Pate (Wooden Drum)


Cook Islands Pate Wooden Drums: A Cultural Treasure of the South Pacific

The Cook Islands, a group of 15 small islands in the South Pacific, are known for their stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and rich cultural traditions. One of these traditions is the use of the pate wooden drum, a large, barrel-shaped drum that is an integral part of Cook Island music and dance.

Origin and Materials

The pate drum has been used in the Cook Islands for centuries and is believed to have originated from the islands of Samoa and Tonga. It is made from a hollowed-out tree trunk, typically from the miro or tamanu tree, with the ends covered in animal skin. The skin is stretched taut over the ends of the drum and secured in place with ropes or cords.

Craftsmanship and Making Process

The making of a pate drum is a complex and time-consuming process that requires a great deal of skill and expertise. First, a suitable tree trunk is selected and cut down, and the wood is allowed to dry for several months. Then, the wood is hollowed out using hand tools such as adzes and chisels, with the bark and outer layer removed to reveal the smooth wood inside. Once the wood has been shaped to the desired size and thickness, the ends of the drum are covered with animal skin, which is stretched tightly over the drum and secured in place with ropes or cords. Finally, the drum is tuned by adjusting the tension on the ropes or cords to produce the desired sound.

Uses and Importance

The pate drum is an important part of Cook Island music and dance, and is used in many different styles of music, from traditional songs and dances to modern island music. The player sits or stands behind the drum and strikes it with their hands to create a deep, resonant sound. The sound of the pate drum is said to represent the heartbeat of the islands, and its rhythms and melodies are used to tell stories, express emotions, and celebrate life.

The pate drum is also an important symbol of Cook Island culture and identity. It represents the islands’ connection to their Polynesian roots and serves as a reminder of the traditions and values that have been passed down from generation to generation. In recognition of its cultural significance, the pate drum was included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2015, which aims to safeguard and promote cultural practices that are considered to be important to humanity.

In conclusion, the pate wooden drum is a cultural treasure of the Cook Islands, with a rich history and cultural significance that spans centuries. Its handmade craftsmanship and unique sound make it a valuable addition to the world of music, and its importance as a symbol of Cook Island culture and identity cannot be overstated. If you ever have the opportunity to visit the Cook Islands, be sure to take the time to experience the beat of the pate drum and immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of this beautiful island nation.