Frame Drum

Date: 19th century

Geography: United States

Culture: Native American (Dakota)

Medium: wood, various materials

Dimensions: Depth: 9 cm.; Max. diam.: 47.5 cm.; Head diam.: 42 cm.; Stick L.: 47.5

Classification: Membranophone-single-headed / frame drum

Credit Line: The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889

Accession Number: 89.4.560 a, b


Several techniques are employed to secure the stretched, Native-tanned leather drumhead to the bent wooden frame of this drum. The hand-carved wooden spikes are inserted through the sidewall of the frame, as well as the stretched edges of the hide. Additionally, leather strips are laced through slits cut near the edges of the stretched skin on the underside of the drum, with reinforced leather radii in six places. The drumhead painting depicts a buffalo, an integral aspect of life on the Great Plains. Oral traditions link the life and survival of the Plains people to the buffalo. For this reason, much generational trauma exists as a direct result of the booming European fur trade of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The attached drum beater has a stuffed leather head with red-dyed quill pattern evoking the four cardinal directions.