Kartal Resources

Traditional Indian Hand Held Cymbal Percussion Instruments

The single wooden Kartal and double wooden khartal are traditional Indian hand held percussion instruments fashioned with pairs of metal disks. Kartal are very popular among Sikhs and frequently played with great enthusiasm as a rhythm instrument especially during group kirtan, an important part of Sikhism worship services.

Kartal, and other hand held cymbals, are played to keep time with harmonium, tabla, dilruba, or other vaja instruments, while singing sacred shabads. The Jhika stick has sets of cymbals along both sides, and is shaken to produce sound. Chhanae, or finger cymbals, also referred to as Manjira, or Zill, may be played with one, or both, hands to produce a rhythmic tinkling sound.

Due to Western influence and availability, non traditional instruments such as the round, and crescent, tambourine, and closely related jingle sticks, are becoming increasingly popular with Sikhs for use in kirtan.

Kartal Single Wooden Jingle Shaker

Single Hand Held Kartal
Single Hand Held Kartal. Photo © [S Khalsa]
Kartal is a single wooden shaker about 8 to 12 inches in length, about 2 to 3 inches in width and about an half to one inch or so thick. One, or two rows, of thin round metal zingle cymbals fashioned of brass, tin, nickle, or steel, are threaded onto a thin metal rod inset into a carved wooden frame. The zingles make a jingle sound similar to tambourine cymbals when the kartal is shaken, or held in one hand and rhythmically clapped against the other hand.

Khartal Double Wooden Hand Held Cymbal Clappers

Kartal Clapped Together Using Two Hands
Kartal Clapped Together Using Two Hands. Photo © [S Khalsa]

Khartal is a set of two wooden clappers. The double khartal are about 8 to 12 inches in length, about 2 to 3 inches in width, and about an inch or so thick. Thin round metal zingle cymbals are threaded on to a thin metal rod inset into a carved wooden frame. One of the double khartal is carved and sculptured to fit fingers, and the other khartal is carved and sculptured to fit the thumb, so that both may be played while using just one hand. The flattened center edge of both khartal are lined with metal strips, which protect the wood, and make a distinct sound when played by clapping the edges together.

Though the double khartal are designed to be played with just one hand, they are commonly played holding by one khartal in either hand and clapping them together with both hands, or by rapping one against the other. The double Khartal may also played individually by shaking, or clapping, just one against the hand. The zingle disks make a jingle sound similar to tambourine cymbals.

Jhika Stick Hand Held Cymbals

Double Sword Jhika Stick Cymbals
Double Sword Jhika Stick Cymbals. Photo © [S Khalsa]

The Jhika stick has 7 pairs of brass zingle disks on each side, making 14 sets of cymbals in all, mounted on an aluminum frame fixed to long thin piece of durable plastic with rounded ends for handles. The Jhika jingle stick can be played with one, or both hands.

In Sikhism, the Jhika stick may resemble a pair of swords hinged together and mounted with zingle disks. It is played by clapping the two sides together rhythmically.

Tambourine and Jingle Sticks

Steel Tamborine Kartaal
Steel Tamborine Kartaal. Photo © [S Khalsa]
The classic tambourine and is available in a variety of natural woods, plastics and other durable inorganic materials, and comes in all kinds of colors, sizes, styles, and shapes, including round, crescent half-moon, stars, animal shapes, and jingle sticks. Tambourines may have brass, nickle, or steel jingles. Some tambourines also have a drum head.

Chhannae (Zill) Finger Cymbal

Channae or Zill Finger Cymbal
Channae or Zill Finger Cymbal. Photo © [Courtesy Pricegrabber]
Chhannae, or Zills, are small, light weight, cymbals of steel, or brass, which can be played with thumb and finger. Chhannae, or finger cymbals, have loops, or elastic bands, to fasten them to onto the fingers, but may also be held with two hands and played by clapping them together to produce a rhythmic, tinkling sound.

Manjera (Manzira) Brass Hand Held Finger Cymbal With Connecting Cord

Manjira Finger Cymbal
Manjira Finger Cymbal. Photo © [Courtesy Pricegrabber]

Indian hand held cymbals, or Manjira (also phonetically spelled Majira, Manjera, Manzira, Majeera), are a kind of small heavy weight hand held cymbal, of brass, or bronze, connected by a cord, string, or leather tether. The Manjira may have a center dome, and are played using both hands to clap the cymbals together. The Manjira range in size and weight from 1 1/2 inches up to about 2 1/2 inches.

(Similar Tibetan meditation cymbals, or prayer chimes, called Timsha or, Tingsha or Dinghsha, are small heavy weight brass, or bronze, cymbals often engraved with Tibetan symbols.)

Manjeera Palm Size Brass Hand Held Indian Cymbal With Cord

Manjira Hand Held Cymbal
Manjira Palm Sized Hand Held Cymbal. Photo © [Courtesy Pricegrabber]
The Manjira palm size cymbal set is somewhat larger than the finger cymbal set, and has a deeper tone. The palm sized cymbals are attached by a tether, and played by clapping them together with both hands.

Tabla and Harmonium Resources

Harmonium, Tabla, and Kartal Finger Cymbals
Harmonium, Tabla, and Kartal Finger Cymbals. Photo © [S Khalsa]

Kartal of every style are used to accompany the harmonium and tabla during sing along style kirtan in both home programs the gurdwara.