Hand Painted Indigenous Water Drums

Hand Painted Indigenous Water Drums


Indigenous cultures intertwine drumming, singing and dancing into their societies’ political and social fabric. To unfamiliar ears, native drumming and singing might sound similar, however, these musical expressions are as varied as are Italian, Irish and Russian folk music.

Each community used uniquely local materials to construct their drums, rattles and other sound-producing instruments. The people also keenly understood their environment’s soundscape, so an important consideration when making a drum was to replicate natural sounds.

These drums are Colombian but other examples with similar technique and craft are the nations Ojibwe and Iroquois (Haudenosaunee), who traditionally use water drums in some of their ceremonial practices. These people often hollowed out logs to craft their water drums and in a publication dated 1634, a detailed description of the Wendat drum is presented. We thought you might like to read an excerpt. 

“ [the drum] . . . is composed of a circle three or four finger lengths in diameter and of two skins stretched tightly over it on both sides; in order to make more noise, they put inside it some little stones. The diameter of the largest 'tambourine rattle' is the size of two palms or thereabouts. They call it chichgouan, and the associated verb nipagahiman means, ‘I make this drum sound.’  They do not beat the drum as the Europeans do but they turn it and shake it, to make the stones rattle inside; they strike it on the ground, now on the side, now almost flat."

Our pieces are handmade and painted to carry the lineage in creation but the stories to be sung upon it are left for you and your family. 


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