Dr. Julia Guernsey from University of Texas at Austin draws from her research and expertise of figural flutes from La Blanca, Guatemala to suggest why the Manteño peoples created the flutes. While there is no definitive answer as to what role these flutes served, Dr. Guernsey expands on what is perceived as “utilitarian” in these ancient civilizations and the possible purpose of the flutes. Dr. Guernsey also notes that figural flutes were widely dispersed and often found fragmented, and that it is necessary to approach these objects with close observation and a holistic approach to avoid speculation and imposing Western perceptions.

Pre-Columbian bird shaped figurine. A small hole in the tail and the breast suggest it functions as a whistle