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date: 15 January 2021


  • David W. Hughes


Generic term for the Japanese hourglass drum with heads laced to the body. In its narrowest sense it refers particularly to the kotsuzumi.

Tsuzumi is the only term for drum encountered in Japan’s earliest written sources, which purported to chronicle the indigenous culture before the apogee of Chinese and Korean influence. What sort of drum this term referred to is not clear. The only distinct examples of Japanese drums, before the known imports of about the 8th century, are those depicted in two clay tomb figurines (haniwa) from a single tomb dating from the 6th or 7th century. Both drums have two heads and are hung diagonally across the chest by straps across the right shoulder. One is barrel-shaped and played with a stick in the right hand and apparently the bare left hand. (A similar technique is used today for the Korean hourglass drum changgo.) The other drum, somewhat damaged, is thinner, perhaps slightly narrow-waisted; the hands are positioned as in the other figurine although the stick is missing, if indeed one was ever present....

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