A Superb Old New Guinea Drum Abelam People East Sepik Province Papua New Guinea 19th C
A Superb Old New Guinea Abelam Drum from the Abelam People Prince Alexander Mountain Range, East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea 19th Century
This beautiful old stone-carved Drum is from the Abelam People who live in Prince Alexander Mountain Range in the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea. This hourglass-shaped drum is called Kang in the Abelam language or more commonly a Kundu in Papua New Guinea Pidgin English. Old drums like this fine example were family heirlooms often used over several generations of a family. The use of drums is very important to all traditional ceremonies where drumming and singing relate stories of ancient ancestral beings who are invoked for protection & fertility.
The larger bottom section of the drum has a central ancestors’ head in high relief and is finely incised with scrolling clan designs around both the top & bottom parts of the drum, the lug handle and whole drum have an old deep brown patina from use and storage in the men’s ceremonial house.
The shape of the drum is a sculpture in itself, I looked at it for a long time before I had a stand made which put the bottom of the drum at the top as seen in the second photo above.
Beginning in childhood, each Abelam male must pass through eight separate initiation rites over the course of twenty to thirty years, before he is a fully initiated man. Each successive ritual requires both a physical ordeal and the viewing of increasingly elaborate displays of sacred objects in specially constructed chambers within the men’s ceremonial house. This process continues until the final rites, in which the initiate is shown the largest and most sacred of all displays—the brilliantly painted figures and other images portraying the powerful clan spirits called nggwalndu and ancestor figures. Drums like this fine example are used in most traditional Abelam ceremonies.
Stone Carved and dating from the late 19th Century.
Provenance: The John Friede Collection of New Guinea Art and The Todd Barlin Collection Of Oceanic Papuan New Guinea Art
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