The making a drum begins by carving wood that has been selected for certain qualities; strength, color, weight, grain, and size.
TYPES OF WOOD
- Sengden aka Acacia, traditional wood ranging from pale brown to rarer and more auspicious yellow or red color.
- Bawa, also known as Bhutanese burl wood, is known for its beauty and markedly lighter weight. This wood is sourced exclusively from Bhutan.
- Sandalwood, rare deep red colored wood, often used to make small drums.
INSIDE THE DRUM
Once the two sides are carved and shaped with hand tools. mantras are placed inside and the skin is added. One side of the drum is the male side and the other the female side. Sacred mantras are placed on the interior of the drum with the male mantras on a white background and female mantras on red background.
The skin of the drum is usually made from goat hide and is either dyed or painted. The preferred method is that of dying the skin as it preserves its natural properties. The elaborate process of creating the traditional 'trin pak' or cloud skin involves coating the skin with yogurt then burying it with a well-guarded secret mixture of minerals and herbs for several weeks. The result is a design of swirling turquoise, green, and grey colors and a skin that breathes. The less expensive option is to coat the skin with a turquoise green colored paint.
The handle of brocade or leather is stitched on by hand and adorned the beaters and shells; small cowrie shells circle the drum band and a carved white conch shell ring is placed on the handle. A small metal ring of iron, steel, or copper at the base is used to connect the tail to the handle.
No two drums are the same.
Each is hand made in an ancient tradition handed down from lamas and masters to craftsmen for centuries.