Tam Tam stands tall in Library light well

A traditional musical instrument from the north Ambryn region is firmly planted in the center of Lovejoy Library.

The artifact is a large figure carved from a tree trunk, according to Eric Barnett, director of the University Museum. The slit allows the artist to hollow out the trunk. The instrument is beat with drumsticks to signal or to create music.

The title of the piece is the ‘Atingting Tam Tam’ and was created in 1965. The tam tam represents the second highest rank of the traditional men’s society, according to a University Museum pamphlet.

A tam tam is a traditional slit gong made by the indigenous people of the New Hebrides islands in the south Pacific.  The gong is also used as a rank and ancestor figure that is sometimes used singly, but is also found grouped into orchestras, according to the item description placed on near the display.

The description continues, stating the tam tam sometimes associated with secret societies to which all circumcised men in the village belong.

The tam tam is on loan from Robert Luken. It was originally made for the initiation ceremony of Cheif Dyaml, the highest-ranking chief and medicine man of the region.

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