Pidil: A Small but Powerful Instrument

Published on Sep 17, 2014 by komnairima

I love interesting sounds, particularly  unusual musical instruments from Papua New Guinea. Here is the Pidil, a rare instrument belonging to the Gunantuna of The Blanche Bay Area of New Britain. I have read that this instrument is played by men during ritual ceremonies to attract young women into the bush. We can guess what that means. 

I do not have any more information on the object except for the sound of it which is on the YouTube link below. The brown, almost finely polished seed, (it’s naturally like that), is common in PNG in coastal areas. In my province we remove the inside and hollow the seed before we use it as a decoration on string bags (bilum). We also  string a bunch of the seeds together to make it another musical instrument, that sounds like a shaker. The women and men carry the bunch and shake them to create the sounds that accompany the kundu drums, singing and dancing.

Rabaul is the famous centre of New Britain. It is known for the Japanese occupation during the world  war and also for its volcanoes. Since January 1942 the Japanese had held Rabaul on Blanche Bay, the flooded crater of an extinct volcano which gives deep water almost to the shore. The regional area and the province itself is rich in culture and heritage. The Pidil in New Britain has a longer story behind it. I dare not ask, I am a woman, but, someone from this area may offer us some follow-up story for this blog in the future. For now, click on the link to listen to its sound.

9 thoughts on “Pidil: A Small but Powerful Instrument”

    1. Thank you very much Alphastare for reading and following my blog. Welcome! No-one exports any instruments from PNG, unfortunately. The quarantine systems make it very difficult. The only way is to go there (PNG) and get it. 🙂 It is easier to carry, declare and deal with customs officers, but, I think the USA quarantine is easier. You probably could make it with similar seeds (if you can find them where you are). I wish I could help you.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Pidil is an interesting name for an unusual little instrument. I’m sure the men know how to make them sould quite melodious when several are played together – rather like harmonising. I’m not sure why the clicking sound would attract women to follow men into the forest, though! Perhaps it’s just the knowledge of what it implies! I can imagine they would make good ‘shakers’ and decorations on string bags.
    Interesting information about the Japanese occupation, too.

    Liked by 1 person

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