The Hindus love amusements. They are fond of music and have many curious instruments. Dancing girls dance for the amusement of guests at feasts given in the homes of the wealthy. They usually take their own musicians with them; one of these plays upon a little drum, the other on a kind of guitar. Street exhibitions are frequent.
Egyptian Crotola or Castanets
It is noteworthy that these yotl are found figured in the picture-writings representing the various objects which the Aztecs used to pay as tribute to their sovereigns. The collection of Mexican antiquities in the British museum contains a cluster of yotl-bells. Being nearly round, they closely resemble the Schellen which the Germans are in the habit of affixing to their horses, particularly in the winter when they are driving their noiseless sledges.
As regards instruments of percussion, a kind of drum deserves special notice on account of the ingenuity evinced in its construction. The Mexicans called it teponaztli. They generally made it of a single block of very hard wood, somewhat oblong square in shape, which they hollowed, leaving at each end a solid piece about three or four inches in thickness, and at its upper side a kind of sound-board about a quarter of an inch in thickness. In this sound-board, if it may be called so, they made three incisions; namely, two running parallel some distance lengthwise of the drum, and a third running across from one of these to the other just in the centre. By this means they obtained two vibrating tongues of wood which, when beaten with a stick, produced sounds as clearly defined as are those of our kettle drums. By making one of the tongues thinner than the other they ensured two different sounds, the pitch of which they were enabled to regulate by shaving off more or less of the wood. The bottom of the drum they cut almost entirely open.
The teponaztli was generally carved with various fanciful and ingenious designs. It was beaten with two drumsticks covered at the end with an elastic gum, called ule, which was obtained from the milky juice extracted from the ule-tree. Some of these drums were small enough to be carried on a string or strap suspended round the neck of the player; others, again, measured upwards of five feet in length, and their sound was so powerful that it could be heard at a distance of three miles. In some rare instances a specimen of the teponaztli is still preserved by the Indians in Mexico, especially among tribes who have been comparatively but little affected by intercourse with their European aggressors.
The kin-kou (engraved), a large drum fixed on a pedestal which raises it above six feet from the ground, is embellished with symbolical designs. A similar drum on which natural phenomena are depicted is called lei-kou; and another of the kind, with figures of certain birds and beasts which are regarded as symbols of long life, is called ling-kou, and also lou-kou.
According to their records, the Chinese possessed their much-esteemed king 2200 years before our Christian era, and employed it for accompanying songs of praise. It was regarded as a sacred instrument. During religious observances at the solemn moment when the king was sounded sticks of incense were burnt. It was likewise played before the emperor early in the morning when he awoke. The Chinese have long since constructed various kinds of the king, one of which is here engraved, by using different species of stones. Their most famous stone selected for this purpose is called yu. It is not only very sonorous but also beautiful in appearance. The yu is found in mountain streams and crevices of rocks. The largest specimens found measure from two to three feet in diameter, but of this size examples rarely occur. The yu is very hard and heavy. Some European mineralogists, to whom the missionaries transmitted specimens for examination, pronounce it to be a species of agate. It is found of different colours, and the Chinese appear to have preferred in different centuries particular colours for the king.
Korean Lion represents a game that children in Japan are very fond of playing. They are probably trying to act as well as the maskers did whom they saw on New Year's Day, just as our children try and imitate things they see in a pantomime. The masker goes from house to house accompanied by one or two men who play on cymbals, flute, and drum.
In the picture are two boys who are fond of music. One has a flute, which is made of bamboo wood. These flutes are easy to make, as bamboo wood grows hollow, with cross divisions at intervals. If you cut a piece with a division forming one end you need only make the outside holes in order to finish your flute.
The child sitting down has a drum. His drum and the paper lanterns hanging up have painted on them an ornament which is also the crest of the house of "Arima." If these boys belong to this family they wear the same crest embroidered on the centre of the backs of their coats.
There were also female minstrels throughout the Middle Ages; but, as might be anticipated from their irregular wandering life, they bore an indifferent reputation.
Cymbals and Trumpets
Small kettle drum
The name tabl shamee, signifying 'Syrian drum', indicates that this kind of drum was probably introduced into Egypt from Western Asia. It is usually made from tinned copper, with a parchment face.
The Egyptians use the Tabl shamee especially in bridal processions, and on similar festive occasions. The performer carries it suspended from his neck and beats it with two slender sticks.
Musicians accompanying the Dancing.--Fac-simile of a Wood Engraving in the "Orchésographie" of Thoinot Arbeau (Jehan Tabourot): 4to (Langres, 1588).