long cylinder, ends conical shaped; alligator stands along top facing drum surface; sets of triangular shapes adorn sides and bottom, used to support drum when rope is strung through; low relief carving over body and alligator painted with black field and white recesses

Hand drum (kundu), 20th century

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Hand drums accompany clan songs performed at important community events. The drum sound represents spirit and ancestor voices. The Iatmul believe they are descended from a giant crocodile; this important animal appears many times on this instrument. The open-ended design carved around both halves of the drum represents the gaping jaws of two crocodiles, symbolic of sky and earth. These opposing realms are linked by the drum's handle, another crocodile.

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Iatmul, Kundu Drum (#204)
Details
Title
Hand drum (kundu)
Role
Artist
Accession Number
98.37.3
Curator Approved

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long cylinder, ends conical shaped; alligator stands along top facing drum surface; sets of triangular shapes adorn sides and bottom, used to support drum when rope is strung through; low relief carving over body and alligator painted with black field and white recesses