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For other uses, see Botija (disambiguation).
Botija (càntir) de terrissa negra catalana, Museu Soler Blasco de Xàbia.JPG
Other names Botijo, Botijuela, Bunga

The botija (botijuela; bunga) is a Caribbean musical instrument of the aerophone type. The botija is a potbellied earthenware jug or jar with two openings and was used in the early son sextetos in Cuba as a bass instrument.


The botija was used to hold kerosene that was brought from Spain. The botijas were then utilized to hide money underground and were buried to prevent humidity from reaching the floors. [1] The botijas were later dug up and used as musical instruments in the late nineteenth century in the Caribbean island of Cuba. [2] This type of music was called Cuba Son and the botijas were used as bass instruments. The botijas contained two openings, one at the top and one of the side, and were filled to specific levels with water in order to generate certain pitches and were then blown into to create bass notes. [1] Another technique used to play the instrument includes the placement of a reed into the botija opening while the player blows into the reed. [1] The use of the botija throughout parts of Cuba ended after the early twentieth century and was replaced by the double bass.[3]

Use in the Cuban Son[edit]

Cuban Son originated in the eastern part of Cuba in the late nineteenth century. The music's defining characteristic was a pulsing or anticipated bass that falls between the downbeat, leading to the creation of many bass instruments including the botija. Other instruments included a marímbula, serrucho, contrabajo and bajo. [1] Other bass instruments were used according to the size of the musical arrangement or timbre of the bass instrument needed. The marímbula for example was used mainly for smaller ensembles as it was not easily heard whereas the bajo, an electrical bass, could be easily projected and heard over many other instruments.

In Popular Culture[edit]

In Brazil, there is an expression called "pego(a) com a boca na botija" (caught with his/her mouth on the milk jug), with similar meaning as "caught with his hand in the cookie jar".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Roman. "The Bass in the Cuban Son". Retrieved 15 September 2013. 
  2. ^ "History of Cuban Music". Retrieved 15 September 2013. 
  3. ^ Carpentier, Alejo 2001 [1946]. Music in Cuba. Minneapolis MN.

Coordinates: 39°20′N 6°04′W / 39.333°N 6.067°W / 39.333; -6.067