by David Courtney working tools


The kamakshi vina is a very rare folk instrument of Andhra Pradesh.

This instrument is an insignificant variation of the chikara class of spike fiddles which is so common across South Asia. As such, it consists of a resonator comprised of a small bowl covered with peritoneum. This bowl is penetrated by a shaft of bamboo which has two crude wooden tuning pegs attached. These tuning pegs are used to tighten two metal strings. These strings pass over a crude makeshift bridge on the face of the resonator. The instrument is played with a bow of rosin covered hair.

The defining feature of the kamakshi vina is a bamboo/ papier-mâché embellishment on the bamboo spike. The waisted form of this embellishment is apparently inspired by the box of the violin. But in India, the term Kamakshi is occasionally used to describe something, like the violin, which has a constriction in the middle (a waist).

The term "kamakshi" literally means “sexy eyes” and is derived from Hindu mythology, where it is one of the names of Parvati. According to myth, Shiva was shaken from his meditation by an arrow from cupid (Kamadev). Upon opening his eyes, he was smitten by the beautiful form of Kamakshi (Parvati).



© 1998 - 2017 David and Chandrakantha Courtney

For comments, corrections, and suggestions, kindly contact David Courtney at david@chandrakantha.com