Peruvian Whistling Vessels


These Peruvian Whistling Vessels were made for me by Don Wright

“Consider the sound of the hummingbird as it flies or hovers overhead; a low pulsating flutter, as if a large night butterfly – drawn to a light – beat its powdered wings against the glass.  The hummingbird’s sound is unique in nature, but – interestingly – the Chimu knew how to reproduce it.  Following a tradition that had existed for more than a thousand years, Chimu potters fashioned ingenious ceramic bottles that whistle when you blow into them, and when played in concert, create a sound that is most succinctly described as the low fluttering sound of a hummingbird in flight. ”  Daniel Statnekov

When I first saw and worked with a set of Peruvian Whistling Vessels I knew I needed to get a set for myself.  This set, made in 2007, took 9 months for Don to make and are made for me personally.  He requested that I send him some personal things such as hair to put in the vessels so they contain part of me as well.  There is also a long list of ingredients from sacred sites all over the world that go into the clay.

Although I have a deep connection with the hummingbird it was more than that which attracted me to the whistling vessels.  I  had the opportunity to experience the whistling vessels in ritual setting both in the US and in Chile before I purchased my set.  It was also one of the tools that we explored during Jonathan Goldman’s Healing Sound Intensive.


Since earliest times clay has been used to make musical instruments, many of which originated as domestic pots, but their use changed when sound producing properties were discovered. Some were made specifically as musical instruments and others were clay imitations of instruments made in other materials.  The ocarina is one of the common clay instruments found in Mexico and South America even today.

The whistling vessels are also known as silbadors.  The sound of the vessels are indescribably as is their impact on consciousness. The sound felt both familiar and comforting to me when I heard it.  Some times the sound can be piercing as it moves through blocked energy in the body and at other times it can be soothing to the ear.  I remember during the Healing Sound Intensive I was watching a group of 6 people blow the whistles, as a bystander.  One woman became so connected with the vessels that she swayed and wobbled toward the floor as she blew.  Several of us held our breath, concerned she might drop the vessel.  She remained in an altered state for a long time afterwards.

Replica of a Peruvian Whistling Vessel in my collection
Replica of a Peruvian Whistling Vessel in my collection


Originally anthropologists thought the vessels were nothing more than ‘amusing liquid containers’, the Peruvian whistling vessels are now telling their true story to anyone who is ready to listen by people such as Don Wright and Daniel Statnekov.

Andean creation legends say that the creator made the first men and women from clay which was then breathed into to form the first life on Earth. Alpamasca, the Inca word for a person’s body means ‘animated earth’. These ancient voices resound a deepened mystery of Earth and Sky.  In Andean creation legend it is believed that “clay and breath” were the primordial elements of mans creation.  The people who inhabited Peru believed that human beings were made of earth and brought to life through the breath of the Creator, so we can see the connection between man and the Whistling Vessels.

For centuries, archaeologists were finding these vessels at many burial sites and sacred places, but their meaning and use was shrouded in mystery for centuries. In recent years their story is being discovered and they are once again being used for journeying to other realms as well as helping to improve health and well-being. Some of the oldest whistles have been dated at around 500 – 300BC and were made by the Vicus and Salinar people. The most commonly found are Moche, Chimu and Inca in origin and date from 1000 AD until shortly after the Spanish conquest in 1532. The vessels are usually made in the shape of animals, people or mythical figures.

Peruvian Whistling Vessels are clay ‘pots’ or ‘bottles’ of the ancient Inca that evoke shamanic visionary experience.  Some say they were used to call in spirits for protection during ceremony. Each city-state of their empire utilized these vessels, which are possibly the oldest biofeedback device known to man. The Inca started producing ceramic whistling bottles in 500 B.C and continued for 2000 years, until shortly after the Spanish conquest of Peru in 1532 so original vessels are almost 500 or more years old. They were made on the north and central coasts and highlands of Peru.   

