Damphu drum

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Performers using Damphu

Damphu, or Damfoo, Damphu is a percussion instrument instrument similar to a large tambourine. This instrument is used to play the melodious Tamang selo. The original maker named it after Nepal's national bird.


Many stories exist in the Tamang community about how the drum was first made and became an accompaniment to Tamba songs. According to custom the drum was invented by Peng Dorje a hunter who killed a particularly beautiful deer which deeply saddened his wife. She was always in tears so and Peng Dorje thought to cheer her up. He created the drum using the deer's beautiful skin. First, he bought a strip of wood and made a circle. Then he tightened the dried deerskin on one side of the circle, using 32 bamboo sticks. The circle created melodious sounds, trak dhin. He started to sing, remembering his ancestors and gods with the beat of that new-born instrument. The story goes that all creatures danced to it, as did his wife. A bird, the pheasant "Danphe", was also dancing to the melody. So Peng Dorje named the circle drum, "Damphu". It then became a part of the Tamang people's culture and lifestyle.


The damphu used generally in performances and celebrations is more like a bodhrán, a single-sided circular frame drum decorated with symbols or left plain. It can have a small drumstick or played just with the hands. The skin is tightened and held in place by 32 bamboo sticks. Sometimes it has a mobile metal bird attached representing the mythic eponymous bird. Its parts symbolize Buddha and Bodhisattvas. The 32 sticks symbolize the Buddha's 32 physical symbols (lakshanas).[1]

The Damphu is not to be confused with a similar drum, the dhyāngro having jingles, which is used exclusively in ritual by Nepali shamans. This kind is a double-sided disk-shaped drum topped with leather having a long wooden handle. This type is priestly in purpose and for ritual work only.


As a traditional folk instrument, the ancient Damphu is still popular. Along with the original rhythm of Tamang Selo music, it has an important influence in Nepalese culture. It is easy to learn and easy to play.[2][3] Tamba singers present Tamang historical and ritual songs with the damphu.


Tamang people use damphu in every event, such as weddings, funerals, special occasions, rituals and festivals where importantly, they express happiness, sadness, remember ancestors and tell their history through songs accompanied by the damphu.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

  • Tamang cultural Tamba Damphu song [1]
  • Tamang tamba song video showing bird ornament [2]