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date: 16 November 2019


  • Timothy D. Watkins


Generic term for drums among the Guaraní people in Paraguay and borrowed by other indigenous groups including the Chamacoco and Ayoreo. Usually two-headed, the drums are constructed from various materials including wood, clay, and recycled tin. The heads, of animal skin or cotton cloth, are normally attached by wooden hoops. Angu’á can be struck with wooden beaters or with the hands. Specific names may reflect size, for example angu’á guazú (‘large drum’, played with a single stick), angu’á ra’y (‘small’, ‘son’, or ‘child drum’), and angu’á michi ra’y (‘youngest son’)—the latter two played with two sticks—or type, for example angu’á pararã (‘snare drum’). Probably acculturated, the angu’á pararã has a snare consisting of a piece of stick inserted under a cord beneath the lower head of the drum.

The mba’e pu ovava’é (‘that which makes a changing sound’), a similar double-headed cylindrical drum of the Mby’á, is usually played by a shaman to accompany prayer songs. After a successful hunt, a hunter must use it to accompany songs honouring the animals he has killed....

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