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Frontlet

aamhalaayt “regalia”
Language: Tsimshian

Our people believe that the chief’s rattle and the frontlet originated with the Tsimshian peoples, or perhaps the Nisga’a, and spread to other tribes.

—David Boxley, 2009

A chief’s headdress — with its frontlet mask, crown of sea lion whiskers and flicker feathers, and long train of ermine pelts — signified his clan, rank, and spiritual powers. He wore it as the host of memorial ceremonies and during initiation ceremonies for the Dancer, Dog Eater, Cannibal, and Destroyer secret societies, named for the mythical beings portrayed by the dancers. The crest emblems on this frontlet are Beaver (above) and Eagle (below). The feathered crown of the headdress (now missing) was filled with eagle down, a symbol of peace that drifted over the crowd as the chief danced.

Culture: Tsimshian
Region: British Columbia, Canada
Object Category: Ceremony
Dimensions: Length 28cm
Accession Date: 1858 (collected 1838-1842)
Source: Edward Verry (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E002662