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J. Richard Haefer


Conch horn of the Aztec or Nahua peoples of central Mexico, and other pre-Contact cultures. It was called puuaqua in Tarascan and paatáotocuècheni or paniçatàopáni in Zapotecan. The Aztecs called this the instrument of the ‘Wind God Quetzalcoatl; he who breathes life into a void’. It was usually played in pairs, and the shell was about 15 to 20 cm long.

The tecciztli [tecziztli, tezizcatli] was a similar instrument made from the Strombus gigas shell (about 12 to 18 cm long) though examples of clay or bone have been found. It was a priest’s instrument played ceremonially with the quiquiztli and teponaztli to please the ‘Sun God’. Traditionally it was played at midnight to awaken the priests to prayers.

The quiquiztli, made from the larger Fasciolaria gigantea shell (30 cm long or longer), was used for signalling in battle as well as for priestly functions including the sacrificial flaying of men and before the death of slaves....


Nguyen Thuyet Phong



Malena Kuss

Set of three Afro-Cuban double-headed hourglass drums of Yoruba origin. Batá are the sacred instruments of the religious system of Ocha/Ifá (Santería). The largest and lowest-pitched drum, which carries the main oratorical role, is called iyá (‘mother’) because other drums are born from the sacred presence within it. The smallest and highest-pitched batá is known as okónkolo, a term denoting its size, among other names. The term itótele for the medium-size drum refers to the order in which it enters the rhythmic locution of patterns and strokes (toque), following the iyá. The batá ensemble retains the West African disposition of timbric functions that assigns virtuosic locutions to the lowest-pitched drum, while the higher-pitched instruments perform more stable and reiterative patterns.

Batá are the drums of Changó, the spirit-god of fire, lightning, thunder, war, dance, and music, but they are played for all the orichas (saints). The ceremonies in which ...




David P. McAllester

Rattle consisting of small pieces of flint of ritually prescribed shapes and colours used by the Navajo people of the southwestern USA to accompany songs in the Flintway ceremony. The flints are cupped in both hands and shaken to produce a jingling sound. They symbolize the restoration of fractured or dislocated bones as well as the renewal of vitality in general....



Ferdinand J. de Hen



Alastair Dick

Very large metal kettledrum of Sind, Pakistan. It is played standing, with two sticks, as part of the ceremonial band naubat found at the shrines of some Sindi saints (e.g. that of Shah Abdul Latif at Bhitshah). ‘Bher’ doubtless derives from the old Indian drum name bherī, but it is different from that so described in medieval Indian texts....


Joachim Braun

The various musical instruments mentioned in the Bible (Old and New Testaments). The nature and significance of the biblical instruments has been the subject of considerable discussion from the early Middle Ages onwards. The following article focusses on the meaning of the words as they appear in the original languages of the various biblical texts (Heb., Aramaic, Gk.), using archaeological evidence and other literary sources to establish as far as possible the identity of the individual terms; it also addresses the interpretation of other musical terminology in the Bible. (See also Jewish music, §II.)

References to particular biblical passages follow the Revised Standard Version and the abbreviation IAA is used for the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The controversy surrounding the identity and significance of the ‘biblical instruments’ derives from the complexity of the original source. Even the term itself is ambiguous, since it may denote the instruments of the period described by any given text of the Bible, those of the period and environment in which the written tradition originated, or those that have remained in the memory of society from a certain stage of the oral tradition. Furthermore, should a reference to an instrument be regarded as a theological symbol or a historical document? Must it be placed in the relevant context by archaeological finds before it may be regarded as concrete fact? It is possible to discuss the subject only if an interdisciplinary approach is adopted involving ‘new and processual archaeology’, recent studies of the Pentateuch, and modern archaeomusicology. Although the organological information provided by the biblical texts themselves is scanty, the social and symbolic context of the music can often be established quite precisely (see Kolari, ...