This wooden livestock bell comes from the Arica culture, which inhabited the northern coast of modern-day Chile between 1000 and 1532 CE.
It was used in caravans that were part of the intensive llama herding that the Arica people practiced. Like a bellwether, the male lead llama would have this kind of bell attached to him so that the other llamas could follow him easily.
This instrument, an idiophone, is incomplete because it lacks its clappers. Normally, such bells would have had between five and ten small sticks inside –the number used depended on the intensity of movement– that made sounds when they struck the inside of the bell. This thin wooden artifact was carefully worked so as to improve the sound it produced.
This piece shows several signs of use, particularly on the inside where the clappers struck it, and in the holes at the top, through which a cord or thong was threaded to hang it from the lead llama’s neck.
This instrument couldn’t be played to obtain a recording, as it is incomplete and in any event could be damaged by an attempt to play it.
Dimensions: 640 mm high x 1110 mm long x 345 mm wide (25” x 44” x 14”).