Friday, 6 March 2015

Wooden slit gongs

Wooden slit gongs played a pivotal role in Bamum society in Cameroon. Their function was to send out signals in times of crisis from within the royal court. By the time German colonists reached the Bamum kingdom for the first time in 1910, they found eight of these spectacular instruments, each hollowed out from a central slit, decaying on the palace ground like felled giants from a mythical past. Two French colonial administrators stationed in the Bamilike region noted that these gongs were carved when a king was enthroned; when he died they were abandoned in the market square and left to rot as if undergoing the same process of decomposition as the king himself.

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