- Museum number
Double-headed cylindrical drum, with wood frame made in rectangular sections that have been bent and pinned into place. Skin membranes are attached to the inner frame and secured by outer skin-covered rings. Drum has Y-shaped laces made of synthetic white cord. Two large metal rings at one side to attach carrying strap.Surface of both membranes painted with 'calligrams' (inspired by the Arabic script), in red, black and gold ink. Drum signed and dated by the artist.
- Production date
1997 (one membrane painted)
1998 (second membrane painted)
Height: 67 centimetres
Width: 46 centimetres
Depth: 65 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Eth.Doc.375. Drum decorated by the Tunisian contemporary artist, Nja Mahdaoui, in 1997 and 1998. One membrane was painted initially so that the drum could still be played in performances by the percussion band 'Joussour'. This drum was acquired by British Museum staff following a performance which took place at Tunis railway station in February 1997 to celebrate the end of Ramadan. Mahdaoui subsequently painted the other membrane and signed and dated it.
Drums such as this are played using two wooden beaters. The drum would be suspended and worn over the shoulder when in use. Drums of this type vary in size from 40-70cm in diameter; this large drum is similar to those used on Jerba and the Kerkenna islands.
Mahdaoui is one of Tunisia's leading contemporary artists whose work uses 'calligrams' based on the shapes of the Arabic script, but devoid of any textual meaning. He works in a wide variety of materials and employs numerous different techniques.
- Not on display
- Good; some slight abrasions to the surface of the skin membranes.
- Associated events
- Associated Event: Performance by percussion band 'Joussour'
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- This is one of three collections made by Ethnography Department staff as part of a fieldwork and contemporary collecting project in Tunisia in February to March 1998, sponsored by British Petroleum. For details of the other two collections see Af1998,01-02.
This collection is recorded in the purchase book as "A small collection of works by the Tunisian artist Nja Mahdaoui made specifically for the 'Joussour' musical performance which he orchestrated at Tunis Railway Station in February 1997. The collection comprises an indigo-dyed wall-hanging 'bandiera', five musicians' waistcoats of the same material, and a large bass drum, its skins decorated with calligraphic inscriptions by Mahdaoui."
This collection was purchased directly from the artist at his home/studio in La Marsa, Tunisia.
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number