“Tejoletas” or Bone slats. Cantabria

“Tejoletas” or Bone slats. Cantabria
Bone slats (Cantabria, España). Lydia Zarceño. 'Copyleft' Luis Á. Payno y Lydia Zarceño

“Tejoletas” or Bone slats. Cantabria

Two long pieces of different materials are placed between the index, middle and ring fingers and are made to clack together by shaking the wrist using different rhythms.

For traditional music, they are made using pieces of tile or broken porcelain (in Spanish “tejoletas” means bits of tile), with wooden slats or other materials such as ribs.

There are very old references to these instruments: in ancient Egypt they were made with hippopotamus teeth or with slats carved into hand shapes.

Cervantes cites this instrument in several of his works, the best known being Rinconete y Cortadillo: “…..on seeing this Monipodio, broke a plate and made two tejoletas, and, putting them between his fingers, played the counterpoint to the chopine (shoe) and broomstick.”

Despite being widespread around the peninsula and the fact that practically everybody knew how to play them, their use has almost disappeared over the past decades.


Sound of bone slats: click on black triangle