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The William R. and Clarice V. Spurlock Museum at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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Featured Artifact


Pw Lyn, Nose Flute

Commemorative Olympic Medallion Featured Artifact
Pw Lyn, Nose Flute

This instrument was originally part of the Laboratory of Anthropology collection, part of the Department of Anthropology at the University. The original accession records state that this particular flute comes from the M'Kang Chin culture, an ethnic minority in western Myanmar. It “was used by young unmarried men in sleeping groups at night [and] generally played at [a] widow's house with bamboo guitar” for entertainment.

Nose flutes have been played on all continents. Most, including this one, have single pipes, although some in Taiwan have been known to have double-pipes. While some are end-blown, meaning that the flutes are inserted into one nostril and played, others are blown transversely, with the musician blowing air from their nose across the holes of the flute. Because breath from the nose is often thought of as connecting to the soul, nose flutes can hold a spiritual significance and are used in a variety of situations, from religious ceremonies to courtship.

Written by Timothy Warnock

Source: Frederic K. and Sheila G. Lehman Collection, Transfer from the Department of Anthropology


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