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Mircea Eliade - On Drum Maps and Drumming



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Mircea Eliade – Shamanism Archaic techniques of ecstasy

No image is painted in the centre of the drum; the eight double lines drawn there symbolise the eight ‘feet’ that hold the earth above the sea [these are portals – columns].  Among the Yakut there are mysterious signs painted in red and black and representing men and animals.  Various images are also attested on the drums of the Yenisai Ostyak……….

Designs ornamenting the skin of the drum are characteristic of all the Tatar tribes and the Lapps.  Among the Lapps both faces of the skin are covered with images.  They are of the greatest variety, although among them are always the most important symbols, as for example, the World Tree, the sun and moon, the rainbow and others.

In short, the drums constitute a microcosm; a boundary line separates sky from earth, and in some places, earth from the underworld.  The World Tree, …. the horse, the shaman’s helping spirits, the sun and the moon, which he reaches in the course of his celestial journey, the underworld of Erlik Khan.. into which he makes his way when he descends to the realm of the dead – all these elements, which in a manner summarise the shaman’s itinerary and adventures are found represented on his drum.

The drum depicts a microcosm with its three zones – sky, earth, underworld – at the same time that it indicates the means by which the shaman accomplishes the break-through from plane to plane and establishes communication with the world above and the world below

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Listening to beating sounds