In the late 1800s, Northwest Coast peoples observed an elaborate calendar of religious and social obligations. Among wealthy families, these observances required special costumes and ornaments. Women wove or decorated dress clothing and dance costumes, while men carved wooden masks and accoutrements.
This rattle, made in the shape of a bird, was part of a man's ceremonial dress. It represents Raven, who in the mythic past stole the sun from its hiding place and situated it in the heavens, establishing the universe we know today. On the raven's back a tiny human figure confronts a smaller bird, his tongue joined to the creature's beak. This union implies transition and communication between the human and animal worlds. Filled with small pebbles, the rattle helped keep the rhythm of a sacred dance.