A Stunning Recreation of Ustad Enayat Khan's 1920s Surbahar
Updated: Oct 23
Wasim Salim Maner, proprietor of Mohammad Waseem Sitarmaker in Miraj, has crafted a faithful recreation of Ustad Enayat Khan's Kanailal & Brother surbahar.
Here we trace the history of the original instrument and document its recreation in the Mohammad Waseem workshop.
The instrument was made during the early decades of the 20th century in the Kanailal & Brother shop on Upper Chitpur Road in the Burrabazaar area of Kolkata under the direction of Enayat Khan. Wasim has named his recreation the Ustad Imrat Khan surbahar, after Enayat Khan's late son and our guru-ji, who played the instrument for many decades after his father's passing. It was, in fact, Ustad Imrat Khan who made this surbahar famous.
Here is a beautifully detailed early photograph of Imrat Khan playing the original instrument.
Enayat Khan died in 1936 at the age of 43, a year or two after Ustad Imrat Khan was born and about eight years after the birth of Imrat's brother, the legendary Ustad Vilayat Khan.
Because of his success as a performer, Enayat Khan's family had lived well, but difficult economic times followed his death. Bashiran Begum, Imrat and Vilayat Khan's mother, sold many of the family's possessions just to put food on the table. But the one possession she refused to part with was Enayat Khan's Kanailal & Brother surbahar.
Playing this instrument, Ustad Imrat Khan would become the most influential surbahar player of the 20th century. He is pictured playing it here in the late 1950s.
Ustad-ji is also pictured with the instrument here, together with Ustad Vilayat Khan on sitar and Shanta Prasad on tabla, in 1962.
And here, in 1966, on the cover of one of the most influential set of performances in the history of recorded music.
The instrument is also pictured on some of Ustad-ji's later album covers, including these from 1975. Note that a tar gahan has been added to the instrument -- clearly not present in the earlier photographs.
And here, from the same 1975 performance, with Kumar Bose.
This photograph of the instrument from a 1974 album cover is particularly striking.
And these are from a 1970s television broadcast.
Today, the instrument is in the possession of Imrat Khan's second son, Ustad Irshad Khan. Irshad is pictured with it here, in 2019.
We chronical Wasim's recreation of this spectacular instrument below.
Here is the structure "in the white," before any carving, polish, or fitting.
With the tracing for the relief carving added. Note the location of the tarab langot to be mounted behind the jawari, within the tabli.
With much of the tabli carving completed. Wasim is one of the best carvers in India.
The initial headstock carving.
With binding added, before any penwork.
With penwork added. Eyeballing this tabli, it appears to be smallish -- around 16.5 inches.
The completed headstock carving and six of the main pegs fitted.
The first application of polish.
Final cutting of the slots for the meru after the final applications of polish.
The meru installed.
The frets are tied and the instrument is strung before drilling and fitting of the tarab pegs.
Measuring the wire height.
Drilling of the tarab holes and installation of the tarab pegs.
The mostly-completed instrument. Note the location of the high chikari peg.
A beautiful recreation of an iconic instrument.
This surbahar is not part of The Registry's Collection, but we wish it were.