Slit-gong drums, made and used as part of affinal exchange relations on the Rai Coast of Papua New Guinea, are said to have a ’voice’ and thus carry gravitas; they demand respect as a kind of person. Further, they are so closely tied to the person and position of their owners that they are said to be their voice. These items cannot be extracted from the kin formations in which they came into being, and in which they have their on-going effect. However, in 2010, in an unprecedented event, a large slit-gong made for and used by a local Community School was attacked during a dispute. I examine the notion of irreplaceability and substitutability in the light of this incident. The paper concludes with the proposition that Rai Coast slit-gong are not representations of persons, but are specific and unique things in their own right because of the ‘relational’ position they sustain. In this they have a temporal rather than essential uniqueness.
|Translated title of the contribution||The Death of the Drum: Unique things on the Rai Coast of Papua New Guinea|
|Number of pages||20|
|Journal||Techniques & Culture|
|Publication status||Published - 2012|
- Papua New Guinea