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Pungi, Bin, or Snake Charmer

A precursor to clarinets and bagpipes, the bin is a folk clarinet with a large gourd as a wind-chamber mouthpiece, often with one melody and one drone pipe. The reeds,which are identical to those found in the Egyptian midjweh, are made from a natural cane cut at a nodal point and inserted into the end of the pipe. The purpose of the gourd is to facilitate circular breathing to produce a continuous drone. The most common name for this instrument is pungi although it is often referred to as well as “bin”, which literally means “instrument".

Predominantly found in India and Pakistan, the pungi is used to charm cobra snakes. Cobras when threatened will raise part of their bodies off the ground and puff out their heads as a warning. Some people think that the cobra is attracted to the sound of the snake charmer, but snakes do not have ears. The pungi’s shape is similar to that of an erect cobra, and both the movement of the player and the shape of the instrument is more likely the reason for the snake’s behaviour.

Pungi can also be found in Malaysia.

Country: India
Region: Asia
Type: single reed 

Pungi or Bin - Indian snake charmer
©  R. Raine-Reusch, May 2002