From Forest to Home: Different ways of Constructing a Shaman's Drum

There are various opinions about the correct construction of a shaman's drum. If the task is to become a real shaman the approach is one, if just to have fun another. Accordingly, the technologies of drum creation also change. The technologies offered here are several variants, depending on the possibilities and seriousness of intentions.
Rounded pieces of wood to create a shamanic drum
Traditional authentic technology:
In the forest, we find the right tree, cut it down, and carve a board out of it. After that, we soak it in a stream for a week to make the wood more flexible, and bend it around a thick tree, periodically heating the workpiece over a fire, or burning the inner side with a red-hot iron. After the workpiece is bent into a ring, it is necessary to overlap the edges, and burn a few holes with a red-hot nail, through which the edges of the rim are sewn with leather lace or wire. This method is very labor-intensive and long, and not everyone can cope with it. And in general, in modern technological conditions, is an exercise in authentic ethno-cultural technologies. Entertainment for fans of historical reconstruction.

Here are some modern methods, arranged in descending order of quality, costs and seriousness of approach.

The most correct drum will turn out if it is made of thick sawn veneer, 4-5 mm thick. Such veneer is steamed in hot water in a bathtub, bent around some round object and dried. After - glued in 2-3 layers, using, as a mandrel, the same round object. For example, an iron barrel. Or, specially glued from plywood, a stack, a dummy. The diameter of the mandrel corresponds to the diameter of the rim. When the glue dries, it is necessary to level the plane of the membrane of the drum by rubbing it on a sheet of coarse sandpaper spread out on a flat table.

After leveling, the rim edges should be rounded, sanded, painted and varnished. A simpler option is to replace thick veneer with thin veneer. Then you can do without steaming and glue the rim at once. But you will have to make more layers to achieve a thickness of about 1 cm. This is slightly worse than the first option, but also gives the opportunity to create a strong and elastic rim.

The next step is a rim made of two layers of three-layer plywood. Saw the plywood across the fiber into two strips, bend them into a ring, and glue, placing the joints on opposite sides of the circle. After the glue dries, the joints can be reinforced with overlays made of the same plywood. Subsequent processing - as mentioned above.
This method is for those who do not like to mess around. Well, and for manufacturers of souvenirs with low production costs.

Next up, just the best of the best. Let's start with the skin for a drum.

white shamanic drum
For the membrane of the drum it is best to use the skin or hide of a goat. To find freshly stripped goatskin, I think, is not difficult to do where there are goat herds in the pasture.

Next, follow the recommendations:

1. Salting.
Fresh skin should be salted, preferably immediately after removal. The skin is spread out on a flat surface, evenly sprinkled with salt, approximately 1 kg per skin, and rubbed so that the entire surface is covered with a thin layer of salt. You can leave it lying like that, covered with a film, so that it does not dry out, or, roll it up in an envelope, wool outside, and pack it in 2-3 strong bags. In this form, and in a cold place, the skin can wait for processing for up to a year. And if frozen in the freezer, then as long as necessary. Salting is done to prevent rotting and preserve the wool. Therefore, it is better to do it at once, if there is a plan to make a drum with a fur membrane.

2. Processing can be started three days after salting.

Avoid contact of the wet hide with iron. Rust eats away at the skin like concentrated acid.

3. Washing.
The fur should be washed from salt, preferably in warm water, and then washed using neutral detergents, for example, cheap liquid dishwashing detergent. Powders and strong detergents should not be used, so as not to spoil the fur and skin.

4. Wringing.
After washing - rinse until the water is clear, hang the skin to drain the water, and squeeze, wrapped in a cloth, such as an old sheet. The less water left in the hide, the faster it will dry.

5. Stretching.
Spread the skin, fur down, on a sheet of thick plywood (12-20 mm), and evenly stretch, nailing. Nails should be taken of medium size.

The principle is as follows: first the nails are hammered in at an interval of 15-20 cm, the next circle is hammered in the middle between the already hammered nails, but with tension. And so on, until the interval between the nails is 1-2 cm.

6. Scraping.
You need a metal scraper with rounded edges, slightly sharpened on one side, or a rounded knife. Carefully scrape the skin over the entire surface, so that nothing unnecessary is left on it, only clean skin.

7. Drying.
Put the shield with the hide vertically, in a well-ventilated place. If there is no ventilation in the room, you can put a fan directed past the skin to create air movement. If drying outdoors - in the shade. Abrupt drying in the sun, or near heating devices, can tear the skin. Duration of drying - 1-3 days. Faster - it is not worth it, it is dangerous, it may tear, longer - the wool may begin to rot. When the hide is dry - cut it along the nails with a paring knife.

