Panpipes Timeline

Panpipes Timeline

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A Brief History of the Native American Flute

The story of how the Native American flute developed is relatively sparse on facts, but rich in folklore. And maybe that's fitting for an instrument that evolved in cultures where myth and legend were valued over verifiable facts.

However, there are some key signposts in museum artifacts, literature, and the archaeological record that shed light on the question &ldquo How did this wonderful instrument come to be? &rdquo

This is a brief history of the Native American flute, touching on some of the key developments and turning points. Follow links from this page to go deeper in any direction you wish, and if you'd like to explore the myths and legends surrounding this instrument visit Narratives of the Native American flute.

The Etruscans

The Etruscan civilization flourished in Italy in ancient times. It is famous for the huge influence that it exercised on the early history and civilization of Rome.


History Time Map of the Etruscans


Etruscan civilization is the modern English name given to a civilization of ancient Italy. Its homeland was in the area of central Italy, just north of Rome, which is today called Tuscany.

In ancient times there was a strong tradition that the Etruscans had emigrated from Lydia, on the eastern coast of present-day Turkey. Modern historians have largely discounted this idea, and believe that the Etruscans were an indigenous population – a belief largely confirmed by modern DNA studies. The sudden flowering of Etruscan civilization at a date earlier than other indigenous peoples of central and northern Italy probably points to the blossoming of strong trading relations between the peoples of the area – identified by modern scholars as belonging to the Iron-age Villanovan culture – and merchants (and possibly some colonists) from the eastern Mediterranean. Mining of metals, especially copper and iron, would have led to early enrichment for the Etruscans, and to a higher material culture than other Italic peoples.

The Etruscan civilization lasted from the 8th century BCE to the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE. In the 6th century the Etruscans expanded their influence over a wide area of Italy. They founded city-states in northern Italy, and to the south, their influence expanded down into Latium and beyond. Early Rome was deeply influenced by Etruscan culture (the word “Rome” is Etruscan). The Etruscans also gained control of Corsica.

Location of Etruscan Civilization and the city states.
Reproduced under License 3.0

Between the late 6th and early 4th centuries BCE, Etruscan power declined. To the south, the rising power of the Greek city-states of Sicily and southern Italy weakened Etruscan political and military influence, and cities which they had either dominated or founded, such as Rome, threw out their overlords and became independent city-states. In the north, Gallic tribes moved into northern Italy and destroyed the Etruscan cities there. However, in their homeland the Etruscan cities remained powerful, and were formidable opponents of the rising power of Rome. It was only over a long period, in the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE, that they surrendered their independence to the Romans.

The Etruscans spoke a unique language, unrelated to those of their neighbors. Their culture was influenced by Greek traders, and by the Greek colonists of southern Italy. The Etruscan alphabet is Greek in its origins. They in turn passed on their alphabet to the Romans.


The Etruscans adopted the city-state as their political unit from the Greeks, earlier than their neighbors in central Italy. The Etruscan homeland was originally divided into twelve city-states, but new cities sprang up as the Etruscans expanded their sphere of influence.

Like the Greeks, most Etruscan cities moved from monarchy to oligarchy in the 6th century BCE. Some seem to have retained their monarchies.

The different city-states of Etruria were united by a common religion, and apparently too by a loose political confederacy. This did not stop the different states from going to war with one another from time to time.


The Etruscan system of belief was, like those of the Greeks and Romans, polytheistic, based on the worship of many gods and goddesses: Tin or Tinia, the sky, Uni his wife, and Cel, the earth goddess. Later, Greek deities were taken into the Etruscan system: Aritimi (Artemis), Menrva (Minerva), Pacha (Dionysus). The Greek heroes taken from Homer also appear extensively in Etruscan art.

These deities were active in the world of man and could be persuaded to influence human affairs. Legend had it that, to understand the will of the gods, and how to influence them, had been “revealed” to the Etruscans in the form of oracles which were written down in a series of mysterious sacred books. These books were secret, only to be consulted by the priests.


Like other ancient cultures, warfare was a major aspect of their political life. Like many ancient societies, the Etruscans conducted campaigns during summer months, raiding neighboring areas, attempting to gain territory, and engaging in – or combating – piracy.

An Etruscan Helmut in the British Museum

Human sacrifice was a feature of their religion, and prisoners of war could end up on the altars of Etruscan gods. As a part of this sacrifice, prisoners were sometimes set to fight one another. the Romans later took this practice over, and it grew into the gladiatorial entertainments of the Roman amphitheaters.

Art and Architecture

The surviving Etruscan art which has come down to us is figurative sculpture in terracotta (especially life-size tomb statues in temples) and cast bronze, wall-painting and metalworking (especially engraved bronze mirrors).

As with all ancient peoples, Etruscan art was strongly connected to religion the afterlife was of major importance in Etruscan art.

The Etruscan musical instruments seen in frescoes and bas-reliefs are different types of pipes, such as Pan pipes and double pipes, percussion instruments, and stringed instruments like the lyre.

5th century BCE fresco of dancers and musicians, tomb of the leopards

The only written records of Etruscan origin that remain are inscriptions, mainly funerary. Otherwise, Etruscan literature is evidenced only in references by later Roman authors.

The Architecture of the ancient Etruscans was derived from that of the Greeks, and went on to influence that of early Rome.

