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Friday Feature: Heart and Fire

Large Traditional Pueblo Drum 1 Resized

Today is the worst kind of winter day here, wind so cold and fierce that you can’t think; every conscious moment is spent resisting its wrath. It’s impossible to hear the sound of your own heartbeat, much less that of Mother Earth’s. It’s equally impossible to find warmth beneath its buffeting force. Every moment spent out of doors is merely transitional, a marking of time until a sheltering fire can be found again.

Coming hard on the heels of a day in which the mercury rose past fifty, winter’s harsh return is a shock to the system.

A few steps outside, and the wind steals one’s breath away for its own. The sudden loss of air sends the heart fluttering, a flurry of beats here, an unscheduled pause there. Long before reaching the safety of indoor shelter, you’re left gasping, teeth a-chatter and body wracked with shivers.

On a day like this, it takes special effort to stay grounded. A day like this is to be spent before a warm red fire, in the harmony and company of the land’s own heartbeat.

In other words, it’s a perfect time for today’s featured work, one that captures the pulse of earth and tree and animal alike, holding the beat close to its own heart, then sending it vibrating outward to give new life to the freezing air. From its description in the Other Artists:  Drums gallery here on the site:

Large Traditional Pueblo Drum 2 Resized

A Pueblo drum gives voice to the heartbeat of the land. Master drum maker Lee Lujan (Taos Pueblo) created this large traditional upright drum from a length of cottonwood trunk, a whole and unbroken circle of old wood. He stretched tanned rawhide over top and bottom to create a dual-sided instrument with spectacular resonance, then hand-laced both covers together across the drum’s circumference using sturdy sinew. Once the drum was bound together, he used the remaining lace to create one handle on each side, top and bottom, by spiraling the sinew tightly together in an arc and then tying it off at either end. Another small length of sinew forms a loop at one handle to hold the beater, a rough-hewn length of wood chosen for balance, pads one end, and wraps it in buttery soft white deerhide. Drum stands 21.5″ high by 18.25″ across at its widest point. Another view shown at top.

Cottonwood; rawhide; sinew; deerhide
$495 + shipping, handling, and insurance
Note: Size and weight require special handling; extra shipping charges apply

This is a drum made the old way, in the traditional fashion, from the hands of a master. The golden wood is rough, full of texture and character and life. The hide has been tanned to an impossibly smooth finish, what once covered the heart of a great animal now holding close the heart of the drum.

And, of course, its resonant sound is the heart of our ways, a vibrating note that touches the soul, summoning our voices, animating our feet, linking our spirits with that of the Earth herself.

Just as the fire warms the body, it’s a sound to warm the soul.

On this day, we could all do with a little of the drum’s heart and fire.

~ Aji














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