The ocarina is a woodwind instrument developed in 19th Century Italy. Earlier instruments existed which functioned in the same manner, namely a globular flute with fipple mouthpiece, including the bird whistles of the North and South American Indians and the gemshorns of Renaissance Europe. But the earlier antecedents of the ocarina did not have enough range to be widely used as musical instruments.
The 19th Century ocarina was made of clay, and had a range of over an octave. The shape was similar to a sweet potato. Sets of ocarinas in various sizes were made, and small orchestras toured playing light classics on them, popularizing the instrument throughout Europe. They were also exported to the United States by the early 20th Century and sold by the popular catalogue merchants, such as Sears.
The Ocarina in Video Games
Most likely because of its beautiful tone, the Ocarina was featured in one of the most famous Video Games of all time. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time used the ocarina as a teleportation device, among other things. While pressing the "C-Stick", players can produce different notes on the Ocarina, and by using the "D-Pad", players can produce Flat and Sharp notes on the Ocarina.