Art of the Ancient Americas
Artist: Unknown

Ocarina in the Shape of a Kinkajou


Incised ceramic with pigment, Castillo engraved

11.43 × 15.24 cm (4 1/2 × 6 in.)
Gift of Bryce Appleton, B.A. 1965, Marc Appleton, M.ARCH. 1972, Lynnie Appleton, and Lili Appleton in honor of their mother, Ariel Bryce Appleton, and her interest in Costa Rica, its people, and their art
This kinkajou is shown doing what it does best: hanging. It uses its tail here as it would the limb of a tree. The pose makes the figure easy to hold and use as an ocarina (whistle). The hip and shoulder joints, as well as its flanks, have tone holes. The mouthpiece projects from the center of its back. The kinkajou, also called the honey bear, is a member of the raccoon family.
Costa Rica
Not on view
Costa Rica, Carrillo, Nicoya
13th–16th century
Musical Instruments

Jock Reynolds, “Director’s Report: July 1, 2009–June 30, 2010,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2010): 12–13, ill.

“Acquisitions,” (accessed 2012).

Andrés Gutiérrez Usillos, Dioses, Simbolos y Alimentación en los Andes: Interrelación Hombre Fauna en el Ecuador Prehispánico (Quito Ecuador: Ediciones Abya-Yala, 2002).

Elizabeth P. Benson, Birds and Beasts of Ancient Latin America (Gainsville, Fla: University Press of Florida, 1997).

Gary Urton, Animal Myths and Metaphors in South America (Salt Lake City: University of Utah, 1985).

Marc Zender, “The Raccoon Glyph in Maya Writing,” (accessed 2005).

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.