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African Art
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Slit Gong (Idoro) with a Human Torso

late 19th century


Approx.: 20 × 20 × 59 1/16 in. (50.8 × 50.8 × 150 cm)
Leonard C. Hanna, Jr., Class of 1913, Fund
Figurative slit gongs are found in only a few societies in Africa, and they are always from the context of serious ritual performance. Among the Mbembe, it is said that these large slit gongs were used in male initiations, during biannual military ceremonies, and as altars on which offerings were made. The latter may explain why these large gongs are usually disintegrated. Most old eroded examples of this type of object retain only the figurative finial, usually a seated figure. The entire gong is carved from a single piece of wood, with elaborate incised decoration, and, in this case, a large finial in the form of a human torso with the arms clutching the neck.
Not on view
19th century
Musical Instruments

Jacques Kerchache, Paris, prior to 1960
Lord Alistair McAlpine, Australia, purchased in Paris,1960's–1990's
Bill Evans, Australia, 1990s, exact dates unknown
James Willis, San Francisco, 1990s, exact dates unknown
Joris Visser, Gallery Kelman-Visser, Brussels, unknown date–2010


“Acquisitions,” https://artgallery.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/Pub_Bull_acquisitions_2011.pdf (accessed March 1, 2012).

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.