Etruscan Heritage

Rome is located on the edge of what was the Etruscan homeland. Certain institutions and customs came directly from the Etruscans to Rome. In fact, the name of Rome itself has of Etruscan origin, as are the names of its legendary founders, Romulus and Remus. There were strong Latin and Italic elements to Roman culture, and later Romans proudly celebrated these multiple origins. Before the Etruscan arrived (undoubtedly as a ruling group), however, Rome was probably a collection of small farming settlements. The Etruscan elite provided it with its early political arrangements (monarchy, army) and urban infrastructure (walls, forum, drainage system) in short, it was probably they who turned Rome into a full-blown city-state.

Few Etruscan words entered the Latin language, but those that did tended to be to do with state authority: the toga palmata (a magistrate’s robe), the sella curulis (magistrate’s chair), and the fasces – a bundle of whipping rods surrounding a double-bladed axe, carried by magistrate’s attendants (lictors). The fasces symbolized magisterial power. Also, the word populus is of Etruscan derivation, and originally referred to the people assembled for war, as an army, rather than the general populace.

The early Romans were deeply influenced by their more civilized Etruscan rulers, whose imprint can be seen in the Romans’ writing, art and architecture, religion, military matters, entertainment (as in the gladiatorial combat) and probably a host of other aspects of daily life. In thus helping to shape Roman civilization, the Etruscans had an enduring influence on later Western culture.

How Did Music Begin? Was it via Vocalization or was it through Motor Impulse?

But even those elementary questions are a step too far, because first we have to ask “What is music?” and this is a question that is almost impossible to answer. Your idea of music may be very different from mine, and our next-door neighbor’s will almost certainly be different again. Each of us can only answer for ourselves.

Mine is that it is “Sound that conveys emotion.”

We can probably most of us agree that it is sound yes, silence is a part of that sound, but can there be any music without sound of some sort? For me, that sound has to do something—it cannot just be random noises meaning nothing. There must be some purpose to it, so I use the phrase “that conveys emotion.” What that emotion may be is largely irrelevant to the definition there is an infinite range of possibilities. An obvious one is pleasure. But equally another could be fear or revulsion.

How do we distinguish that sound from speech, for speech can also convey emotion? It would seem that musical sound must have some sort of controlled variation of pitch, controlled because speech can also vary in pitch, especially when under overt emotion. So music should also have some element of rhythm, at least of pattern. But so has the recital of a sonnet, and this is why I said above that the question of “What is music?” is impossible to answer. Perhaps the answer is that each of us in our own way can say “Yes, this is music,” and “No, that is speech.”

Must the sound be organized? I have thought that it must be, and yet an unorganized series of sounds can create a sense of fear or of warning. Here, again, I must insert a personal explanation: I am what is called an ethno-organologist my work is the study of musical instruments (organology) and worldwide (hence the ethno-, as in ethnomusicology, the study of music worldwide). So to take just one example of an instrument, the ratchet or rattle, a blade, usually of wood, striking against the teeth of a cogwheel as the blade rotates round the handle that holds the cogwheel. This instrument is used by crowds at sporting matches of all sorts it is used by farmers to scare the birds from the crops it was and still is used by the Roman Catholic church in Holy Week when the bells “go to Rome to be blessed” (they do not of course actually go but they are silenced for that week) it was scored by Beethoven to represent musketry in his so-called Battle Symphony, a work more formally called Wellingtons Sieg oder die Schlacht bei Vittoria, Op.91, that was written originally for Maelzel’s giant musical box, the Panharmonicon. Beethoven also scored it out for live performance by orchestras and it is now often heard in our concert halls “with cannon and mortar effects” to attract people to popular concerts. And it was also, during the Second World War, used in Britain by Air-Raid Precaution wardens to warn of a gas attack, thus producing an emotion of fear. If it was scored by Beethoven, it must be regarded as a musical instrument, and there are many other noise-makers that, like it, which must be regarded as musical instruments.

And so, to return to our definition of music, organization may be regarded as desirable for musical sound, but that it cannot be deemed essential, and thus my definition remains “Sound that conveys emotion.”

On Physique Magazine Photography

In Aperture magazine #187, from 2007, writer Vince Aletti reflected on early twentieth-century physique magazines, a genre of men’s fitness publications that became a de-facto source of gay erotic photography as early as the early 1900s. During a time when homosexuality was considered scandalous and American obscenity laws prevented the publication of provocative photographs, physique magazines served as a veiled source of homoerotic imagery, serving a largely closeted audience. To coincide with the release of Aperture magazine #218, “Queer,” we republish an excerpt of Aletti’s look at this overlooked, and in some cases, purposefully obscured, area of photographic history. This article first appeared in Issue 3 of the Aperture Photography App: click here to read more and download the app.

The magazines on these pages were produced for an audience that their publishers never named and rarely acknowledged in a sense, they were as closeted as many of their gay readers and even more vulnerable to discrimination and attack. Muscle magazines like Vim, Superman, Strength & Health, and La Culture Physique, some of which date back to the early 1900s, were the first to feature photographs of nearly naked men, but they were all professional and amateur bodybuilders, and their display was intended to inspire sportsman-like admiration and emulation, not prurient interest. Although the physique magazines that began appearing in the mid 1950s—including Art & Physique, Physique Artistry, Men and Art, Body Beautiful, and Adonis—also printed photographs of Mr. America contestants, the emphasis shifted, ever so subtly, from sport to sex. But if these new, pocket-sized magazines were more frankly erotic than their muscle-builder peers, they weren’t about to admit it.

