Rattle, ca. 1880
Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia; Haida or Tsimshian
Wood, string, pigment; H. 11 1/2 in. (29.2 cm), Diam. 6 in. (15.2 cm)
The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889 (89.4.1963)
Rattles like this were most likely used during dance rituals of the Haida or Tsimshian. Spherical in shape with two diametrically opposed faces, this wooden rattle represents typical carving of Northwest Coast people, exhibiting form-line carving in low relief. The cutaway—darkened—sections represent an equally significant aspect of the composition. Low-relief carving in this style makes a play on the relationship between negative and positive space. One side of the rattle depicts a face in quintessential form-line ornament, with ovoid and U-shaped realizations of the space between the form-lines. The opposite side of the rattle depicts a hook-nosed bird figure, possibly a hawk or raven, the nose protruding from the low relief of the face. There is evidence of red and black pigment as embellishment on both sides of the rattle, which is constructed in two pieces carved to form a hollow chamber. Small holes carved near edges of both pieces are threaded with vegetal lacing and pinned with iron nails to secure the two halves together, along with the wrapping at the base of the handle.