Ocarinas of the Americas

Music Made in Clay

Four-Hole Ocarina Bird, Costa Rica. PM# 17-3-20/C8064


Bilingual exhibit


See the Online Exhibit

October 3, 2015–July 8, 2018

This bilingual exhibit (English and Spanish) features nearly 80 spectacular examples of ocarinas from the Peabody Museum’s vast collection. Uncovered at archaeological sites in Central America and Mexico, these musical instruments were crafted from local low-fired clay and carefully fashioned, incised, and painted into a variety of human and animal forms. Visitors to this multisensory exhibit will hear soundscapes that feature the varied tones and melodies produced by ocarinas, from the whimsical to the deeply haunting. Ocarinas of the Americas: Music Made in Clay also explores the history and cultural significance of these extraordinary works of art and sound that have inspired invention and captured the modern imagination.  

Watch videos from the exhibition (English and Spanish).

 Music Made in Clay

Top: Four-hole bird ocarina. Costa Rica.17-3-20/C8064 

Bottom, left to right: Two-hole human figure ocarina. Playa de Los Muertos, Yoro, Honduras. Maya, 2000 BCE – 200 CE. 96-35-20/C1285; Four-hole ocarina. Guanacaste, Costa Rica.976-59-20/24969; No-hole seated human figure with headdress ocarina. Yucatan, Mexico. 53-25-20/19347 

All images © President and Fellows of Harvard College, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology