by David Courtney working tools

ravanhasta, a folk fiddle of India
Ravanhasta (Bor 1987)

The ravanhasta is a folk fiddle found in various parts of India.  However it is especially popular in Rajasthan.  There are a number of variations upon the name.  The ravanhasta is variously referred to as ravanahastra, rawanastum, Ravanhattaor ravanastron, it is also called (incorrectly) sarangi or saringda.

Although the basic form of the spiked fiddle is found in many parts of South Asia, this particular from is most associated with the culture of Rajasthan.  In particular it is the Nayak tribe which is most known for their use and mastery of this instrument.  This instrument is used as the folk musicians sing songs about Pabuji, Bhartari, Jawarji, and Doongji.

It is of a very simple construction.  One starts by taking a half coconut shell and covering it with a membrane; this forms the resonator.  This resonator is penetrated by a length of bamboo; this forms the neck of the instrument.  This length of bamboo has a number of tuning pegs attached to it.  The strings attach directly to these tuning pegs and then pass over a bridge which rests on the taught membrane of the resonator.  Finally these strings terminate at the other end.  The ravanhasta is then played with a bow of horsehair.



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