The Saami shaman's drum and the star horizons

  • Bo Sommarström
Keywords: Shamanism, Shamans, Sami (European people), Drum, Astrology, Cosmology, Zodiac, Scandinavia, Arctic regions, Musical instruments


The aim of this contribution is to examine the possible influences of stellar constellations on the positioning of the drum figures on the drums used by the Saami people during the 17th and 18th centuries. Certain of the drum figures seem to have a similar position to corresponding figures on traditional star maps, both with respect to single star constellations and to some members of the Zodiac circle. The most general correspondences between star maps and the painted designs on drums depend on the existence of a cross for determining the four cardinal points in both cases. The star constellations compared here with the drum-figures are in fact peripheral Saami skies. It is hard to believe that they can have played any vital role in their capacity as star symbols within the frame of the Saamis' own astral cosmology. It is more probable that the earthly meanings of most of the figures were more important to the drummer.
Jan 1, 1991
How to Cite
Sommarström, B. (1991). The Saami shaman’s drum and the star horizons. Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, 14, 136-168.