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Making of the Dotara

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Video recorded on November 16, 2017, in Nadia, West Bengal


Sankar Bal, a versatile dotara maker from Nadia shows us step by step the process of making the instrument. The wood is chopped into shape at the primary stage. Then the lower part is hollowed neatly because the sweetness of the sound depends mostly upon the shaving off of wood in the lower portion. Then a peacock or common bird design is made on the upper extension. Goat skin and metal plate is placed over the lower and middle portion respectively. Again the thickness of the skin should be minimum for better tonal quality. Polishing and attaching the strings from the lower tail piece to the ears on top is the last thing to be done.


For making a Dotara the following items are required:

  • Wood
  • Steel/Sunmica plate for fingerboard
  • Leather (typically, stretched  goat skin)
  • Strings (gut/cotton/nylon/steel/raw silk or bronze)
  • Saraswati or tailpiece (metal in modern designs)
  • Wooden main bridge
  • Knobs/Ears/pegs (typically made with wood)
  • Polishing Materials