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sohummusicals

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Reply with quote  #46 
Harshji.. the thickness of the layer is very important. I would recommend you to read David Courtney's topic on applying syahi and the other related stuff. He has explained it very nicely.
You will achieve perfection in future as you repeat your experiment and practice of applying syahi.
To tell you about climate, making of pudi goes on everyday, whether it is winter, rain or summer, it doesnt matter. Sit next to the fireplace if its too cold. Thats how the syahi making goes on during rainy and winter season.
What aannadha said about removing the previous layers is right. using water will soil the whole thing, as the water reaches the base of the maidan through the cracks.

--
Upendra
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7Fives

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Reply with quote  #47 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "hbajpai"
Now the list of materails.
1. Fine pure Iron dust - available on line. I am lucky, my uncle is a metallurgist so, he just gave me a pound of it from his factory. Remember this is iron dust so pound is not a lot of volume. Trick is has to be fine.
2. Smooth, charcoal - Any crafts store will sell smooth charcoal chalks. Buy a pack of 10 chalks ($5) and take an old coffee grinder and make charcoal dust.
A couple of questions at this point, just to stimulate *thinking* instead of urban myth. If siahi is made from iron filings, tell me why the majority of siahi have absolutely no magnetic attraction, or very slight attraction at best??? I will concur that the magic powder must be very fine.

Many Hindi books refer to the siahi as rice paste and iron filings. I'm certain that the myth has its roots there. Heck, even David's tabla book says that the siahi is "probably iron dust". Actually, just as many Hindi documents refer to siahi as if the thing were actually made from some kind of ink. But we know better than to make siahi from ink. In the South, the siahi is referred to as "the rice". But there's more to it than just rice.

Second, the ingredient Charcoal. Why exactly are we adding charcoal? To make it black? Here is a simple observation you can do safely in your own home. Take some charcoal and mix it with water into a paste. Play with it, squeeze it with your fingers. Charcoal is a rather oily substance that marks skin (human, animal) and is quite difficult to wash out. Now, do we see any oily residue on the puri? Are there permanent black stains on the puri? After removing a damaged spot, is the leather stained black? Answer: no.

Hmmm. It seems that the more sleuthing we do, the more confusing it gets.

7Fives
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Aanaddha

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Reply with quote  #48 
Good questions.
The story I heard is that the tablawallas send kids out to the train tracks to scrape the rails to collect the 'iron (steel) dust'?? And, you're right, there is no apparent magnetic attraction, but neither is there any apparent magnetic attraction in the iron-rich basalt polishing stone.
My guess is that there is iron content in the masala powder but it's magnetic effect is mitigated by the other ingredients. To what proportion who knows? I may just take some to a chemical analysis lab to find out.
Charcoal or soot is also a very likely candidate. There is an oily, greasy feel to the water soaked syahi and the inclusion of some type of agregate would explain why the syahi reticulates as it dries and shrinks.

At any rate, it's nearly beyond belief that such sophisticated compounds and processes have evolved to fulfill such a menial task as to supply such an accurate and long-lasting load to otherwise simple animal-skin drum-heads!!

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If he could sing, and nature to accompany him, what need would he have for an instrument?
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7Fives

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Reply with quote  #49 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Aanaddha"
Good questions.
The story I heard is that the tablawallas send kids out to the train tracks to scrape the rails to collect the 'iron (steel) dust'??
An exellent example of self-perpetuating myth.
Quote:
And, you're right, there is no apparent magnetic attraction, but neither is there any apparent magnetic attraction in the iron-rich basalt polishing stone.
Well, here is the deal. "Iron rich" may be a good term to use when discussing basalt. But, the term is not the same as saying "my rock is nearly 100% iron".
Quote:
My guess is that there is iron content in the masala powder but it's magnetic effect is mitigated by the other ingredients.
Note very carefully. You are beginning with an unproved assumption. Then you are grasping at straws trying to come up with logical reasons why iron filings might forgo their magnetic attraction properties. That's just silly. Why not, instead, withhold judgement on what the material is, and just make some simple observations? You know, like Dr. Richard Feynman dropping the rubber o-ring into the ice water???
Quote:
To what proportion who knows? I may just take some to a chemical analysis lab to find out.
Great! Have a spectral analysis done and let us know what you find!
Quote:
Charcoal or soot is also a very likely candidate. There is an oily, greasy feel to the water soaked syahi
Here we go again. Why is charcoal a "likely' candidate? If you did my little experiment you would have confirmed that your fingers got stained black and you could not wash it off with soap and water. It is easy to confirm that siahi powder washes off easily, and does not leave an oily stain on the leather, nor does it leave a permanent black mark on the leather.

