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Roland

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hello, I'm new to this... ( Sitar Forum and computers )
I've been following the Forum for a couple of weeks and would like to jump aboard. I hope you don't mind but I'd like to ask a question.
On the tabli are two (white inlayed ) birds on either side of the playing strings and sympathetics (on most sitars )
Does anybody know the significance of these traditional
motifs/icons ? They don't look like peacocks ( national bird of India )
Do sitar builders have a name for these birds ? I see them all the time ,
but have never read one word on there meaning.
Just curious , Thanks for the time and space.
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AbdulLatif

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Reply with quote  #2 
Well you just take all the time and space you need both will lead you back to wherever it was ya started.

I actually have thought about this deep issue cuz my mind works that way. I believe the tabli birds may represent a species of Indian Cuckoo, maybe a Pied Crested Jacobin http://nagpurbirds.org/displayimage.php?album=lastup&cat=12&pos=2 there are about 15 sp. of cuckoo in India in the bird family alone :wink: . The reason I arrived at this is because Indian music treatises assign the 5th Pa to the sound of a cuckoo. On the other hand the swan everybody has on the Ma string isn't on a list I've seen so..... the peacock seen on some veens is supposed to relate to the goddess Saraswati making the mudra rejecting vanity and illusion when she is pictured playing the veena. As to the Dragons...what note do they sound?? Probably any note they want. and the reality is that hardly any if any at all of the instrument makers have a clue or even care. Its just done that way.

Since we are on this subject, What is the carving on the Meru of most sitars supposed to be?? I've seen some that look like a parrot, Karasek sitars have gone the parrot route. On others it almost looks like a boars head or a stylized dragon most are so abstract its hard to tell. A dragon would be a throwback to the Southie Veens, maybe a holdover of the older iconography???

The sarangi dilruba fish motif is directly descended from the vaishnav/vishnu associations as Meru the fish avater. Many of the famous Sarangi wallas while Muslims by name synthesised Islam with the Vaishnav beliefs of the pre-Islamic traditions.

Since I'm flogging this horse till its good and dead anyone else got an ethnographic theory or at least a plausible tall tale.

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sitarman

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Reply with quote  #3 
Well AbdulLatif, That's the most cuckoo thing you've said to date!
It is interesting that the same design, or for that matter the wooden design carvings and binding inlays, are so non-changing. (I know that Tony K uses some very innovative and creative decorations, but not the traditional builders/families). I would think, from a marketing standpoint if nothing else, that makers would want to try new ideas, not just very slight variations. Is it considerd to non-conservative (I guess the word is liberal) to stray from the conventional birds in the inlay and rose petals and such on the wood carvings?
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element-82

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Reply with quote  #4 
I think I'll go for penguins on my next sitar. Ravens are already taken, or maybe bats... maybe a new line of marketting, golden arches This is the happy meal model....

Pb
Quote:
Originally Posted by "sitarman"
Well AbdulLatif, That's the most cuckoo thing you've said to date!
It is interesting that the same design, or for that matter the wooden design carvings and binding inlays, are so non-changing. (I know that Tony K uses some very innovative and creative decorations, but not the traditional builders/families). I would think, from a marketing standpoint if nothing else, that makers would want to try new ideas, not just very slight variations. Is it considerd to non-conservative (I guess the word is liberal) to stray from the conventional birds in the inlay and rose petals and such on the wood carvings?

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Joshua Feinberg

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Reply with quote  #5 
hi there,

usually the birds are swans, which is a symbol for the Hindu goddess Saraswati. she is the goddess of music and learning. up by the nut there is a decoration that sticks out on the peg side of the sitar, the eye in that decoration also represents Saraswati.

best,

jf

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AbdulLatif

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Naad
hi there,

usually the birds are swans, which is a symbol for the Hindu goddess Saraswati. she is the goddess of music and learning. up by the nut there is a decoration that sticks out on the peg side of the sitar, the eye in that decoration also represents Saraswati.

best,

jf
Yo Daas, Yea I see the swan usually on the tuning bead Ma string. But the traditional tabli inlays is some other kinda boid....An old VK style I had they were clearly some type of crested critter and on my later RK style..So I'll give ya the swan bead and the Saraswati attribution but I'm still thinking the tabli is a different animule. but then again I'll forget what I'm tal...l...kingngng aBowwwwwwt HUH? Soon.

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"Words are said to have a delusive nature (Mahamaya Matrika) because the word itself, although it may contain a reference to an object is often surrounded by clusters or Kulas of lesser Shaktis...."
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Joshua Feinberg

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Reply with quote  #7 
yo abdul,


well your forgeting one tiny detail about the VK instruments- Vilayat KHAN! hes a muslim! ha! interesting, we usually dont think of it that way, but the Vilayat Khan style sitars are decorated in a fashion consistant with Islam- no graven images hence no floral leafy carvings. also no rose carved pegs.

i did read somewhere that the upper gourd on the RS (a Hindu. . .hence the hindu decorations) together with the main gourd represents the breasts of Parvati. ive never heard anyone mention that though, i just read it in some old obscure book in the library.

quite rite about the tuning bead, i forgot that one! :-) and the other type of bird they use is the dove (and ive also seen some kind of sea shell), which also has religious significance for Hindus.

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barend

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Reply with quote  #8 
I think this bird on the tabli is defenitly a peacock!! it has his its head turned to its tail side (defenitly a peacocks tail...haha).....

It took me a minute, but now I can see it....just use your imagination....

Since we are on this topic....what does the tiger at the bone nut represent??
....I think it is a tiger...not 100% sure.
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trippy monkey

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Reply with quote  #9 
I have a wolf's head on my first surbahar's top nut. EH???????

