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Images from The Beede Gallery

Natural Trumpet (Towel), Mummeri Village, East Sepik Province
Papua New Guinea, 19th Century

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NMM 1528.  Trumpet, Mummeri village, East Sepik Region, Papua New Guinea, 19th century Trumpet, Side View 1 Trumpet, Side View 2 Back of trumpet

NMM 1528. Natural trumpet (towel), Mummeri Village, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea, 19th century. Side-blown natural trumpet made from the taun, a tree indigenous to New Guinea. Carved figure with cowry-shell eyes and a small bird (which may represent a totemic ancestor), above embouchure hole. Decorated with etched circles and curvilinear designs. This trumpet, along the other wooden New Guinea trumpets at the NMM, originates from the Sepik River region, one of the largest river systems in the world. It is inhabited by over 200 indigenous groups, well-known for their carvings and art. Length: 72 cm (28.4"). Beede Fund, 1977.

Historically, side-blown trumpets have been used to announce the approach of a raiding- or a head-hunting party to an enemy village, and to signal the return of a war-party to their home village. In some areas, such as parts of the West Sepik, Yangoru, and Arapesh areas, trumpets are played in ensembles. Tuned to produce different fundamental pitches, they are played in alternation to create a continuous melody. These trumpet ensembles may accompany dances or male initiation rites.


Head, Embouchure Hole, and Carved Ornamentation

Carved head on trumpet Bird Embouchure hole Decorative carvings


Lit.:  "Important Acquisitions Continue to Be Made," Shrine to Music Mueum, Inc., Newsletter Vol. 4, No. 2 (April 1977), p. 2.

André P. Larson, The National Music Museum: A Pictorial Souvenir (Vermillion: National Music Museum, 1988), pp. 8 and 27.

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