What Materials Are Native American Drums Made Of?

What Materials Are Native American Drums Made Of?

  • April 28,2021
  • Tachini Drums

Drums are much more than simple instruments. To many Native American tribes, drums are spiritually, culturally, and symbolically significant. They’re believed to have a life of their own, and the sound they make has the power to connect everyone to the heartbeat of Mother Earth, the Creator, and other influential spirits. Drums are treated with the utmost respect, almost as if they’re living people. Not only are they considered sacred to many cultures, but they are also constructed from things that were once living. It’s only natural that they’d be treated with such care and esteem.

But what materials are Native American drums are made of, exactly? Native American drums can be made from a wide variety of materials, but some are more common than others. Let’s take a look at some common materials used in drum-making and their significance.


Rawhide is a staple of Native American drums. It’s used to make the head of the drum, which is the part you strike with your hand or a beater to produce sound. Rawhide is the untanned hide or skin of an animal. It has a much lighter color than leather and is incredibly malleable. Most traditional Native American drums feature the rawhide of deer, elk, horse, or buffalo, although many modern drums will use cow rawhide instead.


Another material that Native American drums are made of is wood. Wood is used to make the frame of the drum. A large log or section of a tree is carved down to make the frame, which can be anywhere from a few inches wide to several feet wide in the case of powwow drums. The type of wood that’s used varies from region to region. Generally, it tends to be the wood from local trees. The most popular type of wood that’s used for drums and other instruments is cedar. Cedar is an incredibly important plant for many tribes. It’s associated with prayer, healing, dreams, and protection against disease.

Other Materials

Not all Native American drums are made from wood and rawhide. The water drum, for example, is made by hollowing out a sizeable gourd and placing it in a basin of water.

The materials that are used to decorate the drums are often unique, as well, and can vary depending on the person doing the decorating. The drum might have an intricate design carved into the wood, a painted rawhide or frame, or be decorated with other materials such as beads and feathers.

Looking for Native American drums for sale? Come check out Tachini Drum’s selection of authentic, masterfully crafted drums, drum supplies, and rawhide rattles today! Let us help connect you to the heartbeat of Mother Earth.

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