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Object 13

Yaka diviner’s slit drum
N'Koku Ngoombu
Wood and steel
(1912)
Royal Museum for Central Africa
Inv. MO.0.0.3410

 

The Yaka people see the moon as a beneficial heavenly body even though the dark period (the new moon) is more likely to be welcomed by mixed feelings. The small cylindrical and anthropomorphic drums, usually called n'koku ngoombu, are used in the context of ritual divination. During this event the nganga (the traditional healer) hits a short and repetitive formulas on the instrument with the help of a simple heartwood stick as melodic-rhythmic accompaniment for his songs, which the lyrics clearly refer to the star of the night. These instruments are made from one piece of wood and consist of two different parts: a sound box, the musical body of the instrument, and a cephalomorphic cut-out extension, which has the features of certain masks used during ritual dances or practices. Each realization of the instrument has a personality and a singular form that is determined by the identification of the diviner with a behaviour or a ritual being.

Read more about the Slit drum.


Eric Warnauts - Raives
Congo 40
Casterman, 1988

 

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