m.rda.mga drum

Madhav Deshpande mmdesh at umich.edu
Sun Jul 21 18:55:37 UTC 1996

What was applied to the face may have differed from place to place.  In 
Maharashtra, I have seen application of some sort of a ball made out of 
flour.  An allusion to this practice is found in the oft-quoted Sanskrit 
	ko na yaati va"sam loke mukhe pi.n.dena puurita.h
	m.rdango mukhalepena karoti madhuradhvanim

Here, the reference to the pi.n.da in the mouth alludes to food/flour.
	Probably, the M.rdanga having a clay body may have been the 
earlier practice that earned its name.  Later, PERHAPS, the name stuck 
even after M.rdangas were made out of wood.
	Madhav Deshpande

On Sun, 21 Jul 1996, Srinivasan Pichumani wrote:

> 	Howard writes:
> 	A small addition: at least in West Bengal, the m.rda.ga drums are 
> 	still commonly made of clay, and then wrapped in strips of dried 
> 	leather. These clay drums are prominently used in the Hari-nama 
> 	sankirtan performed by the followers of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, 
> 	the Gaudiya Vaishnavas. I have been playing these clay drums myself 
> 	for many years. In fact, I have one at home here right now.
> It's interesting that they are entirely made up of clay... I remember
> reading a short note written by the Sanskritist (late) V.Raghavan regarding
> the mrdangam entitled "Why is the mrdangam so-called?" in the Journal of
> the Music Academy, Madras (1955 or 1956... vol. XXVI).  Just found my 
> photocopy of the same.
> Raghavan refers to an earlier detailed article of his on the same subject...
> where he shows why the mrdanga was so-called, i.e. "one having mud as its 
> characteristic ingredient" and where exactly on the drum it was applied... 
> apparently, in the original article he quotes from the Natyashastra to show 
> that fine dark mud from the water-brink of rivers was applied on the face of 
> the mrdangam.  In this short note, he provides corroborating evidence from
> the Tamil epic Cilappadikaaaram where it is said that the muzhavu drum is 
> smeared with mud (the relevant phrase is "maN kaNai muzhavum", from the
> 28th chapter, naDukal kAdai, where vocal and instrumental music are described
> as the preliminaries before the dance of the cAkyar from ParaiyUr).
> I guess the modern "black powder with ferrous content" as Palghat Raghu put
> it may not be very far off in composition, specifically metallic content, from 
> this fine dark mud of yore !
> -Srini.
> ps: Raghavan also quotes from Talbot Kelly's book on Burma where the Burmese 
> play is described... regarding the drums, the author apparently says, "These 
> are tuned by clay being squeezed on to the skin until the right pitch is 
> reached.  The skilful manner in which the operator manages the clay is 
> interesting to watch, and it forms a pretty pattern in white upon the dark 
> skin."  This probably corresponds to the rava on the left side !

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