- J. Richard Haefer
Cylindrical drum of the Aztec (Nahua) people of pre-Contact Mexico. The body was open at the bottom and had a single head of jaguar skin or deerskin pegged to it and beaten with bare hands to accompany songs, the player either sitting beside the drum or on top of it. Along with the teponaztli (wooden slit drum), it was one of the most important instruments of Aztec culture, frequently inscribed with symbolic carvings. The name huehuetl is derived from the name of the tree ahuehuete (Pinus sabiniana), which supplied the wood from which the instrument was made, though examples of oak and walnut exist (earlier ones might have been made of precious metal or clay). It was tuned by heating the interior with live coals to dry and tauten the head. High and low pitches were produced by striking near the rim and centre of the head, respectively. Drum patterns were apparently learned by reciting the syllables ...