Chokwe Drum

Drums are among the most important art forms in Africa, used both as a musical instrument and as a work of sculpture significant in many ceremonial functions, including dance, rituals, story-telling and communication of messages.

Congo drum

Tribe: Chokwe

Origin: Democratic Republic of Congo

Approx Age: Mid 20th, possibly earlier.

Materials: Wood, skin ends.

Dimensions cm: 50 x 30

Ref. Number: 1787


An exquisite Chokwe drum, the carving was executed with extreme talent. One of the handles has been missing for a considerable length of time and does not detract from this drums true beauty. Double-headed Chokwe drums with their intricate abstract designs really show the creativity and power they put into functional objects.

Provenance: Ex Richard Ulevitch, USA. Ex Marc Assayag, Montreal.

AHDRC N˚ ao-0001706-001


Chokwe drums have two drumheads, an hourglass-shaped drum with four handles on the midsection, where this has 3 due to damage. Incised basketweave, concentric circles and oval motif carving.  The resin on the surface aided in tuning the drum.

Chokwe constitutes the largest ethnic group in eastern Angola. Chokwe sculptors were the most famous of the region and have influenced the art of many neighbouring peoples. The carver/carvers of the village were responsible for the manufacturing of the drums for the whole community, rich and poor. According to some sources, the occasion of the inauguration of a royal drum was so important that it called for human and animal sacrifice – just as did the occasion of the royal funeral or succession. Decoration of a drum varied with royal round drums being more ornate than the slit drums.  Royal drums have been adorned with geometrical designs, interlacing patterns, similar to this drum.


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