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By ltafolla
I found this drum at a Goodwill store. I didn't know anything about it, but thought it was beautiful and sounded great so I bought it as a birthday gift for my drum-loving husband. It's 14.5 inches across and 25 inches tall. It 's VERY heavy for it's size, but I can't tell you the weight because we don't have a scale.

When I give it to him I would like to be able to tell him more about it. From research I have learned:
- It's called a Djembe
- The strings are for tuning, however, I have not been able to find one with a similar string pattern to this one.
- Possibly West African in origin and made of West African hardwood
- Possibly Goat skin top

After an exhaustive internet search I have not found a Djembe with similar carvings. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Especially information on:
-The carving -- the hut is easy to identify, but what does the swirl pattern on the other side represent?
-Do the ribbons woven into the rope around the top and bottom have any meaning?
-Does the string pattern have any meaning?
- Approximate age
-Type of wood
Thank you in advance for all your help!
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By the kid
As i always say, The wood is Dimba and the drum is made in Senegal. Could bee wrong on the origin as this wood is found in many countries under different names, as in dugura in some places and bush mango in others. 100% W african wood and carve imo.

The designs on the stem are just for decoration. A grass house is like a symbol for a traditional village, sometimes i seen this type of art on batiks from Cassamance in senegal. Trad house or group of houses with palm trees, islands, boats etc. So musicisans playing by the shore, Sun shining good times.

Symbols like this might mean something more complicated to someone. For instance from my memory one artist i knew explained a picture to me and the zigzag pattern like the bottom of your drum symbolized water. That picture he was explaining had doors as in rectangles on the left and right of the painting with were full of symboles shapes letter etc, the central picture was a story of a boys initiation and the pic had a floor and a roof. He showed me some alphabets of different letters and images, and would put these symbols into his pictures as some form of embodying an or collection of energy to give deeper meaning i guess. For example he might say an eagle was E and have all the letters in symbol form. I didn't know was he making up his own correspondence between the symbol and the letter as his own interpretation and style of art. But some of the things seemed deep enough. Pretty unique man anyways and cool artist.

I was just giving you some context for how symbols can be used in african art. Drums generally coming from areas where the djembe is more indigenous would actually be plain design and so, probably the symbols on this drum don't have a meaning relative to djembe and are for decoration for tourists or just to make it look nice. Like a band i was staying with were called Badeya meaning family and had the hut image batiked(wax dyed fabrics) on there costumes.

The man i mentioned was 65 when i knew him and he used to say the only people who used to play djembe in the olden days in senegambia were Bambara or Malinke, as in people from Guinea Mali or Tambacounda East senegal. Those ethnic groups created and played the djembe while the groups in senegambia had different drums and instruments.

I reckon the black symbol is just a negative space, filling in the area to make the pic of the drum and sun and the hut stand out more, but it could be a symbol too, and was abstractly placed in there, which is probably not true, but you could spin a yarn there. n Artist do that kind of abstarction as i described in last paragraph. The picture itself can be seen as simply fun times back in the village. But this is romantiscising really.

I have a drum , my first and only drum that was carved specially for me by my mate a carver and in the end he said what image i would like and i was like, what do you do, and he was like, a palm tree, a hut or a djembe. So i was like whatever put on whichever one you like. He came back a while later with the 3 images on the drum. Now i'm like love that drum and it kicks ass. people wouldn't really be looking at that drum like it's awesome, but it is.

The drum you got too looks awesome. It is gonna crack out a might sound with future skins and might already. The weave is only there to tune the drum. The ribbon is there to hippie it up i'd say, or like someone puts a ribbon on there suitcase so they don't loose it.

The drum could be any age but the skin looks on there for about 5 years but thats a guess. It's a touch yellow like an older skin but also looks in good condition and not used much. The drum is probably as old as the skin but could be older if reskinned along the way. I'm looking at the picture and seeing the newish rope and so i reckon it is reskinned alright. The white loop ropes on the bottom and top rings look like a rope you see on senegalise and gambian carved djembes. I'll up my age estimate to 10 - 15 years.

I'd guesstimate it is worth 200 - 300 euro, but maybe someone paying that would like new skin up job so there would be room for future tuning and keeping with modern styles, and possibly reworked bearing edge, but all that looks fine and the drum is ready to go anyways. You might up the price if all that drum work was done, but 200-300euro would be the price where i'm from.

Maybe someone will answer that question in one sentence rather than my elaboration but whatever, knock your self out someone and answer the questions, or let us know of your reckonings.