Most of them covered their metaphoric asses with statements announcing their high-minded intentions. A note in a 1954 issue of Physique Pictorial claimed its collection of preening male nudes was “planned primarily as an art reference book and is widely used in colleges and private schools throughout the country. . . . Several psychologists and psychiatrists have told us that books such as Pictorial often have a highly beneficial effect on negative, withdrawn patients who become inspired by the extrovert enthusiasm and exuberance of healthy, happy athletes.” Other publications prided themselves on combining self-improvement and art appreciation: articles titled “Are Bodybuilders Oversexed?” and “Sex Fears Probed!” and rudimentary exercise instruction appeared alongside photographs of Greek and Roman statuary and “art studies” of handsome young men wearing the polyester equivalent of the classic fig leaf. Still, it’s hard to believe these magazines ever passed for straight they certainly didn’t fool their queer readers.

To be fair, physique publishers weren’t being cowardly, merely circumspect. Despite an incipient movement for gay liberation and visibility (the Mattachine Society’s magazine, One, began publishing in 1953), homosexuality was still a scandal in the 1950s, and American obscenity laws tended to keep its photographic representation either furtively underground or heavily coded. Photographers and publishers could be arrested if a model’s pubic hair was not sufficiently airbrushed out of the picture or the bulge in a posing strap was too clearly defined, and any hint of affectionate contact between men was strictly policed.

The look of physique work from this period wasn’t entirely a matter of wary self-censorship, however. Many photographers in the field (some of whom had begun their careers in muscle mags) had a keen eye, a refined sense of their craft, and strikingly individual styles. Surely most of them were aware of the artistic precedents set by Thomas Eakins, Eadweard Muybridge, and F. Holland Day, and more contemporary examples of male nudes by Edward Weston, Herbert List, Minor White, Imogen Cunningham, and George Platt Lynes would not have been hard to come by. (Lynes’s most frankly homoerotic work wasn’t published until after his death, and it springs from the same hothouse atmosphere of repression and rebellion that inspired the headiest physique photographs.) Much more obvious precedents were the turn-of-the-century photographs of Wilhelm von Gloeden, Guglielmo Pluschow, and Vincenzo Galdi, whose sepia-toned pictures of Italian peasant boys posing with panpipes and classical drapery were widely circulated in the gay underground. The American studios tended to cling to an equally mannered, obviously commercial tradition as much from an impulse to idealize and romanticize the nude as from a need to redeem it.

Physique photographers used props that evoke the classic nude—fluted columns, elegant drapery, “marble” pedestals—in order to nudge their teenage bodybuilders, amateur athletes, and tattooed Marines into the realm of Art even as they hovered on the brink of pornography. To update the classical ideal, they drew on the conventions of Hollywood glamour photography (the dramatic lighting, the prominent prop, the “thoughtful” stare into space), the standard muscleman posing repertoire (including the requisite gloss of body oil), a butched-up version of the vocabulary of gesture and attitude found in fashion magazines, and pieces of the hyper-masculine wardrobe fetishized in the same period by Tom of Finland: denim jeans, motorcycle boots, leather jackets, jockstraps, hard hats. The resulting images were at once stylized and subversive, way over the top and just under the radar.


The word flute first entered the English language during the Middle English period, as floute, [13] or else flowte, flo(y)te, [14] possibly from Old French flaute and from Old Provençal flaüt, [13] or else from Old French fleüte, flaüte, flahute via Middle High German floite or Dutch fluit. The English verb flout has the same linguistic root, and the modern Dutch verb fluiten still shares the two meanings. [15] Attempts to trace the word back to the Latin flare (to blow, inflate) have been pronounced "phonologically impossible" or "inadmissable". [14] The first known use of the word flute was in the 14th century. [16] According to the Oxford English Dictionary, this was in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Hous of Fame, c.1380. [14]

Today, a musician who plays any instrument in the flute family can be called a flutist [17] or flautist [18] or simply a flute player. Flutist dates back to at least 1603, the earliest quotation cited by the Oxford English Dictionary. Flautist was used in 1860 by Nathaniel Hawthorne in The Marble Faun, after being adopted during the 18th century from Italy (flautista, itself from flauto), like many musical terms in England since the Italian Renaissance. Other English terms, now virtually obsolete, are fluter (15th–19th centuries) [19] [20] [21] and flutenist (17th–18th centuries). [15] [22]

The oldest flute ever discovered may be a fragment of the femur of a juvenile cave bear, with two to four holes, found at Divje Babe in Slovenia and dated to about 43,000 years ago. However, this has been disputed. [23] [24] In 2008 another flute dated back to at least 35,000 years ago was discovered in Hohle Fels cave near Ulm, Germany. [25] The five-holed flute has a V-shaped mouthpiece and is made from a vulture wing bone. The researchers involved in the discovery officially published their findings in the journal Nature, in August 2009. [26] The discovery was also the oldest confirmed find of any musical instrument in history, [27] until a redating of flutes found in Geißenklösterle cave revealed them to be even older with an age of 42,000 to 43,000 years. [3]

The flute, one of several found, was found in the Hohle Fels cavern next to the Venus of Hohle Fels and a short distance from the oldest known human carving. [28] On announcing the discovery, scientists suggested that the "finds demonstrate the presence of a well-established musical tradition at the time when modern humans colonized Europe". [29] Scientists have also suggested that the discovery of the flute may help to explain "the probable behavioural and cognitive gulf between" Neanderthals and early modern human. [27]

A three-holed flute, 18.7 cm long, made from a mammoth tusk (from the Geißenklösterle cave, near Ulm, in the southern German Swabian Alb and dated to 30,000 to 37,000 years ago) [30] was discovered in 2004, and two flutes made from swan bones excavated a decade earlier (from the same cave in Germany, dated to circa 36,000 years ago) are among the oldest known musical instruments.

