Santali Traditional Musical Instrument

Singing and dancing in Santals are the most important part of life, without which their life and tradition can't be imagined. The instruments are played in every occasion of cheers. Their folklore, folk songs rests at their instruments. The Tamak, Tumdak, Tiriyo and Banam are the major musical instruments which play important role in conveying messages in Santal society.

These instruments are the symbols of their ethnic identity. Tiriyo and Banam is considered to be the most important musical instruments in Santals which evokes feeling of nostalgia in their mind.

Below We've tried to bring brief introduction about music instruments. It includes their picture, short notes on how it is built adn how it is played :-
  • Tamak
    The structure of the drum (like hollow half globe but tapering downwards)is made of iron plates. The upper side is covered with raw hide of buffalo. Ropes made of raw hide is used for applying tension for stretching the raw hide. Tamaks are made in different sizes as per requirement. Some can only be lifted with two persons and some are carried in bullock cart. The bigger ones are used during Sendra or mass hunting. Small and medium sizes are drummed by a person with two drum sticks for dances like lagne, dong, baha, dahar and all other forms of dances. It is made in pair
  • Tumda

    The structure of this instrument is made of burnt clay. It is cylindrical in shape with left side being wider than right. This hollow shape is tappered from left to right decreasingly. Bullock skin is used for covering the left side and the goat skin is used for covering the right side. Single instrument s is played by one man. This instrument is used at all social events except during the death rituals.
  • Banam

    Banam can either be made from a solid wooden block or can be prepared by joining differnet parts. Banam made of wooden is broader at one end and narrower at the other end. The narrower side is used as handle. Threads made of long hairs of horse is used to join both the ends. The broader end is made hollow and covered with thin leather. A stick is tied with the horse hair thread to make a small bow and is held in right hand. The wooden part is held in left side and it is played with the string held in right hand. Salga gum is pasted at the side of the wooden part which is applied to the theads of horse hair for generating necessary friction.It may seem like violin. The folktale behind how banam was first made in Santal is very interesting. Read it here.
  • Tiriyo

    It is a bamboo flute. It is always made in pair.
  • Sakwa

    It is a trumpet made of bufallo's horn or antelopes horn. This is used exclusively during the baha & mag mane (both religious festival) and at Sendra Bir (mass hunting).
  • Dhak

    Dhak is usuall played in Pata dance.
  • Chorhchurhi
    ChorhChurhi can be considered as sub-ordinate musical instrument . It is not necessarily needed in every music but it creates the rhythm sound more joyful . 

The beats of the Tamak and tumdak’ call the Santal people to gather. These social gatherings are marked by these two drums for virility, vitality and vigor for unity among them.  The loud and deep sound progressing out of the drum at once attracts the Santal even from distant places.
Once the sound is heard, People from different area get to know that something important is happening or is to happen. The rhythms of beat can tell them whether it’s an occasion of joy or it’s a call for meeting.  Without accompaniment of these drum, No Santal gathering will take place. This is how their life is connected to ethnic instrument.

In 1854, with call of  these drums and Sarjom leaf (Sarjom gira) the great Santal hul consisting about 85,000 people under the leadership of Sido,Kanhu, Chand, Bhairo and Phulo, Jhano was organized against the oppression of  British and local money-lenders .

The Santal are Musician, dancers and artist by birth par excellence. Their artistic creativity is great which exhibits their relation with nature. During the festival the belles of the community are pulled attracted by the loud drumming, resembling thunder towards the ‘
’ where all gathers . They come dressed in their wineries, adorned with flowers. Taking strides with drum the young men come forward and then the dance commences in two rows, their arms interlinking in pairs. The rows surge forward like rhythmic waves and then recede with supple footwork and swaying heads and bodies. The boys in the row opposite play on flutes, drums, and large cymbals and sing songs in perfect harmony. There are certain rounds of dance, after which women sing songs and the men playing Tamak and Tumdak will have to answer them by singing.