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Rattle in the Form of a Bird

Rattles in the form of birds have been made by the Nuu-chah-nulth at least since the eighteenth century: several were collected by Captain James Cook in 1778. Emblems of a shaman’s or chief’s authority and treasured heirlooms, rattles were used to call the spiritual world in prayers and as accompaniment to dancers performing during events such as potlatch ceremonies. The form of this rattle, which resembles a seagull, is particularly elegant and graceful.

Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka) peoples, British Columbia
Rattle in the Form of a Bird
ca. 1875
L. 19 1/8 in. (48.6 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 80.40