The Shaman’s Drum


The picture above is from an exhibition at the British Museum late last year. The drum is that of a sixteenth century Sami shaman, and is made of a birch bowl carved from one piece with a reindeer hide stretched over it. The paintings on it are thought to be a record of some of the journeys into the Otherworld made by the shaman.

The hair on the back of my neck stood on end when I walked into the exhibition. This drum had been sung to life and it was still singing in the glass case.


This picture is of one of my drums; it’s made of Alaskan birch, carved into a bowl out of one piece of wood and the skin is elk hide. Inside there are feathers, seeds, herbs and stones that rattle when you move the drum. It’s a mini replica of the Grandmother Drum, the immense cedar drum made for the Grandmother Drum project in Alaska(this drum is seven feet in diameter and sounds awesome) and is about fifteen inches across.

I first started using a drum to meditate with about 12 years ago and I would highly recommend it. Even if you don’t journey in the classic sense, the beat of a drum is very therapeutic. It calms you when you’re upset; it energises you when you’re low.

The drum is said to be the shaman’s horse, taking him/her to the Otherworld.

Where will mine take me today?

5 thoughts on “The Shaman’s Drum

    • You can use either; I have a beater that is soft leather wrapped around a drum stick, with some padding inside. The smaller versions of this drum can be also used as rattles or played by hand.
      I have a collection of drums; an Irish bodhran which was my first and a number of others, including one with a reindeer hide that plays best in the cold and is too tight and pingy for summer use. I made one small drum myself, and I’d like to make another one day but my skills are not great!
      I love just softly drumming to calm myself; might do so now. Just survived 3 hours of hard sell from a double glazing salesman we coulnd’t get rid of! I think I shall have a Morgan’s spiced rum instead cos next door might complain if I start drumming at 10.30 at night!!!


    • Our fault. We’re looking at double glazing but we’re finding it frustrating as they cannot give you the info you want and then go away.
      the call back today was taken by my daughter( I suspect pretending to be me!) who told them that “after due consideration we would not be wanting their services”. We went elephant stalking in Norwich!


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