What is a Tabla?
The Indian tabla is really a two drum set. The cylindrical, wooden drum played with the right hand is called the dayan, dahina, or tabla. The metal drum is slightly bowl shaped, played with the left hand, and is called the bayan, duggi, or dagga.
The specialized goat-skin head of a tabla is called a puddi. The puddi has a main skin sandwiched between two donut-shaped skins. The three layers are intricately braided together by the collar called the gajara. Near the center of the head, is a multi-layered black spot called the syahi. The syahi is usually made of rice, glue, graphite, and iron fillings. It must not become damp or the layers will loosen. Once a syahi has been damaged the drum must be re-headed. At the bottom of the drum is the kundal, a ring made of coiled rawhide or wire. A tasma, or rawhide lace, holds the puddi tight to the drum. The tasma (rawhide lace) is woven over the gajara on the puddi (collar on the head), down the side of the drum, over the kundal (the ring at the bottom of the drum), and back up over the gajara. The tasma is woven through 16 slits found between the gajara and puddi and must exert an equal amount of pressure around the puddi. Once the puddi is tightly fitted, the drum can be tuned by inserting one or more tuning blocks, called gatta, between the tasma and the drum shell. These gatta are wooden dowels that can be adjusted to increase or decrease the tension on the puddi, which increase or decrease the tone of the drum.