Sunday, January 28, 2024

Ìgbìn - the favourite drum of Ọbàtálá

Ìgbìn - the favourite drum of Ọbàtálá (Òrìṣàńlá)...

Ìgbìn drums are log drums with single leather heads fastened and tuned by wooden pegs. They are always upright and open-ended. The drums are generally thick and squat and stand on three legs roughly carved out of the bottom of the drum.

These drums are sometimes roughly hewn and sometimes carefully carved with decorative figures and designs; sometimes the whole shape of the drum is adapted to that of the human figure.

Three drums of different size played by three drummers make a set. The largest set is called ìyá ìgbìn, the second jàgbà and the smallest epèlé. The two smaller drums are played with two unfashioned sticks, while the larger may be played with a single stick and the palm, fist or fingers of the left hand. By varying the fingering and the use of the left hand, a variety of effects may be achieved

Ìgbìn drums are sacred to Òrìṣàńlá (“the great deity") who is also known as Ọbàtálá (“king of the white cloth"), and who may be described as the deity of whiteness. His worshippers are distinguished by the use of opaque white beads and white cloths, and many of the things associated with his ritual are white.

In Yorùbá mythology, Ọbàtálá is believed to fashion children within the mother's womb by opening the eyes, mouth, nose and ears, and by separating the arms, legs, toes and fingers much as a woodcarver does when making a figurine. 

Ọbàtálá is also credited with fashioning the first humans, male and female, in a similar fashion. Albinos, hunchbacks, cripp!es, and children with six toes or six fingers are sacred to Òrìṣàńlá and worship him.

Bascom W: Drums of the Yorùbá of Nigeria (1953)

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