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Wooden raven rattle with broad design elements typical of earlier carvings - Donald Ellis Gallery
Underside of a raven rattle with broad design elements and subtle pigmentation - Donald Ellis Gallery

Raven Rattle

Tsimshian or Tlingit
Northern British Columbia / Southeastern Alaska

ca. 1825

wood, paint, brass nails, hide

width: 14"

Inventory # N1131



Private collection, Scotland
Maurice Joy, London, United Kingdom


Wardwell, Allen. Native Paths: American Indian Art from the Collection of Charles and Valerie Diker. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998, pl. 124
Donald Ellis Gallery catalogue, 2001, pg. 25


Holm, Box of Daylight, 1983, plates 12, 14

Fane, Objects of Myth and Memory, pl. 277



The art of the Northwest Coast is characterized by a complex scheme of forms and conventions which evolved over time. The earliest carvings exhibit large unworked areas, and minimal, broad formline design. By the mid to late 19th century, the carved areas expand, while the carving style becomes less angular than is typical of the earlier works.

This raven rattle provies an intriguing window on the progression of Northwest Coast carving. Its archaic beauty sharply contrasts that of rattle N2024, one that post-dates this example by at least 40 years. In the rattle seen here, we see broad formline design areas, more muted pigmentation and simplicity of form, all hallmarks of the early historic period. The overall effect is deeply satisfying, and a tribute to the great skill of this early carver. 

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