Text Box:  TOKARI

Class : Chordophone


             Playing Tokari is similar to playing o f a guitar, the strings are plucked with the Guti ( plectrum) and pressed to different parts of the Neck to produce notes.


Types of Tokari

                  Part from the Size and aesthetics, no significant differences are observed in Tokaris used all over Assam , however the sound varies with size.

                    The main body part is made of Mango or Sam( a local variety of tree)  wood. The makers believe that the branches from the west side of the tree are best for making Tokari. Differences of length are observed, in general the length of the Tokai is from 60 cm to 1 meter. One end is hollowed out and the  size is gradually reduced towards the other end. The big hollow is called the ‘Khola’ and the neck part is called ‘ Naal”. The other end of the Naal is the ‘ Head stock’ ,where the tuning pegs ( called Mahura) could be fitted. The neck part doesn’t have any frets in Tokari.


             The Tokari has four Strings, They are known as ‘ Ingola, Pingola, Chitra  and Shusunma.  Traditionally , Threads of Muga Fiber ( A traditional Assamese Silk) are used to make these strings, but now –a –days , people are seen venturing to metallic and plastic strings. The Hollow part is covered with the Skin of Monitor Lizard, and called the ‘ Saoni’. However, as  skin is no longer available easily and illegal too,  people have been trying suitable alternatives.  Sometime a few holes are made in the Saoni for better sound quality. The strings are attached to the Bottom of the Hollow ( Khola) and taken to the headstock  over the Body and Neck. The Strings are lifted from the Body by means of  an wooden bridge called  Ghora or Phoring.  The tension is the strings is adjusted with the Mohuras to tune the Tokari.



              Tokari is the Principal instrument that is played with a genre of folk music of Assam called ‘Tokari Geet’. Apart from that , Tokari is also accompanied in Deh Bisar Geet, Boiragi Geet, Phul Konwar Moni  Konwaror Geet,  Moniram  Dewanor Geet, Other Religious Songs , Jikir & Jari etc.


                            Tokari is and age old and very popular musical instrument of Assam and it has its mention in the works of Madhava Kandali, an eminent poet of Assamese language in the 14th century. In the Folk culture, The Tokari is linked with Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, and believed to be bought from the Mount Kailasha, abode of Lord Shiva. It is also stated in Tokari Geets and Malitas of Dhol, that the gods made and played  the Tokari themselves.


             In some Tokari Geets, a type of Semi religious folk songs, divine qualities are imparted to the  different parts of the Tokari, such as, the main body part is ‘Prakriti (Nature), the hollow is ‘ Dharma’ , the cover is ‘ Maya’, the nails on the side are ‘Courtesans’ , the plectrum is ‘ Goddess Laxmi ‘ and the sole purpose of all of them is to worship and serve the ‘Purusha’- or the God himself.

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1. Oxomor Badyajontro – Sri Dharmeswar Duwara- Bani Mandir

2. Badya Abhgyan– Dr. Debajit Saikia, Axon\m Naam Xamaroh Udjapon Xamiti—Sri Sri Auniati Xatra

Image from internet

Dwijen Gogoi – Serekapar – Sibsagar

Badan Moliya – Moliya Gaon – Jorhat

             The plectrum used to play Tokari is either a piece of horn of a  Deer/ Goat, or, a conical shaped piece of Bamboo. This is called ‘Guti’ .


             The Upper part of the headstock is generally formed to a shape of birds and animals, to enhance the aesthetics .

Parts of Tokari

Folk Artist Badan  Moliya  with his 5  string Tokari