The Jelimuso's KarinyanThe short tubular piece of metal employed by Jalimusow (Griotte women) is probably one of the most underrated and misunderstood of all of the instruments in the Jaliyaa tradition. Possibly because it doesn’t inspire the aesthetic awe of many of the other instruments or, perhaps, it appears a rather simple implement, may be why the Karinya hasn’t commanded more attention from enthusiasts and academics.

It is known by several names, depending on which region you travel to. In Mali you might here it referred to as Nege (iron) or Ne (shortended version of Nege). In the Senegambia region it is often called a Karinyan. There are many more variants of names but these seem to be the most popular.

It has become popular to think of the Karinyan as an instrument used to accompany the larger, more prestigious Jali instruments such as the Kora, Balafon and Ngoni but this is not really the case. More often than not, you will find groups of Jalimusow plying their traditional trade at weddings, naming ceremonies, public events, political events, etc.; with nothing more than their voices and a few Karinyan’s.

The Karinyan is more than just a time keeping mechanism; it has a voice of its own. The high pitched ringing of the metal being beat with another thin strip of metal, combined with its scraping provides an historical ambient voice to the chorus of singing and clapping women. For many Men and Women, the chorus of voices accompanied by the Karinyan is the first piece of music they hear upon entering the world and, often, the last they will hear upon their departure.

There is more depth to the Karinyan than may be explored here in these introductory pages. Suffice to say that the proverbial surface has not yet been scratched.

Thank you for taking the time to explore the ancient craft of Jaliyaa a little further. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the artist, Baba the Storyteller, don’t hesitate to contact us. You can fill out our Guest Book or simply call toll free from anywhere in the U.S. to 1.866.525.4922.

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