Kundu drum making skills slowly dying out

Equipped with the skill of carving a Kundu drum, a traditional drum in PNG, Cletus Ngaltkin has taken on the personal challenge to pass this knowledge on.

However, he is faced with one problem, and that is, the lack of interest shown by the young generation.

Clectus is from the Tavir cultural group on the Tangai Island, an LLG in the Namatanai District of New Ireland Province.

Currently, he is one of the only few on the island, with this skill as the older generations have already passed on.

Clectus says he carved his first Kundu drum while he was still in high school, which at that time took him about six months to complete.

The Kundu drum, used in various occasions including religious and cultural events, is common throughout PNG, varying in sizes but with the distinct hour glass shaped drum made of wood with a snake or lizard skin as membrane.

But given the modern equipment nowadays, Clectus says it only takes two days, an easier process.  

His challenge now is to convince the young generation to take this on as a hobby so the art is not lost.

“This art is dying so for my culture group, once a year we get them together to teach them but most of the time, they’re not really interested, and I don’t have control over their interest,” he says.

Speaking as a cultural practitioner during the Tumbuna Pasin Day last Saturday hosted by the Nature Park, he applauded the initiative of the event organisers including the Port Moresby Nature Park to organising an event that gave participants the opportunity to reflect back on the way of the ancestors.

“It’s a very unique opportunity, especially when people come to show their traditional knowledge, in whatever way they have, whether it’s in food preparation, just beating the drum or carving the drum, because this knowledge is not written, it’s in the minds of those that have possessed the skills of such an art.

“It’s a good initiative, and it needs be promoted.”




Gloria Bauai