HandPans, and not the type you might fry an egg in or boil some beans, are a family of instruments descended from the Steel Pans of Trinidad and Tobago. With the most well-known example of a Handpan being the ‘Hang’, more commonly known as a ‘Hang drum’, despite the fact that the Hang and HandPans in general are not drums, but instruments of the Idiophone class.
A true twenty-first century musical breakthrough HandPans look in appearance to be a convex steel pan, welded onto a base to form a UFO shaped disc-like instrument. Played with the hands and held upon the lap or a stand HandPans (and especially the Hang) are (at the time of writing) highly sought after, due primarily to the viral nature of their promotion via online video sharing sites and social networks, combined with their (currently) limited availability.
In addition to the Swiss made Hang produced by PANArt, the ‘Caisa’, the ‘Halo’, ‘BellART Bells’, ‘Bali Steel Pans’, and ‘Spacedrum’, also fall within the newly formed HandPans family of instruments. And due to demand far outweighing supply (at time of writing) it is rare to be able to purchase a HandPan for under one thousand dollars, with secondhand Hang frequently selling on eBay for in excess of six thousand.
Closely related to and inspired by the Hang and Handpans are ‘Hank’ drums (also knowns as ‘Steel tongue drums’ and ‘Tank’ drums). Although the Hank drum themselves are not technically HandPans, but are instead instruments of the ‘Metallophone’ class.