Thanjavur Veenai/Tanjor Veena of Tamil Nadu

Musical Instruments, Sound Objects

Thanjavur Veenai/Tanjor Veena of Tamil Nadu

Thanjavur  district lies on the southeast coast of Tamil Nadu. Local artisans, living in around the town of Thanjavur, are involved in the carving of veenas, a very delicate, painstaking and time-consuming task involving superior craftsmanship.

The Thanjavur Veenai is about 4ftin length. It has a large, round body with a thick, wide neck, the end of which is carved like the head of a dragon. A small resonator is attached to the underside of the neck. The veena has 24 fixed metal frets (“mettu”), embedded with hardened beeswax, mixed with charcoal powder.

The Thanjavur Veena has seven strings, four are playing strings and three are drone strings (“thalam”). It has no sympathetic strings. Melody is produced on the four metal strings that run above the frets. These are stretched over a wide bridge that sits on the body of the veena. Three other strings run alongside the neck of the instrument. These are used for maintaining time and for playing the drone.

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