In Baskeet, a variety of instruments are exclusively used during mourning ceremonies but never played at weddings or other happy occasions, among them are different types of wooden and horn trumpets.* These “mourning instruments” are presented one by one in upcoming posts. Today I’d like to introduce a type of trumpet to you that is called nookka in Baskeet. On the picture below you see Ts’egaya Maammo, the head of the Haybi-clan of the potters caste, blowing the nookka:
The nookka-trumpet is made partly of wood (for the bottom half) and partly of cow horn (for the top half). The upper end of the trumpet is clad in a piece of cow skin. The skin is an undivided and unsewn piece obtained from the lower leg of cattle; the dewclaws of the cattle are still clearly visible.
The pitch of the nookka-trumpet can only be changed through the player’s lips. Like other “mourning instruments”, the nookka is played during the processions (called korz in Baskeet) that lead up to the house of the deceased’s family on the day after the deceased’s burial. Groups of men of one clan, led by their clan leaders, carrying spears, singing mourning songs and sounding the trumpets, enter the deceased’s compound to express their grief and to participate in the mourning rituals. Like other “mourning instruments”, the nookka-trumpet does not accompany the mourning songs but it just helps to create the soundscape of a mourning event.
Interestingly, the mourning processions are considered such an important and emblematic part of their traditions that the Baskeet people have chosen to present these processions (rather than other rituals or musical performances) at culture festivals regularly organised by the regional or federal state.
Notes: *Instruments such as the bamboo trumpet (discussed here) and the lyre (see here) can be played at any occasion.
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