If we’re going to write about any thing creepy like …, then you’d probably guess it’s the freaking ancient pre-Columbian Aztec civilization. Bar none, they are really weird — talk of human sacrifices, mysterious rituals upon incantation, and what the heck in the freaking name of … might they have in stock. Now, take a listen to the Aztec death whistle and find out how that aesthetic extended to their musical tastes as well.
Related media: Chilling Sound Of The Aztec Death Whistle
The Death Whistle
We’re not making this up. The sound of the Aztec death whistle is the most frightening sound we’ve ever heard. It literally sounds like a screeching zombie. Yikes! Like seriously, we can only imagine how hundreds of these whistles would sound like from an Aztec army. We’re not entirely certain what the whistles were used for, however. They may have been used as an intimidation tactic in war, but there’s one aspect of Aztec society in which they certainly played a role: human sacrifice.
According to Roberto Velásquez Cabrera, a mechanical engineer by profession who has made a lifelong study — including the physical reconstruction — of ancient Mexican resonators and other wind instruments, the extraordinary yet freaking weird Aztec ‘death whistle’ was used in several regions of ancient pre-Columbian Mexico. It belongs to an unusual family of Mexican resonators that are not well known and which can produce special sounds imitating animal calls and the noise of the wind or storms.
In an archaeological context published by Salvador Guilliem Arroyo in 1999, archaeologist discovered a clutching death whistle from the hands of the skeleton of a 20-year-old sacrificial male victim in front of the Ehecatl (god of wind) temple at Tlatelolco, which was decorated with face of a skull and with the wind. Unfortunately, the exact original use and purpose of the death whistle and many other ancient resonators have been lost.
Playing Death Tunes
This finding indicates that the whistles are associated with Ehecatl, and Mictlantecutli (god of death), and they could be related to the ritual of sacrifice. Many other ancient skeletons were found in the same ceremonial complex of Ehecatl. According to Guilliem, the ritual of the ceremonial complex could be associated with the famine of 1454. If the whistles were associated with Ehecatl, then the sounds of the whistles have also been required to simulate the sounds of the wind, because a strong wind cannot simply be summoned whenever the occasion requires, as in a ritual or ceremony.
The only reference to the possible ancient use of this type of whistle comes from the following text:
“The most remarkable festival in connection with Tezcatlipoca was the Toxcatl, held in the fifth month. On the day of this festival a youth was slain who for an entire year previously had been carefully instructed in the role of victim… He assumed the name, garb, and attributes of Tezcatlipoca himself… [as] the earthly representative of the deity…. He carried also the whistle symbolical of the deity [as Lord of the Night Wind], and made with it a noise such as the weird wind of night makes when it hurries through the streets.”
(Lewis Spence, Myths of Mexico and Peru, London, 1913, pp. 69-70).
The study was initiated with the direct analysis of a fragment of clay whistle from the Mazatepetl (deer hill in the south of Mexico City). Some examples of buccal noise generators that were analyzed and identified by the author are presented. Morphology and acoustic characteristics of death whistle and its sounds are discussed, and the main information and available data on the fragment found on the Mazatepetl as well as its procedure of construction and probable uses of its sounds are also discussed.
The Creepy Melodies
So what on Earth in creepy melody their tunes were these resonators used for? Human sacrifice. However, it seems the death whistle might have being used in the slave sacrifices. How awful! This is all because of chichtli (in Nahuatl) — an instrument that could produce a chich sound and it was used in the banquets of Aztec merchants where slaves were killed. According to the Florentine Codex, chich was the signal to pull out the hair from the middle of the slave’s head.
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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Sat, Feb 23, 2019.