A playable 9,000-year-old Gudi (literally, "bone flute") was excavated from a tomb in Jiahu along with 29 defunct twins, [31] made from the wing bones of red-crowned cranes with five to eight holes each, in the Central Chinese province of Henan. [32] The earliest extant Chinese transverse flute is a chi (篪) flute discovered in the Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng at the Suizhou site, Hubei province, China. It dates from 433 BC, of the later Zhou Dynasty. [33] It is fashioned of lacquered bamboo with closed ends and has five stops that are at the flute's side instead of the top. Chi flutes are mentioned in Shi Jing, compiled and edited by Confucius, according to tradition.

The earliest written reference to a flute is from a Sumerian-language cuneiform tablet dated to c. 2600–2700 BCE. [34] Flutes are also mentioned in a recently translated tablet of the Epic of Gilgamesh, an epic poem whose development spanned the period of approximately 2100–600 BCE. [35] Additionally, a set of cuneiform tablets knows as the "musical texts" provide precise tuning instructions for seven scale of a stringed instrument (assumed to be a Babylonian lyre). One of those scales is named embūbum, which is an Akkadian word for "flute". [35]

The Bible, in Genesis 4:21, cites Jubal as being the "father of all those who play the ugab and the kinnor". The former Hebrew term is believed by some to refer to some wind instrument, or wind instruments in general, the latter to a stringed instrument, or stringed instruments in general. As such, Jubal is regarded in the Judeo-Christian tradition as the inventor of the flute (a word used in some translations of this biblical passage). [36] Elsewhere in the Bible, the flute is referred to as "chalil" (from the root word for "hollow"), in particular in 1 Samuel 10:5, 1 Kings 1:40, Isaiah 5:12 and 30:29, and Jeremiah 48:36. [37] Archeological digs in the Holy Land have discovered flutes from both the Bronze Age (c. 4000-1200 BCE) and the Iron Age (1200-586 BCE), the latter era "witness[ing] the creation of the Israelite kingdom and its separation into the two kingdoms of Israel and Judea." [36]

Some early flutes were made out of tibias (shin bones). The flute has also always been an essential part of Indian culture and mythology, [38] and the cross flute believed by several accounts to originate in India [39] [40] as Indian literature from 1500 BCE has made vague references to the cross flute. [41]

A flute produces sound when a stream of air directed across a hole in the instrument creates a vibration of air at the hole. [42] [43] The airstream creates a Bernoulli or siphon. This excites the air contained in the usually cylindrical resonant cavity within the flute. The flutist changes the pitch of the sound produced by opening and closing holes in the body of the instrument, thus changing the effective length of the resonator and its corresponding resonant frequency. By varying the air pressure, a flutist can also change the pitch by causing the air in the flute to resonate at a harmonic rather than the fundamental frequency without opening or closing any of the holes. [44]

Head joint geometry appears particularly critical to acoustic performance and tone, [45] but there is no clear consensus on a particular shape amongst manufacturers. Acoustic impedance of the embouchure hole appears the most critical parameter. [46] Critical variables affecting this acoustic impedance include: chimney length (hole between lip-plate and head tube), chimney diameter, and radii or curvature of the ends of the chimney and any designed restriction in the "throat" of the instrument, such as that in the Japanese Nohkan Flute.

A study in which professional flutists were blindfolded could find no significant differences between flutes made from a variety of metals. [47] In two different sets of blind listening, no flute was correctly identified in a first listening, and in a second, only the silver flute was identified. The study concluded that there was "no evidence that the wall material has any appreciable effect on the sound color or dynamic range".

In its most basic form, a flute is an open tube which is blown into. After focused study and training, players use controlled air-direction to create an airstream in which the air is aimed downward into the tone hole of the flute's headjoint. There are several broad classes of flutes. With most flutes, the musician blows directly across the edge of the mouthpiece, with 1/4 of their bottom lip covering the embouchure hole. However, some flutes, such as the whistle, gemshorn, flageolet, recorder, tin whistle, tonette, fujara, and ocarina have a duct that directs the air onto the edge (an arrangement that is termed a "fipple"). These are known as fipple flutes. The fipple gives the instrument a distinct timbre which is different from non-fipple flutes and makes the instrument easier to play, but takes a degree of control away from the musician.

Another division is between side-blown (or transverse) flutes, such as the Western concert flute, piccolo, fife, dizi and bansuri and end-blown flutes, such as the ney, xiao, kaval, danso, shakuhachi, Anasazi flute and quena. The player of a side-blown flute uses a hole on the side of the tube to produce a tone, instead of blowing on an end of the tube. End-blown flutes should not be confused with fipple flutes such as the recorder, which are also played vertically but have an internal duct to direct the air flow across the edge of the tone hole.

