Ancient origins

India’s Ancient Instruments Made from Pumpkins (Video)

The Abdul Majeed family has been hand-carving musical instruments out of pumpkins for seven generations, a craft that has been practiced for almost 200 years in the city of Mirage, in Western India. The city is known for being a hub for classical musicians, and the family has made tanpuras and sitars, among other instruments, using the shells of bottle gourds and pumpkins. The process takes at least three weeks to make one instrument, and the cost is almost three times as much as the smaller electronic versions.

The family’s techniques have not changed in almost 200 years, but their legacy may soon come to an end. With the advent of electronic tanpuras in 1979, demand for the handmade ones dwindled. Now, the family sells only half of what they used to 25 years ago. While electronic options may be practical, they do not match the authentic tones of the original. The family worries that apathy and modern alternatives may render their business obsolete.

Top image: Indian Tanpura. Source:  Arash / Adobe Stock.

By Robbie Mitchell

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