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date: 18 November 2019

Śṛṅga [sīrig, sīnga, sī̃g, sī̃gā]locked

  • Alastair Dick

Extract

[sīrig, sīnga, sī̃g, sī̃gā]

Indigenous term for horns in Sanskrit and the derivative north Indian languages. The equivalent south Indian name, also meaning ‘horn’ (both musical and otherwise), is kombu (kompu). The Sanskrit word śṛṅga (whose root is a precise Indo- European cognate of Lat. cornu, Eng. ‘horn’, etc.) is found from the Rg-veda (later 2nd millennium bce) and is used to describe an instrument of warfare, signalling, etc., through the classical period of the 1st millennium ce. The name kompu also occurs in the south in the latter period. Sī̃g (or sī̃gā, sīṅg, sīngā, etc.) is the modern northern form, kombu the southern.

The śṛṅga described in the 13th-century Saṅgītarat nākara is a well-formed buffalo-horn with an ‘elephant-mouth’ (i.e. notched at the wide end). To increase its volume, a mouthpiece consisting of a conical section of ox-horn, 8 Hindu inches (about 15 cm) long, with its tip removed, is inserted into the apex. The horn was played ‘at pastoral revellings’. End-blown horns (including metal trumpets that developed from the śṛṅga) are the most prevalent type in South Asia, their use being more widespread than the side-blown ...

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