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date: 14 November 2019


  • Chris Thompson Saumaiwai,
  • Mervyn McLean
  •  and Jeremy Montagu


Slit drum of Fiji and Western Polynesia. It is believed to have originated in Fiji, where it is the only form of slit drum, and to have spread from there as part of the normal equipment of the sea-going double canoe. In Fiji, large instruments of hardwood up to 1.8 or even 2.7 metres are used. They have a characteristic trough or canoe shape and are beaten with two sticks (i uaua) for signalling. Formerly they were played to signal events of social significance such as wars, victories, births, and death; each signal had its proper name. Nowadays they are used to call people together for church services or other meetings. Generally a pair of instruments is used, one larger than the other, and they are played either by two players or by one person standing between them. Lali manufacture is a specialized craft passed to a son within the family. In earlier years the drums were kept in the men’s house,; nowadays they are outside, but they are often protected by a roof....

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Galpin Society Journal