Raven Rattle


The artwork is a that is made of painted wood.It dates back to 1800 to 1900 AD and is a work of art from NorthAmerica, in addition to being a musical instrument.

The is connected to shamanic practices by theHaida people from Northwest Coast. An illustration of these practicesis the healing ceremony. Rattles are employed in channeling ashaman’s spirit when conducting shamanic practices. Symbolismlinked to the artwork focuses on the transmission of authority fromone individual to another, which is the raven to humanity while thekingfisher transmits power to the prone figure visible from the backof the raven. The prone figure is a personification of a wolf’sface, probably signifying the owner. Rattles are exceptionallypersonal objects that bear particular symbolism as well as power.Because they are symbols of power, the clan leaders keep the rattles.

The Haida population originated from Queen Charlotte Islands, whichis currently British Columbia. During the early 1700s, part of thepopulation became settlers in the south of Prince Wales Island,currently recognized as Alaska. In the eighteenth century, thearrival of Europeans at the Pacific Coast resulted in the underminingof conventional Haida tradition. The Europeans created more posts atthe coast, which resulted in more movement of people from differentregions. Among these people were Methodist missionaries whoseobjective was to convert Indians to Christianity. As a result, theHaida culture became eroded with only a small population continuingwith the culture, like the use of s. The raven isa well-recognized character in Haida tradition. It is presumed thatthe Raven created earth after he became tired with flying above aworld filled with water. As a result, tides, landforms, the behaviorof specific animals is a credit to the Raven’s creation (Swanton110-113).

The Haida were talented in woodwork. Males constructed attractivehouses as well as maritime boats used in the coast. The artists fromHaida carved boxes for storing utensils, totem poles and rattlescreated as ravens as some of their artwork. The name Raven rattlesderives from the figure of the work of art that resembles a raven.Currently, their initial objective and the specific meaning of theintricate decoration are unclear. The historic raven rattles wereauthoritative instruments utilized by spiritual specialists known asthe shamans. On the other hand, according to 1900 Haida people, theraven rattles were dancing tools used by chiefs, an addition to theattire the chiefs would were for a dance involving the greeting ofcanoes from different villages (Holm 25). Raven rattles are currentlyused during special ceremonies.

In the from the museum, the head of the raventhrusts up while the chest puffs forward, creating a rattle’s body.The wings sweep down along the sides. There are recurrent verticallines on the beak and mouth of the Raven. The eye shaped in the formof a diamond, insists on the proud upward push of the head. Manyraven rattles resemble the one in the museum, except for an extrasmall box of light on the beak. There are a number of birdsnoticeable in the wooden rattle. On the stomach of the Raven is theface of a big bird, carved using minimal relief. The design might beof a hawk or a different natural creature. An additional abstractbird’s head is visible facing the handle of the rattle.

There is a reclining man resting his head over that of the Raven. Theman has long arms that wrap around the knees. A bird that has a longbill is seen biting the tongue of the man. The exchange apparentthrough tongue biting signifies the transmission of authority fromone human to another. The intricate linear structure of the rattlecharacterizes Northwestern Coastal Indian artwork. The artwork isfurther illustrated by the firm incorporation of every form in thecomposition resembling a puzzle. The forms are defined using contourlines, like the brow, nostril, beak and Raven’s eye. The lines tietogether the intricate imagery uniformly forming a rhythmiccomposition. The is painted using black as wellas bright colors, which makes up the design.

The reason for choosing this work is to highlight the prowess of theHaida. It is remarkable that as early as 1800 to 1900 AD, thepopulation was wise enough to create such outstanding work. Thehistorical as well as fashionable art makes it possible to understandthe life of Native Americans. This particular work of art, invitesdiscussion about traditional customs, the disparity in social classand cultural ideas about beauty. The woodcarving is a symbol ofpower. It makes it possible to understand that the Haida people had apower system within society, the main power deriving from the chief,who would carry the . It also represents acultural idea due to the use of the artwork during healingceremonies.

Works Cited

Holm, Bill. The Box of Daylight: Northwest Coast Indian Art.Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1983.

Swanton, John. R. Haida Texts and Myths. Bureau of AmericanEthnology Bulletin 29 (1905): 110-150.