More clear thinking. Say that you remove a damaged spot from your puri and soak it in water until it becomes a slurry. What we already know from previous statements is that we have in that laboratory beaker the siahi mixture AND whatever glue and starch that was used to cement it together. Would it be possible that dissolved hide glue along with with dissolved starch might feel a little slippery? Of course it is. Is there any evidence suggesting charcoal? No, not even slightly. Mix charcoal in with iron filings. Then add glue or starch. You get a sticky oily mess that will never dry and never crack.
Quote:
and the inclusion of some type of agregate would explain why the syahi reticulates as it dries and shrinks.
We're jumping to conclusions once again. You have made the assumption that the cracking is caused by shrinkage during the drying process. There is no evidence for this. Someone was even talking about letting each layer dry for quite a while by the fireplace, while the shrinkage takes place. Also nonsense. True, mud will crack under the heat of the sun. But, are the mud cracks the same tiny pattern you see on the siahi? Nope. Uncontrolled cracking takes place when there is differential shrinkage between the top and bottom layers. That situation does not describe a tabla puri.
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Aanaddha

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Reply with quote  #50 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "7Fives"

Great! Have a spectral analysis done and let us know what you find!
....etc.
Yeah, if I can find someone to do it for free. Otherwise it really doesn't matter to me what's in the syahi masala as long as it makes a good syahi. Ditto with the puri - doesn't matter to me if it's camel, goat, or cow, male, female; calf, adult, domestic or wild; I know a good puri when I see one.
And, I'm not going to make my own masala as I can get more than I'll ever need from the tablawallas.
So what's your point? And so what if there are myths? Analyzing the compound ingredients of syahi masala isn't going to change the way a good puri is made.

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If he could sing, and nature to accompany him, what need would he have for an instrument?
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hbajpai

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Reply with quote  #51 
7Fives - there is an underlying tone in your response that I am unable to put my finger on. May be and very possibly its just my imagination.

The only statements I have to make as a response to your post are:

1. If you take an earth magnet and put it on your shai, there is most definitely a magnetic attraction and a very noticeable one.
2. A lot of ideas came from a very reputable published material and people that are SME's. To be very clear, the book and the people did not directly promote my idea however, my ideas; behind my own personal experiment and my own ingredients list have been drawn from the information presented in the book and my conversations with people who are SME's.
3. Its an experiment and I clearly state my self implied constraints in the original post.
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7Fives

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Reply with quote  #52 
One thing is clear: the secret of a fine tabla lies in the making of the mysterious siahi. For generations, the exact ingredients of this substance have been the best kept secret in India. The knowledge rests with only a few chosen families who guard the information with their lives. Usually, the father will divulge the secret ingredients to his eldest son, and even then only when the father is on his death-bed. The son must then carry on with the business, revealing his treasure to no one.

Some say little children are given the task of collecting iron dust from railroad tracks, left by passing locomotives. Other tales suggest that the material is made from egg yolks mixed with clay and soot left by the burning of mustard seed oil lamps.

...how am I doing so far?
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Aanaddha

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Reply with quote  #53 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "7Fives"


...how am I doing so far?
I can just see the looks on the faces of those readers waiting so patiently for the Long-Awaited Arrival of the Mythical Synthetic Tabla Head!! :?

More please, I love a good folk tale, seriously!!

(hbajpai, No, it's not your imagination, the guy's definitely blowing smoke - doesn't really have an opinion either way - probably thinks there's a conspiracy here - as when the Benares and Ajrara gharanas and Akram Khan all "went into hiding"... :roll: If he knew what he was talking about he'd spit it out. Don't hold your breath.)

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If he could sing, and nature to accompany him, what need would he have for an instrument?
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7Fives

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Reply with quote  #54 
I was just trying to point out that a lot can be done with a glass of ice water if you are not blinded by Maya. OK, one last clue. If you have real siahi masala this will be very easy. Measure out a level tablespoon of powder using an ordinary measuring spoon. Weigh the contents using a gram scale. Now measure out a level tablespoon of iron powder (or iron dust) and weigh that amount on a gram scale. Write down the results. Report back.
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Aanaddha

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Reply with quote  #55 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "7Fives"
I was just trying to point out that a lot can be done with a glass of ice water if you are not blinded by Maya. OK, one last clue. If you have real siahi masala this will be very easy. Measure out a level tablespoon of powder using an ordinary measuring spoon. Weigh the contents using a gram scale. Now measure out a level tablespoon of iron powder (or iron dust) and weigh that amount on a gram scale. Write down the results. Report back.
OK, I'll bite... I have syahi masala but I don't have a teaspoon of powdered iron, but I'll assume the iron is much heavier... that doesn't really tell me much except that charcoal weighs next to nothing so there'd have to be almost 100% iron in the masala and no charcoal for the two to be identical in weight. Something else occurs to me - I've never seen any indication of oxidation either with the masala or with a finished syahi (seems that would give it more of a reddish color than the typical grey-black.)

... is it possible syahi masala is simply powdered basalt?

