Inuit drum dancing and singing


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Inscribed in 2021 (16.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Visit Greenland, 2018

Drum dancing and drum singing are indigenous forms of Inuit artistic expression and music in Greenland. Drum dances and songs are frequently performed during national holidays, festive celebrations and social events, by a single person or a group. A single drum dancer may also perform with a choir. During a drum dance, the performer lightly bends his or her knees, leaning slightly forward. The drum, or qilaat, is lifted and lowered in different directions and a stick made of bone or wood is struck rhythmically against the frame of the drum to produce a sharp, echoing, percussive beat. The drum song is a lyrical narration that provides a melodious accompaniment to the monotonous beat of the drum. Drum songs often touch on the experiences and activities of daily life in Greenland, and common topics include love, longing, humour and hunting. For Greenlandic Inuit, drum dancing and singing embodies a shared identity and a sense of community as well as a means of creating continuity between the past and the present. The practices are perceived as symbols of equity and equality in Greenland and are universally recognized as belonging to everyone, regardless of age, gender, social status or political views.