Hand-made in the Himalayas, each large drum is composed of polished seng-deng (acacia) wood and adorned at the waist with a wrist-strap and tiny sea-shells. A long tail, or chöpen, of colorful silk brocade hangs down. The drum heads, covered with buffalo or goat skin and painted green, contain mantras inserted by Buddhist monks to bless the musical instrument and ready it for authentic practice. Small oval crocheted strikers are suspended by cords on each side of the drum. Held in one’s right hand by its wrist-strap, the instrument is played slowly and rhythmically while melodiously chanting the chöd’s practice liturgy and keeping time with the resounding of the ritual bell in one’s left hand, symbolizing the union of skilful means and wisdom which should never be separated.
In comparison, chöd damaru drums appear to be the ‘big sisters’ of our damarus .
Following the old tradition of handcrafting each drum, they are carefully produced to a high standard, lightweight, and very resilient. The long silk brocade tail waves like a decorative banner when doing extensive practice. Being individually handcrafted, each drum possesses its own unique sound.
Included with each drum is a hard protective drum-shaped case with a red cotton interior lining and with yellow piping. When packing, the tail is coiled around the drum’s waist before tucking the drum into its carrying-case, protecting it while traveling and from dampness during long periods of disuse. This case has a red brocade decorated with colorful geometric paterns.
Beware: Chöd drums of inferior quality and lacking the blessed mantras are being widely sold in the West. Lamas consider them ineffective for genuine practice.
The Chöd drum has a diameter of 19.5cm and is 10cm tall. The case measures 22cm x 11.5cm. The drum weights 730g.