Cymbals (qraqeb), Algeria, early/mid-20th century. Iron. Logan Museum of Anthropology, Beloit College, Beloit, WI, 2803.1ab

The double-headed iron cymbals called qraqeb are usually the first instruments that a Gnawa musician learns to play. A pair of cymbals is held in one hand and tapped together, making a loud clacking noise. A musician usually plays two pairs at once. For Gnawa musicians, who identify as descendants of slaves, the music evokes strongly felt associations with West Africa. Musicians claim that the repetitive sound of the cymbals imitates the sound made by chains used to shackle the enslaved. The music provides a means to tell a very personal history.