X86.1120 Slit gong

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Slit gong
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Suku peoples
H: 42 cm (H: 16.5 in)
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Helen and Dr. Robert Kuhn. X86.1120


Among Suku and Yaka peoples, slit gongs are emblems of healers/diviners and visual metaphors for the diviners themselves. Combining male and female, the body of the slit gong is phallic in shape while having a womblike interior. Diviners use slit gongs in a variety of ways during a patient’s treatment. As they walk to their clients’ houses, they play slit gongs so that people know where they are. They continue to play when they arrive. The diviner may sit on the slit gong during sessions with the patient. Small slit gongs can also serve as cups for administering medicine. Finally, when diviners gather for the funeral of a fellow diviner, they play their slit gong to celebrate the person’s life.

Source: DjeDje, J. C. (1999). “Turn Up the Volume! A Celebration of African Music”, Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. page 286