Name: Ayacachtli.
Type: Idiophones > Idiophones > Concussion > Clappers >
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 111.11
Country: Mexico.
Region: Central America.

Description: The Ayacachtli is a gourd rattle that is played by the Aztec [Nahua] an other various Indigenous cultures and their respective pre-Colombian neighbours Mexico. It was important in dance and painted in the Bonampak murals, in the Codex Becker I.

The ayacachtli is also found in the illustrations accompanying Bernardino de Sahagún’s Florentine Codex where it was pictured with a ‘tassel’ on the top. The gourd rattle, together with the bone rasp and flute, was played for Aztec warriors fallen in battle and also for social dancing. Early Aztec examples might have been made of gold or copper.

Nowadays the ayacachtli is found from Sonora to central Mexico, is a calabash rattle used mostly in pairs; it is of various sizes with either a short or long handle, and is decorated with ribbons or feathers. Spontini included one to accompany a Mexican dance in his opera Fernand Cortez, ou La conquète du Mexique [1817 version] Fernand Cortez the conquest of Mexico.

Citations: Bibliography: Bernardino de Sahagún’s Florentine Codex ; Websites: Oxfordmuseumnonline.com / Article by John M. Schechter ;

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