Shaman's rattle in the form of an oystercatcher

Tlingit, 19th century AD
From Alaska, North America

The rattle is carved of wood, in the form of an oystercatcher (?) surmounted by the head of a mountain goat, with a frog on the back whose tongue is joined with that of the goat. A shaman is tying up a witch, from whose mouth a second frog emerges, with long pointed incisors. This frog represents the evil spirit possessing the sorcerer, which the shaman is responsible for removing.

Shamans, like mountain goats, were able to visit the most difficult terrain. Such rattles might be applied over an afflicted part of the body, or left with the patient as guardian.

Find in the collection online

More information


J.C.H. King, First peoples, first contacts: (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)


Length: 35.000 cm

Museum number

AOA 1949.Am22.111



Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore