Slit gongs are prominently featured in social and religious ceremonies in the island chain, often in ensemble with other gongs of different sizes. Sculpted from hollowed-out tree trunks, the top of the gong is carved as a powerful stylized face of an ancestor, with large protruding triangles representing the eyes and nose, and the slit representing the mouth. These objects were therefore perceived as portraits as much as instruments. The playing of the gong symbolized the activation of the ancestor's spirit, though the instruments were also used to communicate over long distances. This particular drum was probably made by the Small Nambas people of Malakula, who are named for the style of phallocrypt which the men wear.
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