A fantastic highly decorative tribal drum from the Asmat people of Papua New Guinea dating from the first half of the last century. The batterhead, made with some sort of reptile hide is still intact and the drum can be played.
Drums hold a significant place in Asmat culture. According to their creation myth, the culture hero Fumeripits made the first carvings of men and women and placed them in the first men's ceremonial house. By beating on his drum, Fumeripits caused the figures to dance, bringing them to life.
The only musical instruments used by the Asmat are drums, which are beaten in a regular rhythm to accompany songs that are part of all ceremonies and feasts. Lizard-skin tympanums (drum heads) are attached to the drums with an adhesive mixture of lime and human blood. Handles are elaborately carved, usually with images of relatives and the heads of parrots and cockatoos. The figure on this particular work probably represents the father of the owner. The designs on the base of the drum depict the shell-nose ornaments worn by Asmat warriors.