Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra

Music of the Desert

The Setting: An abandoned village in ruins – Kuldhara* in the desert outside Jaisalmer.

An old man sits alone guard. Maybe he see the mirage of memories attached to this location as he watches over this enigmatic place.

His presence is the only breath of life in this otherwise abandoned place. And besides the sound of the wind, his music on this novel instrument is the only sound one hears in this very lonely place.

The desert that we pass through in order to get to Kuldhara is mostly empty and devoid of life, but it does not feel lonely to be there. But here, in the midst of the ruins of this abandoned village the shroud of loneliness woven begins to get a grip on me. I can almost hear the faint whispers from the past and the dim shadows of the residents as I recreate the lives they must have lived a few hundred years ago.

The solitary presence of the old man – Sumerkaka –  affirms that shroud of wistful aloneness. He has his bagpipes that he plays whenever he feels like. No audience – just for himself.


Just as his presence – a sign of life – is antithetic to the lonesome spirit of that place, so is his cheerful music.

And his simple heartfelt performance for the lone traveler in the setting of Kuldhara is a million times more enchanting than performance of hyped-up names in big city theatres. Nothing to beat the original thing!

Sumerkaka is among the last players of this unique wind instrument. One more vanishing culture 😦

Video sent to me by the amazing Mr. Narayan whose own life story is legendary and the subject of another blog note!

[see note on Kuldhara here]


May 2015

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