Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Bàtá (ìyáàlù) drum

early 20th century
Yoruba people
Wood, hide, fabric
Diam. 11 - 7 × L. 24 in. (27.9 - 17.8 × 61 cm)
Membranophone-double-headed / conical drum
Credit Line:
Purchase, Michael M. Sweeley Gift, 2012
Accession Number:
Not on view
The ìyáàlù (mother) bàtá drum is the largest of a set of drums (typically three to four) used by the Yoruba people. For at least five centuries the drum set was used as a speech surrogate and was associated with Sàngó, Esu Egungun, Oya and other Yoruba orisa cults. At the end of the 20th century the repertoire changed to include secular and, although rare, church music. Bàtá drums are important throughout the African diaspora playing essential roles in New World Lucumi (Santeria) in Cuba, Puerto Rica and the United States where they are used in sacred and secular contexts.
Eric Edwards ; Sotheby's, New York
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