The ocarina is an ancient flute-like wind instrument. Variations do exist, but a typical ocarina is an enclosed space with four to twelve finger holes and a mouthpiece that projects from the body. It is often ceramic, but other materials may also be used, such as plastic, wood, glass, clay, metal, and even vegetables. The ocarina belongs to a very old family of instruments, believed to date back to over 12,000 years. Ocarina-type instruments have been of particular importance in Chinese and Mesoamerican cultures. For the Chinese, the instrument played an important role in their long history of song and dance. The ocarina has similar features to the Xun, another important Chinese instrument (but is different in that Ocarina uses an internal duct, whereas Xun is blown across the outer edge.) In Japan, the traditional ocarina is known as the tsuchibue (literally 'earthen flute').
Contributions by Aaron Walden, Raprat0, and Ck lostsword.