Balafons are found only on the African continent where they developed without outside influence.

The balafon is an idiophone. It is very much like its ancestor, the xylophone, but under its wooden planks, small gourds are used as resonators, giving it a very soft sound. It has a wood and rope frame and is played like a xylophone, with two rubber-tipped sticks.

The balafon is an ancient fetish instrument that was mainly used by African warriors. Today, however, the balafon is not linked to a religion as such but is mainly used for entertainment (dances) or for ceremonies. Balafons are usually played during celebrations by professionals rarely by amateurs.
Canadian Heritage Information Network
The Canadian Museum of Civilization

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