In the distant past before there were homo sapiens, some creature on the route to humanity created a noise.
The creature, perhaps a brother-in-law to the Australopithecus afarensis Lucy some 3.5 million years ago, affixed a piece of animal gut to a piece of wood and found that plucking the string created a sound. An early version of the drum probably was the first instrument, but this was a close second.
This was the prehistoric version of MTV or YouTube. For millions of years, protohumans, Cro-Magnon, Neanderthal and now homo sapiens have perfected what is called today the quijongo.
Two men from Guanacaste who are masters of the instrument have been honored by the Costa Rican culture ministry.
There have been some changes. Now there is
a gourd attached to the instrument that serves as a resonance chamber. The gourd also provides tones. The string is metal.
The two men who were honored are Eulalio Guadamuz Guadamuz, 87, of Bagaces and Isidoro Guadamuz de la O of Santa Cruz. Despite the last name, they are not brothers.
Both men learned to play the instrument early in life. They are among the last masters of the quijongo. They were awarded the prestigious Premio Nacional de Cultura Popular Tradicional 2014. Both are transferring their knowledge to a younger generation.
A culture ministry announcement said that the quijongo guanacasteco goes back to Colonial times, but other sources attribute the device to the Chorotega pre-Columbian residents. The instrument can be found with native peoples all the way up the coast to México.
A YouTube video of Eulalio Guadamuz playing the instrument is HERE!