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date: 05 December 2019


  • Gerard Béhague
  • , revised by Alice L. Satomi


Generic term for various single-headed drums of Brazil, similar to the Afro-Cuban conga (batá) drum. The body is made of jacaranda wood, in a conical shape or rarely in cylindrical or hourglass shape. The drums vary from 1 to 2.5 metres tall. The head is of goat- or sometimes calf-skin and usually secured by wooden pegs. The drum is played with aquidavis (sticks), with one hand and a stick, or with the hands alone, depending on the particular religious group or song repertory.

Drum music is used in many ritual ceremonies to summon the gods and induce spirit possession. In Afro-Brazilian religious rites atabaques are usually played in groups of threes, each of a different size. In the candomblé rites of Bahia and Northeast Brazil, they are known as rum (largest), rumpí, and (smallest). The drums are made by the chief performer after sacrificing to the uncut tree, and have to be baptized in honour of a specific divinity before they can be played in the rituals. The ...

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