More than a hundred tribal and folk musical instruments from the Telangana and Deccan region are on display at the Chitramayee State Art Gallery, Madhapur till November 13. Dimki, Kalikom, Pillangoyi, Kommu Burra, Runjha, Chamallali, Gullakatta, Karrapeti and Bigul are just some of the interesting names of the instruments on display at Adi Dhwani, an exhibition curated by Professor Guduru Manoja.
“Most of the tribal and folk musical instruments of the Telangana region have always remained in the backdrop as most researchers and connoisseurs of Telangana literature focused more on the narration and text of stories propagated by performers. But in 1978, I started my studies on folk literature at Osmania University and over a period of time, realised the important role played by these musical instruments in folk renditions at community festivals, village festivals and in different rituals,” says Professor Jayadheer Tirumala Rao, who has over time, given in to his ‘protective instinct’ and painstakingly collected many of these musical instruments.
“Many years ago, during my visit to Adilabad district, I saw a Kaddi Vadyam lying outside a village house. The musical instrument was drying out in the sun and getting soaked in the rain. The younger generation was clueless about what to do with it. They could not keep it in the house nor throw it out. Nor could they imagine carrying the instrument and continuing their forefather’s legacy of singing and collecting alms. But I wanted to protect the instrument and brought it back to Hyderabad,” he narrates.
Expressing concern over the future of next generation performers, Tirumala Rao adds, “Kumaram Lingu is the only surviving artiste who plays the Adivasi Bruhat twelve-step Kinnera. Most of the younger generation in these tribal families is migrating to cities. Some end up working on temporary jobs like bartenders or lorry cleaners,” adding, “Survival is what matters to these families. As times change, opportunities for performers have gone down. Cinema, television and mobiles have taken over most of the time of art connosieurs. Artistes find it very difficult to even source raw material to make their instruments.” Tirumala Rao recalls that he faced many hurdles to keep his collection of instruments together. “I stayed in the same house for 29 years but every inch of my home was getting occupied. Later, while shifting between three houses during the last few years, it was not easy to take care of these delicate instruments. I am not the owner of these instruments but a custodian of the rich heritage,” says Rao, adding, “I can only dream of a home for these musical instruments in the form of a museum. The new space could also have training facilities and performance opportunities for tribal and folk performers to keep the legacy going.”