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Haida raven rattle with broad formline design areas and muted pigmentation | Donald Ellis Gallery
Underside of Haida raven rattle with broad formline design of the early historic period | Donald Ellis Gallery

Raven Rattle

Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia

ca. 1840

wood, paint

width: 13 ½"

Inventory # N2024


acquired by the Diker Collection, now at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY


Collected by Charles Beardmore, Hudson’s Bay Company, 19th century
Hooper Collection, London, UK
Christie's, London, UK, November 9, 1976, lot 184
John and Grace Putnam, Seattle, Washington


Box of Daylight, Seattle Art Museum, September 15, 1983 - January 8, 1984
Native Visions, Seattle Art Museum, February 19 - May 10, 1998


Box of Daylight, Holm, University of Washington Press, 1984, pl. 17
Native Visions, Brown, University of Washington Press, 1998, pl. 4.38
Art and Artifacts of the Pacific, Africa and the Americas, Phelps, Hutchinson of London, 1976, pl. 1455
The Art of Primitive Peoples, Hooper and Burland, London, 1953, pl. 52(a)


Heye Foundation, New York, Cat. No. 16/292 - See: From the Land of the Totem Poles, Jonaitis, University of Washington Press, 1988 , pl. 25

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 provides an intriguing window on the progression of Northwest Coast art. Its archaic beauty sharply contrasts most surviving raven rattles.  In the rattle illustrated here, we see broad formline design areas, more muted pigmentation, and simplicity of form, all hallmarks of the early historic period on the Northwest Coast. The overall effect is deeply satisfying, and a tribute to the great skill of this early carver.

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