Flutes may be open at one or both ends. The ocarina, xun, pan pipes, police whistle, and bosun's whistle are closed-ended. Open-ended flutes such as the concert flute and the recorder have more harmonics, and thus more flexibility for the player, and brighter timbres. An organ pipe may be either open or closed, depending on the sound desired.

Flutes may have any number of pipes or tubes, though one is the most common number. Flutes with multiple resonators may be played one resonator at a time (as is typical with pan pipes) or more than one at a time (as is typical with double flutes).

Flutes can be played with several different air sources. Conventional flutes are blown with the mouth, although some cultures use nose flutes. The flue pipes of organs, which are acoustically similar to duct flutes, are blown by bellows or fans.

Western transverse flutes Edit

Wooden one-keyed transverse flute Edit

Usually in D, wooden transverse flutes were played in European classical music mainly in the period from the early 18th century to the early 19th century. As such the instrument is often indicated as baroque flute. Gradually marginalized by the Western concert flute in the 19th century, baroque flutes were again played from the late 20th century as part of the historically informed performance practice.

Western concert flute Edit

The Western concert flute, a descendant of the medieval German flute, is a transverse treble flute that is closed at the top. An embouchure hole is positioned near the top across and into which the flutist blows. The flute has circular tone holes larger than the finger holes of its baroque predecessors. The size and placement of tone holes, key mechanism, and fingering system used to produce the notes in the flute's range were evolved from 1832 to 1847 by Theobald Boehm and greatly improved the instrument's dynamic range and intonation over its predecessors. [48] With some refinements (and the rare exception of the Kingma system and other custom adapted fingering systems), Western concert flutes typically conform to Boehm's design, known as the Boehm system. Beginner's flutes are made of nickel, silver, or brass that is silver-plated, while professionals use solid silver, gold, and sometimes even platinum flutes. There are also modern wooden-bodied flutes usually with silver or gold keywork. The wood is usually African Blackwood.

The standard concert flute is pitched in C and has a range of three octaves starting from middle C or one half step lower when a B foot is attached. This means that the concert flute is one of the highest common orchestra and concert band instruments.

Western concert flute variants Edit

The piccolo plays an octave higher than the regular treble flute. Lower members of the flute family include the G alto and C bass flutes that are used occasionally, and are pitched a perfect fourth and an octave below the concert flute, respectively. The contrabass, double contrabass, and hyperbass are other rare forms of the flute pitched two, three, and four octaves below middle C respectively.

Other sizes of flutes and piccolos are used from time to time. A rarer instrument of the modern pitching system is the G treble flute. Instruments made according to an older pitch standard, used principally in wind-band music, include D ♭ piccolo, E ♭ soprano flute (Keyed a minor 3rd above the standard C flute), F alto flute, and B ♭ bass flute.


Under Hollywood History, all historical ancient Mexican, Central, and South American nations are lumped into one exotic and often barbaric people: the Mayincatec, featuring aspects of the Maya (in modern Yucatan peninsula and Central America), Inca (in modern Peru) and Aztec (in Modern Central Mexico), plus many others (especially the Olmec, one of the oldest, as more continues to be discovered about them). It's a tossed salad of exciting bits from all their histories, with a topping of myth and fiction. And the dressing is blood.

Common Mayincatec traits

  • Human Sacrifice: Cutting out the heart of a living victim atop a ziggurat (step-sided pyramid).
  • Virgin Sacrifice: Ironically, the Aztecs, Mayans, and Inca primarily sacrificed men&mdashfemale sacrifices aren't unheard of, but they tended to be special occasions or practiced by other tribes in the area. To be sure, it's not as prevalent in this setting as others featuring human sacrifice.

Generally the Mayincatec are more likely to be the villains than the heroes, and as such they are prone to Historical Villain Upgrade. The exception, of course, is if the story involves the Conquistadors, in which case they'll instead be portrayed as tragic victims of European expansion. Some Alternate History stories have them survive to the modern day, resulting in a Modern Mayincatec Empire.

In Real Life, the Maya, the Inca, and the Aztec (which is merely an exonym the people called themselves Mexica) were all distinct Pre-Columbian cultures. The Maya and Aztec were comparatively close together (they both lived in what is now Mexico) and did engage in cultural exchange, but this is no reason to conflate them. Meanwhile, the Inca were thousands of miles away from them, their capital being in today's Peru, so conflating them would cross into Critical Research Failure territory. Their actual history is interesting and diverges from the trope quite a bit. There seems to have been some long-distance contact between the cultures (at a minimum, maize had been introduced to the Andes from Mesoamerica), but it was tenuous and the Mesoamerican and Andean civilizations were vaguely aware of each other at best. However, keep in mind that the trope is frequently also valid in modern Latin America.

See Also: Hollywood History and Very Loosely Based on a True Story. Compare Spexico, Latin Land, The Capital of Brazil Is Buenos Aires and Banana Republic, for when this happens to modern Latin American countries. Also compare Injun Country and Tipis and Totem Poles for composite versions of Native American cultures from North America. The European equivalent is Ancient Grome, when Roman and Greek cultures are mashed up together in Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece settings. See Egypt Is Still Ancient, which is when you have Egpyt depicted as if it were still a land of Pharoahs and gods.

