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date: 18 November 2019

Villu [vil, villukottu, onaviṭṭu]locked

  • Alastair Dick

Extract

[vil, villukottu, onaviṭṭu]

Struck musical bow (villu: ‘bow’) of Kerala, south India. The bow itself is a spathe of palm leaf, about 82 cm long, and the string a strip of thin bamboo, affixed into slots at either end of the bow by terminal knobs. It has been classified wrongly as an idiophone because of its wood-like string, but this would have no tension or pitch unless stretched. It is held vertically on the right upper chest and shoulder by the left hand, with the string facing forward; the string is beaten with a light bamboo stick held in the right hand. The villu provides a purely rhythmic accompaniment in villinmel and thayambaka and in the harvest festival songs (onapaṭṭu), with which it is closely associated. Alternative names are onavillu (‘harvest festival bow’) and villukoṭṭu (‘bow percussion’).

P. Sambamoorthy: Catalogue of Musical Instruments Exhibited in the Government Museum, Madras (Madras, 3/1962)...

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