Type: Struck > Percussion > Idiophones.
Family: Ghana Vadya.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 111.141
Region: South Asia.
Description: A khartal or kartal is a percussion instrument of India. The Khartal is an ancient instrument mainly used in devotional and folk songs. It has derived its name from Hindi words ‘kara’ means hand and ‘tala’ meaning clapping. This wooden clapper is a Ghana Vadya which has discs or plates that produce a clinking sound when clapped together. It falls under the class of idiophones of self-sounding instruments that combine properties of vibrator and resonator.
Usually made wood or metal, a khartal player will hold one ‘male’ and ‘female’ khartal in each hand. The ‘male’ khartal is usually thicker and is held with the thumb while the ‘female’ khartal is usually thinner and is mainly balanced on the ring finger, which represents the fire element. It is associated with the sun and the root chakra. Its force is associated with staying power, stamina, and the power to be assertive.
1. Khartals [blocks]. It consists of a pair of wooden blocks with jingles or crotales. One pair is used in one hand of the musician. These pieces can be clapped together at high speeds to make fast complex beats.
2. Khartals [small sheets]. It consists of a pair of thin, hard wooden pieces similar to the percussion bones [instrument]. These are used in Rajasthan.
3. Khartals [cymbals]. The karatalas are small cymbals, also known as manjeera. These are used in devotional chants. In Maharashtra Khartals are better known as Chipaḷyā. It is commonly used in religious song like Kirtans and Bhajans.
In Odisha, the dasakathi is a similar instrument. It is most notably employed in a folk theatre form that derives its name from the instrument itself, dasakathia. The ramatali is a larger variant that is associated with the Ramayana according to a traditional legend.
In Telugu the word Karatāḷa Dhvani is most commonly used for sound produced from clapping hands.