Drum Middle Sepik River Area East Sepik Province Papua New Guinea
This beautifully carved old Drum is from the Middle Sepik Area in the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea.
Hourglass shaped drums are often referred to as a Kundu which is the Papua New Guinea pidgin English word for this type of drum. Old drums like this fine example were family heirlooms often used over several generations of a family.
The whole drum is finely incised with Bird-man Ancestors faces in high relief along totemic crocodiles and clan designs that were later highlighted with ochre. The lug handle has a small ancestors head at each end and the whole drum has an deep old patina from use and storage in the men’s ceremonial house. The use of drums are very important to all traditional ceremonies where drumming and singing relate stories of ancient ancestral beings who are invoked for protection & fertility.
In the early 20th Century across the Sepik River area spectacular ceremonial houses were found in almost every village. They are known as ‘Haus tambaran‘ in New Guinea pidgin English. These amazing ceremonial houses embody the paramount female ancestor whose enormous face appears on the gable and whose name is given to the house. Clans descending from a common ancestor build the ceremonial houses where ceremonial objects are stored like Drums. Only men who are initiated are permitted inside the house Tambaran. During ritual ceremonies, the house becomes ‘hot’, indicating the presence of spirits.
This Drum would date from the 1940’s or earlier.
Provenance: The Sisters of Mercy Collection Queensland.
The Todd Barlin Collection of New Guinea Art & Oceanic Art
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