Extinct Indian Musical Instruments

Hardcore music devotees will tell you that even in this electronic age, there is not even a single instrument to match the versatility of human body. We can produce aerophonic sound by using our lips, our vocal cord is a perfect chordophone and we can create idiophonic sounds by clapping hands, no wonder why the ancient people used human bones and skin to make music instruments.

India has a rich culture in music and it’s a birth place to many famous instruments. But with the influence of modern instruments, wide varieties of old instruments have gone silent and ended up in museums. Here we list some famous instruments which have disappeared or on the verge of extinction.


Rudra veena is considered as the mother of all stringed instruments. It reigned supreme two centuries ago but today there are hardly any Rudra veena players left in India. The instrument has a hollow tubular body made of wood or bamboo and strings which is meant to produce a music that is perhaps too subtle and refined for the modern age although it is famous for its meditative qualities.

Nagfani (serpentine horn)

Nagfani is made of brass tube with a serpent stylized head. It is commonly associated with the Sadhus or holy men because of the power harnessed by invoking the serpent which coil around the neck of Siva, Hindu god. Its name literally means “snake hood.” The beautiful instrument which was found around Gujrat and Rajasthan is now in the verge of extinction.


This peacock shaped stringed instrument was very popular in nineteenth century. The instrument is made of wood and metal which is attached with actual peacock bill and feathers. Peacock is said to be the vehicle of Saraswathi, godess of music. The instrument when played with a bow produces a resonant and mellow music. This instrument was nearly extinct, but it seems to have made recovery in the last few years.


Morchang is a nice and tiny rhythmic musical instrument made of wrought iron. The instrument consists of a metal ring and metal tongue on the middle. It has a special capacity to make many patterns of rhythm and sounds when played using the mouth and left hand. The instrument which was very popular among the Rajasthani folk singers is now very difficult to find.


The ancient popular instrument Yazh disappeared from India long ago. This stringed instrument which resembles a bow was considered to be the sweetest of instruments. It is described in some of the ancient literature works. The instrument is played with both the hands by tuning the strings to a particular scale. It was also called as “Vil Yazh.”


Pena is an ancient musical instrument of Manipur. It’s made of a slender Bamboo rod attached to a dry coconut shell which is made in the shape of a drum. A string made of horse tail is fastened from end of bamboo road over drum and is played with a rod. It is believed that Pena is the source and origin of all the tunes of various folk songs prevalent in Manipur.

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