Four Sacred Drummers
A Limited Edition Print
by Howard Terpning
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The pounding sound of buffalo hoofs and the throbbing pulse of drums were the twin heartbeats of the People. Singing and dancing to the rhythm of the drums was central to most ceremonial occasions, as a prelude to war or the hunt, and on the high holy days of special observances such as the Thunderpipe ceremony and the Sun Dance - they had drummers who would play and sing.
The drums were constructed of wooden strips soaked in hot water, bent in the sacred shape of the circle and then covered with buffalo skin that was laced on with rawhide strings. These Blackfoot drummers are arrayed in a quartet, in reference to the cardinal points of the compass. The sound of their drums and the high-pitched cry of the songs were in essence an offering to the spirits, in the same manner as the smoking of a ceremonial pipe. The music also served to bring the tribe together in renewal and celebration of their communal sense of themselves as the People.
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