Forani Turtle/Tortoise Collection
Meso-American turtle's shell drum

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Meso-American turtle's shell drum


Mesoamerican turtle's shell drum
Forani Collection
Cat. No: CH73-22

A real turtle's shell with double hinged plastron, probably a mud turtle of a Kinosternon species, equipped with a deer-horn striker to serve as a drum. 20th century, Zapotec or Mixtec, Mexico. L 13.00 cm. Acquired: Oaxaca, Mexico.

Note. The Museum of the University of British Columbia has a similar turtle’s shell with a deer-horn striker in its collection, acquired in the region of Oaxaca in 1973. The shell acts as a sounding box when the plastron is hit, and the sound varies according to which part of the plastron is struck. The use of a turtle shell in this way is pre-Hispanic, and images of musicians playing such instruments are to be found in major museum collections. When the instrument is played today, it is usually to accompany a bamboo flute.

Photo: John Noone IMG_0621.jpg

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