mridangam

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The origin of mridangam goes back to the Indian mythologies wherein it is stated that Lord Nandi (the Bull God), who was the escort of Lord Shiva was a master percussionist and used to play the mridangam during the performance of the " Taandav " dance by Lord Shiva. Another myth adds that that the mridangam apparently was created because an instrument was needed that could recreate the sound of Indra (the Hindu counterpart of Zeus king of Gods) as he moved through the heavens on his elephant Airavata. That is why mridangam is called the 'Deva Vaadyam' or the instrument of the Lords.

Musical instruments, according to ancient works, have been divided into four types. Thatha, Avanaddha, Sushira and Ghana which are Chordophones, Membranophones, Aerophones and Idiophones respectively. The mridangam belongs to the percussion family and has been played by Indians for more than 2000 years. It consists of a wooden shell approximately 27 inches long, covered with stretched skins on each side. It is famous for its distinctive buzzing sound and is used extensively for dance performances. Mythologically it is believed that God himself created tabla by cutting the mridangam into half.


http://planetmridangam.tripod.com/Mridangam/history.htm