Like the alapini, it would retain a certain prestige until the end of the 18th
century. Considered the mother of all vina, the virtues of the ekatantri
are extolled by Sanskrit authors writing on music (11th to 13th centuries A.D.). Due to
its playing technique, it was the ideal instrument for the alap, the
unmeasured, improvised prelude in which the melodic features of the raga are
demonstrated and systematically unfolded.
Described at length by Sarngadeva in his 13th century treatise Sangita-ratnakara, the alap would evolve through time to become the essential part of the raga.
Detail of a carving from the Pala era,