Name: Parai.
Type: Membranophones > Drums > Frames.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 211.311
Diameter: cm.
Area: Tamil Nadu.
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.


History: the name parai,  [in Tamil; பராய்m Paray] means ‘to speak’ or ‘to tell’. The parai was performed in the courts of Sangam, Chola and Pandiyan rulers.

Use: In the olden days, the parai was used as a device for the communication of important events, from the announcement of kings, to upcoming war, or requesting the civilians to leave the battlefield, announcing victory or defeat, the stopping of a breach of water, gathering farmers for farming activities, weddings, and other celebrations, worship of nature and so on. Parai has been an instrumental part of the people’s life.

Construction: The Parai is a frame drum that is approximately 35 cm in diameter. It consists of a shallow ring of wood, covered on one side with a stretched cowhide that is glued to the wooden frame. The preferred wood is neem wood although other types may be used. The shell is made up of three separate pieces of wood each in the shape of an arc.

These pieces are held together by three metal plates. The parai is played with two sticks: one long, thin flat bamboo stick [approx. 28 cm] called ‘Sindu / Sundu Kuchi’ and a short, thick stick called ‘Adi Kucchi’ that can be made from any variety of wood. The two playing sticks for the parai are approximately 18 cm in length.

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