INDIAN MUSIC FORUMS

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sitarkatz

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Reply with quote  #1 
Just curious....Is there any significance of the symbols and carvings on the sitar such as the floral carvings and bird like figures on the tabli?

Any explanation would be appreciated.

Cheers!
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cwroyds

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Reply with quote  #2 
The decorations on a sitar are in honor of the goddess Saraswati.
She is the goddess of knowledge, music and the arts
Saraswati's children are the Vedas, which are the oldest sacred texts of Hinduism, and the Vedic Chants are the origins of the Ragas we know today.
She is associated with the Swan, Peacock, Lotus flower, and other images.
The swan and lotus probably come from her origin as a river goddess.

The swan can be seen in the tuning swan and in sitars that reference the swan in the carvings.
The lotus can be seen in some tuning peg carvings and in some floral carvings.

She is also associated with the peacock.
The two birds usually carved into the tabli are peacocks.

"The peacock represents arrogance and pride over its beauty, and by having a peacock as her mount, the Goddess teaches not to be concerned with external appearance and to be wise regarding the eternal truth". (wikipedia)
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rex@sitar.co.za

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Reply with quote  #3 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "cwroyds"
The two birds usually carved into the tabli are peacocks.
On Vilayat Khan style sitars I believe the two birds are Indian cuckoos. There was an interesting thread on here a few years ago about this, which unfortunately I'm not able to find.
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cwroyds

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Reply with quote  #4 
Well that is the thing about indian instruments, the decoration can very different depending on location and time period.

Interesting thought though.
Is there some reason to associate the Indian Cuckoo to the sitar or music historically?
I can see how one might think that to be true when you look at the live bird and compare it to a tabli bird.
The live bird: http://www.kingsnake.com/westindian/coccyzuspluvialis1.JPG
Tabli Bird: http://gallery.mac.com/carletonroyds#100189/IMG_0479

But I think it looks like a peacock for sure.
Sometimes the birds on the tabli are definitely peacocks.
http://gallery.mac.com/carletonroyds#100150/DSCN0168_2

I am sure many different artistic elements were used on instruments over time, but if you look at the majority of instruments you will most often see swans and peacocks and sometimes fish.
Tuning beads are most often swans, but are sometimes fish, elephants, or some other animal.

I would think that the connection of musical instruments to Sawaswati and her association with the river would explain why the swan, and fish are used. Other hints of the river goddess are shown in the nut, which is usually carved to be the river beast the Makara.
The entire headstock of this sitar is a Makara.
http://gallery.mac.com/carletonroyds#100150/DSCN0163
(As a point of interest, this sitar was the personal sitar of Paramahansa Yogananda. It was sent by the Self-Realization Fellowship for Jawari)

Anyhoo, you may be correct about the VK bird being an Indian Cockoo, but I would suggest that most were historically peacocks.
Especially considering that Saraswati is most often represented with the swan and/or the peacock.
http://www.exoticindiaart.com/product/WC43/
http://80.190.202.79/pic/k/keralainfo/saraswati.jpg
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_tWtGNWVDlTE/SYNGKDpI1qI/AAAAAAAABiI/tp5ykyjlB5I/s320/goddess-of-knowledge-saraswati-wallpaper.jpg
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