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By "music craft," we mean the craftsmen who create musical instruments. This area is often neglected in the field of music. We honour musicians but we seldom honour craftsmen without whom there will be no instrumental players. Among the various acoustic instruments, those which face setbacks due to bulkiness, lack of performers, and patronage belong to the vina family, including sarasvati vina, tambur and chitra vina. End-users often resort to electronic, mass-produced, and profit-oriented vinas, which defy the naturally acoustic vinas. The popularity of these electronic versions is driven by reasons beyond music.


Indeed, the performers in the limelight do support their favorite craftsmen, and some businessmen also patronize craftsmen. However, the craftsmen rarely get what they really deserve. They not only suffer due to limited patronage but also because of a lack of education. The number of younger craftsmen is dwindling. Many who enter this profession end up becoming mere "assemblers" or middlemen. Craftsmen need to be supported so that this craft continues to improve.

Brhaddhvani has been committed to supporting vina craftsmen for over three decades. We have honored craftsmen like Palaniappa Achari (1918 to 2003) and Pakkirisami Achari. The life and contributions of Palaniappa Achari are well-documented in the book titled Lautenbau in Südindien: M. Palaniappan Achari und Seine Arbeit (Lute Making in South India: M. Palaniappan and His Work), a collaborative effort with the German instrument maker, Dr. Norbert Beyer, affiliated with the Museum für Volkerkunde in Berlin.


M. Palaniappan was a highly skilled master craftsman from Thanjavur who learned the art of vina making from a very young age. For nearly 25 years, he collaborated with the renowned Ramji & Co. in Lalgudi and Trichy, contributing to the marketing of his vinas. Today, the second-generation artisans, particularly his son Natarajan, are preserving and continuing this craft, having learned the art from his father since the age of 10.


To revive this fading art form and support these talented craftsmen, Brhaddhvani invited the family to Chennai, providing them with a dedicated workstation. Dr. Karaikudi S. Subramanian, who worked closely with M. Palaniappan, continues to collaborate with Nataraja Achaari in sustaining the vina-making tradition. With Dr. KSS' guidance, Natarajan Achaari has made significant improvements to the vina, having crafted over 3000 tamburas, 1500 vinas, and 60 portable vinas.


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Vina and tambur making at Brhaddhvani serves a dual-purpose. In addition to providing durable, high-quality vina and tamburs, we are committed to supporting craftsmanship. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused extensive deterioration in the already challenging livelihoods of craftsmen. We have created a safe environment for them to earn their living. The proceeds of vinas purchased from Brhaddhvani go entirely towards the welfare of craftsmen and other artisans involved in the labour. We are grateful to all those who connect with our cause.

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