African Drum History
The djembe has a great cultural heritage in Africa. Although similar in cultural use and significance to many countries and tribes on the African continent, it has minute but significant differences. The Djembe of the Mandinka people, and its origins dates back to the great Mali Empire of the 12th century. The djembe is also known as djenbe, jembe, sanbanyi, jymbe or yembe. It is made from a single piece of wood and carved into the shape of a goblet that is hollow throughout with a skin covering over the top. The drum is played with bare hands.
Of all the African drums, the djembe has become extremely sought after in the western world and is regarded as the most popular. This drum has inspired master drum makers now found all over the world. The djembe below is made in Mali. In and around the Kayes region. The drum rhythm or Diansa is performed in the evening for most celebrations, example during full moon, spring, summer and winter harvesting time, weddings, baptism, honoring of mothers, immediately after Ramadaan (the month of fast for all Muslim brothers and sisters) or other celebrations. Dancing is the most popular form of entertainment and various rhythms and beats are played on the djembe. Similar type celebrations and cultural rhythms are applicable to Senegal as well as other regions of West Africa.
Before a new skin is placed over the drum head the dried skin is immersed in water until soft and pliable. The soft skin is then placed over the top along with two steel rings, one ring fits tightly around the drum head and the other around the bottom of the head with vertical string crossing from top to bottom around the rings. The rope is then gently tightened. Once the skin is completely dried the ropes are further tightened with a rope puller. Various patterns or weaves are then made with the rope on the drum