The Fiji Museum - Virtual Museum


The instrument known as the 'tanpura' in Fiji is really a folk instrument known as the 'dotara' in India. 'Do' meaning two and 'tara' meaning strings, hence this instrument plays only two notes. The instrument known as the 'tanpura' in India is also a plucked instrument but is quite different to the one shown. This mix up in names is probably due to the birth of a new creole Hindi that emerged in Fiji on the plantations during Girmit - a language that is known as Fiji-Hindi. The Indo-Fijian Tanpura is made from animal skin (possibly goat) stretched over half a coconut shell attached to a long wooden neck. The steel strings are plucked with the fingers and it would have been used as an accompaniment instrument for traditional bhajans or entirely on its own. Length: 116cm.

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