Collection: Guy Spilers/Rene Van den Berghw.
This is a beautiful old carved Kundu Drum from the Lower Sepik Region of Papua New Guinea. Kundu drums usually have either a Lizard Skin or Possum skin on the top and are normally made from a hollowed-out hardwood log. Collectors of New Guinea arts and Oceanic art collectors often underestimate the amount of work that goes into making a Kundu drum. To hollow an old drum, natives placed hot coals in the center of the log, precision burnt and scraped out of the middle. The outer design added after the hollowing out from both ends. Although some are quite plain others such as this are rare masterpieces of Oceanic art. The tall, hourglass-shaped body of the single-headed drum with lizard skin is carved from hard wood. Kundu is the name given to Hand Drums used in New Guinea. There are literally hundreds of different types of these fascinating musical instruments as most New Guinea tribes have a style of their own. The monitor lizard skins on the heads of drums are now on the endangered species list. Well used and beautiful patina, this is a magnificent rare old drum is a very rare collectors dream. This is a stunning collector’s piece.
Close friends, Rene Vanden Berghe and Guy Spilers found themselves living a life of adventure they sought out and embraced. Born in Belgium just prior to WWII, they spent their youth under German occupation. After the war, the adventures continued with National Service in 1953-54 serving in an elite battalion: the para-commando platoon. After military service was over, Rene studied tropical agriculture and used a government grant to start a coffee plantation in the Belgian Congo where he only escaped by “the skin of his teeth” when he had to flee during the Lumumba Insurrection in 1961. He and Guy then emigrated to Australia where they secured employment as overseers for the Catholic Church Mission in New Ireland – running a plantation from 1962-72. Their knowledge, diligence and military training saw the plantation prosper despite tribal fights, earthquakes, riots and the occasional confrontation with axe and knife-wielding workers. Their practical skills were balanced by a love of art, photography and travel. A talented amateur photographer, Rene left an extensive collection of photographs of their experiences and travels. After leaving the plantation they traveled throughout Melanesia, French Polynesia and Micronesia, Europe, Asia and South America before settling in Nambour on the Sunshine Coast. They collected tribal art pieces throughout their travels to inspire Rene’s love of painting and sculpture.