X84.715 Rattle

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Tlingit peoples
19th-early 20th century
Wood, pigment, seeds
L: 9.6 cm, H: 30.5 cm, D: 10.5 cm (L: 3.8 in, H: 12.0 in, D: 4.1 in)
Gift of Dorothy M. Cordry in memory of Donald B. Cordry. X84.715


Raven rattles are among the most important objects used in Pacific Northwest potlatch events and at winter dances by chiefs who don a frontlet and blanket for the occasion. A complex composition of animal and human forms characterizes such rattles, which are always held upside down. The most common motifs include a human figure reclining with a frog on its chest, a kingfisher, and the raven. The frog is transferring power to the figure, most likely a chief or shaman, and the raven is celebrated for releasing daylight from its beak.

Gallery text, Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives, 2006