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Musical instruments of Tripura: Wikis


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The Tripuri people are very fond of music as their socio-cultural life is also closely interwoven with it. The Tripuri musical instruments and music of the Tripuri tribes attract due to its richness and depth of myths associated with the birth of the first note. They always try to keep the time and rhythm while dancing by beating a drum.



The original musical instruments are the drum, the rattle, and the wooden or bamboo coarse file with rows of sharp points on its surface made of notched sticks which are rubbed with another piece of wood or even with a shoulder blade. In all social and religious practises the Tripuri's have a deep respect to the strong unbeatable natural forces and seek to pacify the animistic spirits and local gods to protect them from the evil eye. They also believe that this evil spirits are responsible for causing sickness in human beings. A person who is ill is required to undergo a complicated ritual performed with great precision and care with the roaring beats of the drums and other objects.

The Tripuri people have interesting musical instruments made up of locally available materials, such as bamboo, wood, skin of animals and even the horns of animals are used. Each type of musical instrument is believed to have a certain potential of bestowing material benefits, if it is treated with reverence.

The different popular musical instruments of the Tripuri people are analyzed below:

Sumui (Flute)

Sumui (Flute) is one of the most ancient and common instrument in the musical tradition of Tripura. Sumui, is the most perfect and least mechanical of all the instruments. The sumui is very dear to the tribes of Tripura. It is made of bamboo. There are two types of sumui, one having 7 (seven) holes and the other having 8 (eight) hole. Mostly found are two maipulator characteristic features:

a) Those held along the mouth

b) Those held across the mouth



Sumui is made of the hollow stem of a bamboo. The instrumentalist himself cuts the bamboo to a suitable length and putting the bamboo to his lips in a playing position determines the distances of the flute stops by simply putting his fingers to the position marking the places where the two fingers nearest to a bamboo node come down. The distance between them becomes the standard length and on ascertaining the whole position the marked areas are burned with a hot iron nail. In the final stage, a separate mark is scratched carefully in alignment with the stop-hole near the upper rim, at a distance of one finger-width for a rectangular notch, gradually sloped as per thickness of the stem. The marked area is cut with a knife.


The Sarinda is a well known string instrument of Tripura. It is especially used by most of the tribes and is known as Sarinda Uakhrap, which is specially made of bamboo.

Sarinda is a musical instrument made of bamboo or wood and looks like a peacock and somewhat like a mandolin. It has an oval shaped hollow wooden resonating chamber. The resonating chamber is covered with a thin skin usually of iguana and its wider portion top portion is open. The waist of the body of this instrument is so narrow shaped that it looks as if the portions of the upper and lower halves are separate from each other. The length of the instrument is about 65-70 cm. The lower portion of the body is oval or a small pear shape. The middle portion is large and both the edges are wide enough. There is no cover on this cave portion. There is usually three pegs fitted to the top portion of the instrument to fasten the strings. The strings are generally of the thread of Muga or animals gut or now they use even the metal string. The instrument is played by a crude "bow" made of horse hair. The tuning is done tigtening or loosening the strings with pegs when necessity arises.


The Chongpreng is a particular type of chordophonic lute and is also made of bamboo. It constitutes a hollowed block of wood, the resonator is covered with a parchment. Nothed wooden bridge is placed at lower one third portion of the membraned belly. The strings are hooked to the lute pins. Instrumental manipulation opts finger tips to press the strings against the board. Most of the tribes of Tripura use this musical instrument and is very popular.


The Dangdoo is a small rod idiophone of fine musical value which in English is called the Jew's harp and is one of the most important instruments used in Tripura. The dangdoo is a unique instrument in as much it is a combination of both the wind and percussion. It is made of iron in the small shape of tongs measuring 9-10 cm, with a single wire running between the arms. One end of the dangdoo is held between the teeth with the lips parted. As the wire is plucked the player inhales and exhales which controls the twang and pitch.


The Kham or drums used by the Tripuri people is double-membraned. A barrel-shaped on both of its sides membranes are of mostly in equal sizes, scooped out of Gamai (Teak) or other tree trunks. Goat skin membranes are fixed at either ends by twisted leather rims, acting as a support to tighten the criss-crossed leather straps passing around the drum chamber. Kham's are suspended from the neck, tied to the waist and kept on the lap or ground and played with the hands or strings.


Lebang Boomani musical instrument is very strange and a very special instrument found in Tripura. It is a curious combinationof bamboo clappers to which are attached miniature tuntune-s and is played with claps and twangs of a weird quality along with the "Lebangti" which is a normal bamboo clapper.

Basically cacophonic, yet effectively ryhmised between the beat intervals of the drumming idiophonic stridulates and rasps are one of the most popular, next to membranophonic instruments.


Uakhrap is a traditional Tripuri musical instrument of Tripura. Its inception dates to ancient times. This is a combination of two musical bases, strings and also skin membranes. The base of the instrument is semicircular in shape and is mainly made out of the trunk of gamai, koroi or garjan trees, mainly these trunks are collected before the jhum cultivation starts.

Hollow bamboo pieces of 4-5 cm in length are placed on the outer hemisphere of the semi-circular wooden base where the hollow bamboo pipes are fitted. They have nine numbers of holes. Each of the bamboo poles or pipes is connected by metal strings from one corner to the other. the inner hemisphere is connected with leather base (animal skin) at which the bamboo sticks are beaten. The sticks are of mainly 4-5 in numbers connected to the pole fixed on the last end of the semi-circular disc from one end to the other end of the wooden base. A rhythmic sound is produced when the bamboo sticks are beaten on the tanned skin tied on it. the palm of the hand is required to cover those bamboo holes to keep or to maintain the rhythm to control the music along with the beats of the bamboo sticks on the skin membrane.

See also


The musical instruments of Tribal Tripura, by Suman Bose & Amarendra Debbarma, "Tui" Magazine, Tribal Research Institute, Agartala


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