Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

 

Rattle

shoa shoa “rattle”
Language: Tsimshian

He is showing this look, like a trance; the eyes are underneath the lids, rolled back. Having these frogs come out, too – frogs were the shaman’s messengers.

—David Boxley, 2009

Frogs appear often on shamanic art because they were imagined as primordial, partly human creatures that retained supernatural power from early times. They lived in the dark before Raven brought the sun, and they made fun of the great trickster; in anger he caused the North Wind to blow the frogs away and freeze them onto rocks. This shaman’s rattle shows frogs that appear with the rain, springing from the eyes of South Wind, who brings rain and desires the world to be green as in spring. The back of the rattle shows the wind’s arms, legs, and body.

Culture: Tsimshian
Region: British Columbia, Canada
Village: Port Simpson
Object Category: Ceremony
Dimensions: Length 30.5cm
Accession Date: 1876
Source: James G. Swan (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E020583