Odds and quads

This bolon harp would traditionally have been used by the Malinke people of Mali and Guinea in hunting ceremonies and before battle.

August 16, 2012




The harps were made from open-topped gourds covered with goat- or calfskin, and had a fretless neck, bridge and strings.

Although the instrument dates to the beginning of the Mande Empire (c.1230) and is still played throughout Guinea, it is unusual to find an example in a European collection.

This one was brought to Cardiff University by Amanda Villepastour, a lecturer in music who spent years travelling the world both as a musician (touring with the likes of Boy George and Billy Bragg) and as a curator and ethnomusicologist. She has assembled an impressive array of mainly African instruments, since African music is at the centre of her research interests. She is currently taking bolon lessons with a view to travelling to Conakry, Guinea's capital.

The other image shows the brass bells on a double-headed Nigerian bata drum.

Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald

Reflection of man in cracked mirror

To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry

But the highest value UK spin-off companies mainly come from research-intensive universities, latest figures show