The drum is a significant instrument used in Torres Strait Islander dances and other performances.
To tune the drum, Torres Straight Islanders would use wild beeswax, also known as Isau, which translates to "a lot of shed tears".
"Drums of this type, now used throughout the Torres Strait, originate from the villages located in the well-wooded inland region at the headwaters of the Pahoturi, Binaturi and Oriomo rivers.
Waisted drums from the inland region all have handles carved from the same piece of timber as the body of the drum.
They are generally about one metre in length with an even symmetrical shape, decorated at the base with carved diamond and triangular patterns.
These carvings are usually repeated around the handle boss.
At the present time these drums are used by most Torres Strait Islander dance groups both on the Australian mainland and in the islands although they are often recarved and overpainted with bright acrylic paint which adds to their visual impact during competitive dance performances.
Drums have been, and still are, important items of material culture in the Torres Strait and Fly estuary region.
Perhaps the reason for this is that no readily transportable, functional substitute has been found that could reproduce the quality of sound and visual impact of the wooden hand drum."
excerpt from: Lawrence, David : Gunnar Landtman in Papua: 1910 to 1912. with assistance from Pirjo Varjola. Canberra, Anu Press, 2010
Lawrence, David : Gunnar Landtman in Papua: 1910 to 1912. with assistance from Pirjo Varjola. Canberra, Anu Press, 2010
Landtman, Gunnar: The Kiwai Papuans of British New Guinea. London 1927.
Williams, F. E.: Papuans of the Trans-Fly. Oxford, 1935.Landtman, G.: The folk-tales of the Kiwai Papuans. Acta Societatis Scientiarum Fennicae XLVII, Helsingfors, 1917.
Haddon, A. C.:-Reports of the Cambridge An-thropological Expedition to Torres Straits. Vol. 1, Cambridge, 1935.
New Guinea Art: Masterpieces of the Jolika Collection from Marcia And John Friede