Pacific Northwestern North American (USA and Canada), Native American/First Nations, Haida or Tlingit peoples, ca. early 20th century CE. A long wooden rattle with two stylized faces in the classic Northwestern form. Three leather straps bearing multiple juvenile deer hooves dangle from the ends and middle of the wooden rattle, creating a dry rattling sound when shaken. At one end of the object is a broad, mostly flat face with a pronounced, knob-like nose, a wide mouth full of teeth, and large eyes with blue eyebrows. The sharp claws and human-like fingers of this animal are incised on either side of its head, as if it is grasping the rattle. This animal is the bear, mainly red and black, the two most important and common colors in Pacific Northwestern native artwork. The blue color - used sparingly - is an influence from Native artists from further north. Comes with custom stand. Size: 19.6" L x 2.2" W (49.8 cm x 5.6 cm); height on stand: 9.75" (24.8 cm)
On the opposite end of the rattle from the bear's face is a three dimensional face, probably of a canine, with a black face, large white eyes, and red lips. The rest of the paddle emerges from this creature's mouth. Music for indigenous communities in the Northwest Coast is played in religious ceremonies, at traditional community swap-meets/feasts called potlatches, and for entertainment. Ritual playing of instruments is often led by shamans and a rattle like this one may have been considered an extension of a shaman's spirit guide. The animals depicted are totemic and memorializing, often relating to complex mythological stories.
Provenance: private Massachusetts, USA collection
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