Smithsonian Collections

Harp

Image for Harp
Data Source
National Museum of African Art
Label Text
This Fang harp is missing the arching neck that once attached below the white head and neck finial and supported eight strings and tuning pegs. The harp or ngombi is one of the most sacred objects used by members of Bwiti, a 20th-century religious organization that combines local ritual practices with Western Christianity. The harp symbolizes the body and voice of Nyingwan Mbege, or Sister of God, and communicates between the living and the dead. It is played at every Bwiti ritual by an older male initiate, known as Beti Ngombi, who is considered pure of heart and mind and who is, in effect, "married" to Nyingwam Mbege. The music gives voice to the spiritual teachings of Bwiti and the harp can be said to contain the spirits of the dead.
Description
Wood harp with hide composed of tapering rectangular shape with neck ending in a white head with flat black coiffure. Hide is painted in red and white quarters with white cross emblems in the red quarters.
Provenance
Bevill Bressler & Schulman, Newark, New Jersey, -- to 1976
Maker
Fang artist
Date
Mid 20th century
Credit Line
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Bevill, Mr. and Mrs. Alan Bresler and Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Schulman
Medium
Wood, hide, metal, pigment
Dimensions
H x W x D: 69.9 x 12.7 x 12.7 cm (27 1/2 x 5 x 5 in.)
Type
Musical Instrument
Topic
Ancestral
cross
See more items in
National Museum of African Art Collection
Geography
Gabon
Object number
76-10-36