One-Handed Flute

Date
3th–15th century
Medium
Carved from sheep bone
Dimensions
Height: 15.8
Inventory Number
NE00/7#15-8-2

This one-handed flute was carved from the shinbone, or tibia, of a sheep. It features three fingering holes on the upper side and a thumb hole on the underside. The block between the mouthpiece and the labium probably was made of wood. Medieval music was played mainly on plucking and wind instruments. Among the most popular instruments were flutes made of wood or bone, bone, including elaborately lathed recorders as well as very simple instruments. What music was played and which instruments were used depended strongly on the social class of the players and the societal context. Onehand flutes were often used by musicians striking up a dance while beating a drum with the other hand. The bone flute found in Neuss is quite simply constructed and may have been made for and used by a child or a member of the lower strata of society.

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