'polluting' effect of leather in music?

Palaniappa at aol.com Palaniappa at aol.com
Fri Apr 4 14:34:11 UTC 1997

In a message dated 97-04-04 05:25:01 EST, adheesh at uclink4.berkeley.edu
(adheesh sathaye) writes:

<< I wonder if the low social  status of drummers--in particular I have in
 the paraiyans of Tamil Nadu, is more due with the powers/spirits associated
 with the _context_ of their drumming rather than the specific nature of the
 instruments they play; the paraiyans are primarily associated, as far as I
 know, with funerals, and therefore are thus 'polluted' by the dangerous and
 violent  spirits  they deal with  in the cremation grounds, rather than by
 the leather on their drum. 
 This would also explain the lack of such a castigation of the classical
 tabla/mrdangam player, as the players of  such instruments are not present
 in such environments....
 This sort of contextual consideration  is certainly not an unusual paradigm
 in S. Asian thought, as evidenced by the entirety of the
mAnavadharmashAstra. >>

Tamil 'paRaiyar' were not considered untouchable in the period of Classical
Tamil period, and 'paRai', the drum, and leather were not considered
polluting at that time. That 'paRaiyar' were not considered untouchable even
during medieval Tamilnadu is clear from inscription 4. of Rajaraja in Tanjore
temple, in which a town called tirutteGgUr, 'paRaiccEri' and 'tINTAccEri'
were said to be present. 'paRaiccEri' was the section of the town where the
'paRaiyar' lived and 'tINTAccEri' was the settlement where the untouchables
('tINTA' meaning 'untouchable') lived. 


S. Palaniappan


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