Name: Pattala.
Type: Idiophones > Percussion > Xylophones >
Hornbostel-Sachs No#:
Country: Myanmar.

A 19th century Burmese watercolour depicting a musician playing a patalla ; Watercolour painting by an unknown Burmese artist depicting 19th century Burmese life ~ Text: The Patalla and CHIN-GWIN, Shelf-mark: Ms. Burm. a. 5 ;

Description: The pattala [in Burmese: ပတ္တလား, Burmese pronunciation: [pattəlá]; Mon: ဗာတ် ကလာ] is a Burmese xylophone, consisting of 24 bamboo slats called ywet [ရွက်] or asan [အဆံ] suspended over a boat-shaped resonating chamber. It is played with two padded mallets. The pattala is tuned similar to the diatonic scale.

Etymology: The Burmese term pattala is a calque of Sanskrit vādya [ဝါဒျ, lit. translation: musical instrument”] and Mon [ကလာ, “chest”]. The Mon equivalent is called patkala [ဗာတ်ကလာ]. In the Karen languages, it is called paw ku.

Construction: The bamboo slats are typically made from the wood of giant bamboo [Dendrocalamus giganteus], which is durable and produces a stable sound. Slats are occasionally made from brass or iron. The mallets are made from hardwoods such as teak [Tectona grandis], padauk [Pterocarpus macrocarpus], black cutch [Senegalia catechu], yindaik [Dalbergia cultrata], or pyinkado [Xylia dolabriformis]. The resonance box is made from teak and decorated with inlaid glass or gold leaf.

The pattala’s components have specialized names in the Burmese language:

  1. Pallin [ပလ္လင်, lit. “throne”] – the base of the pattala
  2. Phanat [ဖိနပ်, lit. “shoes”] – the foot of the pattala
  3. Bedaungbya [ဘဲတောင်ပြား, lit. “flat duck feathers”] – the resonating chamber
  4. Myinmo taing [မြင်းမိုရ်တိုင်, lit. “Mount Meru pillars”] – decorative protrusions from the resonating chamber
  5. Myinmo peik [မြင်းမိုရ်ပိတ်, lit. “Mount Meru closure”] – either end of the resonating chamber

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