Rare Musical Instruments Museum (Chennai - Tamil Nadu)

Recently the Development of Centre for Musical Instrument of the Govt. of India organized an exhibition of Rare Musical Instruments. This exhibition was at Lalit Kala Academy, Chennai. However, if you wish to see, the perennial exhibition is at the Govt. Office (address at the end of the post). Here are some for you...



The above 4 are called Yazh, which is similar to the Harp of western music. Yazh is an ancient Dravidian instrument. Yazh is used a lot in the ancient Tamil literature, however Thirumayam is the only place where it is shown in sculpture. Remember the huge panel clicked by Ashok, at Thirumayam? It's the only place where Thumburu is depicted holding a Yazh, near Naradha who holds a thambura. The first one is Sakota Yazh, second is Villu Yazh with a pedestal, third is Makara (Crocodile) Yazh, and the last is Matsya (Fish) Yazh.
This is called the Narayana Veena which was an experimental stringed instrument which was a mix of harp, veena and thambura, developed by Sangeetha Vadyalaya, inspired by the Koto of Japan. 
This is the Kinnari, the oldest stringed instrument of India, created by Kinnara, of the Hindu Mythology. This has 12 frets, strings for playing music and strings used for drone. 
This is the Samasti Veena. In front of it is the Kakkara. Its the tribal musical instrument of Savaras, Puliyans and Kanikars of Kerala
This is the Rudra Veena which is still being used in Hindustani Music, the north Indian Classical Music. Ravana, the mythological king of Lanka, played this instrument. 
These 2 are called the Suriya Pirai (Sun shaped) and Chandra Pirai (Moon Shaped), which are drums used in the Mariamman temples of several villages. (Remember Mariamman temple festival of Karur???)
This triple faced drum is called the Pushkaram.
A snake shaped trumpet called Nagaswaram!
Right at the centre is Revalve Thambura, a complicated drone instrument. On either sides the 4 instruments are more varieties of thambura called Vamsee Sruthi, Sruthi Dandi, Vamsee Sruthi Dandi. All these are drone instruments, designed and developed by Sangita Vadyalaya, the development centre for Musical Instruments, Chennai. 
At the left is Gopichand aka Gopiyantra, a folk instrument played by the wandering singers called Baul of Bengal. At the centre is Balalaika, a Russian guitar with 3 strings.
This so very unique piece is a Phono Violin, an ancient European violin!!!

TO GET THERE:
Development Centre for Musical Instruments
Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India.
759, Anna Salai, Chennai - 600002.
Ph: +91 44 2859 2485
Do call and enquire timings and working days and existence of the exhibition (though perennial, it shouldn't be closed for renovation when you visit, right?!!), and then visit...

Bhushavali N

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

27 comments:

  1. fabulous! and where was this exhibition?-RSrinivasan

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    1. It was at Lalit Kala Academy. But its permanently placed at the address in the end of the post..

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  2. fantastic!!!! and is this exhibition still on? wish we could see these too!

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    1. Thank you! The exhibition was for few days. But its permanently placed at the address in the end of the post..

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  3. A lovely unique and awesome collection of old unheard of and rare traditional instruments. Thank you Bhusha for highlighting and sharing this. Realy marvelous.
    Warm Regards Ram

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  4. A nice collection of musical instruments - some of which i have never heard about... Thanks for sharing dear.

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    1. Thank you! We must thank the government for preserving them so well!

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  5. Wonderful exhibition has been arranged in systematic manner !! I like it ..

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  6. That was very very interesting. Thanks for the share :)

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  7. Aah ! I wish I was in Chennai now. Very informative !

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    1. Come over anytime. Though the exhibition is closed now, the products can be seen anytime at the address in the end of the post...

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  8. I've never heard of most of the instruments here, thanks for sharing, your blog is awesome by the way ^^

    xo L

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    1. Thank you so much for your appreciation dear!
      Do visit often! :)

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  9. Beautiful.. Did not know of its existence, though a Chennai-ite..!

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    1. Even I didn't know of its existence till they put up this exhibition!!! :)

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  12. wow! i wud love to hear them too!

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    1. Sadly, there are no musicians who are capable of playing most of these instruments now!!!

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  13. i had never seen them before or heard of them before surely IT is a great knowledge of music for me

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  14. Hi Bhushavali,
    I am Rakesh, I was your jr in NIFT chennai, currently perusing PG in NID gandhinagar, I am currently working on a craft documentation ( currently research stage). This info was informative for us, i was wondering if you could suggest and craft men or people who makes RUDRA veena? or any other rare musical instrument being made in tamilnadu?

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    1. Hi Rakesh,
      Nice to know that. All the best with your craft documentation.
      I do not know about who makes Rudra veena.
      Its being played only in Northern parts of India by certain Islam communities...

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