Antique, late 19th century, African Mangbetu or Zande, bow harp, Kundi.
The sound box (Resonator) of the harp is made of wood and covered with snake skin, with one round opening on the anterior surface, and small holes for the strings.
There are no holes in the neck for the tuning pegs since the strings were fastened to the neck by the loops. Since the shape of the neck is conical, the strings were tuned by shifting the loops of the strings to the thicker or thinner part of the neck as required.
This type of harp was made and exchanged among the Mangbetu and Zande kingdoms of the northeastern Congo region. At court entertainments, itinerant minstrels and retainers played gracefully curved bow harps to accompany their stories, poems, and songs.
CONDITION: Showing the age and usage with old patina, the snake skin shrunken on joints, missing strings.
DIMENSIONS: Overall length: 78 cm (30 3/4 in). Length of the sound box: 50.8 cm (15 1/4 in).Width of the blade 14 cm (5 1/2 in). Length of the neck: 42 cm (16 1/2 in).
A very similar example of the harp is in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum amongst other Kundi harps.
Link to A MANGBETU HARP in Christie’s Amsterdam sale 2, July, 2002.
PROVENANCE: From an old Canadian collection of Tribal Art, acquired by the owner's grandfather before WWII.
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