2. Tibetan Scull Drum (damaru, thöd mga)
bone, skin, metal with low silver content, brass, coral
12 x 15cm, 7,5cm high
Hourglass-shaped drum constructed of two inverted skull caps,covered with dyed green skins, stretched to create the drum surface – symbolic of the joining of the female and male elements of life. Silver band, ornamented with coral and turquoise stones, connects the two halves.
The rims of the sculls are decorated with a row of tiny metal skulls.
Played by rotating, causing the swinging beater to strike each head.
The skull drum existed as part of traditional Bön ceremonies prior to the presence of Buddhism in Tibet. Traditionally, the crania would be gathered from a “sky-burial” site, or charnel ground. It is the Tibetan belief that the body is nothing more than a vessel and, upon death, it should continue the cycle that is life; therefore, corpses are exposed to the elements, in order to decompose, in designated areas known as charnel grounds. The selection of skulls from charnal grounds, for use in making the damaru, traditionally involved several factors including age of the deceased, gender, and cause of death.
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18enbe – BIEE
Detail: side view
Detail: close-up view