Slit Gong Drum Lower Sepik River East Sepik Province Papua New Guinea
|Size||Length 178cm by Height 44cm|
This beautiful old & well used Slit Gong Drum is from the Lower Sepik River area in the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea.
In many parts of New Guinea, the sounds produced by certain types of musical instruments, played during ceremonies, are said to be the voices of supernatural beings. Among Sepik peoples, the most important musical instruments were sacred flutes and slit gongs—percussion instruments carved from massive logs, hollowed out to create a resonating chamber with a narrow slit like aperture, whose edges are struck with wood beaters to produce a deep, sonorous tone. The ends of slit gongs are typically embellished, as here, with ornate finials depicting important clan ancestors a male on one side but interestingly just under the male ancestor figures is female genitalia under both male figures. Both sides of this fine drum are adorned with deep incised clan designs and the whole drum has been coated with red and black ochre
Large slit gongs are a prominent feature of men’s ceremonial houses where they are sometimes arranged in pairs running longitudinally down the length of the earthen floor of the open under story of the structure. Played to accompany a variety of ritual performances and other events, such drums, though used exclusively by men, are readily visible and relatively public objects.
This Drum would date from the 1940’s or earlier.
Provenance: Collected in the 1960’s by Dr Fred Gerrits.
Gerrits was born in 1933 in Bandung, in Indonesia. After graduating with a degree in medicine in Holland, he settled in Papua New Guinea in the 1950’s, where he met his future wife Nel. As of 1964 the Gerrits worked in various hospitals in New Guinea until Fred was appointed as the Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Officer for the provinces of West and East Sepik, with a base in Maprik at the foot of the Prince Alexander Mountains. Gerrits collection is featured in major museum collections around the world.
The Todd Barlin Collection of New Guinea Art and Oceanic Art and Asian Art.