Himalayan Art Resources

Ritual Object: Drum

Drum | Ritual Objects Main Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Drum Description (below)
- Drums in Art
- Double-sided hand drum, oval shape (damaru)
- Double-sided hand drum, round shape and large (damaru)
- Double-sided drum, wood support staff, single curved stick
- Double-sided drum mounted in a wooden frame
- Wood Drums
- Ivory Drums
- Skull Drums
- Masterworks
- Confusions
- Others...

Hand Drum (Skt.: damaru): a double-sided drum made of wood played in the right hand by twisting the wrist and causing the two strikers to beat against the stretched drum skins usually made of hide or snake skin. The damaru is a common ritual object of India. In Tantric Buddhism the drum is often placed next to the two principal ritual objects, the vajra and bell. The dissipating sound of the drum represents emptiness. The drum is generally made of wood although ivory is popular with wealthy teachers and the nobility. Sometimes two human skullcaps are fashioned into a drum exclusively for wrathful Tantric practices. A large wooden version of the double-sided hand drum is used in the uniquely Tibetan Buddhist practice known as Cutting (Tib. Chod) popularized by the famous female Tantric practitioner Machig Labdron.

A larger drum is used in temple rituals and dance performances. This drum (Tibetan: nga) is held with the left hand by a long handle and a striker is wielded in the right hand. The large drum can also be fastened in a frame or suspended by rope from above.

Jeff Watt 12-2005