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Mbongo

The mbongo is an African trumpet made from elephant tusk ivory. This one is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaïre) and played by the Mangebetu. Such instruments are used in the Congo area of Africa and in Ghana (where among the Asante it is called aben) where they are played in ensembles of 7 players. The instrument is side-blown and has a fingerhole for changing the pitch at the small end. Pre-1970 ivory horns, such as the one pictured here, are legal to own but illegal to transport across state lines and outside of the US and elsewhere unless they are registered and the owner has the accompanying paperwork. It is also illegal to import such horns into the US and other countries.

 

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