Type: Struck > Idiophone.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 111.11
Region: South Asia.
Descriptions: The Ghatam [in Sanskrit: घटः ghatah, Tamil: கடம் ghatam, Kannada: ಘಟ ghata, Telugu: ఘటం ghatam, Malayalam: ഘടം, ghatam] is a percussion instrument used in the Carnatic music of South India. The ghatam is one of the most ancient percussion instruments of South India.
It is a clay pot with narrow mouth. From the mouth, it slants outwards to form a ridge. Made mainly of clay backed with brass or copper filings with a small amount of iron filings, the pitch of the ghatam varies according to its size. The pitch can be slightly altered by the application of plasticine clay or water.
Variations: A variant played in Punjab and known as gharha as is a part of Punjabi folk traditions. Its analogue in Rajasthan is known as the madga and pani mataqa (“water jug”).
The Manamadurai ghaṭam is a heavy, thick pot with tiny shards of brass mixed into the clay. This type of ghaṭam is harder to play but produces a sharp metallic ringing sound which is favoured by some players. Manamadurai ghatams have special tonal quality. It is believed that the mud is of special quality.
Construction: Although the ghatam is the same shape as an ordinary Indian domestic clay pot, it is made specifically to be played as an instrument. The tone of the pot must be good and the walls should be of even thickness to produce an even tone. Ghatams are mostly manufactured in Manamadurai, a place near Madurai in Tamil Nadu. Though this instrument is manufactured in other places including Chennai and Bangalore.