page [ _1_ _2_ (3) _4_ ]

This article is only an intoduction.  If you would like more information please check out "Manufacture and Repair of Tabla"

THE TABLA PUDI (page 4 of 4)

by David Courtney working tools

This article previously appeared in the December 1988 issue of Experimental Musical Instruments, Nicasio Ca:EMI pg.12-16

Construction (cont)

Two long pieces of buffalo hide are used for the weaving. Each thong (tasma) is first soaked in water, then lightly covered with oil. The two thongs are inserted into three adjacent holes up to their midpoints (figure 5a), thereby making four loose ends.


There must be a central core around which the gajara is woven. This is made by taking two or three lengths of inferior quality leather thong and wrapping them around the rim. The gajara is started in the following manner:

  1. Insert two lengths of thong into three adjacent holes (figure 5a).
  2. Twist in clockwise manner.
  3. Go over two slits and insert (figure 5b).
  4. Pull out third slit.
  5. Go to next thong.
  6. Repeat steps b, c, and d (figure 5c).
  7. Go to next thong in same slit.
  8. repeat step b (twist).
  9. Go over three slips and insert.
  10. Pull out from bottom of the fourth slit (figure 5d).
  11. Go to next thong.
  12. Repeat steps h, i, & j, but keep loose (figure 5e).
  13. go to next thong.
  14. Repeat steps h, i, & j, but keep loose (figure 5f).
  15. Go to next tasma.
  16. Repeat steps h, i, & j, but keep loose (figure 5g).
  17. Insert core thong (figure 5g).
  18. Tighten first two thongs.
  19. Take next thong.
  20. Repeat steps h, i, & j, but keep loose (figure 5h).
  21. Insert last core thong.
  22. Tighten last thong.

The gajara is now started. Continue weaving in the following manner (figure 6a).

  1. Take thong from bottom.
  2. Twist 1/2 turn in clockwise fashion.
  3. Go over two slits and insert in the third slit on top of the core thong.
  4. Pull out of the bottom of the fourth slit.
  5. Go to next thong and repeat.

Eventually the weaving must be finished. The weaving will end in the following fashion:

  1. Stop weaving when thong exits at the starting point (figure 7a & 7b).
  2. Cut outer core thong so that it extends 1 1/2 inches over the starting point
  3. Cut inner core thong so that it just touches starting point.
  4. Cut middle core thong so that it extends
    1/2 to 1 inch beyond the starting point.
  5. Twist thong 1/2 turn in clockwise direction.
  6. Pull thong over four spaces and insert between chat and gajara.
  7. Pull Tight (figure 7c).
  8. Go to next thong and repeat steps 5, 6, 7, and 8, for the next seven times (figure 7d, 7e, & 7f).
  9. Trim off excess thong.

The gajara is nearly complete at this point. The only remaining step is to weave the bunad. Many craftsmen eliminate the bunad entirely. The weaving of the bunad goes as follows (figure 6b):

  1. Pull a strip of dry goathide, rexine or similar material between the gajara and the chat (pull up).
  2. Skip closest thong and pull bunad through under the next one.
  3. Pull into correct position.
  4. Skip next thong and pull bunad through under next one.
  5. Pull down to proper position.
  6. Pull tight.
  7. Put another piece of bunad through the next hole.
  8. Repeat steps b, c, d, e, & f.
  9. Go back and pull the first bunad through the next hole.
  10. Repeat steps b, c, d, e, & f.

This alternating back and forth proceeds until all of the gajara is done. Upon completion of the bunad, the gajara is finished.

As mentioned earlier, the gajara the function of transferring the tension from the lacing to the maidan. However it does so in a manner which is considerably more refined than the hoop found in Western drums. Unlike Western drums the gajara has a buffering effect upon this tension. This buffering is important because very little variation in tension is tolerated by the tabla. This low tolerance is a natural consequence of the requirement for precise tunability. An interesting feature of this buffering effect is that changing the tension on the lacing functions as a "course tuning" while lightly hitting the gajara with a small hammer acts as the "fine tuning". In practice the majority of the tuning is done without any change in the tension of the lacing at all.

The gajara also performs the necessary but mundane function of joining all three levels of skin (i.e., bharti, maidan, and chat) together.

The pudi is now removed from the shell and the bharti is trimmed. It is trimmed by taking a flat piece of bamboo and slipping it between the maidan and bharti. The bamboo piece is used to shield the maidan from the blade. The bharti is trimmed so that there is an even 1/2 inch projecting into the middle of the pudi.

The function of the bharti appears to be primarily mechanical in nature. The bharti reinforces the maidan and keeps it from tearing under high tension.

The pudi must now be mounted. This mounting process is beyond the scope of this article.

page [ _1_ _2_ (3) _4_ ]




© 1998 - 2018 David and Chandrakantha Courtney

For comments, corrections, and suggestions, kindly contact David Courtney at