As musical instrument repairers, we do get a lot of interesting items pass our way.
This full restoration project of a very rare and beautiful Bhutanese lute, is no exception.
The Drangyen, which translates to “hear the melody”
(dra means “melody” and ngyen means “listen”)
An extremely important instrument for the Bhutanese people, this one in particular is a very old and priceless family heirloom of our customer’s.
The Drangyen instrument is an integral part of the Drukpa Buddhist culture, and is often used in religious festivals and to accompany amazing folk stories and dances. Some of which, have been passed down since earlier than before the 8th century, when Buddhism was brought to Bhutan.
The lute has its own origin myths too, and is steeped with many fantastic legends of deities and goddesses music.
The incredibly carved, sea serpent head scroll is used to ward off evil spirits, that might be drawn to the beautiful melodies when played.
Pictured on the body is possibly Yangchen Lhamo, the Goddess of Music, or the Guardian Deity of the East, (Sharchog Gyalpo)
Who would use the Drangyen to communicate. As to use his own voice would mean certain destruction for all those in the vicinity. On account of his voice being far too powerful.
My favourite story though, is the one that warns children not to play the Drangyen, through fear of braking the strings. I’m not surprised at all, as the strings would have originally been made from the bark of the Tsaki tree. Which I imagine is an extremely difficult and laborious process to render usable strings through.
A big thanks is needed to Sonam Dorji, of the Music of Bhutan Research Centre. For your guidance and wisdom with this project.
We have really enjoyed learning all about your truly wonderful culture, by restoring this amazing instrument.
If anyone else has any more Information, or a similar restoration project, please do let us know. We would be happy to hear from you 👍😊