Voices of the Ancestors

  • Location: South African National Gallery
  • From: September 24, 2008     To: March 15, 2009
Voices of the Ancestors

This exhibition of sound instruments from south, east and central Africa draws on the collections of the Iziko South African National Gallery and the large holdings of its Social History Department. Many of these instruments have not been exhibited to the public before and some are virtually unknown today. Over 100 works have been selected for their aesthetic and visual qualities. Although there is a special emphasis on their function as instruments of ritual or prestige, some were made simply to play alone or to entertain. The title of the exhibition refers to the belief that in certain contexts the spirit world can be accessed through music.

Using original research collected by Professor Dave Dargie in the 1970s, Swiss musicologist, Susanne Tassé Tagne, compiled this programme. Voices of the Ancestors is unique in that it presents material showing the actual performance and sound of instruments in situ. Visitors can interact with the specially designed website on a touch tone screen – hear the sound of some of the musical instruments shown in the exhibition, learn about the categories of musical instruments, and locate their origin in Africa. Additional unique archival material can be seen in the short DVD, Drumming in Zimbabwe recorded by Dr Diane Thram, Director of the International Library of African Music.


Carol Kaufmann (curator)
Tel: +27 (0)21 467 4672
Email: ckaufmann@iziko.org.za.

Kathy Coates (tours)
Tel: +27 (0)21 467 4661
Email: kcoates@iziko.org.za.

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