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COLLECTION Identifier: AWM Spec Coll 106

Jayasinhji Jhala Collection of Dhrangadhra Music at Harvard University: Original Ethnographic Recordings, 1979-1981

Scope and Contents

This collection contains recordings and documentation mostly covering the music of the Gujarat province, particularly showcasing poetic recitations by female singers of Zenana courtly traditions. Of particular importance are the singers Alla Rakhi Bai Langha and Hemu Bai Mir, who are featured along with a handful of additional female singers. Much of the music comes from the dance tradition, bava anjha, and sung tradition, marasiya, which are part of a funerary ritual conducted for up to eight days after a person dies. There are two types of anjha performance. One is performed standing while the second is performed sitting. In the standing version, dancers move slowly while the Khvas maids intervene and speak/cry out. They cry, “Khva na havaj ghare padharo” (“Lord come home”), followed by, “Halvad na hakam ghare padharo” (“Lord of Halvad come home”), followed by “Adda goda nakho andata” (“Put your horse between oh giver of food”). During the seated version in the Zenana (court), performers wear head coverings and slowly perform the seated dance. The queens sit cross legged while facing each other. Performers sing and beat their breasts while banging their knees on the ground. This is called “taking the anjha.” During this ritual, the wives of the cadets and bhayat (members of the clan) sit watching with totally covered heads. Persons of all castes are present, and plain clothes may be worn. Other songs include those surrounding the Holi holiday period sung by day laborers in plain clothes who go through town receiving small amounts of money and grain for singing their songs. Another tradition represented is rasada, which are songs sung in the chowk courtyard in the evening, mostly during the time of Navratri in October and November and during the birthdays of other festive days, such as marriages and religious holidays.


  • Creation: 1979 - 1981


31 audiocassettes (Sound recordings (sound cassettes))
1 sound disc (shellac) (78 rpm)
2 folders (Folders containing notes and transcription of collection and related content.)

Biographical / Historical

Jayasinhji Jhala is descendent from the Jhala Rajput clan of western India, which connects him intimately with the cultural heritage materials represented in this collection, both personally and professionally as an anthropologist. In his anthropological work, he focuses mainly on Gujarati cinema and other visual arts. Dr. Jhala is currently Associate Professor of Anthropology at Temple University. He received his B.A. in English Literature in 1968 from St. Stephens College in Delhi, India, an M.V.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1983, and his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1991. He has produced, directed, filmed, and edited numerous ethnographic films on the cultures of India and the United States related to topics in visual anthropology. He is the author of articles in anthropology journals related to Gujarati and wider Hindu Indian culture and politics.

Physical Location

Harvard Repository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was deposited by Jayasinhji Jhala to the Harvard Music Library, Archive of World Music in October, 2010.

Content Description

Sound recordings made between 1979-1981 including music of the royal house of Dhrangadhra in the western Indian province of Gujarat. Includes spoken sections wherein the singers describe their lives and the songs they sing. The topics of the songs include songs for special events (such as coronations and deaths), songs associated with particular annual festivals, and songs associated with daily life of the female or Zenana Court. The collection also includes one 78 rpm shellac disc, written poetry/transcriptions, a high quality photograph of primary singers, Ala Rakhi Bai and Hemu Bai, and some other notes and documentation.

Processing Information

Processed by: Archive of World Music in consultation with Jayasinhji “Bapa” Jhala.

Jayasinhji Jhala Collection of Dhrangadhra Music at Harvard University: Original Ethnographic Recordings, 1979-1981
Archive of World Music, Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library Repository

The Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library is the primary repository of musical materials at Harvard. The Music Library’s collecting mission is to serve music teaching and research programs in the Music Department and throughout the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In addition, it supports the musical needs of the broader Harvard community as well as an international scholarly constituency. We collect books, musical scores, serial titles, sound recordings and video formats, microforms, and rare and archival materials that support research in a wide variety of musical disciplines including historical musicology, music theory, ethnomusicology, composition, and historically informed performance practice, as well as interdisciplinary areas related to music. The special collections include archival collections from the 19th, 20th and 21st century.

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