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Images from The Beede Gallery

Slit Drum, Ambrym Island, Vanuatu, Early 20th Century

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NMM 2759.  Slit drum, Ambrym Island, Vanuatu, early 20th century Side view

NMM 2759. Slit drum (nanaru a ting ting), Ambrym Island, Vanuatu, ca. 1900-1915. Vertical slit drum constructed from a breadfruit log. Above the slit are two faces with disk eyes, a design common to the region and said to represent ancestral figures. Slit drums play an integral role in the economic system and social stratification of Ambrym society. When a man accumulates enough wealth, usually in the form of pigs, he pays for a drum to be made, as well as for a na huqe—a ceremony marking the man’s advancement to a higher societal status. The newly made drum is played to accompany the songs and dances of the ritual. Length: 280 cm (about 9'). Board of Trustees, 1981.


Close-up Views of Drum

Upper half of slit drum Upper face Lower face Lower face, view 2 Slit in drum Side view


Lit.:  "Rare Drum from the South Pacific Arrives in South Dakota," Shrine to Music Museum, Inc., Newsletter, Vol. 8, No. 2 (April 1981), p. 2.

"1980-1981 Acquisitions at USD Music Museum," Newsletter of the American Musical Instrument Society, Vol. 11, No. 1 (February 1982), p. 3.

André P. Larson, The National Music Museum: A Pictorial Souvenir (Vermillion: National Music Museum, 1988), p. 26.

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