Smithsonian Collections


Image for Drum
Data Source
National Museum of African Art
Label Text
This instrument is considered the most important drum by the Yoruba, who call it iya, literally, "the mother." It is played in almost any situation that requires music, mimicking spoken Yoruba speech tones. The varying sounds are obtained by holding the drum under the arm and squeezing the tension strings while striking the membrane with a curved stick. The bells also add sound.
Wood hourglass shaped double headed drum with hide tension strings, running from head to head, completely surrounding the entire body of the drum. Shoulder strap and two support straps are made of locally woven striped cotton cloth. Locally cast and imported brass bells hang from support straps.
Ambassador and Mrs. Benjamin Hill Brown, Jr., Alexandria, Virginia, before 1971 to 1974
Exhibition History
Audible Artworks: Selected Musical Instruments, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., June 25, 2000-April 8, 2001
Yoruba artist
Mid-late 20th century
Credit Line
Gift of Amb. and Mrs. Benjamin Hill Brown, Jr.
Wood, hide, cloth, brass bells
H x W x D: 51.8 x 25.4 x 25.4 cm (20 3/8 x 10 x 10 in.)
Musical Instrument
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National Museum of African Art Collection
Object number
Object Name
iya'lu dundun