The damaru is a small double-sided ritual hand-drum played, along with the bell, in Tibetan Buddhist tantric rituals to summon enlightened wrathful deities with its sacred sound. Sometimes played in combination with the resounding of a thighbone trumpet, its vibration is said to produce a unique spiritual energy.
Handcrafted in the Himalayas, each drum is made of polished seng-deng (acacia) wood shaped like an hour glass and adorned at the waist with a wrist-strap. 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 sadhana practice. Small oval crocheted strikers are suspended by cords on each side of the drum. The instrument is played rhythmically, with a rapid back and forth twist of one’s right wrist, to punctuate a liturgical passage. When played, the drum must be paired with the resounding of the ritual bell, held in one’s left hand, to symbolize the union of skilful means and wisdom which should never be separated. 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 with blue 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 is orange with classic golden brocade patterns.
The damaru has a diameter of 10.5cm and is 6.5cm tall. The case measures 15.5cm x 10cm. The drum weights 150g.