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date: 19 November 2019


  • Mireille Helffer


Large double-headed frame drum of Tibet. According to the oldest surviving manuscripts (9th century ce) the name was used for various membranophones, but now it is applied to a particular type of double-headed frame drum used in Buddhist ritual music (ceremonies and dances) and traditional theatre (a-lce lha-mo). The circular wooden frame (rnga-shing) is often richly decorated, as is common in Bhutan; the diameter varies widely, according to whether the drum is permanently affixed to a wooden stand (rnga-khri) or is portable and fitted with a detachable handle screwed into the frame. The heads are pegged, nailed, or glued to the frame and are often painted blue or green and decorated with symbolic motifs.

Two distinct kinds of rnga are the chos-rnga (drum of religious law) or rnga-chen (large drum), which is kept in the prayer-room of the monastery and is struck with two straight drumsticks, and the ...

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