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

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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.

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