Type: Membranophones > Drums > Barrel > Double Headed >
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 211.222.1
Region: South Asia.
Description: The mardala [in Odia: ମର୍ଦ୍ଦଳ] is a double headed barrel drum that is native to the State of Odisha. The mardala is primarily the main drum in the ancient classical musical of the state. This drum differs from other instruments which may share similar names in the Indian Subcontinent. The differences are found among the construction, acoustic features and traditional playing techniques.
The mardala is used in a wide range of traditional art forms of Odisha. Including Gotipua, Mahari, Odissi dance, Bhagabata Tungi, Saka Nata, Prahallada Nataka, Ramalila, Krusnalila, Rama Nataka, Sahi Java, Medha Nacha, Bharata Lila, Bhutakeli Nata, Odissi Kirtana and more.
History: Odishan musicologists in ancient treatises have mentioned four distinct kinds of instruments or vadyas. Tat for stringed instruments. Surisa for wind instruments, anaddha or leather instruments, drums and finally ghana or metallic instruments.
Out of these four categories the mardala falls under the category of anaddha vadya or drums. Raghunatha Ratha, an ancient musicologist of Odisha extols the Mardala in his treatise, the Natyamanorama as;
The jagannatha temple of Puri has for centuries has a mardal servitude. This was known as the ‘Medali Seba’ and the percussionist was ritually initiated into the temple by the Gajapati ruler. The mardala used to be the accompanying instrument to the Mahari dance, the ancestor or present-day Odissi dance, one of the major classical dance forms of India.
In hundreds of Kalingan temples across the state of Odisha. Including famous shrines such as the Mukteswara and Konarka, the mardala features prominently, usually in a nice of an alasakanya playing the instrument. There is a pose by the name mardalika replicating the same stance in Odissi dance.
Construction: According to the treatises, the ideal mardala is made of khadira [khaira] or the wood of Acacia catechu. The wood raktachandana is also spoken highly owing to its deep resonance. Other woods such as nimba or neem wood [Azadirachta indica], mahalimba [Mella azedarch] and gambhari [Gmelina arborea] are also used. An instrument fashioned from the aforesaid woods is considered uttama, whereas an instrument made from the wood of jackfruit is considered adhama.
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