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date: 20 February 2020


  • Alastair Dick
  • , revised by Andrew Alter


South Asian term for the mouth harp, usually metal and heteroglot. In northwestern areas, such as Sind (Pakistan), it is usually called simply cang, this name (and perhaps the instrument) deriving from the chang of adjacent West and Central Asia, and meaning originally ‘harp’. The common names of northern India—morcang, murcang (Gujarat and Rajasthan), muncang (Kashmir), and so on—appear to be compounded from this and the northern words muṅh (‘mouth’) and mū̃ṙ (‘head’). Farther south (e.g. Tamil Nadu), the form mursing (or morsing) is found, perhaps understood as ‘mouth-horn’. The names would thus suggest a southward diffusion of the instrument from the northwest. It does not derive from a ‘Sanskrit mucanga’, as stated by Sachs (1914) and others, as this is not recorded in the ancient or medieval periods. In Uttarakhand the instrument is also referred to as biṇāī. In Nepal the variants murcuṅgā, machinga...

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