Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala


Nanthuni, a stringed instrument, is unique to Kerala. It is also referred to as nanduni, nanthunni. It is a musical instrument used in `Kalamezhuthu pattu’.  About 4 feet in length and ¼ feet in breadth, little strings are fixed to a hard plank of wood. One end of the string is fixed to castanets on the wooden plank. When hit on the strings softly with a twig, a sound is produced.

Nanthuni has been popular in Kerala since ancient times. In Kerala when floors are decorated with figures of deities in powders of various colour (Kalamezhuthu) and songs sung to propitiate Gods and Goddesses like Bhadrakali, Ayyapan, Vettakorumakan, etc., nanthuni is played.

The ‘Yazh’ mentioned in ‘Chilapatikaram’ is the oldest form of Nanthuni. There were different types of Yazhs-seven stringed ‘chenkotti yazh, fourteen-stringed ‘sakadho yazh’, nineteen-stringed ‘makarayazh’, twenty one-stringed ‘periyazh’. We do not find them in Tamilnadu today.

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