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Pair of Bamboo Flutes, Papua New Guinea, 1940s
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NMM 7436-7437. Pair of bamboo flutes, Papua New Guinea, ca. 1940s. The larger flute (NMM 7437) is the "male;" the smaller (NMM 7436), the "female." Embouchure hole near the closed, pronged end. Geometric patterns burned into bamboo. A fundamental pitch is produced by blowing across the embouchure hole. Additional pitches can be played by overblowing or by covering the open end with a finger or palm. Throughout Papua New Guinea, paired flutes are an integral part of boys’ initiation ceremonies. Because of their highly sacred function, which is to represent the voices of spirits or ancestors, women are traditionally not allowed to see, hear, or play them. Length of 7436: 28.6 cm (11-1/4"). Length of 7437: 32.2 cm (about 12-1/2"). Gift of Robert F. Cole, Montello, Wisconsin, 1998.
This pair of flutes was acquired by a friend of the donor who served in New Guinea during W. W. II. This serviceman, who witnessed similar flutes being played with drums in a native ritual ceremony, traded razors with the natives to acquire this particular pair.
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