In 1972 Statnekov had a chance encounter with a Pre-Columbian Peruvian whistling vessel at a country auction that had a life changing impact on him.  Much of the research about the whistling vessels is a result of his work.  Archaeologists thought that they were clay water bottles or a type of toy or novelty until Daniel Statnekov proved their true use.  Once believed to be utilitarian water containers, researchers have discovered they are actually finely tuned acoustical shamanic instruments used for changing consciousness and inducing trance states during rituals.

The word Alpacamasca, an Inca word for a person’s body means “animated earth”, and where the title of Daniel Statnekov’s book comes from, “Animated Earth:  the whistling jugs of Pre-Columbian Peru”   In his book he talks about the history of the whistling vessels and his transformational journey understanding their purpose.  He discovered that the double chamber whistling vessels that he collected, worked with and eventually started to duplicate produced synesthesia if played in groups.  The sound created a heightened sense of perception of colors, sounds, music and the emotional states of others.



The whistling vessels create a “beat frequency” which elevates consciousness and enhances body functions. When you blow a group of them tuned to similar frequencies, they create binaural beats. Binaural beats are used to balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain while creating a wonderful sense of well-being.  It is hard to believe this healing technology was created thousands of years ago, isn’t it?

Some believe that binaural beats can influence functions of the brain besides those related to hearing.  This phenomenon is called the frequency following response. The concept is that if you receive a stimulus with a frequency in the range of brain waves, the predominant brain wave frequency is said to be likely to move towards the frequency of the stimulus, which is also called entrainment. Entrainment can assist in relaxing the listener and stimulating hormone production, thus bringing about a meditative state.  The Hemi-Sync work at the Monroe Institute uses binaural beat technology.

Here is a recording of what it sounds like. Scroll down the page to find it.

People who have heard groups of whistles being played report hearing a buzzing sound that seems to come from inside their head and their eardrums are being vibrated. What I experienced was the buzzing sound inside of my heard and the buzz going round the circle of people who were there.

Every sound we hear produces minute vibrations on the surface of the eardrum which in turn are translated into nerve impulses which the brain decodes. The pitches of each vessel are almost identical but the minute differences in pitch produce a psycho-acoustic effect that has been likened to ‘sonic ayahuasca’. Very close-matched sounds create multiple sets of ripples across the eardrum which the brain attempts to make sense of. The brain registers each sound separately but also perceives other sounds which appear to come from inside the head. This effect increases when a greater number of whistles are played until there is a build up of different buzzing sounds and pulses both inside and outside the head. This phenomenon is the key that unlocks the doorway to other realms. The whistles are made so that the sound-hole is level with the third eye as you play (which in itself is extremely interesting as this further highlights that the makers of these wonderful vessels fully intended to use the sound to alter consciousness).

The importance of the breath also features heavily in many cultures throughout the world. Life-force/chi/prana/vital energy is taken into the body on the breath. The player of a vessel is required to be attentive to the direction of their breath to enable their whistle to produce the best beating sounds. The slow, directed breath allows the player to relax and helps them to journey with the sound. It is also necessary for the player to listen to the other players in the group, therefore becoming less conscious of ‘self’ and more aware of the group energy. Even if you are not playing, the sounds can still produce amazing effects and receivers have also had powerful experiences. One listener reported shape-shifting into a black panther and prowling around the group on all fours until coming back to the ‘here and now’. This experience proves that you don’t have to be playing to receive the effect of these wonderful tools of transformation. Other players have been transported to the stars, taken deep inside the Earth and had conversations with spirit guides or relatives that have passed into spirit. There are too many experiences to mention in this article, but suffice to say that I am very respectful of the potential that the vessels hold within them.

The Peruvian Whistling Vessels were tuned to a frequency that was particular to the civilization that presided and the frequency became higher with each succeeding culture so it was evolving with the people. Each vessel were intricate sculptures, depicting various deities and animals depending on what part of the country they came from.  For example vessels made in the highlands often portrayed the jaquar, while those made by coastal people were made into sea creatures.  It was believed that the approach of certain spirits was announced by a specific whistling sound.

This is true of the whistling vessels currently being made by Statnekov, who Wright studied with and Wright’s whistles.  They each have a distinct sound from one an other.

Statnekov and Wright make whistling vessels in the USA.

Don Wright

Daniel Statnekov