Large wooden slit drums are used by chiefs or prominent nobles to transmit the coded tones of important messages over long distances, from village to village. Carved from a single tree trunk, the drum's walls vary in thickness and when struck produce a variety of tones, pitches, and rhythms that convey announcements and coded messages. The horned buffalo shape and large size of this drum reflect the high social status of its original owner. Drums of this type are installed in the center of the village in a special structure where they can be protected from the rain and sun.
Artist Barambo, African
  • Slit Drum
Date early 20th century
Medium Wood with pigment
Dimensions Overall: 48 × 96 × 48 inches (121.9 × 243.8 × 121.9 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase, Ralph Harman Booth Bequest Fund
Accession Number 1986.26
Department Africa, Oceania & Indigenous Americas
Not On View
(Alan Brandt, Inc., New York, New York, USA);
1986-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
African Masterworks In The Detroit Institute of Arts. Washington and London: The Detroit Institute of Arts and Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995, cat. no. 46.

Bulletin of the DIA 62, no. 3. 1986, p. 15.

"Recent Acquisitions," African Arts, vol. 20, no. 2, p. 65 (ill.).