|The Mystical Powers of Garífuna Drums|
play a central role in Garífuna rituals and dances. This is because
of their mystical summoning powers. These powers can be traced back to
Africa. Drums were used to lure curious natives from their villages onto
loaded slave ships. During the long voyage at sea, these drums urged the
slaves to row faster and push the fleets forward. Many say that when the
drummers dozed off, the rowing stopped. Without this explosive beating,
the slaves fell asleep at the oars.
Nowadays, the Garífuna still believe in the drums' summoning powers. Following a death in the community, Garífuna drummers may beat their drums from house to house. This notifies their neighbors of the death and calls the town to the wake or burial ceremony. At the wake, punta dancing and drumming is common. Some say that the drummer beats the drums to summon the ancestral spirits. The dancer communicates with the drummer by following the rhythm of the drums. He/she may fall into a stupor, visited by an ancestor. Others say that this only happens at the sacred dugu ceremony. Regardless, drums hold special importance in Garífuna culture because of their powers to convoke beloved ancestors.
|< 1 I 2 I 3 I 4 I 5 I 6 I 7 I >|
Credit: K.Stevens; Stanford Center for Latin American Studies; 4/11/00. Bibliography.