Category Archives: Transverse



Name: Atuñsa.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Transverse.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.211.12
Area: Sierra Perijá in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.
Country: Colombia & Venezuela.

Description: The Atuñsa is a transverse flute played by the Indigenous Motilón of the Sierra Perijá in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast of Colombia and it is also played among the Yuma people in neighbouring Venezuela. The atunsa is played by men and it is associated with fertility rights. It has been described as being from a human tibia or femur bone without a separate mouthpiece.

Construction: The atunsa is made from cane, it is about 110 cm in length and 5.5 cm external diameter. It has four finger holes and an attached air duct at the right angle of the tube. Giving the flute the appearance of an axe.


Name: Batanala.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Transverse.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.211.12
Country: Sri-Lanka.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The batanala is a small cane flute of Sri Lanka. It occurs in various sizes and it is made from bata reed, a reed that found throughout the island. The instrument is known occasionally as a vasdanḍa. It is often a side blown or transverse flute having six or often seven finger-holes.

The tube of the flute  is always stopped and varies in length from 23 cm to 56 cm. These flutes are occasionally lacquered but are far more often plain or polished. Although made in Sri Lanka. Batanala flutes do resemble the venu flute as played in Carnatic music.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites:


Name: Bansuri.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Transverse.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.211.12
Area: Hindustan / North India.
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The bansuri [in Hindi: बांसुरी: Bansuri] is discussed as an important musical instrument in the Natya Shastra [~200 BCE to 200 CE] other Vedic texts of Hinduism, or as venu in post-Vedic texts. The name bansuri is not found in the ancient texts. The bansuri is mentioned in the texts under alternate names. These names include as nadi, tunava in the Rigveda [1500–1200 BCE].

The flute is also mentioned in various Upanishads and Yoga texts. The flute [Venu or Vamsa] is mentioned in many Hindu texts on music and singing, as complementary to the human sound and Veena [vaani-veena-venu]. A flute player in these medieval texts is called vamsika.

Etymology: The word bansuri [in Hindi: बांसुरी] originates in the bans [बाँस] bamboo + sur [सुर] melody. A phonetically similar name for this instrument found in early medieval texts is the Sanskrit word “vaṃśi”. A phonetically similar name for the same instrument, in early medieval texts, the Sanskrit word vaṃśi which is derived from root [in Sanskrit: वंश vaṃśa] meaning bamboo.

Regional names include, bāṃsurĩ, bānsrī, bā̃surī bā̃sī, banci, vanci, vansi, murali, murli, nadi, parwa. Elon, Kulal, kulalu, kukhl, in Malayalam; ಲಿಂಗ್ಬುಫೆನಿಯಂ lingbufeniam; in Tamil: புல்லாங்குழல்p pullankuzhal; pillana grovi, pulangoil, vasdanda, sipung and venuvu.

Origin Legends: These legends sometimes use alternate names for this wind instrument, such as the muraliHowever, the instrument is also common among other traditions such as Shaivism. The early medieval Indian texts also refer to it as vaṃśi. While in medieval Indonesian Hindu and Buddhist arts, as well as temple carvings in Java and Bali dated to be from pre-10th century period, this transverse flute has been called wangsi or bangsi.

Iconography: The bansuri like transverse or side blown flutes are depicted in ancient Hindu, Jain and Buddhist paintings and reliefs. The bansuri is commonly present in the iconography of the Hindu god Krishna. it is intimately linked to the love story of Krishna and Radha. The bansuri is revered as Lord Krishna’s divine instrument and is often associated with Krishna’s Rasa lila dance.

Citations: Bibliography: Kalātattvakośa: Primal elements-Mahābhūta edited by Bettina Bäumer, Kapila Vatsyaya ; Suneera Kasliwal 2004 Classical musical instruments. Rupa. pp. 85–86. ISBN 978-81-291-0425-0 ; G. Dournon; M. Helffer 1984 “Bansuri”. In Stanley Sadie [ed.]. The New Grove dictionary of musical instruments, Volume 1. Macmillan Press. ISBN 978-0-943818-05-4 ; Ellen Koskoff 2008 The Concise Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: The Middle East, South Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia. Routledge. p. 980. ISBN 978-0-415-99404-0 ; Websites: