Santal Musical Instrument 1

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Size: 6 x 6 x 34 inches
Material: Wood
Origin: East India


This wooden, hand-carved musical instrument is from the Santal community who live in the Indian states of Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal. It is a folk fiddle or lute like instrument called a Dhodro Banam. The Dhodro Banam is a type of lute with a partially open body that is covered with skin on the lower part (now missing). This instrument is played with a bow in the manner of a violin, but in a vertical position, which means the carvings at the top face the audience. The instruments are often crowned with a carved human figure, as seen here, and on this piece there is also a circular geometric carved design. An important part of the social life of the Santals is music, dance and singing. Dances are linked with the harvest, and performed before and after the rainy season, and between sowing and harvesting.
"The tribal art of India is widely neglected in Europe and America. Its meaning is largely unknown and it is generally overshadowed by Classical Indian art. European artists at the beginning of the century made us aware of the arts of Africa and Oceania, and perhaps now we should learn to appreciate the formal language of Indian tribal art as well," says Bengt Fosshag.