Zenú (Sinú)
AD 900-1500

Object Place: Colombia


Overall: 8.3 x 6 x 26.7 cm (3 1/4 x 2 3/8 x 10 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


On View

Ancient South America Gallery (Gallery LG33)





Vessel flute (ocarina) embellished with three jaguars modeled on top of the instrument. Elongated vessel flutes of this type were made by the Zenú people of nothern Colombia although this flute shares a few stylistic features withTairona pottery objects. Yet the double-cone construction, Y-shaped mouthpiece, four fingerholes with duct mechanism, and proximal end pierced with a suspension are typical of Zenú vessel flutes. They also are frequently decorated with modeled renderings of animals including a jaguar, sea turtle, anteater, caiman or fish.

This flute is decorated with jaguars that may represent totemic beings or spirit companions.


1999, J. Osario, Canada; 1999, sold by Osario to Lands Beyond Gallery, New York; sold by Lands Beyond to Hy and Shirley Zaret, Westport, CT; 2008, gift of Shirley Zaret to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 25, 2008)

Credit Line

Gift from the Collection of Shirley and Hy Zaret