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Ceremonial drums are used in a ritual context by indigenous peoples around the world, often accompanied by singing or chanting.
In the circumpolar regions the drums have been classified by traits such as the knob, frame design, size, membrane motifs, ornaments, etc. There are therefore two main groups of drums: those with internal and those with external knobs. Drums with internal knobs are found amongst the Tjuktjer in Asia and among North American Inuit. Drums with external knobs are more widespread and are divided into four types:
- West Siberian: (Khant, Mansi, Nenets)
- South Siberian: (groups living above and in the mid regions of the Yenisei River). This type has many variations (Sajano-Yeniseic, Sjoric, Altaic)
- Mid Siberian: This type has two variants, Evenki-Yakutic and Nganasans-Entsic.
- Middle East: (Nanayians, Udegeyians, Ulchians, Nivkhians, Ainu, Evenkians, Buryatsians, Yukagirians, Dolganians, Orochs, Orokians, Negidalians and Zabaykalska Evenkians, that is Evenkians from the region far Lake Baikal, where two types are characteristic: Amursic and Zabaykalic)
The historical Saami drum, sometimes termed rune drum, belonged to the South Siberian kind, Sajano-Yeniseic subtype. (Those are, however, very similar to the Sjoric subtypes.) The Sami word for drum is 'kannus', 'kobdas' and the Altaic term is 'komus'. The Sami drum-stick term is 'arpa'; the Altaic term is 'orba'.
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