dhak looks similar to a drum, but its size is somewhat larger than the drum. It is often played especially during the sacred hymns such as Durga-Pooja and Mansa-Pooja and 'Paika' and 'Natua' dances. Similar to the drum, the two open ends of the wooden shell are covered with goat leather and are folded together using a leather band. These rings are threaded with metal rings, which are raised or lowered from top to bottom. To play the dhak, the player hangs it on his left shoulder in such a way that the head being played is slightly slanting towards the front. At the same end, a pleasant voice comes out when hit with bamboo arches. Dhak instrumentalists community- special people are invited on occasions like matrimonial celebrations, worships festivals, etc.

Musical Instruments of Jharkhand
Fig: Dhak

D. Fourth category

In this category Jhal, Kartal, Thal, Bell, Ghungroo, Manjira, Secoe, etc. are often played on the beat. In western music, they are called 'Percussion Instruments'.

Musical Instruments of Jharkhand
Fig: Manjira

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