Musical Instruments in Sculptural Art

Music is a beautiful expression of the human soul. We feel music everywhere in the environment. The chirping of birds, the humming of beetle, the thundering of clouds, the rustling of leaves, and the sound of the river always give delight to the human being. The musical instruments, which are evidence of our tradition and cultural heritage, are the life of music. These bring harmony to our life. The Damroo of Shiva, the flute of Krishna, Ektara of Meera, Panchjanya conch of Arjuna, Rudra Veena of Narad, and Veena of Saraswati prove the divinity of these instruments. Adorned with the tone, rhythm, and beat, the sound of waves of these musical instruments are symbols of our glorious heritage.

A musical instrument is created or adopted to make the musical sounds. Their history dates back to the beginnings of human culture. In the beginning, these may have been used for rituals such as a trumpet for success on the hunt or a drum for auspicious ceremonies. Cultures eventually developed the composition and performance of melodies for entertainment. Musical instruments evolved in steps with changing applications.

Accordingly, to ‘Natya Shastra’ written by Bharat Muni, musical instruments are divided in four groups –

  • Stringed instruments (Chordophones) – These produce sound by vibrating strings, e.g. Sitar, Sarangi, Ektara, Harp, Tanpoora, Rawanhatta, Jhallari (Fimbria), Sarod, Santoor, Kamaicha, etc.
  • Wind instruments (aerophones) – These produce sound by vibrating columns of air, e.g. Clarinet, Been (Snake Charmers flute), Morchang, Flute, Alghoja, Mashak, Harmonium, Trumpet, etc.
  • Percussion instruments with skinheads (Membranophones) – The heads of instruments are covered with the skin of animals, e.g. Drums, Dholak (Tambour), Mridangam, Tabla (Tabor), Chang (Tambourine), Dhol (Rataplan), Nagada, Damroo, Pakhavaj, Bhapang, Daff, etc.
  • Percussion instruments (idiophones) – These are made up of metals, eg. Cymbals, Jingles, Jhanjh, Ghungroo (small bells), Kartal, Tambourine.

Music and musical instrument have thrown a great impact on human beings. In Rajasthan, many artists expressed their love for music and dance through paintings and sculptural art. The history of the depiction of musical instruments in sculptural art goes back to the very early period. Its best examples were found in the temples of Rang Mahal (Kota). An idol of ‘Jhallary Vadak’, depicted in a niche of the Shuknasa architectural part, is displayed in the Government museum, Kota. It was acquired from Dara (Kota district) and belongs to the Gupta period (5th cent.)

In this gallery, the sculptural art of Rajasthan with the depiction of musical instruments is displayed.

(Source: Display Board)