Tairona People; Gayraca style

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 684

Although numerous types of instruments survive from pre-conquest South and Central America, little is known of how they were used. Whistles, trumpets, and rattles in animal or human form probably had ceremonial functions or served as playthings. Smaller whistles in animal shapes, perhaps worn suspended from the neck, frequently have fingerholes that allow variation of pitch.

Flutes and bells are all that remain of many musical traditions of the Tairona people of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region, Colombia. The importance of these metal, terracotta, and blackware instruments is evident in their carefully detailed incising and punctuation. The symbolic meanings of the effigies are obscure, and the relationship between the forms and their musical functions is unclear. It is believed that musical effigies served as talismans and were played to link the mortal and immortal realms.

Description: Ceramic black-ware barrel-shape fipple flute in form of human with hands at sides; decorated with white filled punctuation and incision. (J. Kenneth Moore, 1986)

Flute, Ceramic, Tairona People; Gayraca style

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