Reviving the Ancient Sounds of Mesoamerican Ocarinas

Date: 

Mar 31, 2016, 6:00 pm

Location: 

Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA
Left to right: Two-hole human figure ocarina. Playa de Los Muertos, Yoro, Honduras. Maya, 2000 BCE – 200 CE. PM# 96-35-20/C1285; Four-hole ocarina. Guanacaste, Costa Rica. PM# 976-59-20/24969; No-hole seated human figure with headdress ocarina. Yucatan, Mexico. PM# 53-25-20/19347
Left to right: Two-hole human figure ocarina. Playa de Los Muertos, Yoro, Honduras. Maya, 2000 BCE – 200 CE. PM# 96-35-20/C1285; Four-hole ocarina. Guanacaste, Costa Rica. PM# 976-59-20/24969; No-hole seated human figure with headdress ocarina. Yucatan, Mexico. PM# 53-25-20/19347

Lecture and Performance

Watch the video

Jose Cuellar, Professor Emeritus of Latina/Latino Studies, San Francisco State University

Clay ocarinas are thought to be the most common musical instruments used by pre-Columbian societies in Mesoamerica. While little is known about the making and function of these wind instruments—often shaped in animal or human forms—their study reveals that they were associated with both sacred and secular activities. In 2012, musician and ethnologist Jose Cuellar researched the Peabody Museum’s extensive collection of clay ocarinas, flutes, and whistles from archaeological sites throughout Central America and Mexico. In this program he will discuss his findings about these ancient musical instruments and the people who made and played them, and he will also demonstrate their sounds using contemporary ocarinas.

 

Free and open to the public. Free event parking is available at the 52 Oxford Street Garage.

Related exhibition: Ocarinas of the Americas: Music Made in Clay

Download a letter-size poster.