Ocarina in the Shape of a Kinkajou Artist: Unknown


Art of the Ancient Americas

Not on view

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.


Incised ceramic with pigment, Castillo engraved


4 1/2 × 6 in. (11.43 × 15.24 cm)

Credit Line

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

Accession Number



13th–16th century


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 records is ongoing.

  • "Acquisitions," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin: Online Supplement (accessed 2012), 29
  • Margaret Young-Sanchez, Nature and Spirit: Ancient Costa Rican Treasures in the Mayer Collection at the Denver Art Museum (Denver, Colo.: Denver Art Museum, 2010), 42–43, almost identical twin to the Ocarina owned by the Gallery, ill
  • Jock Reynolds, "Director's Report: July 1, 2009–June 30, 2010," in "Time Will Tell: Ethics and Choices in Conservation," special issue, Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2010), 12–13, ill
  • Marc Zender, "The Raccoon Glyph in Classic Maya Writing," The PARI Journal 5, no. 4 (Spring 2005),
  • Ruud van Akkeren, "Authors of the Popol Wuj," Ancient Mesoamerica 14, no. 2 (October 2003),
  • 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 (Gainesville, Fla.: University Press of Florida, 1997),
  • Anne Legast, El Animal en el Mundo Mitico Tairona (Bogotá, Colombia: Fundacio´n de Investigaciones Arqueolo´gicas Nacionales, Banco de la Repu´blica, 1987),
  • Gary Urton, Animal Myths and Metaphors in South America (Salt Lake City: University of Utah, 1985),
  • Alfred M. Tozzer and Glover Allen, Animal Figures in the Maya Codices (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Art Museums, 1910),
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