8 Marking.
Lay the dried hide on the table, fur side down, and place the rim on top. Find the best place for the rim, and trace it with a pencil. Now you can remove the rim, and continue marking. Add the width of the rim to the circle, and draw another circle. Add another 5-6 cm for the curl, and draw a third circle. This will be the edge of the workpiece. You can take scissors and cut out the blank. (Cut carefully, the rest of the cutting will go to make a cord) Then, away from the edge of 15mm, draw three more circles, at an interval of 10 mm. These lines will be used to punch holes. With the help of a circular, on the middle line to make a breakdown, with an interval of 3-5 cm. Then, along the two remaining lines, make marks between the marks on the center line. Try to make sure that the markings are at equal intervals.

9. Scraping off the wool.
Turn the workpiece upside down and scrape off the wool from the edge, 6-8 cm wide. This is the edge of the membrane, which will be pulled down. The wool is not needed there. If the goal is to make the membrane smooth, without wool, it is time to scrape the whole membrane. It is necessary to ensure that when scraping, no foreign objects or debris fall under the workpiece. Otherwise, it is easy to pierce a hole in the skin. It goes without saying that scraping should be done on a flat and smooth surface. For scraping, the same scraper is used as before, but sharpened to razor sharpness.

10. Holes.
Turn the workpiece back, face down, and, with the help of a skin punch, 3-4 mm in size, according to the markings, punch holes.

11. Now you can soak the workpiece in warm water, and do the laces.

12. Need even laces, without defects, the remains of the cutting and scrape them from the wool. Cut with scissors into ribbons 10-15 mm wide, and soak together with the skin. After the laces are soaked, they should be taken out of the water, squeezed and pulled out. After pulling, trim the width of the lace with scissors so that it is approximately the same width.

13. Assembling.
Spread the skin (membrane workpiece) on a flat clean table, fur side down, and stitch with a large needle, with the inserted lace. First - on the middle row of holes. Again spread out the already stitched skin. Orienting on the pencil circle, put the rim on the skin, and pull the lace. If everything is calculated correctly, the edge of the skin, after the tie, will be on the back side of the membrane. The edge of the tie should be 3-5 cm inside the rim. Next - fix the tightened lace with a knot, and stitch again, through the same holes, but in the opposite direction. Having finished the circle, also fix the tightened lace with a knot.

The lace should really be STRONGLY stretched. This is one of the Great Secrets of making a good drum. A well-tensioned drum is much better able to withstand humidity fluctuations.

Tuck the free edge of the skin inside, with the third row of holes, and begin the third round of stitching, along the paired holes, pulling down the first and third row of holes. Having passed the circle, the lace, again, is fixed with a knot. And again we sew along the same holes, but again - in the opposite direction. If everything is done correctly, the result is a strongly stretched membrane, and two rows of ties, two laces each. This is noticeably better than the usual trick of tying on a single capron string. The strength, reliability and pulling power are beyond compare. After assembling, if the drum has fur, you should cut the fur on the membrane, by machine, or manually, with scissors. If there is a desire to make the membrane smooth, but with fur on the rim - scrape the membrane after complete drying of the drum.

14. Weaving of the cross.
It is necessary to put the freshly assembled drum membrane down on a flat surface and leave it for a day to dry the weave. After a day you can weave a cross, from the same leather lace. General recommendations are the same: the cross braid is woven with a uniform strong tension.

15. Drying.
After completion of weaving of the cross, the drum, in a suspended state, is left to dry for a few days, in a room with comfortable conditions and without additional drying devices. It is better to dry the drum in a natural way. It is allowed, if ventilation is difficult, to use a fan directed past the drum to create air movement.

16. Impregnation with turnip oil.
After drying, the drum membrane should be impregnated with turpentine oil. We put it on the table, membrane downwards, and pour 30-50 grams of turpentine oil on the inner side of the membrane, and thoroughly rub on the whole surface of the membrane. We leave it to absorb for several hours, after which we rub the remaining oil on the membrane once again, and thoroughly wipe off the oil that has not been absorbed with a rag. It is necessary to wipe dry, in 2-3 steps. The front side of the membrane, if it is without fur, does not need to be soaked for a long time, it is enough just to oil and wipe. The absorbency is much lower on the front side of the skin. Also, you can lubricate the skin on the rim and on the furring, but, in no case, do not allow the oil to get on the weave of the coupler and the cross. Likewise, you should avoid getting oil on the fur if the drum is furred. The oil will be absorbed by the fur and harden.

17. Finishing.
The drum is almost ready. It remains to adjust the handle and to make a dodger with artifacts, if there is a need for it.
Convenience of attributes - is important, because, for a successful shamanic journey, especially - at first, all irritating and distracting factors are very harmful. Therefore, we will do so that it was pleasant and comfortable.
If the cross is wooden, its size and shape should be made as comfortable as possible: neither thick nor thin, according to the hand. The surface of the wood, the part where the hand holds - sanded and polished. If the cross-bar is braided, made of skin lace, then its surface, of course, looks very textured, shamanistic. But, to the touch - like coarse-grained sandpaper. Therefore, in order not to wipe your palms in blood during 5 minutes of the ritual, it is better to wrap a soft material around the place of grip.
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