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Collection Tour

Oceanic Musical Instruments

  • The MFA’s Musical Instruments Collection contains over 1,100 examples from around the world, ranging from ancient times to the twenty-first century. Explore a selection of Oceanic instruments from the Museum’s holdings.

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  • Jew's harp (susap)

    19th century

    Object Place: Papua New Guinea

    Description

    Cylindrical body of bamboo with cut-away tapered end. Two slender arms and central tongue. Etched herringbone designs on surface. Hole with old cord at wide end.

    Provenance

    1984, sold by Douglas Deihl, Northampton, Massachusetts, to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 13, 1984)

    Credit Line

    Helen and Alice Colburn Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 20.5 cm, width 2.9 cm (Length 8 1/16 in., width 1 1/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    1984.285

    Medium or Technique

    Bamboo

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Idiophones

    More Info
  • Jew's harp (susap)

    about 1925

    Object Place: Papua New Guinea

    Description

    Flat carrot-shaped piece of dark bamboo. Two slender arms and central tongue. Hole, for cord, at wide end.

    Inscription

    In ink at narrow end: 108-0

    Provenance

    1984, sold by Douglas Deihl, Northampton, Massachusetts, to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 13, 1984)

    Credit Line

    Helen and Alice Colburn Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 23.4 cm, width 2.8 cm, depth 0.9 cm (Length 9 3/16 in., width 1 1/8 in., depth 3/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    1984.286

    Medium or Technique

    Bamboo

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Idiophones

    More Info
  • Jew's harp (susap)

    about 1930

    Object Place: Papua New Guinea

    Description

    Cylindrical body of bamboo with cut-away tapered end. Two slender arms (bound together at end) and free central tongue. Pokerwork geometric designs on surface. Hole for cord at wide end.

    Provenance

    Before 1979, private collection of New Guinea material compiled about 1930, New York; about 1979, Lillian Caplin, Center for Musical Antiquities, New York; before 1984, sold by Caplin to Douglas Deihl, Northampton, Massachusetts; 1984, sold by Deihl to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 13, 1984)

    Credit Line

    Helen and Alice Colburn Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 20 cm, width 2.1 cm (Length 7 7/8 in., width 13/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    1984.284

    Medium or Technique

    Bamboo

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Idiophones

    More Info
  • Jew's harp (susap)

    1900–50

    Object Place: Goroka, Papua New Guinea

    Description

    Cylindrical body of bamboo with cut-away tapered end. Two slender arms and central tongue. Etched geometric designs on surface. Hole with old cord at wide end.

    Provenance

    About 1967, gift of a villager in the Goroka area of Papua New Guinea to Solange Petit-Skinner, Boston; 2002, year-end gift of Carlton Skinner and Solange Skinner to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 22, 2003)

    Credit Line

    Gift of Governor Carlton Skinner and Solange Skinner

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 24 cm, width 2.7 cm (Length 9 7/16 in., width 1 1/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    2002.781

    Medium or Technique

    Bamboo

    On View

    Arts of Asia, Oceania, and Africa Gallery (Gallery 177)

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Idiophones

    More Info
  • Jew's harp

    19th century

    Object Place: Possibly Florida Island, Solomon Islands

    Description

    Flat carrot-shaped piece of striped wood. Two slender arms (bound together at end) and free central tongue. Small knob at wide end.

    Provenance

    Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945), Hatfield Regis, England; 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1916, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 5, 1916)

    Credit Line

    Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 16.4 cm, width 1.7 cm, depth 0.5 cm (Length 6 7/16 in., width 11/16 in., depth 3/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    17.2166

    Medium or Technique

    Wood

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Idiophones

    More Info
  • Vessel flute

    about 1930

    Object Place: Possibly Central Highlands, Papua New Guinea

    Description

    Flat, rectangular-shaped body of earthenware with incised geometric designs. Painted blue, red, and orange. Mouth-hole at end and two fingerholes on knobs.

