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Tamang Indigenous Knowledge on Traditional folk Instrument Damphu


Tamang youth learning to play Damphu. Photos: Sangmo

Kathmandu, July 19, 2008- Ninth grader Bibek Gyapak-Tamang of Baneshwor, Kathmandu seemed very excited on Saturday because he was participating in the Nepali Folk Instrument Museum in Tripureshwor, Kathmandu. He was trying to learn the way of singing Tamang Selo along with a beats of Damphu, a traditional folk instrument of Tamang indigenous community.

"Since my childhood, I have a desire to play Damphu" he said explaining that his grandfather taught him how to play Damphu. After learning some hour to play Damphu, he confidently said," now I can play it very well."

Sanam Lama, who is waiting for her 12 grade result was also passionately playing a Damphu with a melodious Tamang Selo. “I was interested in Tamang Selo for many years but don't have a practical knowledge on Damphu", adding “today I learned many things about it."

Not only these two young people were participating at the museum, but many culture loving Tamangs gathered there to learn the skill of playing their traditional folk instrument, Damphu. They were trying to learn the history and the creator of 'Damphu' which is an identity of Tamangs.

The new generation has been ignoring the traditional folk instruments of their culture in the name of modernization. They have been greatly influenced by the western music.
  In this context, Tamang Lhaso Patrika ( Magazine) and Nepali Folk Instrument Museum had jointly organized the one day Damphu training program on Saturday with the objective to preserve the folk instruments of Tamang community and to make aware new generations about its importance.



A popular ancient folk instrument Damphu and an original rhythm of Tamang Selo have unique importance and influence among other Nepalese cultural folk music.

"There is a myth that Peing Dorje invented Damphu during an era of hunting" Researcher Rabindra Tamang said presenting an introductory paper on Damphu

"Peing Dorje used to play Damphu singing a Selo song while staying in the forest for animal husbandry where he saw a Daaphe (pheasant) dancing, in order to make his beloved happy. With this memory Peing Dorje placed a bird at the top of Damphu." Tamang explained, “But unfortunately, we don't find a bird perched at the top of Damphu nowadays.

In this way, Damphu, Tamang Selo song and dance has become an original identity of Tamang community."

Realizing the importance of protecting ancient folk instruments, 29 varieties of Tamang folk instruments were exhibited at the Folk Instrument Museum. Some of these instruments were Damphu, Madal, Tungna, Dhyangro, Piyong, Bhate, Kangling, Ghang-ghara and others.



Senior Tamang Folk Artist Chandra Kumar Dong was impressed after observing such a wide variety of traditional folk instruments of Tamang community. “It’s wonderful; our duty is to preserve it for the coming generation." he said, expressing his happiness.

Trainer Indraram Moktan and Pasang Moktan were busy teaching the method of playing Damphu and more than 40 participants were shaking their body to the beats of Damphu.

-Sangmo Yonjan-Tamang in Kathmandu

   
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