is the most common instrument used in Andhra for announcing
or publicizing any event. From selling pulses, calling village
Panchayats, celebrating rituals and festivals, to processions
all events are accompanied by dappu. It is also an accompanying
instrument for many folk performing arts, especially the
The dappu is the simplest of traditional percussion
instruments. It contains a round, wooden frame made of either
udisa or vepa planks with 6" to 8" radius. To one end of
this frame is tightly tied skin of a young he-buffalo, a
lamb or goat. The preparation of the leather to be used
in the making of the dappu is by itself an art, as in case
of preparing the skin for making puppets. The "dhup" must
have got its name from the sound it gives.
The drummer uses two small sticks to beat the dappu
for varying types of sounds. The round stick held in right
hand is about 9" long (called sirre), and is the main striking
tool. The other stick (called sitikena - chitikena - pulla)
is thin and is a little longer. The drummer controls the
sound by placing his left palm on the upper edge of the
frame and uses the stick with the left hand to control the
rhythm using different types of "beating styles" called
As a dance form dappu has developed its own style.
In almost all the castes of the working classes, dappu dance,
along with karra samu, is a constant feature. The dancers
stop at village centers and show their expertise both in
drumming and in dance. They wear a tala-paga (a head-turban),
a dhoti, a dhatti and ankle bells as their costume.
Styles The dancers usually move in circular patterns
while on stage and in two straight rows while in procession.
The styles differ according to the steps or movements of
foot called 'adugu'. The styles include steps with side-long
moves (ata dappu), two steps, one forward and one backward
(okka sira dappu), moving side ways with right leap (samidika
dappu), two leaps upwards (madil dappu), moving with one
legside-way and the other in a circular way (gundam dappu)
etc. Each dance performance starts with a pradhana dappu
(invocation) during which the artists move slowly in a circular
Kolatam Two important innovations in the dappu dance
are the 'kolatam' dappu and songs accompanied by dappu.
In kolatam the dancers hold their own dappu under the arm
and strike each other's dappu singing a folk song - usually
of humorous nature. Some groups also perform acrobatic feats
like picking up coins thrown on the ground with their forehead,
while playing dappu standing on one leg.
One should see and hear the dappu dancers to believe the
different nuances that it can create. In spite of the existence
of several other types of drums, none can beat the thrill
that dappu can create in the minds and hearts of countless
villagers of Andhra even today.