57. Three Bell-Stones

Argentina
Sizes: 74.5 cm, 78 cm, 59 cm

The locals in western Argentina trek for days with mules into the high Andes, to the slopes of the volcanoes, to find stones such as these. They are a kind of obsidian, spewed out by a volcano when it’s angry. Their attraction is that when you strike them with another piece of stone, preferably from the same area, they sing. The most prized are those that emit a different series of sounds depending on which part you hit. I imagined, as usual, when I first saw them, that they must have been for use in mysterious shamanic rituals. But not at all. People like to have them hanging around the house, apparently, and bang them as they go by; they are simply volcano garbage with a nice tinkle. Nevertheless, it’s a long trip to make for the equivalent of a wind-chime. The source of these is Ricardo Paz (see the previous entry), who is also responsible for their elegant silver mounts.