Raven rattle - ROM2013_13206_87


Raven rattle

Maker: Possibly Haida
Medium:Carved and painted wood
Geography: Probably Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), British Columbia, Canada
Date: c. 1847
12.5 x 33 x 11.2 cm
Object number: 946.81.1
Credit Line: Gift of Raymond A. Willis in memory of his mother, Emmie à Court ("Chelsea"), daughter of Allan Cassels and granddaughter of the Honourable G. W. Allan
On view
Gallery Location:Daphne Cockwell Gallery dedicated to First Peoples art & culture
DescriptionRaven rattles had a wide distribution among Northwest Coast cultures. They were predominantly used by chiefs in ceremonies, which were related to the summoning and controlling of supernatural powers. The primary figure on the rattle, raven, is the transformer liberating daylight. In Northwest Coast myth, a chief kept the sun locked in a box and the world was in darkness. Raven transformed himself into a human and was able to steal the box. Raven then transformed himself back into a bird and flew away with the box, which can be seen in the Raven's beak on the rattle. Raven opened the box to let the sunlight out and from that time on the world has had daylight. The reclining figure represents the image of a guardian spirit quest where people left the natural world to seek power in the supernatural world by gaining assistance from spirit helpers. The other images place the figure within the spiritual and natural world.
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