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If he could sing, and nature to accompany him, what need would he have for an instrument?
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sohummusicals

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Reply with quote  #56 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "7Fives"
One thing is clear: the secret of a fine tabla lies in the making of the mysterious siahi. For generations, the exact ingredients of this substance have been the best kept secret in India. The knowledge rests with only a few chosen families who guard the information with their lives. Usually, the father will divulge the secret ingredients to his eldest son, and even then only when the father is on his death-bed. The son must then carry on with the business, revealing his treasure to no one.

Some say little children are given the task of collecting iron dust from railroad tracks, left by passing locomotives. Other tales suggest that the material is made from egg yolks mixed with clay and soot left by the burning of mustard seed oil lamps.

...how am I doing so far?
7fives....If you were given Zakirji's tabla set would you play tabla as good as he does?
The people who apply layers of syahi do it everyday for 5 hrs and they have been doing it for decades.. do you think that just the good material can make the syahi process successful? Its your misunderstanding.
The syahi we receive from Bhavnagar or Hyderabad is used by 99% Tablawallas in Bombay, pune, miraj, delhi, surat, kolkata, banaras..etc.
we dont make it on our own. on What basis can you say that its some mysterious masala, when Haridas Vhatkar and many other famous tablamakers use the same masala.
Just like how you wont perform as good as zakirji even if you were given his tabla set, the same way, no one would be successful at the first or 100th attention in getting the best syahi done.
you will find many workers only helping in rubbing the layers and not actually applying the syahi layers.. Why is it so? it takes many years in achieving perfection.

--

Upendra
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RichardH

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Reply with quote  #57 
http://current.com/items/84907371_dum_dum_dum
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7Fives

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Reply with quote  #58 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Aanaddha"
but I'll assume the iron is much heavier... that doesn't really tell me much except that charcoal weighs next to nothing so there'd have to be almost 100% iron in the masala and no charcoal for the two to be identical in weight.
There you go assuming things again. If my car does not start and I take it to the shop, do I tell the mechanic that the brakes aren't working?
Quote:
Something else occurs to me - I've never seen any indication of oxidation either with the masala or with a finished syahi (seems that would give it more of a reddish color than the typical grey-black.)
Now, that's a real observation! With all this talk of iron dust, wouldn't one naturally expect to see evidence of rust? Ever seen your hands stained with dark red rust spots?

So, I take it that you decline to perform my simple experiment, based on the fact that you already know what the outcome will be?

Something to consider. Let's say a Western person shows up at the tablawalla's shop and asks to buy some siahi masala. "Here you are, sir. That will be 50 rupees." Think about it for a second. This fellow knows you are a curious Westerner. He also knows that there is a a slim chance in purgatory that you will ever come close to making a proper siahi. Do you think he is going to sell you his el-primo masala? I don't think so. Any black powder will certainly do fine. How will you ever know?

Here is the same type of dialog going on at the Indian grocery. "Hello, I'm looking for some freshly ground Haldi." The reply is, "Yes, sir, here are your fresh Chaana, as you requested." Sound familiar? You bet!

Lastly, let's say that you are fortunate to have the right masala, the right glue and the correct tools. Any estimates on how long it might be before you learn to produce a working siahi? Now a guess as to how long it might take to produce a really good sounding siahi?
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Aanaddha

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Reply with quote  #59 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "7Fives"

There you go assuming things again. If my car does not start and I take it to the shop, do I tell the mechanic that the brakes aren't working?....
So, I take it that you decline to perform my simple experiment, even if you already know what the outcome will be?
An assumption was necessary as I stated I don't have a teaspoon of iron dust at my disposal, it was merely an assumption, a guess, a shot in the dark; by all means not a conclusion. Do you know the difference?? Do you have proof that contradicts my assumption? Is syahi masala powdered basalt stone? Does it contain iron or charcoal? A simple yes or no would suffice if indeed you even have the answer. It would be quite another thing if I choose to believe you.

This along with everything you've stated thus far amounts to nothing but a lot of really bad, pointless, psuedo-Zen rhetoric. (I imagine you think of yourself some kind of swami or enlightened master who has nothing useful to do all day but to make other people feel stupid with your hidden insights - when in point of fact you're the one that's clueless.) Apparently you've never made syahi. I have, to a nominal extent, and I know something more than you assume I do about the mechanics and the craft - even if I don't know what specific chemical compounds are contained in syahi masala. Yes, the proof is in the pudding.
Do you know what's really in your toothpaste or do you believe what it says on the box?
Depending on their ability to learn from someone who is knowledgeable, really good syahi would take someone working every day of the year 5 to 10 years or more to produce with any degree of consistency.
If you have factual information to add to this discussion I'm certain it would be much appreciated (that is, if it were to be believed, which is at this point highly doubtful). Otherwise, as I suspect, you are only here to blow smoke and play games then kindly find another forum or discussion to entertain yourself.

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If he could sing, and nature to accompany him, what need would he have for an instrument?
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