Text Box: Toka ( The Bamboo Slapstick)  & Dhutong

Class : Idiophone


Toka is played Clappin g two halves together . To play Dhutong a bamboo stick is used, the strings and the body of the Dhutong at different intervals to produce desired notes

              Toka is a simple musical instrument made of Bamboo. There are three types of Toka’s used in Assamese Folk music – and each type is slightly different in construction. The different types of Tokas are

1.  Pati Toka or Haat Toka ( The Hand Toka)

2.  Bor Toka or Maati Toka ( The Ground Toka)

         3. Jeng Toka or Dhutong ( The Stringed Toka)

                       Paati Toka or Haat Toka ( The Hand Toka) : This is the simplest type of Toka, length of which is between 1.5 to 2 feet. This Toka can be played easily holding it in hands, and so named as Hand toka. A matured  bamboo slender (internode) between two joints (nodes) is selected for making the Toka. The slender is first smoothed out with a knife and then split from one end leaving the other joint intact. Then both parts are thinned from the intact end (about six inches)  to make the splits  flexible. The Toka is played by holding one part with one hand and hitting it with the other split part.

Bor Toka or Maati Toka ( The Ground Toka) : This is Toka is similar to hand Toka but considerably larger in size. Three slender or internodes (or four joints or nodes) of Bamboo are used to make this Toka. Because of its size, it is rested on the ground while playing.

 Jeng Toka or Dhutong ( The Stringed Toka) :  Dhutong ( known as  Jeng Toka is some parts of Assam ) is relatively complex  in construction and the notes produced are also of higher in musical quality.  Even then, the name of Dhutong is common in Bihu , particularly the Lohori songs

        ‘ Hero  xomoniya  ( Come on fellows)

        Khelo aami lohoriya (Lets play the ‘ lohori’)

        Phutukola mridong , bojaide Dhutong  (My drum is made of a stem of  bush, please   play the Dhutong)

        Nach oi nach oi logoriya’ (Lets dance my buddies)

 From a Slender (Internode) of a matured bamboo, two strings are cut out, and the ends of the strings are tied with cane wire, two bamboo inserts are placed under the strings on both ends to adjust the tension. Now the strings and body are hit with a stick to produce different sounds. The strings can be pressed with fingers to produce complex notes. 

                           Apart from above mentioned three types , some tribes in Assam are known to use Toka made of thirteen slender of bamboo ( fourteen joints) and played by a group of performers together.

 It is generally thought that Toka is used only in Bihu, but because of its simple construction and ease of use, the toka found its place in the hands of the ‘ Muga Rokhiya’ s ( Assamese silk worm keepers) and ‘ Dhan rakhiya ( Paddy field keepers) .The main instrument of Gabharu Bihu is this toka, for which , this Bihu is also know as ‘ Toka Bihu’ Similarly the main instruments used in jeng bihu are toka, gogona(গগণা) and Xutuli ( সুতুলি)


                       Toka ( Assamese টকা) , is a very  popular and easily available musical instrument used in Assamese folk Music. Toka is made of Bamboo, and bamboo being the most common produce of the forests of Assam, it is used abundantly by Assamese folk musicians. The primary beat of Bihu music was kept by clapping hands, which finally led to development of instruments like toka. Toka is one of the eight musical instruments used in Bihu. The toka used by Bodo tribe of Assam is known as ‘ Thorka

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