Teponaztli [quiringua, tepenahuasqui, teponagua, teponahuaztli, teponaxtle, tinco, tunkul]
- John M. Schechter
- , revised by J. Richard Haefer
[quiringua, tepenahuasqui, teponagua, teponahuaztli, teponaxtle, tinco, tunkul]
Slit drum, one of the most important instruments of the Aztecs and still in use in several regions in Mexico. It is called a tunkul by the Mayo in the Yucatán, a tinco (or teponahuaztli) in Chiapas, a quiringua in Michoacán, a tepenahuasqui in Jalisco, and a teponaztli in Tepoztlán (Morelos), Xico (Sierra de Puebla), San Juan Atzingo (Mexico), and Huehuetla (Hidalgo). Large examples are known as teponagua. The instruments are thought of as common property: they are never lent or sold, and are carefully guarded. Often carved with human or serpent shapes, like the huehuetl the teponaztli was thought to be a god temporarily forced to endure earthly exile. Both instruments were therefore often treated as idols.
The teponaztli is made of a section of tree trunk (though pre-Contact stone instruments have been found) 18 to 40 cm thick and 35 cm to 1 metre long. It is placed horizontally and hollowed through a rectangular opening in the bottom side. Opposite this opening a basically H-shaped incision forms two tongues, which are tuned to harmonics (octave or 3rds) of the resonant pitch of the drum cavity, or to an interval of a minor 3rd, major 2nd, or perfect 5th. The tongues are struck with rubber-tipped mallets (...