Request for information concerning two words for musical instruments

Gregory Bailey Greg.Bailey at LATROBE.EDU.AU
Sun Dec 18 03:35:01 UTC 2011

Dear List,

A colleague who is not on the list made the request, included below.

If anybody can throw some light on this I would be most appreciative.

Thanks in advance.


Greg Bailey

“One of the drums collected was from the Khasi of Meghalaya, a wooden
kettledrum named by the Khasi as ka naakraa. Sachs traces the etymology
through Arabic, Persian, Hindustani/Urdu (naqqaara, which is correct), and
Skt. naagaraa (?).

A second drum from the Garo of western Meghalaya, a double-headed wooden
drum, has the Garo name dama, for which Sachs indicates 'zu sanskr.
daamaamaa' (?). In South Asian tradition, damaamaa is a Persian and Urdu
name for a very large metal kettledrum in Mughal India.

Though both local drum names could well be loan words from South Asian
culture, in my annotations I indicate that naagaraa and daamaamaa cannot
be traced in Skt. (Could not find either in my M.M-W. and Macdonell

Is this comment correct? If they are traceable, I imagine it would be as
very late loan words into Skt. but don't know of the sources to confirm or
deny this.

At the moment I'm retaining my 'not traceable' comment. Any light you can
shed on this relatively minor yet tricky issue, given the prestige of Skt.
in South Asia and Sachs in ethnomusicology, would be greatly appreciated.
It doesn't seem appropriate to let Sachs's Skt. connections stand, however
well intended, if they are a mistake. I simply don't know where he
obtained his ideas about Skr. naagaraa and daamaamaa, and question their

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