National Music Museum Logo   National Music Museum  
Home  Collections
Virtual Tour
Calendar Gift Shop FAQ Site Index Maker Index


Ceremony Drum by John Saul, "Wanyeya,"
Yanktonai, Ft. Thompson, South Dakota, 1960

Click on images below to see larger images

Ceremony drum by John Saul (Wanyeya), Yanktonai, Ft. Thompson, SD, July 1960 Back of drum

NMM 10828.  Ceremony drum by John Saul, "Wanyeya," Yanktonai, Fort Thompson, South Dakota, July 1960. Frame drum of bent shell construction with single calfskin head, laced with sinew. Watercolor painting on head depicts an abstract geometric insect in red, green, blue and yellow on a white background; the long-life symbol in green and red; and, a thunderbird in brown, white and black with a breastplate of red and blue, with a yellow halo. Associated beater. John Saul is a well-known watercolor artist, published in Yanktonai Sioux Water Colors:  Cultural Remembrances of John Saul, 1993. Transfer from University Art Galleries, University of South Dakota, 2005.

Drum with Beater

Drum with beater

The very angular, geometric style of the designs on the drum is characteristic of the Plains tribes, including the ever-present horizon line. According to fellow Yanktonai artist, Oscar Howe (1915-1983), the red represents hardship, chaos, and the darker side of life, with trials leading toward honor, while the blue represents peace, spirituality and good will. The green is symbolic of growth and of rebirth. The brown and the yellow are symbolic of the earth and nature in general.

Drum Maker's Signature

Maker's signature inside drum frame Maker's signature inside drum frame

Written in pencil on inside of wooden frame:  John Saul / Wanyeya / Fort Thompson, / S. Dakota / July 1960.

Go to Checklist of Musical Instruments of the Indigenous Peoples of North America

National Music Museum
The University of South Dakota
414 East Clark Street
Vermillion, SD   57069

©National Music Museum, 2007-2016
Most recent update:   January 30, 2016

The University of South Dakota
Return to Top of Page