In Central Africa, whistles are versatile instruments. Musicians play whistles during rituals and ceremonies, masquerade performances, and for entertainment. Whistles can be played in orchestras of drums and xylophones. Whistles are often worn on a thong around the neck, resulting in lustrous patinas like that of this ivory example. Pende whistles may have been played in battle or during masquerades or in ensembles of ivory trumpets, iron gongs, and drums that accompanied the building of a chief’s ritual house or played on other important occasions.
Source: DjeDje, J. C. (1999). “Turn Up the Volume! A Celebration of African Music”, Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. page 307