Saturday , September 24 2022
Tabla picture

History of Tabla drum instrument

History of Tabla
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Hello Classicals,

First of all, we missed you all and missed writing here for two complete months. From May ending we stopped publishing articles on due to some unexpected medical emergencies. But we are back now! with many new exiting topics. We are decided to start with series of articles on Tabla. Let us start with History Of Tabla. Hope you will enjoy it! If you are longing to know the history of Tabla instrument, this article would be very useful. Tabla drum history involves some old scriptures and some ancient carvings that have been found until today.

References of Tabla Origin in Ancient Scriptures:

History of Tabla instrument even goes back to the period of Ramayana, India knows the magic of percussion instruments. In those olden days also they were fitted with leather on their tops. Even our old scriptures also mention these instruments.  Their images can also be seen in the sketches and carvings in our old caves (Bhaja Caves in the state of Maharashtra in India shows a woman playing Tabla and another woman performing a dance, which dates back to 200 BC). An instrument similar to the tabla was popular in the Yadava rule (1210 to 1247) in South India. An Eklingaji temple in Jaipur, Rajasthan has the carvings of Tabla performance. There are other carvings of double-hand drums similar to the table that date back to 500 BC. A Hosaleshwara temple in Karnatak also has a carving of a woman playing Tabla.These are just a glimpse into the Tabla drum history.

Percussion instruments, on which leather is fitted on top and that create sound from the ink smeared on them can be said as the unique feature of Indian Classical Music.

Some Controversies about Tabla Origin

While studying history of Tabla, we would face various debates. There is no concrete evidence about the Tabla origin or when Tabla has been introduced into Indian Classical Music. Though the myth says that tabla is invented by the Indian Sufi poet and musician Amir Khusro in the 13th century, yet it has no authentic proof. The Tabla has neither been mentioned in the musical records of his time nor after his death until the next five centuries. Percussion instrument on which leather has been fitted is called as ‘Tabla’ (तब्ल) in Farsi language. Some also proclaim falsely that the Pakhwaj was broken into two halves to make Tabla. They also pass a comment ‘तोडा तब बोला’ as a proof of splitting the Pakhwaj.  However it is widely accepted that in the 18th century, the Tabla expert in Delhi, Siddharakha has given a scientific base to the Tabla playing. He introduced the use of ink on the Tabla and Dagga (Baya). Before him, the instrument was dough smearing.

More articles about Tabla :

Possibility of Using Pakhwaj Beats for the Tabla

It is a probability that the Pakhwaj beats used for Dhrupad singing have been adopted for Tabla also, only after some minor modifications. In that era, Khyal singing was very popular, to which the Tabla beats were quite suitable. Thus, the instrument received wide acceptance throughout India.

Basic Difference in Tabla and Pakhwaj Playing Styles

The Tabla uses a ‘finger tip and hand technique played from the top’. On the other hand, the Pakhawaj and mridangam primarily use the full palm and are sideways in motion.

As, there is no reliable record about the Tabla, its history has always been a topic of arguments. However, it is quite indicative that the tabla was most probable product of experiments with pakhawaj, mridang, dholak and nagara. Thus, is the concise history of Tabla.

You can also refer Pakhawaj & Tabla: History, Schools and Traditionsfor more information about History of Tabla as well as Pakhawaj.

Hope you like this article about History of Tabla. Please share this article with your Tabla lover friends…

About Pratik Kashallu

Hey Cassicals , I am Pratik Kashallu and I am steady followers of Indian Classical Music…just like you. I’ve have a passion for collecting antique classical gramophone records and record players. Thousands of antique gramophone records and many record players are available in my collection. With this zeal, I am a Admin of world famous Facebook fan page "Indian Classicl Music Fan Club" which is loaded by more than 289K facebook fans and it's total weekly reach is around 2M

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  1. Very happy to see that somebody is doing research about origin of Tabla. There should be more research . I don’t believe Tabla was invented in 18th century. It should be older.
    My best wishes
    Swapan Chaudhuri

    • ” Dear Swapanji Pranam,
      We are fortunate to received your feedback which encouraged us. We would surely go in details and improve promisingly. Your blessings & guidance is our strength.
      Thank you so much. Please keep posting.”

  2. Nice information
    Girish tabla artist

  3. Deepankar Bhattacharya

    Don’t know how could be in touch with this group /page, but enjoying thoroughly. Now also happy that stalwarts of this arena also interact here. Thanks for being there……

  4. Rajesh CHUMMUN

    Pratikji congrats dear first time we are having such good research work in so many topics on Hindustani Sangeet. For your information Mauritius is the first and only country in the world after India to teach Hindustani and Carnatic music in 9 dicipline ranging from Diploma to Phd.Our library is extreamly poor in material.Your articles are of utmost importance for our students.Thanks lot.Congratulation for your reasearch.Wish you success

  5. Brilliant and interesting……………very nice

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