Nathaniel Sasbiah

Nathaniel Sasbiah is from Kosmaiun village, Lihir Island in the New Ireland Province of Papua New Guinea. He is one of Lihir’s master carvers of the slit drum or galamit (in Lihir language, ‘garamut’ in Tok Pisin). Nathaniel is the leader of the Katronmolam clan and son of Daniel Akris of the Masi clan, and was born in 1945. He says, “As a boy, I followed my uncle Kiapsai to the bush, sat and observed him at work on a number of slit drums. I did not even assist him nor think about carving one slit drum until after his death, then I realised, there was no one left in my village with the skills to continue on the art of making slit drums.” Nathaniel has completed over 12 slit drums for customary feasts on Lihir Island. He says, “It is important for the younger generations to learn the skills of making slit drums so that we preserve and pass on the skills to the next generations of Lihirians. It is not as hard as people may think”, he said, “just sit and observe the carver and you will learn from that, then apply the skills when you really want to work on one slit drum and complete it.”

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