Punjabi University claims Bhai Mardana's rabab 'reconstructed'
ByParvesh Sharma - Mar 18, 2013, 07.04 AM IST
PATIALA: After a research that lasted for over eight years, Punjabi University in Patiala has finally brought to life the 'real' rabab, the musical instrument Guru Nanak Dev's first follower and companion Bhai Mardana is believed to have played.
The university's Gurmat Sangeet department on Sunday claimed that the instrument was an exact replica of the one originally used by Bhai Mardana - having the same shape and the strings. Made up of walnut wood, this rabab is 35 inches long, has 6 strings, and weights 6 kg.
The work on the "revival of rabab" project was launched in 2005 after the establishment of Gurmat Sangeet Chair in the department. According to Gurnam Singh, head of the department, the need to do research on this particular string instrument was felt as for hundreds of years different painters and historians have painted and described the rabab used by Bhai Mardana differently. "There seemed to be no consensus on the exact rabab used by Bhai Mardana," he said.
So in order to get the original size, shape and strings right, Gurnam and his team members scanned thousands of pictures of rababs in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and also visited gurdwaras all over the country to study paintings of Bhai Mardana with his rababs. The team also organized rabab workshops and held interactions with rabab players of various schools of Indian music.
The instrument, which had its origin in the middle-east, will be formally made public during the three-day 'Rabab festival' to be organized in the university from March 18 to 20. "Many noted rabab players and experts are expected in the fest. We are also hoping to get a good feedback on our rabab," said PU vice-chancellor Jaspal Singh.
Rabab originated in the Arab world around the eight century and in Arabic it means 'a bowed (instrument)'. Rabab has different shapes and versions and comes in various sizes in different parts of Asia and is also played differently. The instrument continues to be played in the Arab world, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Indonesia.