Slit drum, um 1900
About the object
The large slit drum (garamut) is richly engraved and the patterns are highlighted with white pigment. It was made from a single tree trunk. These instruments were used both to send signals over long distances, as well as for rituals.
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The drum is made from a single piece of tree trunk, with incised white patterns. The two ends of the handle represent fully sculpted human figures, one adorned with hanging coconut fibres. These large drums, also called garamut in New Guinea, are used both in secular and religious contexts. Sound is generated by hitting a large, heavy wooden drumstick on the body of the drum below the slot opening. On the one hand, these sounds are signals to convey important messages over long distances. But they are also considered to be the voices of spirits and ancestors in the context of ceremony or ritual. In addition, each drum is seen as an individual, the sound generated regarded as the voice. Garamut are still in use today, especially as signalling instruments. This example is from the Friedrich Wandres collection. Wandres was a plantation manager at the former New Guinea Company. The largest part of his collection went to the Ethnological Museum in Frankfurt, which sold parts of the collection to the museum in Freiburg.