Gourd Drum
Gourd Drums
Item Information


Used by



Social music, ritual use


Up to 90 kilograms

Behind the Scenes
First Appearance

James Cameron's Avatar: An Activist Survival Guide

The Gourd Drum, also known as a Water Drum, is a musical instrument used in both social music as well as rituals by the Na'vi.


Similar to the jícara de agua from Mexico, the Na'vi gourd drum is created by filling a gourd bowl with water and placing an inverted half gourd in the water. The inverted gourd is stuck with one wooden drumstick.

A unique element of this drum is an additional smaller drum inserted into a hole cut in the side of the large gourd bowl. This drum is covered with a Sturmbeest bladder, a material known for its strength and elasticity. While tapping on the inverted gourd, the player pushes on the bladder, which causes the water level in the gourd bowl to rise, allowing the pitch of the drum to change subtly.

Materials and ConstructionEdit

Wood, paint, woven materials, leather rope, gourd, water, Hemispherical floating drum, made from a gourd that has been halved, is inverted into a larger water-filled gourd.


The playing style for the gourd drum in the context of the Dream Hunt is entirely different. A constant rapid tapping of the drum (a sound reminiscent of the ancient peyote songs of Native Americans in the southwest) while simultaneously pushing the bladder in and out creates a drone-like sound with microtonal fluctuations in pitch. This is related to the microtonal drone heard in the men’s part of Na’vi banquet songs, thought to represents the spirit of Eywa, and enhances the connection of the Dream Hunters to Eywa.


Bioluminescent matter glows through drum skin, giving the Drum a greater aesthetic quality.


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