Gumate(gumaTe) (ಗುಮಟೆ) and Gumate Pangu (gumaTe pAngu) (ಗುಮಟೆ ಪಾಂಗು) are variants of a musical instrument which provide the back ground score for a folk dance practiced mainly by the ‘hAlakki okkaliga’ community of the North Canara district in Karnataka. Some other communities that are conversant with this art are Mukri, Kumarapant, Namadhari and Ambiga are the important communities that are familiar with this dance. In the South Canara district, this art is present among the tribal community of kuDubi. This art is purely entertaining, with no ritualistic or religious connotations.

Gumate is about thirty inches long and it is essentially in the shape of a jug. It is open on both the sides and the larger opening is covered with the skin of  animals,  ‘cApa’ (uDa)(Iguana) or Forest sheep. The smaller opening at the end is left just like that. This instrument is played in the company of ‘jamate’ (jAgaTe) and kamsALe (bronze cymbals) Gumate Pangu is just about 18 inches long and other wise it is similar to Gumate. They are hung from the neck with the help of ropes.

Gumate performances take place during the harvest season and other festive occasions including hOLi.

Gumate troupes perform their art during the nights of summer in the residences of village dwellers having gone there on invitation. The group consists of about four to five artists. The main singer plays on the instruments also. Others imitate his songs. The rhythm and pace of the instruments vary depending on the song.

Some other troupes have six artists and five of them stand in a circle and beat the Gumates. The sixth one wears anklets and dances to the tune of the instruments. Very rarely they wear special costumes. Once in a while the songs narrate a story (historical or mythological) and the performance acquires a theatrical dimension. Usually they render some thirty different songs praising different gods and goddesses. Now days they select songs with social and political themes also.



Further Readings and Links:

1.  (A Gumatepak troupe. Courtesy Kamat’s potpouri)


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