Raven Rattle (USA), Created before 1910s
This is a Raven rattle.
Among peoples of the Northwest Coast of the United States, clan leaders, dancers, and shamans were traditionally responsible for connecting events in daily life to the remote, but powerful realm of the spirits. These intermediaries helped ward off evil and harnessed spirits’ healing powers using Raven rattles like this one. Dialogues with the supernatural domain were facilitated by Raven, who the community viewed as a mythical creator. In particular, when the rattle was used in curing ceremonies, the bird was believed to enable healing and clairvoyant powers. These rattles were used during dances by clan leaders and other high-status people, the wealthy hosts of memorial feasts, in the Tlingit culture, or of spirit-possession ceremonies, among the Haida and Tsimshian. Rattles were carved in one piece, split and hollowed, filled with seeds or stones, and bound back together. When shaken, the sound helped summon the supernatural world.
It is credited
Collected by Rev. Sheldon Jackson, 1877–94, Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, E316756.
Our curators have highlighted 2 objects that are related to this one.
Its dimensions are
H x W x D: 32.1 x 7.6 x 8.9 cm (12 5/8 in. x 3 in. x 3 1/2 in.)
This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Tools: Extending Our Reach.