Aboriginal Clap Sticks

01 Nov

Over the years I have developed a great interest in the Australian Aboriginal peoples and their Cultures and traditions.

The Aboriginals have a diverse Tribal system and are spread all throughout Australia, their history dates back over 40,000 years.

I have visited a number of ancient Aboriginal sites, in the process of learning more about the original inhabitants of Australia.

I do like to collect Aboriginal artefacts that are intrinsic to their culture and lifestyle, collecting ancient artefacts is primarily a museum responsibility.

However today, Aboriginal artefacts can be bought at most Tourist/souvenir shops throughout Australia, I don’t go near these items as in the majority of cases, they are mass produced and machine worked. I prefer the artefacts that are hand carved and from a specific Tribal area, and intrinsic to that particular Tribe.

I was able to obtain two items from our recent Outback journey, here I want to show you a pair of Clap sticks, sometimes referred to as Clapping sticks or Singing sticks. These are hand carved by the Coober Pedy Tribe known as Pitjantjatjara.

Clap Sticks are the traditional percussion instrument of all Aboriginal people, providing rhythmic accompaniment for song and dance. They consist of two sticks crafted from various woods and are often intricately decorated. Most commonly used during Corroboree and social dancing, clap sticks are played by striking one against the other to provide particular rhythms. It is often the only instrument used to accompany singing and is played by both men and women.

Music and dance were a continual part of the Australian Aboriginal life used not only for passing on the sacred lore, but also for telling tales of everyday happenings and events. The sticks were used for percussion – keeping the rhythm of the song. Others were specifically prepared and decorated for spiritually significant celebrations.

I have attached a video clip of the Clap sticks in use.



 photo IMG_0446_zps9aa570a1.jpg


Posted by on November 1, 2014 in Uncategorized


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20 responses to “Aboriginal Clap Sticks

  1. Sue Dreamwalker

    November 26, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    I am enjoying my visit here today Emu… learning lots and enjoying viewing these artefacts As I so love original art work.. and was able to purchase some original Native American Indian pieces such as a bow and arrow and other silver and turquoise jewellery which was handmade when I went to Canada and the Reservations.. xxx

    • The Emu

      December 1, 2014 at 5:00 am

      Collecting artefacts is a favourite pastime of mine.
      But the artefacts must be genuine, and portray the beauty of the culture,
      whilst displaying their earthly beliefs.

  2. natswans

    November 2, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Same applies here RH. that was my first experience of these amazing sounds.
    Interesting always love to hear of the Aboriginals.
    Thank you for sharing

    • The Emu

      November 4, 2014 at 2:36 am

      Great that you enjoyed my visit to the past and my storys on the Aboriginal peoples.
      I love their culture and beliefs, they are so in tune with the elements and the lands they walk on.
      Kindest regards.

  3. wonkywizard

    November 1, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Thanks Emu for enlightening about Aboriginal culture. A student could spend much time studying in Australia and yet miss all these.

    • The Emu

      November 2, 2014 at 11:50 am

      I am always learning something new regarding Aboriginal culture, its a specialised field in its own right.
      A beautiful history that tells the story of early mans steps on Australian soils.

  4. cat

    November 1, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    Fascinating, Ian … Theo, my cat, was sitting very close to the computer screen, when I played the video … totally mesmerised beginning to end … 🙂 … Love, cat.

    • The Emu

      November 2, 2014 at 11:38 am

      Hi Cat, very tuned in Cat, Cat, must be it senses the Spiritual sounds Cat, smart Cat you got Cat.

  5. Eddie Two Hawks

    November 1, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    The ‘clap sticks’ added their own unique dimension to the Aboriginal’s world of sound. These are beautifully carved Ian and present an image unique unto themselves. Thank you for this great presentation bringing us ever closer to the world of the Aboriginals. peace, Eddie

    • The Emu

      November 2, 2014 at 11:59 am

      Hi Eddie, thanks for the visit and comment.
      It really is a Spiritual sound when you listen to the Didgeridoo and Singing sticks,
      especially on a warm Summers night, no breeze and a chandelier of stars overhead.
      You realise how small we are in the overall picture of the Universe.
      I love the carvings, mainly because I see the hands that create them, and the work that goes into them.

  6. auntyuta

    November 1, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Congratulations, Ian, on obtaining such beautifully handcrafted clap sticks. Thanks for writing about it and for including the video clip. What a big didgeridoo! You’d need a lot of breath to play it. 🙂

    • The Emu

      November 2, 2014 at 11:40 am

      Hi Uta, always wanted to learn the Didge but cant get the sounds right.
      You actually dont blow into it, your lungs exhale into it, quite an art.

      • auntyuta

        November 2, 2014 at 8:03 pm

        It must be quite difficult to exhale into it – Definitely an art. 🙂

        • The Emu

          November 4, 2014 at 2:48 am

          I tried a couple of times Uta, but my sounds out of a Didgeridoo are definitely not the same as Aboriginal.
          It truely is an artform, even amongst the Aboriginals, as not all can play it, yet they can dance to the various sounds it makes.
          Good luck on the Melbourne cup, put a fiver on number seven.

          • auntyuta

            November 4, 2014 at 3:10 am

            I did put a fiver on each way on number seven!! 🙂

          • The Emu

            November 4, 2014 at 10:42 am

            Like I said, if at first you dont succeed, try and try again.
            Tenner each way next year, its a dead set cert, hehe.

          • auntyuta

            November 4, 2014 at 5:47 am

            Sorry, no win for me this time. But Peter put a bet on 5 as well as on 7. So he came out ahead.
            Sorry about the horse that died, and the favourite at that. Really sad.
            I think the clock in my last comment does not show the right time. Never mind. The race that stops the nation is over now. We won’t place any more bets for another year!! 🙂

          • The Emu

            November 4, 2014 at 10:41 am

            Sorry Uta, I picked the wrong horse, not to worry, next year put a tenner each way on number seven, that way you will get your money back, hehe.
            It did put a dampner on the overall race with the horse dying, also the other one who broke his leg.
            Such is the sport of Kings.

  7. prenin

    November 1, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Now THAT’S Culture!!! 🙂

    Love this one Ian!!! 🙂

    Rolf Harris was my first experience of Australian music and this reminds me of better days! 🙂

    Pity he’s now languishing in prison and has lost his appeal, but you break the rules you lose! 😦

    Thanks for the clip my friend – I REALLY enjoyed it even if I can’t help wondering how the guy managed to breath!!! 🙂

    God Bless!


    • The Emu

      November 2, 2014 at 11:44 am

      Unfortunately Rolf Harris went the way a lot of stars do, when they think they are above the law.
      Never did like that painting he did of the Queen, made her look like something out of the Jaws movie.


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