Native American, Pacific Northwest Coast (USA & Canada), Haida peoples, ca. 1930s CE. A beautiful rattle with an abstract anthropomorphic countenance, hand-carved from cedar and hand-painted using a palette of red, blue, and black hues. The rattle is constructed from two halves and joined together at four loci with old cord, and the interior is filled with percussive rattles. The expressive visage boasts a pair of wide, circular eyes surrounded by pale blue borders, a prominent nose with flared black nostrils, full lips slightly agape displaying a row of carved teeth, and thick eye brows curving below a rounded forehead. Though the verso is unadorned, it certainly does not detract from the elegant presentation. A fabulous example covered in a lustrous brown patina. Custom museum-quality display stand included. Size: 4.5" W x 9.375" H (11.4 cm x 23.8 cm); 11.5" H (29.2 cm) on included custom stand.
Rattles like this example were used during rituals. They are traditionally spherical in form, and the carving is generally done in low relief as we see here - allowing for a rich interplay between positive and negative spaces. Some scholars believe that that such globular rattles were owned and used by shamans who were employed with the privileged task of calling upon spirit helpers to assist during healing and divining rituals. Scholar Bill Holm has written that the rounded, hemispheric form of these rattles is associated with the shape of the human skull, and therefore a visual metaphor symbolizing the shaman's transmutation between the living and spiritual worlds.
Provenance: private Newport Beach, California, USA collection
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Surface wear and minor abrasions commensurate with age, very minor nicks to nose, handle, and verso, with some fading to pigmentation, otherwise intact and excellent. Light earthen deposits within recessed areas. Nice traces of pigmentation on face, and great brown patina throughout. Old inventory sticker on verso.