Welcome to baoku, the online learning library of the Confucius Institute at Mason. Baoku, in Chinese, means "treasure trove"—we hope that you find the site's useful information to be just that.

Traveling Trunk


The rattle drum is commonly used as a noisemaker toy. This small drum is hand held, double-sided, and has a wooden ball hanging from each end of a string that is passed through the drum. When the drum is twisted, the balls swing and hit the drum creating a rattling sound. The head of the drum is commonly made of cowhide or sheepskin. The frame of the drum is traditionally made of wood, but today, plastic versions are also produced.

There are many different types of drums. This particular type of drum was first seen in the Warring States Period (475-221 BC) (22) and was used as a musical instrument. The drum was eventually mainstreamed as a toy due to its ease of use and entertaining sound.

The appearance of these drums can vary greatly. Some are basic and plain, but others are lavishly decorated. The faces can be painted, a bead or a marble may replace the wooden balls, or even carved handles can be used. Merchants commonly sell these drums at festivals and fairs. Over the noise of the festivities, you can still hear the rhythmic sounds of vendors trying to “drum up” sales.