Type: Spike Fiddle, Chordophone.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Tuning: Often in C (Sa).
Specimens: 2 in collection.
Region: South Asia.
Description: A ravanahatha (whose variant names include: ravanhatta, rawanhattha, ravanastron, ravana hasta veena) it is a bowed instrument of ancient origins. It is played in Rajasthan India and Sri Lanka. In Indian and Sri Lankan tradition, the ravanahatha is believed to have originated among the Tamil and Hela people of Lanka during the time of the legendary king Ravana, after whom the instrument is supposedly named.
According to legend, Ravana used the ravanahatha in his devotions to the Hindu God Shiva. In the Hindu Ramayana epic, after the war between Rama and Ravana, Hanuman returned to North India with a ravanahatha. The ravanahatha is particularly popular among street musicians in Rajasthan, North India.
Construction: The ravanahatha is constructed from a resonator (body) shaft (neck) which is assembled through the body. The body is usually carved from a gourd. Two playing strings run parallel on either side so they are in direct contact with the bow when the instrument is played. Usually up to 10 sympathetic strings are added, they resonate when the instrument is bowed. Providing natural amplification since the actual body for the for this instrument is quite small in size.
Citations: Choudhary, S. Dhar . The Origin and Evolution of Violin as a Musical Instrument and Its Contribution to the Progressive Flow of Indian Classical Music: In search of the historical roots of violin. Ramakrisna Vedanta Math. ISBN 9380568061. Retrieved 5 September 2015. Balachandran, PK [7 February 2011]. A musical instrument played by Ravana Himself!. New Indian Express. Retrieved 1 May 2013. The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) (8 March 2015). Dinesh records highest sale for an instrumental. Retrieved 16 July 2015.