Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico, United States of America
Date: early 1900s
Materials: cottonwood, rawhide, pigment
This object is a drum that was crafted in a Pueblo community sometime around the beginning of the 20th century. The Pueblo people represent a long tradition of indigenous presence in the Southwestern area of the United States. This drum has strong resemblance to those built by the Cochiti Pueblo community in New Mexico, as pictured on their official seal. Similar drums can be found in the collections of other museums like the NMAI Smithsonian and the University of South Dakota National Music Museum.
Pueblo drums come in many shapes and sizes, from small hand drums to enormous floor drums. Pueblo drums are crafted by hand, giving each drum a unique form and sound. This double-headed drum is of a medium size and can be held by a rawhide cord handle near the top of the drum’s body. This drum is crafted from a hollowed log of soft wood, most likely cottonwood or aspen. Hide, typically from deer, bison, or cow, is processed into rawhide for the drumheads. The animal hide is soaked, stretched, and cut to fit tightly over the ends of the hollowed base. Holes are punched into the edges of the hide and rawhide cord connects the two heads. Pigments are often added to the body of the drum and the colors are symbolic, typically representing a force of nature.
The Southwest has a long-standing history of embracing the significance of rhythm. Song and dance, like the Cochiti Eagle Dance, are culturally monumental to the Pueblo community. The beat of the drum, which gives cadence to dancers, is symbolic of the heartbeat of Mother Earth. Drumbeats can be attributed to having healing powers, as they represent a unity between man and nature. Check out this video about Native American Drumming from the National Museum of the American Indian.
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