Animal effigy ocarina or flute

Classic period
A.D. 500–900

Object Place: Veracruz or Tabasco, México


8.5 x 33 cm (3 3/8 x 13 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Earthenware: traces of blue-green post-fire paint

On View

Ancient South America Gallery (Gallery LG33)


Americas, Musical Instruments



Flute-like ocarina with four fingerholes and six in-line bulbous sounding chambers. The second and third sounding chambers are embellished with a modeled animal head, characterized by a long snout, protruding tongue and striations on its face, and with human-like arms. The left arm is raised with hand held at the side of the animal’s head. Two punctated spherical objects flank the animal’s face and a third one is held in its raised left hand. Stripes of post-fire blue-green paint embellish the animal’s face and arm bands, the end of the flute and the midline of the largest sounding chamber (the mouthpiece end of the instrument).


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