Banam [bānām, bānom]
- Carol M. Babiracki
Term for single-string fiddles, without frets and with a skin-covered soundbox, played by tribal groups in central India. At least two general varieties have been described in written sources on Indian folk instruments: an inverted fiddle (held upwards) with either a tortoise-shell or a wooden body, and a waisted upright fiddle (held downwards) resembling the sārindā. The inverted fiddle type is particularly associated with the Muṇḍā, Santāl, and related tribal groups of southern Bihar. However, it is possible that for some of these groups banam is a generic term for any bowed chordophone.
Among the Muṇḍā, the banam is considered an instrument of the gitiʔoroʔ (youth dormitory), and in traditional song texts it is often paired with the rutu (side-blown bamboo flute). It is normally played by men to accompany their own singing as they sit or walk. The Muṇḍāri banam repertory includes communal dancing-songs, but the instrument is seldom accompanied by either drumming or dancing. It has retained a position of respect and symbolic importance in Muṇḍāri villages, even though ...