In the Carnatic music of south India, Ghatam is a percussion instrument. It is a traditional Indian instrument and is mentioned in the Ramayana. It is basically an earthenware pot and the artist uses his fingers, thumbs, palms and heels of the hands to strike the outer surface of the ghatam. Finger strokes are given at the neck, center and bottom of the outer surface. Ghumki, is an airy low pitch bass sound created by hitting the mouth of the pot with an open hand. Sometimes, the artist presses the mouth of the pot against their bare belly, which intensifies the tone of the bass stroke and is another way of producing `gumki` sound. Hitting different areas of the pot with different hands can produce different tones. It usually accompanies a mridangam.
The ghatam is the same shape of an ordinary Indian domestic clay pot but the pot must be good and the walls should be of even thickness to produce an even tone. The clay used for making the ghatam is mixed with iron fillings and baked. Ghatams are of two types: Madras and Manamadurai. The Madras ghatam is a light pot which requires less force to play while the Manamadurai ghatam is a heavy pot, which is difficult to play, and produces a sharp metallic ringing sound.
Some of the famous ghatam players are T.H. Vinayakram also called Vikku, Ghatam Giridhar Udupa and K. Venkataram, who is one of the oldest and most respected players in India.