Panpipes Timeline - History

Although bagpipes are thought to be Middle Eastern in origin, possibly dating back as far as 4000 BC, the instrument spread throughout Europe during the early part of the second millennium AD. Unsubstantiated claims for their use in Scotland date from around 1300, but the first concrete evidence of “warpipes” being used in their traditional role on the battlefield comes from writings about the Battle of North Inch in 1396. This early association with the military has always stayed with the bagpipes their penetrating notes were used to unsettle the enemy, and communicate with allies. The unique construction of bagpipes means that the high pitched and VERY high decibel shrills and skirls emanating from them can be heard for several miles, and with their aggressive tones they quickly supplanted the horns and trumpets which had been previously popular.

Modern pipes are made of four main sections the blowpipe, chanter, bag and drones. Traditionally, the bag would have been made from a full animal pelt, in the distant past goats, sheep, even cows and dogs were used to make this part of the bagpipes! In modern times, thankfully it is more common for synthetic materials to be used for the bag – with a fabric covering often made from tartan – either the official band tartan, or the regional sett, or for soloist pipers their own clan design. The bag is a reservoir for air blown by the piper as the bag is continually squeezed under the piper’s arm while playing the air is forced out through the drones to create sound. Five sticks emerge from the bag, three drones, a chanter and a blowpipe, and we will look at the role each of these plays now.

The blowpipe is used to inflate the bag the pipe will prefill the bag before he starts to play then continue to keep filling the bag while playing. The blowpipe is usually made from hardwood though the exact wood type varies, and new techniques in the manufacture of this essential part of the instrument mean that pipers can fill bags more easily – leading to a smoother sound and more ease of playing. Unusually for a wind instrument, no reeds are played by the mouth directly, the blowpipe is just a filling device, and the reeds are contained within other areas of the pipes.

Also made from hardwood, the Great Highland Bagpipes has three drones – two tenors and one bass. Essentially, the drones create the music when the pipes are played each one has a reed contained within and they can be tuned to different keys. As the air escapes the bag a constant low “droning” noise is heard, the distinctive noise of the bagpipes and the reason for this part’s name! When the bag is squeezed harder, more air escapes, increasing the volume and pitch of the drone, with the tone differing depending on the piper’s finger position.

The chanter is the most well-known part of the bagpipes and is essential for player input. Held by the piper in both hands, the chanter is a long stem drilled with holes acts as the finger-board. As the player moves his fingers to cover or uncover the holes, the airflow within the instrument changes and the notes differ, just like with instruments such as the clarinet or flute! It was traditionally made from Scottish woods such as holly or laburnum, then later from exotic hardwoods such as cocus wood or ebony, though nowadays synthetic materials which are easier to maintain are also popular. Chanters can also be purchased with a mouthpiece attached, separate from the bagpipes themselves, as practice instruments.

Using a practice chanter can be essential for new players. Playing the pipes properly is a whole body effort – you must blow air into the pipe constantly, squeeze the bag under one arm at a controlled level to ensure the air is escaping at the desired pressure, and keep up with precise patterns of covering and uncovering the holes of the chanter to create notes – all while keeping the drones balanced on your shoulder and making sure no part of the unwieldy and large pipes slips or is dropped by accident! Understandably, this is very difficult to master all at once, so practicing just on the chanter allows the piper to thoroughly learn the finger movements required without the pressure of managing everything else all at the same time. As they gain more experience they can move onto using the full pipes, though many pipers will return to the practice chanter when learning a new piece of music until they are confident of their performance.

Bagpipes are often played in Scotland as part of an ensemble of pipers and drummers. All the pipers play the Great Highland bagpipes and provide the melody and complexity of the music, with the mixed drum corps providing the rhythm from a selection of snare drummers, tenor drummers and one (or occasionally two) bass drummers. Musically, the band follows the direction of the pipe major, though when on parade the drum major may be responsible for leading the band on their route and keeping time with a mace. The pipers almost always play traditional arrangements, but the drum scores are often composed by the drum major himself – and the drummers are judged not only on performance, but also on how well their drumming complements and suits the traditional sections played by the pipers during competitions.

It is in pipe bands that the bagpipes military roots can be seen most clearly with drums and pipes being truly historic in their use on the battlefields, to provide direction or convey commands, to boost morale or to strike terror into the hearts of enemies. All battalions of the Highland Regiment still have pipers, and the practice has also been adopted by many other Regiments, not to mention civilian entities such as police forces, fire brigades or universities.

As a solo instrument the Great Highland Bagpipes are also popular, from christenings to weddings, ceilidhs or funerals, even in modern times no Scottish life event is complete without a piper. Soloist pipers play an especially important part in traditional weddings, where they will often compere the event to keep things running smoothly (especially during the speeches!) as well as playing the bride down the aisle, providing accompaniment as the happy couple leave the church or registrars, and again when they enter the reception to be welcomed by their friends and family.

As Scotland continues to develop and grow into a strong 21 st Century nation, the bagpipes continue to be a vital and vibrant part of its citizens lives traditional soloists are everywhere, in our personal lives, working in partnership with Highland dancers, or even busking on the streets of our beautiful cities. Pipe bands bridge the traditional and the modern with innovative drumming and amazing displays of virtuoso technique. Even more encouraging, the pipes have been adopted by modern musicians in rock bands – or rather rock music has been adopted by pipers! With groups such as the Canadian Real MacKenzies, or Scotland’s own Red Hot Chilli Pipers blending electric guitars and punk vocals with the traditional sound of the bagpipes, it can truly be seen that this instrument goes from strength to strength and is one of Scotland’s best-loved and most defining features!

