Alternate Name(s): Shekere
Geographic Region: Africa
Country of origin: Ghana
Climatic type: Mainly tropical.
SvH No.: 112.13
The axatse is a gourd shaker covered with a mesh net strung with small hard objects. The gourd has a natural bulbous shape with a curved shaft that serves as a handle (Pantaleoni 1972: 101). Objects found on the outside of the axatse include cowry shells, imported glass beads, and in recent times, plastic beads. A small hole cut into the bulbous end of the gourd allows for the emptying out of the plant material, leaving the hard, woody exterior. The gourd commonly used to make the axatse is known as the aso (Pantaleoni 1972: 62).
The axatse produces a dry, relatively high-pitched sound.
The axatse supports the rhythm of the gankogui. The rattle is more easily heard than the gankogui and so reinforces the cyclical pattern. It is played sitting with the shaft in the strong hand. The weak hand is held over the shaker with the palm facing downward. Two syllables are used to describe the sound of the axatse. Pa is the sound of the axatse striking the thigh and ti is the sound of the instrument rebounding against the palm (Ladzekpo). There may be as many as six axatse players in one ensemble (Pantaleoni 1972: 61).
The axatse supports and amplifies the rhythm of the gankogui, the bell which provides the essential rhythmic pattern of the Eve drum ensemble. The Eve live between the Volta and Mono rivers in West Africa, in what is now Ghana and Togo. The Eve have migrated to these areas from Benin and Western Nigeria since the 16th century (Locke 1979:01).
Galeota, Joseph. 1985. "Drum Making Among the Southern Eve People of Ghana and Togo." M.A. thesis, Wesleyan University.
Last Modified: 05-May-2005TOP