Astrolabe Bay drum New Guinea

Astrolabe Bay drum / Trommel / Tambour Papua New Guinea / Neuguinea

Unique ancestor figures. The figures have elbows and knees bent in praying mantis position. I would be amazed to learn that there are other such Astrolabe Bay drums with ancestor figures in any collection in the world. Carving at the opposite side of the handle is missing. It comes from an old German ( Wuppertal-Barmen ) collection. Probably collected by a missionary from the Barmer Missionary Society.

"The drums of this region are distinguished from the Huon Gulf variety primarily by the handles. These end in a loop, said to represent a snake,whereas the handles of the Huon Gulf drums are perfectly plain. Also, the Astrolabe drums are tubular in shape and very seldom have the semblance of a waist. On the opposite side of the handle there is again the highly carved open- work projection, sometimes much longer than the handle. It is here meant to represent a stylized lizard or snake. No handle bands are present, but a design is incised on two or more raised surfaces, which encircle the centre of the drum.These are always band- like and never jaw shaped. The tympanum is again of Varanus skin, glued on.The open end is left round, and unornamented." (excerpt from the book: Drum Types of Eastern New Guinea, by Aldo Massola ,1957)

Drums on photo No.6 and 7:
Astrolabebai Trommel
Barmer Missionsausstellung 1922
Aufnahme-Nr.fm626716 Trommeln
copyright: Bildarchiv Foto Marburg

"The Russian traveller, Baron MikluchoMaclay, has described a curious funeral ceremony which is observed by some of the Papuans of Astrolabe Bay. I will give the first part of his description in his own words, which I translate from the German. He says:"
"The death of a man is announced to the neighbouring villages by a definite series of beats on the drum. On the same day or the next morning the whole male population assembles in the vicinity of the village of the deceased. All the men are in full warlike array. To the beat of drum the guests march into the village, where a crowd of men, also armed for war, await the new-comers beside the dead man's hut. After a short parley the men divide into two opposite camps, and there upon a sham fight takes place. However, the combatants go to work very gingerly and make no use of their spears. But dozens of arrows are continually discharged, and not a few are wounded in the sham fight, though not seriously. The nearest relations and friends of the deceased appear especially excited and behave as if they were frantic. When all are hot and tired and all arrows have been shot away, the pretended enemies seat themselves in a circle and in what follows most of them act as simple spectators."
excerpt from the book: Frazer, James George - The belief in immortality and the worship of the dead. 1913

"The skins of the lizards were simply dried and, without any further preparation, rolled up in a bamboo tube. Before use, the skins were softened in water, stretched tightly over the opening of the drum and firmly bound at the rim; the edge hanging out under the binding was pulled from all sides until the drumhead became evenly taut. First, however, the rim of the drum was smeared with the juice of a tree which glued the skin securely to the wood on drying. Another important material was the wax supplied by the stingless Trigona bees, pea-sized pieces of which were rolled and stuck to the drumhead. If these wax pieces were hit, the drum gave a pleasanter sound. During the dance every man had a nut-sized piece of wax stuck to the handle of the drum, to replace pieces which came off. If the skin began to sag during the dance, it was warmed at the fire to make it taut again, and it was occasionally beaten to tune it."
excerpt from: Bodrogi, Tibor (1961), Art in North-East New Guinea.p.79-81. Budapest: Hungarian Academy of Science.

Bodrogi, Tibor (1950) Yabim Drums in the Bíró Collection / Yabim-típusú dobok a Bíró-gyűjteményben. Néprajzi Múzeum.
Bodrogi, T. 1959, New Guinea Style Provinces: The Style Province “Astrolabe Bay”.In: Opuscula Ethnologica Memoriae Ludovici Biro Sacra (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest) Vol. 6, pp. 39-99.
Bodrogi, T. 1961, Art in North-East New Guinea. Budapest: Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
Biro, Lajos 1901, Beschreibender Catalog der Ethnographischen Sammlung Ludwig Biro’s aus Deutsch-Neu-Guinea (Astrolabe-Bai). [Beschreibungen von Willibald Semayer.] Ethnographische Sammlungen des Ungarischen Nationalsmuseums III. Budapest. Német-új-Guineai (Astrolabe-Öböl) néprajzi gyűjtésének leíró jegyzéke. Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum Néprajzi gyűjteményei.
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Finsch, Otto (1888) Reisen in Kaiser Wilhelms-Land und Neu-Guinea an Bord des Dampfers Samoa.
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Massola Aldo : Drum Types of Eastern New Guinea 1957
Hamson, Michael (Editor): Between the Known and Unknown : New Guinea Art from Astrolabe Bay to Morobe. Contributions by : Crispin Howarth, Christin Kocher Schmid, Dieter Klein, Fritz Klusmeier, Klaus Maaz, Virginia-Lee Webb, Robert L. Welsch, Arnold Wentholt, Gabor Vargyas
Vargyas Gabor : Art of Astrolabe Bay. In: Art and Performance in Oceania. Edited by: Barry Craig, Bernie Kernot, Christopher Anderson.
Frazer, James George, The belief in immortality and the worship of the dead. 1913