Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/673

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

were lovers of music, judging by the instruments fashioned from clay. It is hardly likely that the musicians confined themselves to that material in their production of sweet sounds. Terra-cotta drums, rattles, whistles, and flutes have been found. There are rattles shaped like the gourd, which vegetable product seems to have first served man as a rattle. The Mayas of Central America yet use it in certain religious dances. The handles of Chiriquian rattles were made as whistles. The bodies of drums were sometimes made of clay, though these specimens are rare. They were shaped somewhat like an egg-cup, the small part serving as base, the tissue or skin being stretched over the larger orifice.

The wind instruments are capable of yielding very sweet though not powerful or far-reaching tones. The note on any one stop is in some instances susceptible of change by varying the force of the breath, affording much scope to a skillful performer. With

PSM V49 D673 Chiriqui vases from mexico and central america.jpg
Fig. 4. Fig. 5.

the exception of the drums the clay instruments are not more than about eight inches long. The whistles were constructed on the same principle as the modern flageolet. They give eight or more notes, though not a true scale. The bird was quite appropriately a favorite shape for whistles, the finger holes or stops being in the breast. On them a practiced performer could imitate the song birds with some accuracy.

In Corozal Island on the east coast of Yucatan, there are vases with flaring rims supported on three short legs, like some of Chiriqui. Our illustrations of Chiriqui pottery are: 4. Vase with four handles—decorations in black, red, and purple. Ten inches high. This form is frequently found in Mexico and Central America. 5. Vase, eight inches high, with hollow base. Elaborate designs in red, white, black, and purple. Equal to Chinese or Egyptian work. 6. A tripod nine inches high. Similar ones have been found in Cozumel Island, having hollow legs, contain-