Traditional drum makers need helping hand | Daily News


Traditional drum makers need helping hand

Nandasena with some of his products
Nandasena with some of his products

The traditional drum production industry could survive if authorities take measures to offer a new life to the industry, a traditional drum maker says.

The art of drum production survives only in a few areas today. There are four or five drum-making villages in our country where the manufacturers of drums have been practising for generations.

This is the story of M.G. Nandasena Muthunayake (68) of Hiddana, Gokarella, who makes drums as his livelihood. He has been making various kinds of drums for nearly 42 years. He manufactures geta bera, davul bera, tammattam, raban, magul bera, devol bera and udekki at his traditional factory.

Nandasena says drum production is not as profitable as it used to be due to the difficulty in obtaining tree trunks for making drums. “Jack tree timber which is used to make good quality drums such as magul bera is expensive,” Nandasena said. “It also takes time to procure timber as it requires a permit which is a long-drawn-out process. The price of cowhides and goat hides required for drum-making too is very high.”

He said the lathe machine which he uses to shape tree trunks is an old-fashioned instrument made by him, which is operated by a hand tractor. “If I have an electric motor, the work will be quick and easy,” Nandasena said. “With the meagre profit I earn, I cannot afford for machinery to develop the industry.”

He says he is faced with great difficulties in selling his products at a reasonable price. He added that used low-quality drums are brought to him by school teachers for repairs. “Although I have requested the education authorities to take action to purchase best quality drums for schools from me, I have not received any response so far,” Nandasena said. “I am registered as a drum-maker in the National Crafts Council too.”

He said the new generation is reluctant to join this industry as it is not attractive or lucrative.

He added that if the new Government could make it a profitable industry, find the market for the products and ensure their job security, the new generation too would join the industry.


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