    Inscription

    Small glued-on label with typed number "6" or "9"

    Provenance

    Before 1979, private collection of New Guinea material compiled about 1930, New York; about 1979, Lillian Caplin, Center for Musical Antiquities, New York; before 1984, sold by Caplin to Douglas Deihl, Northampton, Massachusetts; 1984, sold by Deihl to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 13, 1984)

    Credit Line

    Helen and Alice Colburn Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 14.2 cm, width 9.3 cm, depth 4.1 cm (Length 5 9/16 in., width 3 11/16 in., depth 1 5/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    1984.287

    Medium or Technique

    Earthenware

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Vessel flute

    about 1930

    Object Place: Possibly Central Highlands, Papua New Guinea

    Description

    Flat, oval-shaped body of earthenware with incised geometric designs, including four-point star on one side and three diamonds on reverse. Painted blue, red, and yellow. Mouth-hole at end, two fingerholes on knobs, and one hole for carrying cord.

    Provenance

    Before 1979, private collection of New Guinea material compiled about 1930, New York; about 1979, Lillian Caplin, Center for Musical Antiquities, New York; before 1984, sold by Caplin to Douglas Deihl, Northampton, Massachusetts; 1984, sold by Deihl to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 13, 1984)

    Credit Line

    Helen and Alice Colburn Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 9.5 cm, width 7.4 cm, depth 4 cm (Length 3 3/4 in., width 2 15/16 in., depth 1 9/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    1984.288

    Medium or Technique

    Earthenware

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Vessel flute

    about 1930

    Object Place: Possibly Central Highlands, Papua New Guinea

    Description

    Flat, oval-shaped body of earthenware with incised geometric designs, primarily triangles. Painted red and yellow. Mouth-hole at end and two fingerholes on knobs. Extremely shallow air cavity.

    Inscription

    Small glued-on label with typed "6" or "9"

    Provenance

    Before 1979, private collection of New Guinea material compiled about 1930, New York; about 1979, Lillian Caplin, Center for Musical Antiquities, New York; before 1984, sold by Caplin to Douglas Deihl, Northampton, Massachusetts; 1984, sold by Deihl to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 13, 1984)

    Credit Line

    Helen and Alice Colburn Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 8.1 cm, width 6.8 cm, depth 3.0 cm (Length 3 3/16 in., width 2 11/16 in., depth 1 3/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    1984.289

    Medium or Technique

    Earthenware

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Vessel flute

    about 1930

    Object Place: Possibly Central Highlands, Papua New Guinea

    Description

    Pear-shaped body of earthenware incised with geometric designs. one side primarily triangles, the other side mixed. Traces of blue, red, yellow, and white paint. Mouth-hole at end and two fingerholes on knobs.

    Provenance

    Before 1979, private collection of New Guinea material compiled about 1930, New York; about 1979, Lillian Caplin, Center for Musical Antiquities, New York; before 1984, sold by Caplin to Douglas Deihl, Northampton, Massachusetts; 1984, sold by Deihl to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 13, 1984)

    Credit Line

    Helen and Alice Colburn Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 8.2 cm, width 5.2 cm, depth 2.5 cm (Length 3 1/4 in., width 2 1/16 in., depth 1 in.)

    Accession Number

    1984.290

    Medium or Technique

    Earthenware

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Vessel flute

    about 1930

    Object Place: Possibly Central Highlands, Papua New Guinea

    Description

    Flat, square-shaped body of earthenware with incised geometric designs, primarily triangles. Painted black (before incising) and triangles painted white afterwards. Mouth-hole at end and two fingerholes just below. Cavity (10 mm x 80 mm) does not encompass most of external shape.

    Inscription

    Shadow of adhesive label on back side.

    Provenance

    Before 1984, purchased from a gallery in Perth, Australia, by Douglas Deihl, Northampton, Massachusetts; 1984, sold by Deihl to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 13, 1984)

    Credit Line

    Helen and Alice Colburn Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 12.5 cm, width 11.7 cm, depth 3.7 cm (Length 4 15/16 in., width 4 5/8 in., depth 1 7/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    1984.291

    Medium or Technique

    Earthenware

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • End-blown flute

    mid-20th century

    Object Place: Possibly Papua New Guinea

    Description

    Cylindrical bamboo tube with slanted cut-away at foot. Some bevel on outside of embouchure. Four fingerholes.

