Friday mystery object #90


This week I thought I’d give you a break from the bones and provide something a bit more cultural for you to identify:

Any idea what it is, where it’s from and what it’s for?

As usual you can put your questions, comments and suggestions below and I’ll get back to you as best I can (possibly with some additional information from my colleague Tom – who knows far more about this object than I do!).

Good luck!

31 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #90

  1. Is it one of those African musical instruments that you play with your thumbs ? I think it is !

    I used to know what those are called, but I forgot…

    • It’s OK, you were on completely the right track and the actual name for this particular and somewhat peculiar mbira still hasn’t been mentioned.

  2. As far as I can make out, the names for most of these instruments varies more by region than by their design. However, I think this one is called a kongoma/gongoma (from West Africa, possibly Guinea?), and is a bass instrument with those short, fat keys.

    • Ooh, region is important, but design is actually key in identifying this instrument. Spot the novelty in the design and it will lead you to the correct region and the correct name!

      • Damn and blast! And I spent ages this morning doing research! I prefer skulls – they’re easier to pin down (although I seem to be getting a lot of those wrong lately too!).

        Is it from Nigeria? Google found me a paper with reference to a Nigerian mbira with no bridge, but won’t let me read the useful part without a subscription, so I couldn’t get its name!

  3. I love these types of Friday mystery objects; I’m not so good at the bones. The first thing I’d note about this is that it has the distinctive shape of a boat. So I was going to guess Sansa from West Africa because I found other boat shaped Sansa online. But as you said this is not a Sansa, so I’m at a loss. The other unique feature appears to be in the way the metal pieces are mounted directly into the wood rather that having them strung through a bridge. So, I guess no answers here just analysis.

  4. Only if you wanted a very sore bottom. If you click on the image it should be roughly life size (depending on your monitor settings obviously). Not that big.

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