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Sapo-kesa (drum)

collected 1969


Unknown Artist

No image
  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Lake Kutubu Southern Highlands Province Papua New Guinea
    Cultural origin
    Foi people
    collected 1969
    Media categories
    Musical instrument , Ceremonial object
    Materials used
    carved and incised wood, plaited rattan, machine-wove cotton fabric, red, blue and black pigments
    105.4 cm length; 11.0 cm diameter at drum head; 19.5 cm diameter at mouth :

    0 - Whole, 105.4 cm (41 1/2")

    0 - Whole, 11 cm, diameter at drum head

    0 - Whole, 19.5 cm, diameter at mouth

    Purchased 1977
    Not on display
    Accession number
  • About

    Kutubu drums (sapo) are of two types: one is the familiar 'fish-mouth' (though the 'mouth' is called sapo-kesa, 'drum-treefork'); the other might be called the 'goblet' type.

    The drum is about 2 ft 6 ins [75cm] long, and without a handle. It is slenderly made and when not in use is carefully wrapped in bark-cloth and hung up. It is evidently a valued possession and I did not succeed in buying one. It has already been mentioned that drums are never used except in connection with the 'Usane' cult which deals with the curing of certain sicknesses. It is only as a culmination to a long course of treatment that a village holds an 'usanehabu', i.e. feast accompanied by a dance with drums. It is said that this cult has found its way to Kutubu from the Mubi via Fimaga, Foi, Segaro and Turigi. I do not know where the last two places would appear on the map, but they are seemingly away to the south-east. Some informants volunteered the opinion that the drums (of both kinds) had been introduced to Kutubu with the cult.

    Excerpt from FE Williams, 'Natives of Lake Kutubu, Papua', Oceania, vol 11 no 2, Dec 1940, pg. 149