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The bataleros and their drums, the language of the Gods

Santeria drums

The batá drums, symbols of the yoruba religion par excellence, they are shaped like an hourglass and their names from small to large are: Iyá (Talking drum), Itótele (medium) and Okónkolo (Small), a family of three inseparable drums.

Batá drums establish a divine language and communication system, which can reflect similarities between human words and the rhythms they produce. Is a magic force the one that makes the call of the drums in an invitation to the orishas to the earth.

They are sacred elements used to call or invoke the gods and the different touches have a particular significance within the ritual of the Rule of Osha (santeria).

Who are the Bataleros?

The playing of the Batá drums in Cuba begins in an hourabitaclosed formation called the Igbodu, where only the priest or Babalawo, an assistant and the battlers, in addition to the person who performs the ritual, they are allowed to enter.

The battlers They are those musicians devoted to playing the Batá drums. Here's how their relationship is explained:

"But they are not children of the drum, but rather most prefer to think that they marry them: the child product of this relationship is the vigorous and powerful musical power that emanates from the instrument" (Amira and Cornelius, 1992)

The battlers Experienced people are extremely important and respected people within the Yoruba religion, because thanks to them the Orishas can be invoked with the beat of the drum.

When the time comes to play for a ceremony, the Iyá drum is given, to the most respected olubatá teacher o drummer higher.

The next in hierarchy plays the Itótele, which supports the Iyá.

The third plays the Okónkolo, which is simpler and allows the drummer in addition to supporting intrinsic communication with the Orishas, ​​in paying attention and gaining experience.

The Bataleros and the touch sacred to the Orishas

The batá are sacred elements for the Yorubas and the association of the drum with the performer is also sacred, both of which represent a single entity.

And it is that to know how to play the batá drums, one must go through an arduous process of training and consecration, climbing a whole range of ranks in the middle, before becoming a teacher, because its function is, nothing more and nothing less, that establish direct communication between the land and the orishas.  

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