Lali (drum)

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Fijian lali
Fijian lali

A Lali is an idiophonic Fijian drum of the wooden slit-gong type similar to the New Zealand Maori Pahu; commonly found throughout Polynesia. It was an important part of traditional Fijian culture, used as a form of communication to announce births, deaths and wars. A smaller form of the Lali drum (Lali ni meke) is used in music. Lali drums are now used to call the people of an area together, such as church services; the Lali is also used to entertain guests at many hotel resorts. The Lali drum is made out of wood and played with hands but, is most commonly played with sticks (i uaua) which are made out of softer wood so as not to damage the Lali. Historically, a larger and smaller stick were used together when playing the Lali.[1]

Lali drums were traditionally made from resonant timbers such as Ta vola (Terminalia catappa) and Dilo (Calophyllum inophyllum)or in the case of sacred drums for spirit houses, Vesi (Instia bujuga). Portable war drums (Lali ni Valou) had two or three resonating chambers and sent complicated signals over the battlefield.[2]

Frequently Lali occurred in pairs, one smaller than the other, and were played together, in counterpoint. This rarely occurs in contemporary usage. Sometimes special structures known as Bure ni Lali (lit. house for Lali) are constructed to keep the rain from filling the Lali and wetting the drummers.[3]

Man playing Lali (historical photograph)

Man playing Lali-ni-Meke dance drum (historical photograph)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ewins, R. 1982. Fijian Artefacts; Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection.
  2. ^ Clunie, F. 2003 . Yalo-i-Viti: A Fiji Museum Catalogue, p.54
  3. ^ Ewins, R. 1982. Fijian Artefacts; Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection.