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Updated: August 11, 2013 21:32 IST

Noted Kamaicha player Sakar Khan passes away

Mahim Pratap Singh
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Kamaycha player Sakar Khan
The Hindu Kamaycha player Sakar Khan

He was suffering from a respiratory illness for some time.

Renowned Rajasthani folk musician and Padma Shri awardee Sakar Khan, an exponent of the melodious bow and string instrument Kamaicha, passed away in Jaisalmer on Saturday.

Sakar Khan, resident of Hamira village of Jaisalmer, was suffering from a respiratory illness for some time.

He was buried in his village in the presence of his family and several other folk musicians from across Rajasthan.

Chief minister Ashok Gehlot expressed grief at the famous folk musician's demise.

“Fok music has suffered a great loss. Sakar Khan took the Kamaicha beyong state and national borders and contributed to the international fame of Rajasthani folk music,” said Mr. Gehlot.

Mr. Khan, belonging to the traditional Manganiyar folk musician community of Rajasthan, was honoured with the Padma Shri in April last year, besides being awarded the Tulsi Samman by the Madhya Pradesh government in 1990. He was also conferred the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1991.

Mr. Khan had performed with renowned American violinist Yehudi Menuhin and George Harrison of The Beatles, besides appearing in numerous international performances at major festivals in the US, France, Japan and USSR, among others.

His performances of Raga Bhairavi and Raga Kalyan on the Kamaicha have found place in the ethnomusicology archives of Smithsonian Folkways, the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution, the national museum of the United States.

Amarrass records, a folk record label known for producing live shows like “The Manganiyar Seduction” (held at Purana Qila in New Delhi), for which Mr. Khan used to play, expressed grief at the maestro's demise.

“To those who love traditional music for its own sake, Sakar Khan is to the kamaicha what Yehudi Menuhin is to the violin. To those who subscribe to the view that the origins of several musical traditions including the Flamenco, and later, the Blues, are to be found in the songs of the nomads who traveled to the West from Rajasthan many centuries ago, Sakar Khan’s music takes on a deeper meaning,” the Record label said on its website.

The Kamaicha, also known as the Kamancha and Kamancheh, is one of the oldest bowed instruments of the world and is found across the globe with several regional variations.

In Kashmir, it is known as saaz-i-kashmir and is often likened to the middle-eastern instrument Raba'ab.

It has a goat skin spherical sound box with three or four strings (made either with silk or metal) and 14 sympathetic metal strings, which are played with a bow to produce sweet, haunting melodies that are now synonymous with the desert landscape of Western Rajasthan the world over.

Mr. Khan learned to play the Kamaicha from his father Chunar Khan, considered a legend among the folk musicians of the state.

His sons Ghewar Khan and Dara Khan are also accomplished exponents of the instrument.

His last studio recorded album, “At Home: Sakar Khan” was released in September last year.

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