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HOME : African & Tribal Art : African Musical Instruments : Yoruba Wooden Drum
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Yoruba Wooden Drum - PF.4700
Origin: Southwestern Nigeria
Circa: 19 th Century AD to 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 24" (61.0cm) high x 17.5" (44.5cm) wide
Collection: African Art
Medium: Wood and Animal Hide

Location: United States
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Drums are a crucial element in the performance of important ritual dances. Not only do they provide musical accompaniment, but they are also an integral part of the “magic of transformation” that the dance strives to achieve among the participants, and the audience watching. The collaboration between music, movement and imagery can be on a metaphysical level, and the drum acts as a physical medium by which the spirits of ancestors and other deities are contacted. This powerful drum is a beautiful example of Yoruba art that has a functional purpose. It is in fact a sculpture with its finely curved body and expressive face carved on one side. This face may act in a similar role as a mask, portraying the abstract representation of spirits the 'voice' of the instrument attempts to reach. A necklace just under the chin holds three vials in relief form, each identical to one another. These may symbolize amulets worn by individuals to ward off evil. Drums could be heard at great distances, up to 10 kilometers, and were signals of an approaching event. In the hands of an expert, this handsome drum could be many things: a musical instrument, a ritual object, a vessel of energy, or the mouthpiece of spirits. In a contemporary context, it is all these things as well as a work of art! - (PF.4700)


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