INTRODUCTION + POETRY + MUSIC + ESSAYS + TRAVEL + FICTION + TEXTILE ART + HAAG'S BIO
The design for these drum covers is a tabla composition -- a Kaida in Tintal, the first composition I learned from Swapanji -- transposed into visual pattern. Each square in the central pattern represents a beat. There are sixteen beats to a line. The first two lines read:
This theme begins near the top of the baya (larger) cover and runs under the white lettering in the middle of the top -- which spells "Kaida" in the Devanagari of Sanskrit. On the two covers, there are seven variations and a tihai. Both are bordered with the Tintal (one square equals one beat) and Chautal (two squares equal one beat) thekas entwined:
Chautal: dha dha din ta | tete dha din ta | tete kata gadi gene
"Tabla" (which refers both to the small drum or the two drums together) is, perhaps, the most complex of all instruments to master. My motive in trying to play tabla was to begin to understand it more than I could by just listening. I had no idea that practicing would open an entirely new world for me. As Swapanji sometimes describes the study of tabla: "Tabla is like an enormous hall, in which there are an infinite number of rooms to explore. You can explore forever."
From my very first tabla lesson, and even before -- though I had trouble analyzing the rhythms -- I could "see" the patterns of the bols and visualize the designs of the words/strokes of the compositions. However, it was only as I worked on the design that I began to realize how much information must be encoded in each bol. Therefore, not only each color, the shade of each color, and the shape and design, but the direction of each stitch in these tabla covers are "coded". Still, much necessary information was left out. A long term goal is to design a visual syllabary of tabla strokes/bols, with each bol large enough -- about the size of the daya cover -- to encode the true intricacy of each stroke.
Even though I no longer practice the tabla, I wander every day in that vast hall, continually catching my breath at the vast and indescribable beauty of music -- both melody and rhythm -- which I have now, forever more, the privilege of improvising as visual designs.
The Sanskrit at the lower right on the left cover spells: "Swapan," that on the right cover: "Chaudhuri." The tabla covers were to be a present for Swapanji's fiftieth birthday in March, 1995, but it took eight months to complete them. So they were given to him on Diwali, the Indian New Year.
Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail:
II The Unicorn
III Green Pillow
VI Chinese Chair Pillow
VII Great Grandmother's Legacy
VIII Octagonal Beanbag
IX Flora and Fauna Beanbag
X Asian Diary #1, Kundalini
XI Asian Diary #2
XII Tibetan Yantra Beanbag
XIV Eye of Horus Amulet
XV Erika Sachet
THE FOLLOWING NEEDLEPOINTS ARE BASED ON THE RHYTHMS AND MELODY OF
NORTH INDIAN CLASSICAL MUSIC
IXX Tintal Coin Purse
XX Kaida, Tabla Covers
XXI Tukra, Tabla Covers
XXIII The Ten Thats