It would be nice to share pics of more unusual designs of instruments. I'll start a fresh post of.

Nick
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Sitarfixer

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Reply with quote  #10 
A real zoo out there! Nodu Mullick had a thing for lions back in the 1940's. Two examples prevail. There is a python theme sitar in my museum section. A sitar on eBay four - five months back had a lovely deer on the pickguard. There's a duckhead sur-bahar on eBay right now. Kanaii Lal and others have done the dragon head instruments. Swans and peacocks abound as tuning beads. Right now there is a flood in Miraj - deerhorn fish as tuning beads. Fish are also all over most sarangis. I've seen a wolfs head out the side of a sitar from Kartar Chand - Delhi. There's talk of an ebony knockoff of a vintage Nabisco spoon rider on a rudra veena. Anybody got pics of other creatures adorning sitars or similar - please - lets see them!
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David Russell Watson

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "barend"
Since we are on this topic....what does the tiger at the bone nut represent??
....I think it is a tiger...not 100% sure.
While we're on the same topic, why does the
lower targahan even extend beyond the width
of the neck in the first place?

I use to wonder if strings didn't originally go
over it, in an off-board arrangement of some
sort, maybe having the chikaris double back
around them, but then I can't really see what
the advantage of such an arrangement would
have been.

David
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Sitarfixer

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Reply with quote  #12 
Seems to me this reading into the religio iconic coded message encryption parallels of birds and other critters is really going on a stretch. Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffar Khan (Muslim - do ya think?) has had an assortment of full carved axes over the years. Ustad Shujaat Khan, in the superb dvd "Bequest" plays what sure looks like a recent model Rikhi Ram Red Sur-Bahar with no shortage of flowery carving. I would think that designs go around and either what is easiest or fastest to produce or what gets the most favorable market response is what gets slapped onto sitars and other instruments.
That dealie on the nut that sticks out - I just don't get the "Saraswati" image. If it has to be explained, it ain't working! One of the more often seen designs which comes out of the Lucknow and Benares sweat shops has a hole in the middle with a coxcomb looking affair on top, a notch cut out of the end and some knuckle looking thing at the bottom. I would really like to see a linkup to Saraswati from this. I really would. If anyone can really pick this image apart and convince me how this an image of Saraswati, I would be most grateful. I've gone the bird route for this extension unless otherwise directed. I also put wings on both sides of the body. No confusion there!
To further explore this gnawing topic, I'll lay all this on the Miraj homies who will be here tomorrow loaded with goodies for me. (oooooh, just wait till you see)!!! Will be back with their card carrying Muslim craftsman take on all this. Hope it won't go down like Geraldo's safe cracking flop.
Cheers!

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AbdulLatif

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Reply with quote  #13 
Islam is a diverse and diffuse religion with various takes on everything. However In general, and this is from a standard text on the haram and halal in islam, The depiction of Allah, or the Prophets is prohibited. In more conservative countries ie: Saudi Arabia, Yemen and rural areas the prohibition is extended to any human form. The prohibition on depicting flowers and animals is not a widespread practice. In fact one of the pavillions at Fatapur Sikri in Northern India has colums deliberatly carved with flowers from all over India and were used as teaching tools in natural history lessons. Likewise the geometric patterns in some of the grand mosques are geometric equivelents to alpha numeric coding used in the Muslim equivilent of the Cabballah. The actual marble centoph of Mmtaz Mahal at the Taj is covered with inlaid flowers rendered in precious and semiprecious stones. Sha Jahan the builder was a Muslim himself.
Most of the Indian Muslim musicians practice a synchronistic blend of Islam,Shavaite,Vashnaiv religions and are also usually associated with Sufi Orders. I have been a muslim for quite a while so these statements are based on my understanding only. In general the integration of religious symbolism in art and artifacts are not a topic of discussion of awareness on the part of the builders or musicians, in the same way as the Masonic symbols on US currency are not a matter of comment when you spend money.

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"Words are said to have a delusive nature (Mahamaya Matrika) because the word itself, although it may contain a reference to an object is often surrounded by clusters or Kulas of lesser Shaktis...."
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element-82

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Posts: 317
Reply with quote  #14 
tony,
I always thought that nut beastie was a frog or dragon or generic reptile. Maybe even a pic of the laughing maker who cobbled together an occidental sitar...

Pb
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Sitarfixer"
Seems to me this reading into the religio iconic coded message encryption parallels of birds and other critters is really going on a stretch. Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffar Khan (Muslim - do ya think?) has had an assortment of full carved axes over the years. Ustad Shujaat Khan, in the superb dvd "Bequest" plays what sure looks like a recent model Rikhi Ram Red Sur-Bahar with no shortage of flowery carving. I would think that designs go around and either what is easiest or fastest to produce or what gets the most favorable market response is what gets slapped onto sitars and other instruments.
That dealie on the nut that sticks out - I just don't get the "Saraswati" image. If it has to be explained, it ain't working! One of the more often seen designs which comes out of the Lucknow and Benares sweat shops has a hole in the middle with a coxcomb looking affair on top, a notch cut out of the end and some knuckle looking thing at the bottom. I would really like to see a linkup to Saraswati from this. I really would. If anyone can really pick this image apart and convince me how this an image of Saraswati, I would be most grateful. I've gone the bird route for this extension unless otherwise directed. I also put wings on both sides of the body. No confusion there!
To further explore this gnawing topic, I'll lay all this on the Miraj homies who will be here tomorrow loaded with goodies for me. (oooooh, just wait till you see)!!! Will be back with their card carrying Muslim craftsman take on all this. Hope it won't go down like Geraldo's safe cracking flop.
Cheers!

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