In Western culture, drumming is most often related to entertainment. In Africa, drums hold a deeper significance, both symbolic and historical. They herald political and social events attending ceremonies of birth, death and marriage. They spark courtships, herald home comings and departures, and accompany religious rites and rituals, calling up ancestral spirits.
This fine Mangbetu slit drum shows an impressively strong silhouette in classic semicircular style, intensified by elongated points at the upper corners. In contrast to others of its type, which are adorned with decorative details applied with metal tacks, this drum features a smooth, unbroken surface design. With a dramatic fullness communicated in its weighty arc, the composition achieves a powerful sculptural minimalism.
Slit drums (nedundu) were commonly used by the Mangbetu in communication, ceremony, and dance. They were slung over one shoulder when played, hung by a strong strap or cord through one of their rectangular suspension holes.