Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Grove Music Online. Grove is a registered trademark. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy).

date: 16 November 2019


  • Laurence Libin


Imitation or representation of animal forms in instrument design. Included under this heading is anthropomorphism, referring to human body forms. Zoomorphism appears in all areas of material culture, but sound adds an important dimension to the practice. Musical instruments of many kinds can be made to resemble animals or humans, or parts of them. These forms serve decorative, symbolic, magical, acoustical, structural, and other purposes. Worldwide since prehistory, many instruments, especially those used in rituals, have been constructed of animal parts or whole animals, or made in the shapes of animals, deities, or monsters whose ‘voices’ and powers the instruments evoke. Animal components such as hollowed horns, bones, and shells lend themselves readily to instrument fabrication, so it is not surprising that recognizable cattle and goat horns (the latter for the shofar), sea-shells (in the sankh), armadillo bodies (in the charango), turtle and tortoise carapaces (in Iroquois rattles, some North African lutes, and the ancient ...

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Please subscribe to access the full content.