    Provenance

    2002, accessioned as source unidentified to the MFA. (Accession Date: December 3, 2002)

    Credit Line

    Source unidentified

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 68.9 cm, width 1.7 cm (Length 27 1/8 in., width 11/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    2002.607

    Medium or Technique

    Bamboo

    Not On View

    Collections

    Contemporary Art, Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • End-blown flute (kaur?)

    mid-20th century

    Object Place: Possibly Ambrim, Vanuatu

    Description

    Body of bamboo, the distal end shaped into two prongs (155 mm. long), just beyond node. Surface has incised triangles, alternately painted light brown Large notch at embouchure. Two widely-spaced fingerholes at distal end, just above node.

    Provenance

    2002, accessioned as source unidentified to the MFA. (Accession Date: December 3, 2002)

    Credit Line

    Source unidentified

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 92 cm, width 3.5 cm (Length 36 1/4 in., width 1 3/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    2002.606

    Medium or Technique

    Bamboo

    Not On View

    Collections

    Contemporary Art, Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • End-blown flute (kooauau)

    Maori people
    about 1860

    Object Place: New Zealand

    Description

    Body of tutu wood (?), carved on one side with frontal-view of full-length human figure. Three fingerholes on reverse side.

    Inscription

    Glued-on manuscript label: Native Flu[te?] / New Zealand

    Provenance

    Before 1984, apparently sold by Tad Johnson, London, to Douglas Deihl, Northampton, Massachusetts; 1984, sold by Deihl to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 13, 1984)

    Credit Line

    Helen and Alice Colburn Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 13.3 cm, width 2.5 cm (Length 5 1/4 in., width 1 in.)

    Accession Number

    1984.293

    Medium or Technique

    Tutu wood?

    Not On View

    Collections

    Africa and Oceania, Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Transverse flute

    about 1925

    Object Place: Possilbly Central Highlands, Papua New Guinea

    Description

    Body of bamboo, the proximal end shaped into two prongs (155 mm. long) just beyond node. Burned-in geometric designs on main body; the prongs showing lizard, window, airplane, and random repeating letters. One blow-hole, just above node. No fingerholes.

    Inscription

    Small glued-on label with typed number "1"

    Provenance

    Before 1979, private collection of New Guinea material compiled about 1930, New York; about 1979, Lillian Caplin, Center for Musical Antiquities, New York; before 1984, sold by Caplin to Douglas Deihl, Northampton, Massachusetts; 1984, sold by Deihl to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 13, 1984)

    Credit Line

    Helen and Alice Colburn Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 46.4 cm, width 3.8 cm (Length 18 1/4 in., width 1 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    1984.292

    Medium or Technique

    Bamboo

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Nose flute (dulali)

    19th century

    Object Place: Fiji

    Description

    Body of bamboo with ends closed by nodes, and burned-in geometric designs on one half. One blow-hole near each end. Three vent-holes (?) around circumference at center. One fingerhole midway between each blow-hole and vent-holes.

    Provenance

    Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945), Hatfield Regis, England; 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1916, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 5, 1916)

    Credit Line

    Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 64.8 cm, width 5.0 cm (Length 25 1/2 in., width 1 15/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    17.1801

    Medium or Technique

    Bamboo

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Shell trumpet (davui)

    19th century

    Object Place: Fiji

    Description

    Body of conch shell with embouchure cut into end. Fingerhole in side of body. Distal end has woven fiber handle.

    Provenance

    Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945), Hatfield Regis, England; 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1916, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 5, 1916)

    Credit Line

    Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 35.5 cm, width 14.8 cm (Length 14 in., width 5 13/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    17.1977

    Medium or Technique

    Seashell, plant fiber

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info

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