What Is It? March 2016

whatisit_march16

It is so interesting to know that so many readers know what these items are.

     Yes, they are ocarinas. These pictured include a bass (top), a tenor (right), a red alto and a soprano. The rare bass, probably Russian-made, is valuable.

     Ceramic ocarinas have been around more than 12,000 years. Ancient examples have been cited —small whistles shaped like birds or other animals and made of terracotta were in India for 6,000 years. China has a very long history of music—songs and dance had already appeared as early as five thousand years ago. Europeans and native American makers of the ocarina existed for hundreds of years. Native Americans of North and South America often used the instrument as they danced.

Ocarinas remained a popular toy for more than 340 years until 1878 when 17 year old musician-baker Guiseppe Donati of Budrio, Italy, transformed them from a toy which only played a few notes, into a real instrument which could play more than an octave accurately.

Our winners this month include: Merrill F. Yale, Denver, Colorado; Jean Helzer, Arvada, Colorado (Jean points out that they used to call the ocarina a ‘sweet potatoe’); Jo Taigman, Centennial, Colorado; Anne Rowan, Boulder, Colorado; Marilyn Fay, Victor, Colorado; Dennis Lewandowski, Littleton, Colorado; B. Houser, Florissant, Colorado; Bill McLaren, Anchorage, Alaska; Charles Pheasant, Centennial, Colorado; Ronald Moreschini, Pueblo, Colorado; Dottie Unruh, Lakewood, Colorado.

Thank you to all who ventured a guess. We enjoy your comments and guesses so much. You have all won a year’s subscription to The Mountain States Collector.

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