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Flute

Arts of the Americas

On View: Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor
Quenas, or short flutes like this one made of a gold alloy, are among the most famous Peruvian wind instruments. In Peru flutes are always played by men and have phallic, regenerative, and magical connotations. The caruncle, or fleshy comb over the beak, indicates that the bird on this quena is most likely a condor. The largest bird of the Andes, the condor symbolized power and fertility for pre-Columbian people. The instrument is also decorated with two crocodiles or lizards with a chevron pattern down their backs.


Quenas, o flautas cortas como ésta hecha de aleación de oro, están entre los instrumentos de viento peruanos más famosos. En Perú las flautas siempre son tocadas por hombres y tienen una connotación fálica, regeneradora, y mágica. La cresta, o parte carnosa sobre el pico, indicaría que el pájaro en esta quena es probablemente un cóndor. Al ser el pájaro más grande de los Andes, el cóndor simbolizaba poder y fertilidad para los pueblos precolombinos. El instrumento está también decorado con dos cocodrilos o lagartijas con un diseño en forma de “V” en sus espaldas.

CULTURE Chimú
MEDIUM Hammered gold
DATES 1100-1500
PERIOD Late Intermediate Period
DIMENSIONS 7 1/2 x 1 7/8 x 1 7/8 in. (19.1 x 4.8 x 4.8 cm)
COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor
ACCESSION NUMBER 86.224.22
CREDIT LINE Gift of the Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc.
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