TA04188 Burmese Karen Frog Drum, a fine bronze tribute drum (Heger Type III), Pazi (Burmese), pam klo’ (Karen) also known as “The Magical Bronze Pond”, the Karen subsiding on slash and burn agriculture were rain dependent, and “rain drums” were beaten to bring on the rains for frogs croak prior to rain and the low frequency drum sounds excite the frogs to croak as well, and thus it was believed that the beating of the drum was a call for rain. This lost wax casting of a drum is ornamented with 8 frogs stacked in twos and placed at four equidistant points on the outer edge of the tympanum, the center of which is decorated with a 12 pointed high relief “star-of-foam”, having 12 die cast butterfly impressions in the crooks of the star, the star points touch the first set of triple ridges which alternate irregularly with double ridges resembling ripples that delineate concentrically the 20 die cast decorated bands in a variety of motifs, starting from the center the designs can be identified as radial rays (bands 1,10,15,18), tiny raindrops (bands 2,3,16,17), continuous lozenge pattern (bands 4,8,14), a complex pattern of three “fish filled birds”, alternating with three quarter sectioned lozenges having three circular appendages (bands 5,6,11,12), ducks (bands 7,13), thunder pattern (band 9), trellis pattern (band 19) and the outer band (band 20) mostly undecorated having 12 rosettes total ending with a raised braided edge. The sides of the drum are similarly decorated with triple and double ridges in 3 zones with die cast bands in between of chain of grain, radial rays, raindrops, trellis pattern, and vegetation, side double strap handles on opposing sides, used to suspend the drum when struck, two unadorned relief “seams” equidistant from the handles.
The possibility exists that the original casting of this drum was meant to have stacks of three frogs around the tympanum, now only stacks of two exist. A variegated verdigris light greenish patina due to the probable high copper content of the material along with lime encrustations on the tympanum, one large hole with cracks on the body under one of the handles, otherwise the overall surface patina is consistent with age and use, fine condition with some losses. Note: It was customary for the Karen to bury pieces of a drum with the dead, for the drums were also used in funerary rites and it was believed that having a piece of bronze with the dead would protect the afterlife of the deceased. This drum may have had the missing frogs removed during just such a ritual.
Measuring: 18-1/8 inches high x 24-1/8 inches in diameter. Weight: 40.5 lbs.
Late 19th. Century.

Karen Poem:
Rains come when frogs croak
Birds come when rains come
Fish rise when birds come
Floods come when fish rise
Elephants draw when floods come
Timber comes when elephants draw
The land prospers when timber comes.

To purchase or for more information, please call 619/977-6717 or e-mail
[email protected]

For Burmese Bronze Rain Drums, please go to our on-line article:
Frog Drums and their importance in Karen Culture, by Sylvia Fraser-Lu


For pricing information, please call 619/977-6717 or e-mail
[email protected]