'polluting' effect of leather in music?

J.Napier J.Napier at unsw.EDU.AU
Fri Apr 4 01:20:11 UTC 1997

On Thu,  3 Apr 1997 10:41:22 BST,
  Mohkamsing writes:

>I would like to elaborate on John Napier's remark on the 'polluting' effect of 
>gut strings, and draw the attention to the practice of drumming. . . . .

prejudice against drummers must be >worse, because they are more directly 
and more extensively exposed to the >'polluting' effects of leather (read: 
death) [just like tanners, butchers, >coblers, etc.]. 

The Indian musicologist A.D. Ranade, when asked about this very point, 
referred to the long established association of leather skinned drums with 
various deities, and the association of pakhawaj with Vaishnava tradition 
as long since ameliorating this situation. The issue is less certain with 
the tabla. He seemed to think that it was a case of time and associatin 
providing an 'out'.

I can't recall any image of any Indian deity playing a sarangi, though I 
have seen a lovely C19 Bengali image of Krishna playing the violin. Given 
M's reference to the low status of players of harmonium, I do have a couple 
of recent bronze's of Ganesh playing the harmonium. Perhaps my tongue is in 
my cheek when I cite this as the instrument's "naturalisation certificate".

John Napier

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list