"the piping of the quena, flutes made from human bones"
Quechan musician playing traditional flute (ca. 1870-1906)
Public DomainQuechan musician playing traditional flute (ca. 1870-1906) - Credit: Library of Congress

The quena is a traditional flute of the Andes, usually made of bamboo or wood. Pre-Columbian versions have been found dating back to 900 B.C. and were made of bone and clay.

Native American bone flute made of the long bones from the eagle wing
Public DomainNative American bone flute made of the long bones from the eagle wing - Credit: James Owen Dorsey

Although the term quena would not have been used by indigenous tribes of North America, it is believed the Andean flute did influence Native American flutes. The Anasazi flute of the Oasiasamerican Ancient Pueblo Peoples, probably the first Native American flute, was based on Mesoamerican flute designs from the south. Anasazi flutes have been discovered dating back to 620-670 AD.

Bone flutes are believed to have been the first musical instruments, dating back 40 to 35,000 years ago. Most commonly the leg or wing bones of birds or animal bones from sheep and goats were used. In some cases, human bones were employed.

Prehistoric bone flute dated in the Upper Paleolithic from Geissenklösterle, Germany
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikePrehistoric bone flute dated in the Upper Paleolithic from Geissenklösterle, Germany - Credit: José-Manuel Benito Álvarez