In the mountain city of Cusco, Peru, the former capital of the Inca Empire, artisan Ynocencio Ccahuana demonstrates his Peruvian water whistles, replicas of sculpted animals “found in museums all over Peru and the world.” Ccahuana makes and sells these vasijas silbadoras de agua with his son Alex.
Handmade from clay, the hollow ceramic instruments are half-filled with water. When the vessel is rocked from side to side, water moves from one chamber into the next, displacing air and forcing it through the sharp-edged whistle, often hidden in the animal heads.
Different interior structures create different sounds. Some history from The Metropolitan Museum of Art:
“Although numerous pottery instruments survive from pre-Conquest South and Central America, little is known of how they were used before Spanish invaders ravaged the native cultures. Whistles, trumpets and rattles in animal or human form probably had ceremonial functions or served as playthings. The ‘whistling jar’ is a 1- or 2-chambered vessel in which a whistle, often concealed by a bird’s head, is sounded by blowing into the spout, or by pouring liquid from one chamber to the other to create a bird-like twittering sound.”
Watch more unusual wind instrument and Peru-related videos next on TKSST, including:
• Morske Orgulje, the Sea Organ in Zadar, Croatia
• The Singing, Ringing Tree of Lancashire, England
• How to make homemade slide whistles
• The rise and fall of the Inca empire
• Golden Kingdoms: Luxury & Legacy in the Ancient Americas
• Who carved these mysterious giant drawings in the Peruvian desert?
This Webby award-winning video collection exists to help teachers, librarians, and families spark kid wonder and curiosity. TKSST features smarter, more meaningful content than what's usually served up by YouTube's algorithms, and amplifies the creators who make that content.
Curated, kid-friendly, independently-published. Support this mission by becoming a sustaining member today.