Slideshow | “Cadence and Counterpoint: Documenting Santal Musical Traditions” – A virtual exhibition on Google Cultural Institute


To view the actual slideshow, watch a video on Santal puppetry, listen to a rare 1914 recording and read the full story, click here >>

The Santals are known for their rich seren-enec, or song dance traditions. Music, dance, song and poetry are integral to Santal culture, intimately related to the seasons, festivals and rites of passage. It is said that amongst the Santals there is no woman who cannot dance or sing and no man who does not beat the drum 
or play the flute. In intonation pattern, rhythmic structure and metric frame, as well as in underlying aesthetic principles, Santal 
music displays very distinctive musical elements. The exhibition documents aspects of the tangible and intangible heritage of Santal music over time, including the remarkable sculpting skills embodied in the musical instruments of the tradition. […]

Musical knowledge is transmitted through a collective oral-aural, participative method, in which memory and tradition are the basic principles. Music skills are acquired by listening and repeating, by assimilating formulary materials, and by participation in a kind of communal retrospection. […]

The Santal are best known for their rich traditions of dance and music, especially 
the latter, which has influenced mainstream music in India. Their very distinct culture has attracted researchers, scholars, travellers and explorers into their midst, who have brought back Santal stories and objects.

Source: courtesy Dr. Ruchira Ghose (Co-Curator, New Delhi, 21 January 2016); for photo and other credits, please check the end of the slideshow here >>

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]


  • To download the full illustrated introduction by the National Museum New Delhi (PDF), click here >>
  • For more information, type “Santal music“, “Santhal puppetry” [spelling with “t” or “th”], “Chadar Badar” or similar search terms and names into the search window here: Google custom search – Indian press coverage of tribal culture and education >>
  • Do the same on the Safe Search website >>
  • Use the search field seen here for authors or titles dealing with these issues (e.g. “Ruchira Ghose”, “Santal music, “Santal puppetry”):
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