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Costa Rican Culture: Instruments from the Colonial Time


The Quijongo was probably used by the indigenous tribe Chorotegas from Nicoya. It consists of a flexible wooden stick, held in the form of an arch by a string of hemp. A pot in the center serves as a sound box. It is played by beating on the tuned string; by changing up how you cover the mouth of the pot with your fingers, it produces an oscillating sound like the wind whistling in the trees.


Generally, the Ocarina has a form of either animals or humans. Occasionally it has the form of inanimate objects. The Ocarina is an instrument with a large variety of possible melodies. There are two to six holes, producing scales of three, four, five, six and seven sounds, not to mention the sounds obtained covering half of the holes. In Guanacaste, the Ocarinas with four holes are predominant; it seems the origin of this antiquity is of mystical character as the number four was mystically significant. The Huetar Ocarina of 18 notes is the most exemplary of the collection in the National Museum in San Jose.


The Carraca is also called “Quijada de Burro” (jaw of the donkey). The jaw is not necessarily that of a donkey; it could also be from a horse. It is named “carraca” (rattle) because the sound it emits when played is similar to the sound produced by a female duck (“carraca”). It is also an instrument of great sound-richness. As the jaw of any beast that is dry, its loose jawbones make a singular sound.