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.

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More information

Bibliography

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

Dimensions

Length: 35.000 cm

Museum number

AOA 1949.Am22.111

ENA12039

Location

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