Black Dance Bird Rattle

About this object

History of use

According to accession records this rattle was used in the Black Dance. Anthropologist Pamela Amoss discusses Black Paint dancers who receive their spirit powers through initiation by capture, rather than spontaneous possession as is the case with red paint dancers. However, there is another tradition "that seems to have influenced the modern black dancers is the secret society, which was found among the Songish, Clallam, Twana, Lummi, Puyallup Nisqually and Swinomish (Amoss 1978:72-73)." Elmendorf adds that: "this rattle was used only in secret society initiations, and, occasionally, when filled with supernatural power by a secret society member, to locate lost articles (1960:223)."

Cultural context

ceremonial; Black Dance; secret societies

Specific techniques

These types of rattles are made from two pieces of wood that are hollowed out, and combined with a solid handle. Usually, "the rattle was painted black but not incised and contained pebbles (Elmendorf 1960:223)" for noisemaking.

Physical description

The rattle is carved in two parts and is hollow. The top section which includes the head and tail (handle) is one piece, the body is hollowed out then the lower section carved to fit and is joined with nails to the top section.