Zande drums


These three drums from the Uele region in northeastern Congo were given to Armand Hutereau by two Zande chiefs at the beginning of the 20th century. Armand Hutereau (1875-1914) was a Belgian officer in the Force Publique, who fought in the campaign against Arab slave traders, which brought him the gratitude of the local chiefs. Along with a fourth, smaller version, the sembe (not exhibited), this big gaza and two go drums formed a band that played while the chief was drinking and the villagers dancing. Each Zande chief had a drum band of this kind.

These drums have two membranes. The top and bottom membranes are linked on the outside with leather strips that are woven in an artful interlacing pattern. Only the large top membrane is beaten. The gaza is more than 1.20 m high.

Hutereau was told the following anecdote about it by one of the chiefs: 'In the first half of the 19th century one of my predecessors went on the warpath accompanied by his drums. During a battle an uncle of mine was killed. We hid his body in the gaza and smuggled him back from enemy territory to the village'.

gaza inv.3229
detail of gaza 3229
detail of gaza 3229
go inv.3230
go inv.3231
Zande drums