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105. Drum

Among the shamanistic paraphernalia, independent of the costume, the most important is the drum. Drums, regardless of their form and details, are used for shamanistic performances as a musical instrument for keeping the rhythm, for self-excitement of the shaman, and for influencing and regulating the psychic state of the audience. As to the musical character of this instrument, I shall leave it for a further treatment, and shall now confine myself to a description of the form of drums.

Among the Transbaikalian Reindeer Tungus the drum is called nimyangk'i [which is nomen agendi from nimya (Bir. Nerc. RTM), nimngana (Ur. Castr.), — to shamanize, to perform, (vide infra)]. Among the Angara Tungus (Titov) it is n'amnanki (this transcription raises some doubts as well as ni'mnganki given by the same author for Nerc.). But this term is unknown in the Tungus dialects of Manchuria, where the following words are used: ungtuvun (Bir. Kum.), ungtuyun (Khin), also untuvun (Ur. Castr.), untun (Lam. Turn.) which should be connected with untun (Manchu Writ) — «the drum», never used in Manchu Sp. for «shaman's drum». The Birarchen also use other term — tungka, which is the Manchu tungken — «a drum in general». The Manchu Sp. term is jimchin-jemchin, corresp. Manchu Writ, imchi, imchin [cf. Goldi umchufu (Lopatin)]. Such a distribution of terms is very interesting for many a reason, both ethnographically and linguistically, especially when we compare the uniform distribution of the term for «drum-stick».

Among the Transbaikalian Tungus the drum is found to be of two forms, namely, a regular oval and an egg-like, the greatest length being between sixty-five and seventy centimetres. The rim, from six to eight centimetre wide, made of larch or birch wood, is covered on one side either with the skin of Cervus Elaphus, or with that of Alces Alces, so that the edges of the skin cover the rim and are fixed to its inside. The inside of the drum has a large ring placed approximately in the centre and held by thongs attached to the small rings fixed at the rim, so that they form a cross with a large ring in the middle. The thongs may be partly or totally replaced by the movable iron piece with the thongs attached to the small rings of the rim and with the large iron ring. This construction is used for holding the drum in the left hand (for right-handed persons). Instead of a ring, a cross about fifteen centimetres long can be used.

At the internal side of the rim there are two iron braces with eight flat iron disks, with a hole in the centre, attached as trinkets. They are called sekan, — the ear-ring. A variable number of conical trinkets may also be attached to the rim. Once, I saw four pairs, but there may be only two or eight pairs as well, but always by pairs. Other various placings and trinkets may be attached in the upper part of the drum on a special brace, e.g. I have observed a combination of a quadruped animal, a human face (bada), a bell and a conical trinket.

The external part, used for drumming, is covered with various designs, some of which I shall now describe as an illustration.

I. As a whole, the design represents dunda, the earth, as a firm part of the world; the shaman may use his drum as a canoe for crossing the sea. The design executed with double lines reproduces that found on the apron (vide supra). At a certain distance two lines corresponding to the actual form of the drum make a frame for the design, so that the internal lines are connected with the central design, while a double line runs near the border of the drum. Between the lower four pairs of lines eight lines connect the outer double lines. Two pairs of anthropomorphic images are placed on the left and right sides of the group of eight lines near to them. The part of the drum outside of the lines had in the upper section eight and at the lower part six pairs of anthropomorphic images. Between these two groups, on each side, the following animals are represented: the Alces Alces, the Cervus Elaphus, the roe-deer, the musk-deer, the cow, and the domesticated reindeer.

II. No design is placed in the middle of the drum. Between two lines there are two pairs of anthropomorphic images in the upper part and the same number in the lower part, and on both sides four animal images: Alces Alces, Cervus Elaphus, and two domesticated reindeer — a male and a female.

III. From a double lined circle in the middle eight double lines are brought to the border of the drum, representing right legs on which the Earth is standing in the sea.

In other drums I could see no definite designs, for they were worn out by the use of the instrument.

The usual colours used for the designs are graphite oxide of iron, colouring matter of the bark of some shrubs etc., which are common among these groups.

