On the flea market or Trash’n’treasure stalls at a recent gas and steam festival I attended with the offsprings in Maryland recently, this object caught my attention and jumped into my hands. Its smooth well balanced form, the soft metallic rustle of tin discs and crisper rattle from within the dried gourd at the other end, all spoke to me literally, saying ‘pick me’ and ‘take me home’. So I did – I had the $10 asking price and just could not resist this unusual and somehow beautiful thing. And fortunately, although I declared it coming in, no one wanted to see it, and therefore I was spared the pain of possible confiscation.
The stallholders said they felt it is a music maker, a percussion instrument. Although it is very sturdy, I will hang it on the wall while certain little people are visiting at the end of the year. And it is made ‘confidently’ by which I mean it is well crafted – from the shiny very smooth wood, to the wire fastened around the prongs to support the metal discs; and where the stained dried gourd meets the wooden shaft, the join is covered by a 3/4 inch stip of deerskin, probably, neatly held in place with a couple of tacks, which are holding depspite that it feels old and well used. It has an air about it of African heritage, which would not be surprising considering where I found it …. and any reader with knowledge of any thing like this, I’d be interesting in hearing it.
The overall length is about 18inches; the three pronged section about 7 inches; and the gourd about 3 inches base to neck and about 4 inches widest diametre. The rusted metal/tin discs are about 1 and 1/2 inch diametre.