Incised Strombus-Shell Trumpet

Brooklyn Museum

About the work

Strombus-shell trumpet with an elaborate, incised design of a human figure blowing on a conch shell with a cascade of serpents emanating from it, possibly alluding to the sacred nature of the sounds produced. The ancient Chavin people probably used shell trumpets during rituals because such activities are depicted on architectural friezes and monumental sculpture. Drill holes suggest that the piece could have been suspended on a cord, perhaps from the neck of a priest. Condition: excellent.

To judge from representations on carved stone slabs at Chavín de Huántar showing trumpet playing at public rituals, this shell trumpet was probably made for ceremonial use. The incised designs depict a person of high rank, indicated by his facial tattoos and ankle ornaments, playing a shell trumpet. The figure is surrounded by snakes, including one that emanates from the instrument. The twisting and intertwined snakes may indicate the power of the trumpet to communicate with supernatural beings.

A juzgar por representaciones en bloques de piedra en Chavín de Huántar que muestran trompetas siendo tocadas en rituales públicos, esta trompeta de caracola fue probablemente hecha para uso ceremonial. Los diseños incisos muestran a una persona de alto rango, indicado por sus tatuajes faciales y ornamentos en los tobillos, tocando una trompeta de caracola. La figura está rodeada por serpientes, incluyendo una que emana del instrumento. Las serpientes enroscándose y retorciéndose pueden representar el poder de la trompeta para comunicarse con seres sobrenaturales.

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