The drum-stick is giss (Barg. Nerc.). The term is interesting. We find in the same sense: g'ish (Ang. Tit.), g'isavun (Bir.), g'is'ivun (Khin. Kum.) (Neg. Sen.), gisivun (Mank.), g'es'il (Goldi, Lop.) gehun (Lam), jehun (Turn) g'ixun (Manchu Sp.), which, I think, should be connected with gisun (Manchu Writ.) — «the word, speech» [in Manchu Writ, gisun k'exe — «the drum stick»]. All Tungus say that the drum «is speaking» [584]. Among the Transbaikalian Tungus it represents a slightly bent wooden piece from three to four centimetres wide and from thirty to forty centimetres long, with a handle somewhat smoothed and rounded. The side used for drumming is covered with a piece of reindeer skin (with the hair). The opposite side is sometimes supplied with two or eight iron rings which act as trinkets.

Among the Nomad Tungus (Urulga, Barguzin and Mankova) the drum and stick are similar to the above described.

My information regarding the drum and drum stick among the Reindeer Tungus of Manchuria is confined to the statements of the old people. I have already pointed out that the costume was like that of the Yakuts. The same is true of the drum. The drum stick was always of wood and represented the head of an eagle, evidently borrowed from the Yakuts [585].

Among the Khingan Tungus the drum has a regular round form or slightly oval and egg-like. It is not so deep as that of the Transbaikalian Tungus, three or four centimetres only, and it is smaller in diameter. There may be no design, nor ornaments. The internal side is supplied with a large iron cross, every branch of which is attached to the rim with two thongs. In the upper part of the drum, on the left side, there is a small hole, — it is «the drum's ear». The skin used for the drum must be only that of a male roe-deer; skins of other animals are not used. There may be also designs about which I shall now give some details. I. A special construction — turu — is painted; it consists of two poles standing upright and connected by a cross beam (there may be two cross beams), used in some important performances of a personal character; (instead of poles there may be two trees with branches), around the turu there can be different animals, as shown in the case II.

II. In the centre of the drum stands the shaman with his drum turned westward (the top of the drum is the north) and surrounded by a circle; the body of the shaman is symbolized by a circle; another circle, that passes near the border, leaves on both sides, at the top and foot, a space for four pine trees, between which images or the following animals are extending from West to North: Cervus Elaphus, domesticated reindeer, roe-deer, bear, tiger, dragon («thunder» with legs, it is neither an animal nor a man), bustard, swan, hare, goose, and at least two cuckoos and urokono, which can swallow a man (evidently some big sea animal) [586]. The stick is a simple piece of wood slightly worked out. Nothing particular can be noticed on it. The drums have sometimes an iron ring, instead or a cross, for holding them.

Among the Birarchen the form of the drum is similar to the above described. All drums which I have seen had neither ornaments, nor designs. However, the Birarchen told me that perhaps there had been formerly some designs. Some trinkets (g'irg'iwlan), like those described before, are usually attached to the rim (ung); the latter is made of larch tree (species growing in a twisted form; very strong wood used for carving utensils), and the drum is covered with the summer skin (rather thin) of Cervus Elaphus. The drum-stick is usually made as among the Khingan Tungus; but once I saw a drum-stick made of tendons of Cervus Elaphus covered with roe-deer skin (with hair). Such a stick is very elastic, but it requires a special skill in drumming.

Among the Kumarchen I have seen details of only one drum which did not differ from that just described.

Among the Manchus the drum, being always of a round shape, very shallow and of small size, is made of common wood covered with roe-deer skin, with a handle of the same type as that above described among the Khingan Tungus, and supplied with «ear-rings» and trinkets. It is sometimes covered with painted flowers, butterflies and small birds of an ornamental meaning. The drums are made by craftsmen, sometimes Chinese. The drum-stick is an ordinary wooden stick covered with the fur skin of pole-cat (solongo). The drum used by the p'oyun saman is exactly the same as that used by the amba saman. The shamans usually have two drums, one of which is drummed during the performance, while the other is dried on the open fire to make it better sounding, and so they are used alternatively. This holds good for all Tungus shamans, but not all of them can afford to have two drums.

In so far as I know, the drum of this type is also met with among the Dahurs and Chinese (n'ikan) shamans; several drums which I saw were similar.

It is worth mentioning that during the sacrifice performed by the Manchu p'oyun saman, besides the shaman's drum the following instruments are used:

(1) A small barrel shaped drum called tungken, with both sides covered with roe-deer skin, the sound being produced with two wooden sticks. The drum is put on a wooden stand. This is a common Chinese instrument, borrowed by the Manchus together with the term.

(2) Wooden castanets, several or only a pair, of common Chinese type. Both instruments are indicated as ritual instruments used in the Imperial family (cf. figures in Langles, and Ch. Harlez works).

