37 Nagra Drums

37 • A Pair of Nagra Drums

India, mid-19th century
66 cm and 49 cm wide
Iron, camel skin

Found in various shapes and sizes throughout the Middle East and Islamic worlds, nagara (or naqqara) drums have been played since the Middle Ages. They are always played in pairs, tuned to different pitches, and often performed during religious or military ceremonies. They are sometimes considered a symbol of royalty, particularly when paired with trumpets.

37 Nagra Drums illustration
Dancing girls and musicians – playing instruments including trumpets and three pairs of nagara drums – entertain at the marriage of Ragi Muhammad Khan, 1561. Watercolour, Pakistan and India, 1590–95. © Victoria & Albert Museum, London