Ways of Life

Rattles

Rattles are ceremonial instruments used by chiefs during halayt dances and shamans during healings. Rattles are more than simple noisemakers: they are intended to invoke the power of the supernatural being which their carved form depicts.

Traditionally, rattles were entirely personal to their owners; they were not meant to be shared or used by anyone else.

To make a rattle, shamans and chiefs used to go to locations in the forest or the mountains that were “supernatural” or known to hold special spiritual power. The shaman or chief would stay at the supernatural place for four days, until they received inspiration for a new song and the ground shook. While the ground shook, they would gather pebbles from that place and put them in the rattle, imbuing it with supernatural power.

The wooden body of the rattle was typically carved from maple. The chief or shaman might do the carving, or they might pay another carver to do the work for them.

Rattles are not intended to be used indiscriminately as “noise makers” at cultural celebrations or dance performances. Rattles should be respected for having a special power, as they are intended to be used by shamans during important rituals.

Rattle
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Two rattles
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Round rattle
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Rattle
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Rattle
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Six different rattles
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