Slit Gong (Idoro) with a Human Torso

late 19th century

African Art

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.




Approx.: 20 × 20 × 59 1/16 in. (50.8 × 50.8 × 150 cm)

Credit Line

Leonard C. Hanna, Jr., Class of 1913, Fund

Accession Number



19th century


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 records is ongoing.



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," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin: Online Supplement (accessed March 1, 2012), 5–6, ill
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

human figures (visual works), slit gongs

Technical metadata and APIs


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