III. Idiophones

Idiophones are naturally sonorous objects. Their vibrations are inherent in the material and are produced by being struck, shaken, scraped, rubbed, and elsewhere blown. At Sukur most are commonly and in some cases only played by girls and women. The following list, surprisingly short by African standards, is probably incomplete.

1. Makokwoy  A long pubic apron made of chains of iron rings, worn by women and girls and played by rubbing calabash sherds down them. They are played at some but not all dances, including at funerals. As Sukur pubic aprons are of fiber or iron spikes, it seems likely that makokwoy were introduced to Sukur from an outside source, perhaps the Kapsiki.

This music in the next clip was recorded at the funeral ceremony of Kwoyni Gwosa, an old lady married to Kwoyni Donyima, genealogically the oldest of the Dur clan, and one of our best informants on Sukur history. Higi musicians had been hired for this occasion and play drums and Higi shilla flutes. They are accompanied by makokwoy.

2. Makokwoy-dlir  An iron anklet rattle containing a pellet and said to be no longer used.

3. Mul dlë  Ankle rattles made of palm frond packets containing pebbles. We were told that they are worn by women at Sukur in festival dances, as for example when a bull is slaughtered. However, the only examples we remember seeing were worn by the Damay manggaray player seen in an image on the Aerophones page. The sound they make is called cecwa.

4. Mbambazai-TliÉ—i  Banana-shaped envelopes of the same shape as a common type of amulet but here worn as a bunch around the wrist of the chief and also on his iron staff. They contain no pellets but jingle together.


A Higi ma ka dang drummer and a lute player at Kwoyni Gwosa's funeral. Two of the women behind them, including the one in the yellow T-shirt are holding but not playing makokwoy..