The drum in Shamanism: some reflections

  • Åke Hultkrantz
Keywords: Shamanism, Shamans, Drum, Ritual, Sami (European people), Arctic regions, Siberia (Russia), Indians of North America, Indians of South America, Hunting, Musical instruments


Shamanism has not been restricted to northern Eurasia and the American Arctic, although it was here that it received its most remarkable forms. It is thus central to consider whether the drum is an integrative part of shamanism and should be examined against a general, and not a regional background. It is important to distinguish Arctic shamanism from other forms of shamanism. Arctic shamanism has a stronger profile than other varieties of shamanism, partly because of its intensity, accentuated to a certain extent by the harsh climate and environment, but also explained by the remarkable position of the shaman in an otherwise unstratified social structure. In the great variety of shamanic forms which exist south of the Arctic Subarctic zone, the drum, with a few exceptions, does not have such a prominent role. The position of the drum in other areas south of the Arctic obviously depends upon the position of shamanism. It is known that the drum is an ancient shamanic symbol in hunting culture, and where horticulture and agriculture supplanted old hunting cultures, shamanism gradually retreated. Priests and cult servants replaced shamans and the way for the trance was no longer necessary. In later shamanism outside the Arctic area the drum has gradually lost its significance.
Jan 1, 1991
How to Cite
Hultkrantz, Åke. (1991). The drum in Shamanism: some reflections. Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, 14.