Tree Tobacco ( Nicotiana glauca ) is a species of wild tobacco native to South America that can grow to the size of a small tree. It has naturalized to other parts of the world, including here in Southern California where the Cahuilla Indians used its leaves "interchangeably with other tobacco species in hunting rituals and as a poultice to treat swellings, bruises, cuts, wounds, boils, sores, inflamed throat, and swollen glands." (source) Various types of tobacco have been used traditionally in native cultures throughout the Americas as offerings to the spirits, for planting, for gathering food, for healings and for the Native American Pipe Ceremony. (source)
So it was with a deep respect for its spirit and medicine that I approached the making of this tobacco flute. Although there is no historical record of tobacco being used for the body of a flute, in its form as Tree Tobacco it is possible. And I found it very willing to be voiced, as if tobacco had been waiting a long time to sing. And how it loves to sing! The sound sample for this flute was a true joy to play.
Clearly and resonantly tuned to a concert/recording quality F#m pentatonic scale, modes 1 & 4, playing three upper register notes, it measures 21 1/2" in length, with a slightly tapered 7/8" diameter sound chamber. As with all Dryad Flutes it was bored out unsplit, maintaining its natural appearance and the integrity of its growth rings. The rugged bark was removed at the finger holes to expose the beautiful golden-colored wood grain. Knots and branchlet stubs have been inlaid with crushed Turquoise. Elk leather lacing with turquoise nuggets and gold plated beads secures the bird to its nest. To help prevent wetout, the bird has been fitted with a cedar shoe, and a drain hole, covered by the lacing, has been designed into the air chamber. The flute has been well sealed, inside and out, so that neither of the alkaloids in Nicotiana glauca (nicotine and anabasine) come into contact with the player.
The plant for this flute was gathered with respect and gratitude from an area slated for development, a few days before the bulldozers would have plowed it under. Its life continues now as a spirit-filled flute, especially suited for prayer or ceremony.
A quality flute bag made by "Standing Flutes"
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