Some musical instrument origin myths reference human or animal remains and skulls and bones are sometimes used as decoration or as an instrument’s key component.
The oldest playable instruments are red-crowned crane-bone flutes from China’s Neolithic Age and in Tibet thigh-bone trumpets (rkangling) and skull drums (damaru) were used.
Skull lyres, thought to be from Ethiopia, are rare, scarcely documented and found only in museums. While some have suggested a symbolic or clandestine ritual use for these lyres, there is no known tradition. Most likely it is a sensational item made for the nineteenth-century European market.