Incised Strombus-Shell Trumpet
Arts of the Americas
On View: Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor
The blowing of conch-shell trumpets was an integral part of rituals at the ancient site of Chavín de Huántar. Stone slabs in certain underground spaces are carved with scenes of figures blowing shell trumpets, probably during public ceremonies. This example is decorated with the incised figure of a trumpet player from whose instrument a snake emerges, perhaps as a representation of its sacred sound and its connection with the spirit world. Today, local Indigenous people continue to blow conch shells to mark the beginning and end of public ceremonies.
11 1/4 x 7 1/8 x 11 1/4 in. (28.6 x 18.1 x 28.6 cm) (show scale)
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.
Chavin. Incised Strombus-Shell Trumpet, 400-200 B.C.E. Strombus shell, 11 1/4 x 7 1/8 x 11 1/4 in. (28.6 x 18.1 x 28.6 cm). Anonymous Loan, L52.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, L52.1_transp5626.jpg)
overall, L52.1_transp5626.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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