Music takes various forms and has the power to take you to a whole new world. India is known all over the world for its rich musical history that originated since ancient times. Different ancient scriptures and structures have mentioned about many kinds of musical instruments. Let’s take a look at some of them that have also been shown on stamps of India.
One of the oldest primary plucked string instruments of Hindustani Classical Music, the Rudra Veena has unique soothing sounds of its own. It has a long tube-like wooden or bamboo-made body with two spherical resonators at the ends, made of dried and hollowed gourds. It has 24 wooden frets, 4 main strings and 3 chikari strings. Rudra Veena literally means “Veena that Lord Shiva loves”. It is believed that Lord Shiva created the instrument after getting inspired by his wife, Parvati. After the surbahar was introduced in early 19th Century, the popularity of Rudra Veena reduced. Sitarists can now play alap sections of slow dhrupad-style ragas due to the instrument’s evolution. Zia Mohiuddin Dagar redesigned the Rudra eVena with bigger gourds, thicker tube, thicker steel playing strings and closed Javari to produce soft and deep sound when plucked without a plectrum. Shruti veena was invented by Lalmani Misra as a variation of the Rudra eVena to establish Bharat’s Shadja Gram and obtain 22 Shrutis. Renowned maestros of the Rudra Veena are Veena Maharaj Dattatreya Rama Rao Parvatikar and Bahauddin Dagar. One of the stamps of India released in 1998 depicts the Rudra veena.
The flute is a reedless woodwind musical instrument that will touch your soul. Flutes have a vast history as several palaeolithic instruments including flutes as old as 43,000 to 35,000 years have been found in the Swabian Jura region of present-day Germany. All these finds reinstate the fact that human beings were always fond of music, probably for recreation or entertainment. Flutes have been a part of Indian music for several centuries now. The most loved Hindu God Lord Krishna is often depicted playing a Basuri or a flute. If you are a topical collector of stamps of India then click here to check out a stamp featuring a flute. If you ever get a chance do listen to the master Indian flautist Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasiya live
The pakhawaj or mridang is an Indian two-headed drum and an evolved version of the older mridang. It is used for different kinds of music and dance performances. Known for its rich in harmonics, the larger bass skin is played with the left hand, the treble skin by the right hand. Wet wheat dough is applied on the base-side to help create distinctive base-sounds. The word pakhavaja is of Prakrit origin which is derived from paksa (“a side”), and vadya (“a musical instrument”). Clay was used originally to make the hollow drum, later in the 14th Century players started using wood and the older mridang was replaced by the name pakhawaj. Mridang or Pakhawaj has been depicted on several ancient and historical sites and temples of India, indicating the fact that they have been in use for several centuries. The Pakahwaj was depicted on one of the stamps of India that was released in 1998.
The popular string instrument sarod is an integral part of Indian classical music that resonates deep, weighty sounds. It is a fretless instrument which can produce continuous slides or meend, best suited for Indian classical ragas. The sarod has a connection with the Afghan rubab and some experts believe that it is a combination of Chitra veena, the medieval Rabab and modern Sursingar. There have been debates that the instrument was used widely during the Gupta period as coins from that time period depicts king Samudragupta playing the Veena, which is an instrument that later evolved to become Sarod. Similar kinds of instruments were found in other parts of ancient India as well. The word sarod means “beautiful sound” or “melody” in Persian. Though there are different theories behind the origin of this wonderful musical instrument, its melodious sounds have seeped into the minds and hearts of thousands of music lovers. Click here to learn about one of the stamps of India depicting a Sarod. Ustad Amjad Ali Khan is one of the most famous Sarod players of India today, whom you must listen to.
The ancient Indian musical instrument Veena is a multi-stringed chordophone which has evolved into many variations, such as lutes, zithers and arched harps. It has also taken many regional forms like Rudra veena, the Saraswati veena, the Mohan veena etc. The North Indian design is a stick zither with a hollow body and two large resonating gourds on each side. It has four main melody type strings and three auxiliary drone strings. The Veena has been generally replaced with the Sitar in north Indian performances. The South Indian Veena design is a lute with a pear-shaped wooden piece at the end. Other elements remain the same as that of the North Indian Design. The Veena can produce pitches in full three-octave range allowing portamento effects and legato ornaments of Indian ragas. The Hindu Goddess or arts and learning Saraswati is often depicted playing the Veena. The instrument has also been mentioned in the Rigveda, Samaveda and other Vedic literature such as the Shatapatha Brahmana and Taittiriya Samhita. It is believed that the mythological character Narada invented the Veena. The 200 BCE to 200 CE old Natya Shastra by Bharata Muni is the oldest known ancient Hindu text on classical music and performance arts, which also mentions about Veena. It states that the human throat is a Sareer veena. The source of Gandharva music is such a throat, a string instrument and flute. The same metaphor is also found in more ancient texts of Hinduism, such as Aitareya Aranyaka, Shankhayana Aranyaka etc. The ancient Veena as per experts was closer to a harp. The earliest lute and zither-style Veena playing musicians have been depicted on Centuries old Hindu and Buddhist cave temples. The Veena has also has been mentioned in the 6th to 11th century listing of Musical instruments used by Tamil people in Tirumurai. One of the stamps of India released in 1975 depicts a Veena.
So if you are a topical collector, start completing a set of Indian stamps featuring these amazing musical instruments.