Tlingit, Native American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 746

The peoples of the Pacific Northwest share a shamanistic worldview. Shamans employ techniques such as fasting and dancing to enter altered states of consciousness, in which they have visions that guide them in healing or advising the community. They wear protective or spiritually charged pendants, such as this example, and sometimes give them to patients as powerful medicines. Here, we see two animal forms that may have been ancestral emblems of a particular shaman: a graceful diving whale and a raptor with outstretched wings. The color-shifting nature of the abalone shell reinforces the transformational composite beings that empowered the healer and the patient.

Amulet, Antler and abalone shell, Tlingit, Native American

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