Friction idiophone

Photography Carl Warner

Photography Carl Warner

Photography Carl Warner

Photography Carl Warner

Photography Carl Warner

Photography Carl Warner

Registration number
828
Item name
Friction idiophone 
Category
Sound
 
Indigenous name
launut 
Maker
Unrecorded  
Associated cultural group
 
Place
Pacific > Papua New Guinea > New Ireland Province > Namatanai District
Map
Collector
Unrecorded 
Acquisition date
January 01, 1948 
Acquisition method
Foundation Donation from Unrecorded 
Raw material
wood
Dimensions
H: 650 mm W: 330 mm L: D: 230 mm Circum:

Description

Artefact 828 is a large polished friction block featuring three undercut tongues. Overall it is 65cm long, 33cm high, and 23cm wide. The size of the tongues indicates a low, medium and high tuning. The rubbing surface has been well polished and has rounded corners – this is traditionally done with shark or ray skin, possible used in combination with sand. The sides of the instrument still show the rougher marks of a small adze or axe. It features marine snail shell opercula eyes and a decorative crest. The wood has a deep brown patina. On one side of the instrument there is an incised ‘V’ shape with a small serif on one arm (Gibson V 1999].

Research notes

From the UQ Anthropology Museum exhibition 'Musical Landscapes of Lihir' March - August 2013, curated by Dr Kirsty Gillespie and the Lihir Cultural Heritage Association with Dr Diana Young.

The friction block idiophone is an ovaloid, wooden rubbing-block resonator which is geographically and culturally unique to peoples of New Ireland and the neighbouring Tabar Islands. The carving is essentially functional but may also include decorative motifs and zoomorphic characteristics including ‘eyes’. The timber is a light-coloured soft wood, probably Alstonis villosa. The ‘eyes’ are the sealing valve-plug opercula of the marine snail Turbo petholatus. Instruments usually feature three separate ‘tongues’ which vibrate as the hand, which is moistened or rosined (with saliva, oil, breadfruit or rubber tree milk / sap, and croton leaf sap) is drawn towards the body across the tongues’ surfaces.

The Foundation Donation comprises the items from L. P. Winterbotham's personal collection, which were donated to the University of Queensland in 1948 and form the basis of the Anthropology Museum.

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