Non-western flutes exhibit a rich variety. Many "world flutes" have a long tradition and a huge classical repertoire. Musicians in the western world are often uninformed about the mechanics and capabilities of these instuments. Our modern flutes cannot well duplicate the effects necessary for proper performance of much of the music intended for these flutes.
Hearing and understanding the flutes of different cultures can open our ears and minds to fresh ideas, and playing them may help a flutist to be more flexible and adaptive on their own instrument. In addition, there is also some chance that techniques used on world and folk flutes today (e.g. the common usage of the fingers and ornaments for "articulation" in the sense of separation of notes, rather than modern tonguing) might be applicable in the performance of very early European music, e.g. medieval dances.
While the flute types covered here are certainly "old" and "historical", the actual instruments shown are modern examples. I am not knowledgeable about how these differ, in construction and tuning etc., from the same types of flutes as they were made a century or many centuries ago.
The choice of which instruments to cover on this website is limited to the types of flutes in the author's collection. The number of working links below will increase slowly.