Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Slit Gong

19th–early 20th century
Papua New Guinea, Middle Sepik, Korewori River
Korewori River Region
H. 18 1/2 x L. 51 9/16 x D. 28 in. (47 x 131 x 71.1 cm)
Wood-Musical Instruments
Credit Line:
Gift of Lynda Ridgway Cunningham, 2013
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 354
This large horizontal slit gong, from a men's ceremonial house in the Korewori River region of Papua New Guinea, was played to accompany sacred and secular songs and dances. The gong is carved from a single log hollowed out through the slit to create an interior resonating chamber. An elongated stylized zoomorphic head, possibly that of a crocodile, with diamond-shaped eyes and a horn-like central projection at the center extends forward from the body of the gong. The head is adorned on the forehead and tip of the snout with small concave human faces. A sack-like form, possibly representing the wattle of a cassowary, extends from the underside of the neck. The main body of the gong is adorned on either side with two large downward curving motifs in low relief, which extend inward from either end of the slit. The edges of the slit are adorned with large triangular motifs in low relief. There is a triangular lug on the upper margin of the interior proper right wall. A round human face, facing upwards is carved at the end of the slit at the head end of the gong and a smaller diamond-shaped human face at the tail end of the slit. A pierced, curled tail, possibly that of a pig, extends from the center of the back end of the gong.
Lynda Cunningham, New York, from mid-1960s until 2013

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