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The tepu is a three legged drum made from the hollowed out log of the oak tree. It is covered with deer skin, which is fastened to the rim using wooden pegs and leather cord. The tepu has one small square hole in its side, and when played burning embers are placed underneath it to heat the skin. This photograph was taken during The Dance of Our Mother, Tatei Neixa, where drumming is a prominent feature of the ceremony. For this occasion, the tepu is decorated with garlands of Indian carnations, arrows and the tail of a deer. Two deer have been painted on either side of the aperture using the yellow pigment from the root gathered in the eastern desert of Wirikuta. This is the same root the pilgrims use to paint sacred designs on their faces, musical instruments and other sacred objects.
Photograph ©Juan Negrín 1981 - 2010