Bone rattle (Sheep foot bones, string…)

Bone rattle (Sheep foot bones, string…)
Bone rattle. Madrid © Lydia Zarceño. 'Copyleft' Luis Á. Payno y Lydia Zarceño

Bone rattle (Sheep foot bones, string…)

Bone is a material which has been frequently used in traditional societies since olden times. It is easy to find, either as a leftover from food or from dead animals found in nature. Its hardness and durability make it perfect for making different tools and utensils.

This instrument, which is well-known in areas with livestock, is made from the metatarsus of sheep.

Between 10 and 15 bones are placed in parallel into a string or wire or fixed on a wooden frame. They are hung around the neck so that they rest on the chest and are then rhythmically scratched using a castanet or a piece of wood.

They can also be made from reeds or wooden sticks and are used in processions or improvised fiestas.

Bones were usually obtained from dunghills, which were used to deposit the remains of animals sacrificed for food, and which also served as sustenance for carrion fowl like vultures and crows as well as insects, which left them perfectly clean to then blanch naturally under the sun.


Sound of bone rattle click on black triangle