Controversy Of Women Percussionists And Their Exclusion From Bata Drumming

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The Controversy of Women Percussionists and their Exclusion from Batá Drumming

Batá drumming is a religious ceremony over five centuries old of Yoruba origin. The purpose of the ceremony is to call upon Orishas, or deities using the drums. There are three drums that participate in the communication with the orishas during the ceremony. These three drums are Iya (mother), dedicated to the Orisha Yemaya, Itotele (father) dedicated to Oshun, and Okonkolo (baby) dedicated to the orisha Chango. Iya is the largest drum, followed by Itotele and finally Okonkolo is the smallest. Each of these drums are made sacred by going through a specific consecration ceremony which may only be attended by males who have had their hands wash to play the drums as well as the Babalawo (male priests of Ifá). Although one of the sacred drums is named mother, female participation in the religious ceremony as well as the creation of the Batá drums themselves is against the religious traditions.
Although the tides are slowly turning it wasn 't too long ago that Cuba’s percussion scene was essentially male, with the male domination due to “macho attitudes and religious tradition.” Aside from the social reasons which are more of a modern reason behind the lack of female Batá drumming the older reasons as to why women were prohibited from playing Batá are more heavily weighted on religious tradition which could have caused the macho attitudes preventing women from becoming involved in Batá today. These…

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