The Manchu type of the drum is met with among other groups, where the Manchu costume is found. Among the Gilaks, Udehe, Oroci, and Goldi the drum is a little larger, — but not always — very shallow and usually without any pictures. Among the Goldi (cf. I. Lopatin, op. cit. p. 262) the form is ellipsoid (?, I think egg-like), and it is a little larger than the Manchu drum. No iron cross is mentioned, but a system of thongs is used for holding the drum.

The geographical distribution of this form overlaps that of the Manchu costume and spreads further over the Tungus of Manchuria. It differs from that used by the Tungus of Transbaikalia. The latter seems to be connected with the still more complicated form of drum used by the Yakuts. The Yakut drum is even supplied with resonators, and is much deeper [587]. This form in its full complex shape is found among the Central Asiatic groups, such as the Soyots, Altaians, and others. The last form, instead of having a cross or a ring used for holding the drum, is supplied with a wooden heavy handle diametrically fixed to the rim. Lastly, mention should be made of the Chukchi drum with a wooden handle to which it is fixed, as it is in the Tibetan big round drum, both sides of which are covered with skin. Thus the Chukchi drum is a half of the Tibetan one. It was connected by H. Balfour with the Eskimo form, but I do not think that it could be pretended that the Eskimo form is the initial one. With a still greater probability it may be supposed that the Tibetan round form with a wooden handle was the first to spread in Asia, including the Eskimos, and was preserved among the Chukchi and Eskimos, but modified and complicated, especially by the Central Asiatic groups [588]. As a matter of fact, on the periphery of the drum-territory we meet chiefly with small round unornamented drums, with and without a wooden handle, while the nearer we come to the regions of Central Asia, the more the drum becomes complex, with local variations of shape and details. Various hypotheses can be built up as to the original inventors of the various forms, also of their sequence, but in my eyes such hypotheses are very risky, for a complexity of Central Asiatic forms may be of a secondary origin, while the relative simplicity of the Reindeer Tungus drum may be a result of the reduction of the original complex form, as well as a local variation of a still simpler form. Moreover, the question as to the Manchu drum may be solved not as a variation of Central Asiatic form, but as a continuity of some earlier drum, and even of a non-Tungus origin somewhere in present China.

The most interesting fact is that the geographical distribution of the drum-forms does not correspond at all to that of the forms of the costumes. This fact goes parallel with other similar facts, all of which point to the need of a careful approach to the problem of migration and formation of complexes

The methods of holding the drum are different. In the Manchu-Goldi method the upper part of the drum is kept very near the head of the drummer, while in the Northern Tungus method the shaman holds the drum at a certain, rather great distance. The change of the position of the drum influences partly the character of the sound (vide infra Section 119).

584. For comparative purposes, Ur. Castr. is toibur borrowed from the Buriat (Castr.) toibur. Other terms exist among the Turkic and Mongol groups. However, the Dahur term g'asur seems to he connected with the Manchu term. P. Simkevich gives the Goldi term ges's'el s'eon'i, which is still more curious, for it means «drum-stick of the shaman's spirit», i.e. «word, speech of the spirit». It should also be noted that Manchu writ, gisun, according to P. P. Schmidt (Chin. Elem. p. 246), is a loan-word from the Chinese gu-dzy which is not met with in Nuichen. No other possible etymology is seen in Tungus.

585. In this connection I must point out that the eagle does not play any important part in the Manchu-Tungus shamanism. True among the Tungus eagle feathers are sometimes used, as well as skins and feathers of other birds (cf. supra, among the Goldi), hut there is nothing specific in it which would permit to building up theories such as that of L. Sternberg (The Cult of Eagle. Vol. V. Mesc. of Mus. of Anthr. and Ethn. 1925).

586. During our stay among this group the Tungus saw me doing some water colour «painting» and, knowing my experience in shamanism, asked me to paint the above indicated figures. I did it naturally by restoring what could be seen on the drum and what was indicated to me by the shaman. As this production was one of a «foreign master», I decided to put a mark of distinction for warning further collectors of ethnographic specimens (I knew at that time of some regrettable occurrences of such kind!). I did not sign my name, but wrote down the following (textually): «sic transit gloria mundi! made by N. N. 1915 VI 27. I wonder if this drum has been collected and is in some Museum, and some studious ethnographer is puzzled by it.

587. The drums with resonators may also be met with, but occasionally, among the Northern Tungus groups who are in contact with the Yakuts.

588. Cf. W. Schmidt; op. cit. p. 338; where he makes the suggestion of connecting the Eskimo form with the Buddhistic complex. Indeed, the transmitting links might be the continental groups, as well as the early coastal migrations.

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