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Transverse flute or side-blown horn

This instrument was collected in the field by Diana Powell-Cotton. It is a wide bore, side-blown flute or horn made of a large bamboo stalk, with a large embouchure hole and closed with a natural node at the proximal end, resembling the sacred flutes from Papua New Guinea. These are made from a hollow tube of bamboo with a single circular embouchure hole. They are usually played in pairs ("male" and "female") and almost in ceremonial and ritual context, restricted to men. Different pitches are obtained by overblowing or using techniques like covering the end with a finger, or the entire palm of the hand. According to original recorded information, this instrument was used in "Vuge" music, which may correspond to the "vugo" dance as practiced in Lamu (Kenya). In Swahili language, the word "vugo" can also mean a "large horn sounded by beating." Considering that these coastal islands could well share many cultural characteristics by their proximity, this exemplar could be a variant of a flute or horn used in these rituals. The clear distinction between a flute and a horn would have to be made through the type of embouchure used by the player, though the roughly carved embouchure hole and the large bore lean towards a side-blown horn.

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    Powell-Cotton Museum
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  • Place of production:
    Ciula Island, Bajuni Islands, Jabbada Hoose (region), Somalia
  • Culture:Bajuni
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  • Repository:Powell-Cotton Museum
  • Measurements:Length: 615mm; Diameter: 95mm