X86.1895 Lamellophone

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“thumb piano”
Southeast Nigeria
Wood, bamboo, fiber
H: 32.7 cm, W: 9.8 cm, D: 5.4 cm (H: 12.8 in, W: 3.8 in, D: 2.1 in)
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Helen and Dr. Robert Kuhn. X86.1895


This instrument has an old label that reads “Ashanti. Webster. July. 1899.” Nevertheless, an Asante attribution must be set aside in favor of a provenance in the Niger Delta and Cross River areas of southeast Nigeria, where a number of similar, pyro-engraved instruments of the same sort have been collected. There is sufficient similarity among this group to suggest a single workshop. None shows any evidence of use, and it is likely that they were made primarily for a European audience.

Source: DjeDje, J. C. (1999). “Turn Up the Volume! A Celebration of African Music”, Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. page 247