Sri Lanka has had many types of Drums in use from ancient times and reference to these is found in the classical literature, i.e. Pujawaliya, Thupawansaya and Dalada Siritha. Although around thirty three types of drums are mentioned, today one could find only about ten and the rest are confined only to names.It is believed that some of those drums that are in use today i.e. Dawula, Udekki and Thammattama had their origin in other Asian countries. This may be true, but today as a result of these drums being in use for a very long time, they have acquired their own shapes and materials used for the construction are also indigenous. These drums are therefore unique to Sri Lanka and the rhythms played on them are also found only here.
All Sri Lankan drums are turned out of wood and the sides on which they are played are covered with animal skins of many types depending on the drums. Even the wood they use for each drum is different. It was normal to have a sort of ceremony when starting work on the making of a drum, but it may be that at present due to the whole process taking a more commercial outlook, these little ceremonies are ignored. During the early days, the drums were made for special people, those who would use them during their life time and leave for their children. Even today one could find drums more than a hundred years old. Such people for whom these drums were made also earned their living by using the drums. During the time of Sinhala kings, villages were offered as rewards for the drummers who played regularly in the Buddhist temples and the Royal Palace.
Thammattama, this drum consists of two parts and while the high sounds are produced by the right one, low sounds are produced by the left one. Wood for these drums comes from KOHOMBA, EHELA and JAK trees. The drum is played with two sticks with circular ends and they are made of KADURU. THAMMATTAMA is generally not played with equal pressure. There are special rhythms played on this drum. E.g.: to invite people in to the temple, invite Buddhist priests for Pirith ceremonies or Alms giving.