Ende 19. Jahrhundert

About the object

An idiophone, often referred to as a »drum«, which is made to sound by stroking the three tongues with one's hands. However, it is not an ordinary instrument for everyday use, but associated with Malangan festivities on New Ireland, a cycle of celebrations that take place on the occasion of a person's death and as a ritual of remembrance of the deceased that lasts for several years.
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These musical instruments were made and used for the malangan rituals exclusively in the northern part of New Ireland. Women were not allowed to see the instruments, which is why they were played in secret. The singing tone resonated as the musician stroked the wooden tongues with moistened hands. It is extremely rare to find one of these instruments in a museum as they are seldom traded or sold. Originating in New Ireland, this unique musical instrument is associated with the elaborate mourning rituals on the island, the Malangans. It was played in utmost secrecy, never as an accompanying instrument or in public. By stroking the tongues of the orchestra with moistened hands, a singing tone resonates, the source of which remains hidden from the uninitiated and is connected with the deceased's passage into the realm of the dead. The emphasised eye section with the inlaid eyes and the tongues lend the instrument the shape and appearance of a living being in animal form. However, there is no evidence to support this inference. The instruments were very valuable, they had proper names and were passed down from generation to generation. The object was acquired in 1907 from the Frankfurt Ethnological Museum. It is an old, valuable piece and comes from the Friedrich Wandres collection. Wandres was a plantation manager at the German New Guinea Company. The Frankfurt Ethnological Museum acquired the majority of his collection, however, parts of the collection (»doublets«) were sold by the museum to the Freiburg museum.

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