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clay rattles - background info


From: Judy Decker (jdecker_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sat Feb 23 2002 - 10:26:28 PST

Many native cultures made clay rattles - especially pre-Columbian cultures
of Mexico - Central America - South America. I did a quickie web search and
couldn't find images - but did get a link to some interesting contemporary
( and ) . Just enter "clay rattles" in
our search engine. When I searched for pre-Columbian clay rattles I came up
with many text sites - Here is one image:

Here are some interesting whistles (flutes) - made after the style of
antique Mayan sculptures (reproduction pieces).

Clay rattles of the Maya were called "Sonajas" (So-nah-haws) ... Silbatos
are clay whistles. Many Mayan works depict figures holding clay rattles.

This was from a site on Ancient Rome:

"The babies of ancient Rome also played with small clay rattles. The clay
rattles resembled tiny clay sealed vases with a few beads or seeds inside.
When shaken, these tiny rattles produced a melodic tinkle which easily
calmed a fussy baby."

Some ancient clay rattles have turned up in Egypt too (Late Bronze and Iron
Bronze Age (1200 BC) "A few objects are identified as musical instruments:
bronze cymbals, jug-shaped clay rattles, ivory castanets. Small
single-handled clay rattles first appear in the Late Bronze II, probably
just thirteenth century. The rattles are much smaller than later Iron II
rattles." ( )

Iron Age -- "RATTLES: Heavy clay rattles occur in some Iron II contexts.
Due to their large size, it is doubtful that these hour-glass shaped
instruments could function as infant rattles. They probably were used in
musical processions (2 Samuel 6:5). As for other musical instruments, most
have not survived except in depiction."