Silent Electric Shaman Drum of Evenki


Evenki is a people of eastern Siberia and north-eastern part of China. Living on reindeers that need to be grazed on fresh moss and grass in the forest, Evenkis lead nomadic life, changing their dwellings from time to time to seek their animals’ food. Like other minorities inhabiting the northern most fringes of Eurasian continent, they believe in shamanism…  That’s all I know about Evenki.

Shaman’s drum. Wood, leather, metal. Evenki. Late 19th century.
Shaman’s drum. Wood, leather, metal. Evenki. Late 19th century. Peter the Great’s Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkammer)

Evenki shaman uses a single head drum. Similar drums are also commonly seen not only among various ethnic groups of Siberia but also in Sami of northern Scandinavia, “Eskimos” and the Native Americans. I once saw, in a museum in Irkutsk, Russia, an instrument that resembled those  shaman drums, though I don’t even know if that was Evenki’s. Ever since, I had been fascinated by the shape of the drum– the egg-shaped rim with the strange protuberances around it.

Silent Electric Baidarka Tonkori
Silent Electric Baidarka Tonkori

I really wanted to have one for me. However, I was no shaman nor even close, so that it didn’t make sense that I would possess such a ritual instrument…. I was afraid that I might offend pious people. Nevertheless, I couldn’t stop being avaricious and somehow made up my own version of the shaman drum for myself.  Similarly, I would be worried when I later made a parody of another ethnic instrument–
Silent Electric Baidarka Tonkori” a light metal chimera of the baidarka kayak of Aleut and the tonkori of Ainu. I hope they will understand…

An awkward rhythm of poorly played percussion instrument is as bad as novice’s puke-inducing violin noise. In such a case, an electric instrument helps, thanks to its soft sound when unplugged… Oh, I’d like to add that if you plug this silent drum to an electric amp and put on a pair of headphones, the trans-inducing power of shaman drum dramatically increases for the sound throbs right in the middle of your head!

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