a Guatemalan bird ocarina British Museum


The ceramic Ocarina is probably more than 12000 years old. Ancient examples have been cited -small whistles shaped like birds or other animals and made of terracotta are known in India for 6,000 years. China has a very long history of music- songs and dance had already appeared as early as five thousand years ago.

Among the archeological relics,there is an egg shaped wind instrument- the Xun, made of earthenware clay with six tone holes and a blowing (embouchure) opening in it.The Xun has a history of more than 7000 years.

At various times in Chinese history, musical culture is known to have been flourishing. In the Zhou Dynasty(-256.B.C) there already appeared large-scale a orchestra in the imperial court. Musical culture in the Tang dynasty (618-907A.D) was so developed that it ranked among the best in the world and exerted great influence on the development of music in the countries in Southeast Asia


Although Europeans may have seen and heard of the Chinese Xun -"tschuan" or "tsing" all of 700 years ago,The sound and manner of playing was unknown in Europe.The same was true for the ancient Indian versions.

Many native.american makers sculpted various forms of zoomorphic (animals,reptiles or birds) and anthromorphic (human) shapes for their fifes, trumpets ,whistles and ocarinas.

Through the development of ritual, early culture produced "dancers' whistles"-the first ceramic fippled instruments*-leading to ocarinas and double-chambered whistling vessels.

* Essay:[exterior link] Daniel Statnikov*

These were native to the cultures in Central and South America in a society so distinct from other world cultures of the time, although similar in that music had grown from both physical and ritual roots.

Of the Maya, Aztec and Inca peoples it was the Aztecs who brought the ocarina to Europe-though it is unlikely the Aztecs posessed any of the superior Mayan type.

* Aztec Music Essay *


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