Head-form rattle

Early 19th century
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General Description

This Haida rattle would be displayed to accompany the Shaman Spirit songs. Shaman songs and paraphernalia were not passed down through the clans. The power of objects of each shaman were buried with the shaman when he died. It was believed that contact with anything that belonged to a shaman could cause an individual to be "called" to become a shaman. The call to be a shaman was life altering and demanding. It isolated the individual because the people feared the shaman's power. Few people sought to be called.

Yeik (Shaman Spirit) songs in the Tlingit tradition ordinarily would be sung only on solemn occasions such as a memorial for the deceased.

Excerpt from

Carol Robbins, Label text, A. H. Meadows Galleries.

Fun Facts

  • Named on "American Indian and Northwest Coast Top Ten List" (August 6, 1992), Steven A. LeBlanc, former curator at the Southwest Museum at Los Angeles.