Thursday, January 11, 8300
Kashmir - Development of the Shenai (c. 1300)
Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term "Kashmir" referred only to the valley lying between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal range; since then, it has been used for a larger area that today includes the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir consisting of the Kashmir valley, Jammu and Ladakh; the Pakistani-administered provinces of the Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir, and the Chinese-administered region Aksai Chin.
In the 14th century, Islam was the dominant religion in Kashmir. The Muslims and Hindus of Kashmir lived in relative harmony, since the Sufi-Islamic way of life that ordinary Muslims followed in Kashmir; complemented the Rishi tradition of Kashmiri Pandits. This led to a syncretic culture where Hindus and Muslims revered the same local saints and prayed at the same shrines.
Famous sufi saint Bulbul Shah was able to persuade the king of the time Rinchan Shah who was prince of Kashgar Ladakh, through his intellectual power to adopt Islamic way of life and the foundation of Sufiana composite culture was laid when Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists were co-existing in the atmosphere of love and brotherhood.
North India - Shahnai (Oboe)
The shehnai is an aerophonic instrument which is thought to bring good luck, and as a result, is widely used in North India for marriages and processions.
This tube-like instrument gradually widens towards the lower end. It usually has between six and nine holes. It employs two sets of double reeds, making it a quadruple reed woodwind. By controlling the breath, various tunes can be played on it.
The shehnai is believed to have originated in the Kashmir Valley, where people use the instrument in band-i-pather. The shehnai is thought to have been created by improving upon the pungi, a woodwind folk instrument used primarily for snake charming.
There are varying legends of the shehnai's origin. In one of these, a Shah initially banned the playing of the pungi in his court due to its shrill sound. A barber, belonging to a family of musicians, improved on it and created the shehnai. As it was played in the Shah's court and giving due reference to the 'nai' or barber, the new instrument was called "shehnai."
In other variants of the legend, the shehnai was:
named after a shehnai player called Saina
derived from "sheh" (breath) and "nai" (flute)
derived from the combination of the Persian words "shah" (king), and "nai" (flute) to give the meaning "the king's flute."
Another theory of the origin of the shehnai is that the name is a modification of the word "sur-nal". The word nal/nali/nad is used in many Indian langauges to mean pipe or reed. The word "sur" means musical note or simply music, and is used as a prefix to the names of many Indian instruments. The "sur-nal" is said to have given its name to the "surna/zurna" which is the name by which the reed-pipe is known throughout the Middle East and eastern Europe.
[8300 Machaut / 8300 Kashmir Shenai Oboe / 8300 Gabon]