Objects From Our Past – The Institute Of Jamaica Collections

The Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) was established in 1879 by Sir Anthony Musgrave, the then Governor of Jamaica to preserve the country’s tangible and intangible heritage. The IOJ is comprised of six organisations geared toward fulfilling its mandate, including:

  • the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica/Jamaica Memory Bank (ACIJ/JMB), which boasts a wide collection of reference and audio visual materials as it pertains to African retention in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean. It features a reference collection of approximately 6000 volumes and an audiovisual collection of over 300 videotapes and over 4000 audiotapes. The ACIJ/JMB also houses the Garvey Research and Reference Library, which features manuscripts, books, CDs, cassettes, articles and others publications about the life and work of former Pan-African leader and National Hero.
  • the Jamaica Music Museum (JAMM), which is an archival home for reggae and other forms of Jamaican music. The museum is also involved with exhibiting a wide range of musical recordings, photographs and films.

Below are some of the items from Jamaica’s past that can be found in these collections.

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The fishpot is used by the Maroons in Jamaica for general fish-trapping. The pot is made of weaved strips of bamboo to ensure fish enter but cannot exit the pot. The pot is placed as part of a stone barrier built in the river that forces fish to swim directly into it.



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Kola nut offering bowl


Kola nuts, locally known as ‘bissy’ are traditionally offered to much-respected guests visiting homes in many parts of West Africa.




Prentin drum

This musical instrument is made from hollowed tree trunk and carefully prepared goat skin secured by cocoon vines. It is used on both religious and secular occasions such as communicating with the ancestral spirits and for healing.



download (3)Sarangi

The sarangi is the most popular bowed instrument of India. The sarangi’s history is several hundred years old, beginning as a voice accompaniment and gaining a reputation as a wonderful solo instrument. The sarangi is capable of closely imitating the human voice.



Stradivarius model 37 trumpet

The instrument pictured was owned by charter member of the Skatalites, Johnny (Dizzy) Moore. Mr Moore is arguably the most recorded musician of the Ska period.




Tassa drum

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The name ‘tassa’ is of Persian origin and means ‘kettle’ drum. It is made from a clay base to which goat skin is attached and then beaten with a stick traditionally made from wild cane.

Click here to read the full article on diGJamaica.com.