Anthropozoomorphous ocarina

Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta - Tairona Period900/1600

Museo del Oro, Bogotá

Museo del Oro, Bogotá
Bogota, Colombia

This flute was blown through a rectangular opening at the top, between the ears, and its sounds were changed by moving the fingers over the holes on either side of the face and on the navel. Unlike Muisca anthropomorphous figures, many human representations by the Taironas on the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta carefully describe clothes and ornaments. This is lucky, because the moist, tropical climate on the Sierra has meant that none of these costumes have survived. Here we see a person who is wearing a large mask that is resting on his shoulders and ends under the zigzag motif. With arms akimbo, his massive appearance reminds us more of a bear than of a feline figure, but a comparison nevertheless needs to be made with many other, similar objects. And it is precisely because of many other items of pottery that we know that the very common iconographic triangle and line motif on the arms can be associated with the skin of the snake. Bracelets were also drawn, together with a belt decorated with dots and dashes, a petticoat... and trousers. Tairona ocarinas frequently seem to be wearing trousers. Virtually all of them have caps and headdresses decorated with tassels, and the vertical lines we can see under each ear, in fact, represent tassel threads. The object was modelled in clay and had finishing touches added when it was dry, when triangles and fang details completed the baroque decoration that is typical of Tairona style. EL


  • Title: Anthropozoomorphous ocarina
  • Creator: Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta - Tairona Period
  • Creator Lifespan: 900/1600
  • Creator Nationality: Colombia
  • Creator Death Place: Colombia
  • Creator Birth Place: Colombia
  • Date: 900/1600
  • Physical Dimensions: w86 x h114 mm
  • Type: Ceramic
  • External Link: People and Gold in Pre-Hispanic Colombia
  • Technique: Modeling in clay
  • Finding: Colombia, Magdalena, Santa Marta
  • Accession number: C01038

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