|The harvesting and carving of flutes from reeds is an age-old tradition in Belarus, a nation to the west of Russia.
Every autumn, just before the snows begin to fall, men and women from the villages of southern Belarus pole their flat-bottomed boats deep into the marshes. Their objective is a special variety of reed which can be transformed into reed flutes.
Since the reeds can only be harvested once a year, harvest time is one of frenetic activity, and villagers often work well into the night.
Once harvested, the reeds are carefully stored in barns which allow for air circulation, which is crucial to the proper drying of the reeds. Months later, the reeds have dried and are ready to be shaped into flutes--a process which is extremely difficult.
Failure rates of 80% and more are common. The knives which are used to cut the holes are razor-sharp. One mistake means a rejected flute.
The reed flutes which pass muster are wonderful, folklorish musical instruments, created by artisans living in the area. Each is unique. It is impossible that two might be alike.
Sizes and number of notes vary (approximately 9 long). Packaged in clear tube which protects the flute.