Ancient instruments from India : the veena family

The word veena gathers several distinct instruments. It comes from sanskrit and originally means every stringed instruments. The most famous veena is a lute played by wisdom, knowledge and arts goddess Sarasvati,

but not only, even if the instrument is increasingly rare. Here is the sarasvati Veena in the hands of one of the best players, doctor Jayanthi Kumaresh.

The rudra veena, a bamboo stick zither with two big calabash resonators, is the most ancient known veena. Of rural origin, the instrument evolves in its facture to become an iconic instrument of hindoustani music.

The vichitra veena, an old instrument, very rare nowadays, is kind of a slide version of rudra veena. One of my favorite instruments, one day I’ll play it, one day…

The last one of veena family is a creation by Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt from an archtop modified guitar, inspired by hawaiian slide guitar and vichitra veena, “indianized” with sympathetic strings and drones, the mohan veena.

I work these days on some instrument prototypes inspired by veenas, especially vichitra veena, maybe I’ll add it here if they are effective!

About Nicolas Bras 16 Articles
Homemade Instrument maker, rare and strange instrument seeker / Bricoleur d'instruments, chercheur d'instruments rares


  1. Wonderful to see interest in the Indian Veenas of ALL kinds. I had a teakwood Rudra Veena made & the ‘usual’ tun wood one too in Kolkatta but delivered to my friend in Varanasi. Pics on my FB page.
    I’ve also had a Vichitra Veena made too, great thing. Are you having problems getting one?
    Nick AKA trippymonkey

    • I think it was me that originally uploaded the clip of Ajit Singh-Ji playing Vichitra Veena to U-tube. From my collection over many years from UK television.

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