Introduction to the Chimú culture

Following the decline of the Moche on the north coast of Peru, there arose two cultures in their place. One was the Sicán (or Lambayeque), beginning around 750 in the northern part of the old Moche territory in the Lambayeque and La Leche river valleys. The other was the Chimú, who began to flourish around 950 in the Moche valley (around the Moche River) and spread both north and south, eventually conquering the Sicán around 1375 and expanding almost as far as Lima. The Chimú kingdom, called Chimor, came to a close with their conquest by the Inka.

The capital of the Kingdom of Chimor was the city of Chan Chan, located in the Moche river valley, closer to the coast than the Moche culture’s center at the Huacas del Sol and de la Luna. Chan Chan was composed of royal compounds, today referred to as ciudadelas or citadels. These citadels were elaborate, labyrinthine compounds surrounded by high walls made of adobe bricks covered in mud plaster and reliefs.

View of the ruins of adobe walls in ciudadela Nik An, Chan Chan, capital of Chimor, Peru (photo: Veronique Debord, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Ciudadelas were composed of long, narrow corridors leading to spaces with different uses, such as large, open plazas with central platforms for ceremonies, storage facilities, and even large wells. It would be difficult for someone unfamiliar with the citadel to navigate their way through, and so the architectural design provided a kind of security in addition to the presence of guards and court officials.

The citadel was a royal household, audience chamber, and storage facility during the life of the king, and his tomb upon his death. Each new king would build a new citadel, as the old king was buried in his. A new king would begin from square one, needing to build his wealth and his citadel, along with his reputation. This may have been one reason for the steady expansion of the kingdom of Chimor: the need for new sources of wealth for new kings.

Spondylus princeps shell (photo: Kevin Walsh, CC BY 2.0)

Chimú kings had access to high-quality textiles made with dyed camelid wool, gold- and silversmiths who made fantastical jewelry as well as delightful miniatures of everyday objects, and exotic feathers and shells. The feathers came from the cloud forests of the Andes as well as the Amazonian jungles that lay beyond, and Spondylus shells were brought from the warm waters of modern-day coastal Ecuador. The king of Chimor had in his retinue a servant called the Fonga Sigde, whose job it was to strew crushed Spondylus powder before the king as he walked, creating a “red carpet” for him to walk on and showing his extreme wealth and power.

Because of the legendary wealth of the kings of Chimor, the cuidadelas of Chan Chan were mercilessly looted beginning with the fall of the Chimú empire to the Inka around 1470, and very few objects have been recovered scientifically from the site. There is, however, a great deal of conservation and restoration work going on at the site, and other sites have yielded a wealth of Chimú objects, including the Moche pyramids of Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna, which are less than three miles away. The Chimú may have seen these structures as belonging to revered ancestors, and therefore spiritually powerful and an appropriate place for their own dead.

Chimú tunic with fringed hem and bird design, 1300–1470, Peru, camelid fiber, cotton, 49.5 x 113 cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Clothed in glory

Chimú feathered tunic, 15th–early 17th century, Peru, cotton, feathers, 69.9 × 68.6 cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Chimú tunics varied in quality from plain, undyed cotton in natural colors to brilliantly-colored dyed camelid wool, (above) and eye-catching, exotic feathered tunics (left). Both of the tunics shown here feature bird designs, but the one above is heavily abstracted. The bird can be seen inside the large pink diamond shapes, reduced mainly to a large beak, round head with its eye, and two triangles for the body and tail. Heavily geometric designs like this one were common in Chimú textiles, although some are more naturalistic. The feathered tunic’s birds are easier to see. They were created by carefully tying rows of trimmed feathers to a plain textile backing. Despite their relative clarity, they are still similar in shape to those in the textile tunic. The plainest textiles would have been worn by the common people, with more elaborate creations like the ones seen here worn by the elites. The king was entitled to wear the most luxurious articles of clothing, distinguishing him from everyone else.

Top: Chimú feathered crown, 14th–15th century, Peru, paradise tanager and macaw feathers, cotton, skin, cane, copper, 26 cm high (The Metropolitan Museum of Art) Bottom: Paradise tanager (photo: DickDaniels, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Feathers were also used to decorate crowns. The conical shape would be constructed of a basketry base, then decorated with feathers and other ornaments (in this case with copper bands at the top and bottom of the base). Art historians have identified the feathers as coming from the paradise tanager and the macaw, both birds that live in the dense tropical jungles to the east of the Andes mountains. The brilliant colors and exotic origins of the feathers signaled the ruler’s ability to procure luxury items from far away.

Pots that whistle

Chimú ceramics are very different from those of the Moche that preceded them. They are less sophisticated in execution, and usually are not painted, relying solely on modeled form and surface textures for their decoration.

The vessel below is a double chamber type that is common to Chimú, where two hollow forms are joined by a tube at the bottom and a strap handle at the top, with a more or less cylindrical spout sticking straight up from one chamber. In some cases, the vessel has been engineered so that pouring liquid out of it or sloshing the liquid around inside it will force air through a whistle inside one chamber, causing the pot to make a sound when it is used (a udio of this vessel whistling can be found here). These vessels were fired in a kiln deprived of oxygen (referred to as a “reducing atmosphere”), causing the iron compounds in the clay to turn black. The general term for Andean ceramics made this way is “blackware.”

