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date: 25 January 2021


  • Alastair Dick


Variable tension waisted drum of ancient India, important in the theatre orchestra. It is described in the Nāṭyaśāstra as 16 fingers (perhaps 32 cm) long with a narrow waist. The shell at the heads is 8 fingers wide externally, but as the shell here is 1½ fingers thick the internal diameter of the opening is 5 fingers; the diameter of the waist is 4 fingers. Elsewhere in the same text the drum is said to be bound all around with strings. Its playing technique is also described: the fingers of one hand or the armpit are used to tension and release the heads, producing low, high, and portamento (socchvāsa: ‘sighing’) sounds. The paṇava can thus very probably be identified with the waisted armpit drum seen in ancient sculpture. The name also occurs in general Sanskrit literature, often linked with tūṇava (paṇavatūṇava: ‘pipe and tabor’.

C. Marcel-Dubois: Les instruments de musique de l’Inde ancienne...

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