Date: ca. 1830

Geography: Fiji

Culture: Melanesian

Medium: Bamboo

Dimensions: L. 70.9 cm (27-15/16 in.); Diam. ca. 4.2 cm (1-11/16 in.)

Classification: Aerophone-Blow Hole-nose flute

Credit Line: The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889

Accession Number: 89.4.795


Widely made and used in every region of the Pacific except Australia, nose flutes are played with the nose rather than the mouth. To do so, the musician generally holds one nostril shut with the thumb or a finger and sounds the flute by blowing into a small hole drilled near the top of the instrument with the other. Nose flutes are almost universally made, as here, from bamboo and, like other small bamboo flutes, are typically used in informal settings. This example is from Fiji where nose flutes were played by both sexes to provide soothing music when at rest or during courting. The melodies, composed of from two to four notes, were quiet and plaintive, providing a relaxing interlude or softly enticing a current or prospective lover.