It takes three days and three artisans to make a nagaswaram

‘Narasinghapettai nagaswaram’, a classical music instrument, stands before the Geographical Indications (GI) Registry for getting a tag that will give legal protection to the artisans who are known for its craftsmanship.

The Thanjavur District Fine Arts Protection Society, facilitated by Intellectual Property Rights Attorneys Association (IPRAA), has filed a formal application before the GI Registry here.

Inheriting the skill of making from predecessors, only a few artisans have been chiselling the wooden instruments in Narasinghapettai, a nondescript village situated a few kilometres from the temple town of Kumbakonam. According to the artisans, it takes three days and three artisans to make one nagaswaram.

P. Sanjay Gandhi, president of IPRAA said, “Only a handful of artisans are involved in the production of the musical instruments. If this GI tag is granted to the Society, it will confer legal protection to the artisans and their products and prevent unauthorised use of the brand name by others.”

Evolved with time

The ancient instrument went through many changes, resulting in the creation of the present-day pari (long) nagaswaram, which replaced its predecessor, the ‘thimiri’, the short instrument producing a sharp and high pitch with a shruthi of three.

Nagaswaram, also known as ‘nadhaswaram’ is a double reed instrument with a conical bore, which gradually enlarges towards the end. The instrument is made of wood taken from old houses or ‘acha maram’ traditionally.

The instrument has five additional holes drilled at the bottom that are used as controllers. It has a range of two and a half octaves like the flute. The applicant said an inspection body comprising of experts and artisans would be formed to strictly regulate the quality and parameters of the pith works.