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date: 04 December 2020


  • Brian Diettrich


An hourglass-shaped, single-headed drum from the island of Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia. The body was made from breadfruit tree wood (Artocarpus altilis) or from the local tree topwuk (Premna gaudichaudii), and the head from shark or ray skin, or ray, or possibly a fish bladder. Drums were formerly of great cultural significance on the island; they were given proper names, associated with paramount chiefs, and played and cared for by men assigned the honorary title kiroun aip (keeper-of-the-drum). Men beat the drums by hand or using a stick fashioned from hibiscus, during feasts, contexts of warfare, and occasions involving paramount chiefs. The last detailed documentation of the aip on the island dates from 1910. A few historical examples exist in museums. Pohnpeians reconstructed one drum in 1976 that had been the only example on the island, but in 2011 the islanders undertook a new reconstruction project. During the early 20th century, drums similar to the ...

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Galpin Society Journal