Human effigy ocarina

Classic period
A.D. 500–900

Object Place: Veracruz or Tabasco, México


11.2 x 5.8 cm (4 7/16 x 2 5/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


Americas, Musical Instruments



Human effigy ocarina depicting a standing, elderly male figure. His face is decorated with beauty scarification, tatoos or face painting, the predominant motif being a herringbone or plaited design. His mouth is extended forward with pursed lips as if he were calling or whistling. Each ear is pierced with two large holes. The ocarina’s bulbous mouthpiece is attached to the figure’s back, and a fingerhole at each side of the figure allows for the creation of multiple pitches.


Between about 1974 and 1981, probably purchased in Guatemala by John B. Fulling (b. 1924 – d. 2005), The Art Collectors of November, Inc., Pompano Beach, FL; May 20, 1987, sold by John B. Fulling to Landon T. Clay, Boston; 1988, year-end gift of Landon Clay to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 25, 1989)

NOTE: This is one in a group of Maya artifacts (MFA accession nos. 1988.1169 – 1988.1299) known as the “November Collection” after John Fulling’s company, the Art Collectors of November, Inc. John Fulling sold this group of objects to MFA donor Landon Clay in 1987, and they were given to the Museum the following year.
Evidence suggests that John Fulling built the November Collection from sources in Guatemala between 1974 and 1981. Only a portion of what he acquired during this time came to the MFA in 1988. It is not possible to determine precisely which objects were acquired when or from whom.

Credit Line

Gift of Landon T. Clay