Thumb pianos exhibit a variety of forms across the African continent. This thumb piano from the Zela people in eastern/central DRC is surmounted by a carved male head, which has been decorated around its neck with strands of early glass beads.
The instrument is playable, and has a lovely, tuned sound. To soften the vibration of the metal keys, cotton wool has been placed in areas where they coincide with the wooden body. The surface of the thumb piano exhibits a lovely, dark patina, and is shiny in parts where it has been held and played.
Ex Private Collection, Europe
Estimated Period: First Half of 20th Century
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