Indiana University Bloomington IU Bloomington IUB

Whistling Jar with Bridged Spout

The simple forms combined with expressive details and a smooth, almost metallic surface make this vessel visually very appealing to contemporary viewers. Its form also suggests imagination and some clever technology, for the animal’s head, raised as if it is howling, emits a sound when the jar is properly manipulated. The term “whistling jar” refers to a vessel that makes a whistling sound when a person blows across the spout or when the vessel is partially filled with liquid and tilted. The whistling mechanism is simple: a small hollow clay sphere, usually no more than an inch in diameter and pierced with a small hole, is positioned adjacent to a narrow clay tube, so that air flowing through the tube passes across the opening in the sphere and resonates to make a sound.

Lambayeque culture, Peru
Whistling Jar with Bridged Spout
Clay, slip
H. 9 in. (22.9 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection, 75.99.3