Maths Museum Museum
    Tabla Maths Museum
© Islington Artefact Library
The full name of this instrument is tabla-banya and it consists of two drums - the tabla being the right hand drum (the one in the picture) and the banya the left, larger , deeper drum. The drum heads are made of skin with a paste of iron filings and flour in the centre, but the body of the banya, the bass drum, is metal and the body of the tabla is wood. The tabla is tuned by knocking the blocks, which are held by braces on the sides of the instrument, into place. The tabla has a range of about one octave. The name 'tabla' probably derived from the Arabic word for a drum, called the 'tabl' and possibly to some extent the Turkish word for drum 'davul'. The Muslims had a great influence on the culture and structure of the tabla, however the earliest depictions and literature describing the tabla as we recognise it today come from the 18th century. Over the last two centuries the tabla has begun to take the forefront of percussion instruments in north Indian classical music.
Back to the Gallery Back to the Foyer