The thavil is a percussion instrument originating from South India that is in a barrel shape. It mainly accompanies the nadaswaram in Indian folk and Indian Carnatic music. The thavil and nadaswaram together are very important parts of traditional ceremonies and festivals in Southern India.
The main structure of the thavil is a cylindrical shell that has been hollowed out from a solid wood block. Animal skin layers are stretched right across the open ends of the barrel shape using hemp hoops fixed in place.
The right side of a thavil has a larger diameter than the left. Also the right drum head is stretched tight, while the left is loose to allow for pitch bending.
The thavil can be played while sitting or hung by as strap around the shoulders of the player. The right hand, wrist and fingers are used to play the right head. Thumb caps made from a hardened glue made from maida flour are often worn on all the fingers of the right hand. The left head is played using a thick, short stick from a portia tree. For Indian folk music, a pair of longer, thinner sticks can be used.
Some left handed players can use opposite hands with some nadaswaram groups featuring both right and left handed players.