Topics: UF Special Collections (All Items) - University of Florida
The history of tabla is unclear, and there are multiple theories regarding its origins.   There are two groups of theories, one that traces its origins to Muslim and Moghul invaders of the Indian subcontinent, the other traces it to indigenous origins.  However carvings in Bhaje caves provide a concrete evidence of Indian origins of Tabla.  
The textual evidence for similar material and methods of construction as tabla comes from Sanskrit texts. The earliest discussion of tabla -like musical instrument building methods, including paste-patches, are found in the Hindu text Natyashastra .  The Natyashastra also discusses how to play these drums. The South Indian text Silappatikaram , likely composed in the early centuries of 1st millennium CE, describes thirty types of drums along with many stringed and other instruments, but none of those drums are named tabla. 
A type of small Indian drums, along with many other musical instruments, are also mentioned in Tibetan and Chinese memoirs written by Buddhist monks who visited the Indian subcontinent in the 1st millennium CE. The pushkala are called rdzogs pa (pronounced dzokpa) in Tibetan literature.  The pushkara drums are also mentioned in many ancient Jainism and Buddhism texts, such as Samavayasutra , Lalitavistara and Sutralamkara.