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Photographs and information by Venkatesh Lakshmanan © 2013 taken in Kunda Kotagiri village on the occasion of Shivaratri (19 March 2013). This is the main annual festival celebrated by the Kota community. More >>


  • Drum membranes are heated at the fire for tuning
  • Adjusting the reed of the kol pipe (shawn)
  • Kota men performing a traditional dance witnessed by women
  • Kota women perform a traditional dance known as Gummi Attam
  • Kota children are having fun

The traditional music instruments used by the Kota are still made by members of their own community. A double-reed pipe or shawn is known as Kota kol. It has a conical bore, six equidistant finger holes, a flaring wooden bell, and is made of dark wood. The holes may be adjusted with wax for fine tuning. Players use circular breathing which involves the drawing of air the nose while expelling air from the cheeks into the instrument. This enables them to produce a continuous melody.


For an in-depth study of Kota culture and music, refer to Richard K. Wolf’s award-winning study, The Black Cow’s Footprint: Time, Space, and Music in the Lives of the Kotas of South India. More >>