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Gourd rattle with carved wooden handle and peyote stitch beadwork / Joseph Rice


A gourd rattle with Cocobolo wood handle carved with crosshatched chevron relief and partially beaded at lower end with blue ground presenting brown pipes, peyote stitch in yellow, orange, red, and burgundy. There are black and white feathers, and vertical banding (alternating every bead with blue) of colors black, red, brown, silver, and white and horizontal beads at bottom from which hang 12 strands twisted white doeskin fringe. At the top of the handle there is a peyote stitch border with typical colored beads on a blue ground. Gourd section rests on top of handle with a spike to which top spray is attached. The spray consists of peyote stitch beaded band with blue ground, band of white, blue, green, black, and pink dyed chicken hackles, ermine band, and white horsehair tassel at top.

Curatorial Remarks

Every participant in a meeting would have their own rattle, but women may not be full members of the Native American Church. The men would sing while using their rattle, and one drummer (man) would play along. Rattles are private property. Most native groups use gourds for rattles, but they may also use turtle shells or other hollow vessels. Some groups carve rattles from wood or create basketry rattles. The top of the rattle may represent a symbolic Native American person. The rattle is sometimes believed to be one of the first musical instruments in existence, and rattles can have different sounds. Peyote meetings occur in the fall, spring, and during special events such as funerals or illness. Sometimes, a carved handle with a break in it may symbolize the division between the upper world and lower world.

Tags: gourd rattle, beaded
People: Sac & Fox
Places: Oklahoma
Purpose: ceremonial use

From interviews with Dr. Garrick Bailey, 2018-2020 University of Tulsa, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology

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Gourd rattle with carved wooden handle and peyote stitch beadwork
Joseph Rice (Artist)
Native American; Sac & Fox
wood, glass, metal, leather, feather (chicken), horsehair
Object Type: 
Credit Line: 
Purchased with funds from Phillips Petroleum Grant
Accession No: 
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Not On View

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