Accession Number



Artist Nationality
Kuba (Democratic Republic of Congo style)

Object Creation Date
circa 1880

Medium & Support
Wood, leather, plant fibers, and tukula powder

27 5/8 in x 11 1/8 in x 10 1/16 in (70.17 cm x 28.26 cm x 25.56 cm)

Credit Line
Museum Purchase made possible by the Friends of the Museum of Art

Subject matter
Drums were said to be introduced by King Shyaam. They served as symbols of royalty and were used for dance during various ceremonies. Pel ambish is a drum of office commissioned by the king, containing a distinct geometric pattern of his choosing. After the king's death, the drum turned into a commemorative object to be removed and exhibited on important occasions. Additionally, the geometric patterns on this particular drum are similar to the patterns found on Kuba textiles and basketry. This drum is also covered in tukula powder, called tool or twool. Made from camwood, tukula was used abundantly on Kuba carvings. It was also smeared on clothing and used in times of mourning.

David Binkley, Avatars of Power, 1987
Donna Coates Rogers, Royal Art of Kuba 1978
Daniel Biebuyck, The Arts of Zaire, 1985
Georges Meurant, African Textiles from the Kingdom of Kuba, 1986
Roy Sieber, African Textiles and Decorative Arts, 1972
Jan Vansina, The Children of Woot, 1978

Physical Description
A vertically positioned drum with two handles. The stem between the handles resembles a coil or spiral shape consisting of layered rings. The bottom half of the drum, below the handles, consists of a linear design of concentric lines. The top portion of the drum, above the handles, consists of geometric patterns. Leather skin is stitched to the top of the drum.

Primary Object Classification
Musical Instrument

Primary Object Type
percussion instrument

Collection Area

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carvings (visual works)

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted