Pipes and other instruments

The three principal musical instruments Marie Reay saw used during her 1953-1955 fieldwork were the hand drum, the tambagl (which she also referred to as a Jews' Harp), and various flutes. The hand drums were the most persistently used during the Konggol ceremonies. The hand drums were typically made from a section of hardwood tree trunk, which is burnt by a carefully managed fire until hollow. The tympanum or cover is made from the skin of a possum, or other marsupial.  Drums were often made by specialists with a demonstrated skill in drum-making during the Pig Ceremonial, when drums were part of the necessary equipment of the rituals. Marie Reay noted that the drums were only beaten "in association with dancing," and were beaten in unison, in an even and unvarying rhythm. Drums were played by men, children, and young unmarried women.

There were several varieties of flutes that Marie Reay observed during her time in the Wahgi Valley. The sacred flutes, known as kai (birds), are only shown to boys when they enter the geru house upon their initiation. The initiation is known as kai kane, or seeing the flutes. Women and children not initiated in the geru house in the past believed that the sounds of the flutes were made by the Lesser Birds of Paradise. However, by the time of Marie Reay's fieldwork in 1953, flutes owned by native police and employees of Europeans, often from other areas of Papua New Guinea, were regularly seen and played in the area, and Marie Reay noted that only in the most isolated areas of the Wahgi Valley were the uninitiated unaware of the flutes, which "have lost most of their sacred character, and their identity with the Lesser Bird-of-Paradise is now explicitly symbolical." Although her informants noted that those "living near Minj [the site of the Government Station] now play their flutes quite openly... formerly a woman could be killed after accidentally seeing one." The sacred flutes are notable for producing only two notes, and the sound that is produced is sometimes known as 'turu' based on a bird call.

Other types of flutes that Marie Reay observed included the four-holed flute, which was played like a fife, and the wau. A wau is made from a green spherical gourd which has 5 holes bored into it. The surface is often decorated with designs, and it is blown in the manner of a flute.

The tambagl is the only instrument that Marie Reay noted was played by women, although she also put in her notes that they were made of bamboo "by young unmarried men... decorated with burnt designs... which are geometric patterns."

Below are a number of photographs of musical instruments Marie Reay collected during her fieldwork and donated to the ANU School of Archaeology & Anthropology collections. They are accompanied by photographs of drums that she took during her many trips to Papua New Guinea that are held in the ANU Archives.