Monday, March 6, 2017

Vanuatuan “Tam-Tam” donated to Blue Hill Public Library

Blue Hill, Maine - The Blue Hill Public Library has received a gift of a Vanuatuan drum—a tam-tam,  also known as a “slit-gong,”now on permanent display in the Library’s Blue Hill Room. Among the largest free standing instruments in the world, the tam-tam is a a 9 foot carved log that looks a bit like a totem pole.

The tam-tam was donated by Richard Penfold of Deer Isle, who purchased it from Chief Tofor on the island of Vanuatu when he was volunteering there some years ago. According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York which houses a tam-tam in its collection, the instruments are carved from the trunks of breadfruit trees and are struck with club-like sticks to produce “deep, sonorous tones.” According to the Met, gong orchestras play at major social and ceremonial occasions such as initiations, dances, and funerals. Tam-tams were also used to communicate between villages.

About the tam-tam library director Rich Boulet says, “BHPL, which has a mission of  opening ‘doors to information, community, culture, and the world,’ has a longstanding tradition of bringing the world to Blue Hill through artifacts collected and gleaned from many benefactors, chiefly Adelaide Pearson and Roland Howard.  The library has textiles from Guatemala, pottery from American Indians in the Southwest, an Indonesian bust, sheet music from the Middle Ages, ancient maps and surveys, and now: Blue Hill’s own tam-tam.” For more information contact the library at 374-5515.

Caption info: The Penfold Family with the Tan-Tam that they donated to the Blue Hill Public Library

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