Chimú whistling jar, 1000–1476, Peru, mold-form clay, 16 x 9.5 cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Glittering regalia

Chimú metalsmiths made many different kinds of objects. The earspools seen below would have been worn by a ruler or very high-ranking noble. They depict a man, probably a king, holding a beaker and a feather fan, carried on a litter by other figures. He wears a large headdress topped with a broad crescent of feathers, with a stepped ornament at the center. He wears earspools and a tunic with a fringed hem. Trapezoidal sequins dangle from wire loops on the surface of the earring, and would have shimmered as the wearer moved, adding further splendor to the object.

Pair of Chimú earspools, 12th–15th century, Peru, gold, 13.5 cm in diameter (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Left: Chimú beaker, 14th–15th century, Peru, silver, 19.7 x 13.3 cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art) Right: Miniature panpipes, 13th–15th century, Peru, silver, 2.7 x 5.6cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Metalsmiths also made silver and gold beakers, similar to those made by the Sicán. The figure in the beaker seen here holds a tunic with a bird design. The Chimú also made miniature metal versions of objects—household goods, musical instruments, even fruits. The tiny (2.7 x 5.6 cm!) panpipes to the right would have been included in a tomb as a precious, more durable version of an instrument normally made of reed.

In the ultimate statement of luxury, rulers also had silver versions of ceramic vessels made for them. The one below depicts a ruler seated on a throne that is decorated with birds, waves, and a supernatural figure, similar to thrones and adobe reliefs found at Chan Chan. Two attendant figures are seated below him. The design is repeated on the other side. The ruler figure is larger than those below him, emphasizing his power just as much as the elaborate repoussé that defines the throne. One subject figure on each side is carrying a bag, perhaps filled with tribute for the king of Chimor. The stirrup spout for the vessel shows that the Chimú continued some elements of Moche style.

Chimú bottle depicting a throne with figures, 1300–1500, Peru, silver, 23.5 x 11.1 x 16.5 cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Treasures from the ocean

Chimú jewelry included not only metals and beads of precious stone but also shell. The red-orange Spondylus shell that was crushed for the king to walk on was also used to make beads, as were other shells, which produced purple, yellow, and white beads. The wrist ornament below is one of a pair, to be worn like cuffs. The rich colors echo those of high-status dyed textiles and exotic feathers. A ruler wearing these cuffs, a brilliantly colored tunic, a tall, colorful crown, and shiny gold earspools must certainly have been an intimidating sight, inspiring awe of the power of Chimor in all who witnessed him.

Chimú beaded wrist ornament, 14th–15th century, Peru, shell, cotton, 15.3 cm long (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

The conquest of the Kingdom of Chimor by the Inka around 1470 brought the age of luxury on the coast to an end. The artists and craftsmen of Chimor were taken to Cusco to make elite goods for the Inka nobles, and the ciudadelas were sacked and plundered. Further looting would take place over the centuries, leaving only the massive adobe architecture as a reminder of the might of the Chimú kings.

Legend of the Underground People

Editor's Note: the Almanac includes the following as folklore - not history. Although some elements of the story may indeed be historical fact, we offer these stories as a part of the cultural fabric of Los Angeles County.

In the 1933, mining engineer George Warren Shufeld related stories, told to him, of Hopi legends describing a race of "Lizard People" (not reptilian, but so-named for their reverence of the lizard) who, 5,000 years ago, built three great underground cities near the Pacific Coast, including one beneath Los Angeles. The cities were said to have been built underground as protection against great cataclysmic fires on the surface. Shufeld took up the cause of locating the city beneath Los Angeles. He reported that this underground city was laid out in the shape of the revered lizard, extending from its head under northeast Los Angeles to its tail under the downtown Central Library. The ancient builders, purportedly more advanced intellectually than modern humans, tunneled through rock using chemicals and constructed huge domed caverns housing a thousand families. The underground city was further connected by a series of additional tunnels to the ocean where the ebb and flow of sea water forced air into the labyrinths. How their civilization came to an end seemed a bit unclear.

Los Angeles Times article, Lizard People's Catacomb City Hunted, January 29, 1934.

In 1934, Shufeld, who incidentally developed a device he called a "radio X-ray,” announced that he located tunnels and a treasure room containing gold objects beneath Fort Moore Hill in downtown Los Angeles. After acquiring funds to do excavating, Shufeld obtained permission from authorities (agreeing to split the value of his finds with the county) to drill a 350-foot shaft. The work was interrupted by cave-in concerns, however, and, by spring, ground to a halt when funding and media attention ceased. Shortly thereafter, Shufelt disappeared from public view.He died in 1957 and is buried in North Hollywood.

Just prior to Shufeld’s 1934 drilling, Pico Rivera resident and psychic Edith Elden Robinson reported a vision of "a vast city. in mammoth tunnels extending to the seashore."

Los Angeles Times photos of Shulfeld at work and illustrations and a map from the article, Lizard People's Catacomb City Hunted, January 29, 1934.

Lizard People's Catacomb City Hunted by Jean Bosquet, Los Angeles Times, January 29, 1934, viewed in ProQuest
Mysterious California by Mike Marinacci Panpipes Press, 1988
The Underground Catacombs of L.A.’s Lizard People by Glen Creason, Los Angeles Magazine, January 22, 2014

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