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Central American Bird Whistle

There are a large number of clay ocarinas and whistles that are found throughout Mexico, Central America and northern South America. They are usually made in the shape of animals or birds although there are also images of gods and other mythical creatures. The Mayans were known to use whistles of these types in their rituals, and early Spanish records of Central America document rituals where hundreds of these whistles were blown at the same time. Current Mexican whistles are quite colouful, where Central and South American whistles tend towards black unadorned clay. Most present day whistles have between one to six finger holes, and have a fipple. Traditional Mayan whistles had both fipples and globular ocarinas that were played by blowing directly on a hole, much like that of the Chinese xun.

Country: various
Region: Central, South America
Type: wind
©  R. Raine-Reusch, May 2002