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date: 14 November 2019

Tutu [cucu]locked

  • Raymond Ammann



An onomatopoeic term for conch horns in all languages of New Caledonia. In the Paicî language, however, the conch is called tuu and this name also refers to the call of the pigeon déa tuu (Ducula goliath). When heard from a distance, the sound of the pigeon and that of the conch can hardly be distinguished. Conches blown for signalling are reported in early ethnographic notes for New Caledonia; the shells are also decorative objects with powerful symbolism, for example as a metaphor for the conception of life. On the Grande Terre (main island) only the conch Triton tritonis is used; it is end-blown, and sometimes the pitch is varied by inserting the fist in the horn. The tutu was used to signal shipping movements and to call meetings, commonly today for prayers or church services. It is also blown to announce a death. Formerly it was sounded at important moments in yam cultivation, for example, at the beginning of a new harvest or at the ending of an old harvest, but this is no longer done....

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