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Term used by the Navajo people of the southwestern USA for a whistle.

Article

David P. McAllester

Rattle consisting of small pieces of flint of ritually prescribed shapes and colours used by the Navajo people of the southwestern USA to accompany songs in the Flintway ceremony. The flints are cupped in both hands and shaken to produce a jingling sound. They symbolize the restoration of fractured or dislocated bones as well as the renewal of vitality in general....

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J. Richard Haefer

Percussion idiophone widely known in the Americas. Examples include the kalukhaq of the Alaskan Inuit and Native Americans of the northwest coast of North America, the cajón of Cuba and Peru, and the Mexican cajón de tapeo, which supposedly developed as a substitute for the ...

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J. Richard Haefer

Vessel rattle of the Flathead Indians of Montana, USA. It is made by cutting a piece of hide and sewing it into a spherical shape, 7 to 12 cm in diameter, with an extension about 10 cm long to wrap around a wooden handle. The hide is wetted and filled with wet sand, then moulded into shape and allowed to dry, and the sand emptied. Small pebbles are inserted as rattle elements, and the handle is secured to the base of the body. Normally the rattle is not decorated either with feathers or paint. When used for the ‘begging around camp’ ceremony it is called ...

Article

J. Richard Haefer

Rattle of the Aztec (Nahua) people of pre-Contact Mexico. It was a three-legged clay vase with clay pellets inside the hollow legs. The name also refers to other clay vessels containing seeds, stones, or other pellets. According to Molina (Vocabulario en lengua mexicana, 1571...

Article

Canari  

J. Richard Haefer

Guitar-like plucked chordophone of the Huichol (Wixáritari or Wirr’ariki) people of west-central Mexico. It is slightly larger than a violin. Typically the soundbox, neck (with four to six frets), nut, and pegboard are carved from a single piece of wood, and a thin piece of cedar serves as a soundtable; the soundbox is only slightly waisted or even oval. A bridge is attached to the soundtable using glue from a local plant. The four or five strings can be of metal, monofilament nylon, or gut. It is played with the ...

Article

J. Richard Haefer

Suspension rattle of the Flathead people of Montana, USA. It is a stick about 100 cm long with 20 to 25 split deer hoofs and dewclaws tied near the top. It is carried during the winter spirit dance and medicine dance, when it is struck against the ground to the beat of the song....

Article

Michael Suing

Generic Sioux Indian term for frame drums. The term refers both to single- and double-headed drums used in personal, powwow, and ceremonial settings, while čháŋčheğa miméla refers specifically to the hand drum. Historic Euro-American accounts often refer to the large drums as war drums; however, this is a misconception as specific drums did not exist for this purpose. Lakota construction methods and materials are representative of traditional drummaking in the Northern Great Plains. A likely predecessor of the Lakota frame drum was a solitary hoop of bent branches with no drum head, played by striking the hoop with a beater. This idiophonic frame was a talismanic object employed by healers and shamans. After idiophonic frames, longitudinally split and bent sections of wood with increased structural integrity for supporting a drum head were used. The two ends were overlapped and lashed with sinew and hide passing through holes cut through the wood. Later, vegetal twine, iron tacks, and wire replaced or were used to repair lapped joints. The use of cross-sections of hollowed trees is common in larger powwow drums, but smaller handheld drums sometimes employed this method. Other lumber, typically from discarded shipping crates, provided wood of ideal thickness and length for use as bent drum frames, and other collected materials, such as large snapping turtle shells, large iron hoops, small shipping crates, wooden buckets, and cast iron kettles were used as drum frames or bodies....

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J. Richard Haefer

End-blown flute of the Flathead Indians of Montana, USA. Often called a courting flute, it is made from elderberry or fir and is about 45 cm long and 2 cm in diameter. The soft elderberry pith is burnt out with a heated metal rod and six ...

Article

Suspension rattle of the Atacameño people of the Atacamá Desert, province of Antofagasta, northern Chile. It is formed by attaching four to 12 solid objects in a row to a leather thong which is shaken to produce the rattle sound. In pre-Contact times small metal balls were used; nowadays small pellet bells are preferred. It is identical with archaeological specimens of the extinct Diaguita culture. It is played with the ...

Article

Mary Riemer-Weller and J. Richard Haefer

Generic term for rattle among the Ojibwe (Ojibwa, Anishinaabe) people in the Great Lakes region of the USA and Canada. Three forms exist. The first, a cylindrical vessel rattle, is made by wrapping birchbark around two wooden disks, with a wooden handle inserted through both discs. The body is 11 to 15 cm tall and 10 to15 cm in diameter, and contains small pebbles or buckshot. The second form is a disc-shaped vessel made from a narrow wooden hoop 20 to 30 cm in diameter and 1 to 3 cm thick, covered on both sides with hide; it contains pebbles or buckshot. A long extension (20 to 30 cm) of the hoop serves as a handle. Usually three of the first type and one of the second are used together by the ...

Article

Chad Stephen Hamill

End-blown flute of the Native Americans of the Columbia Plateau. It is called č ɫx̣ ʷálq ʷ by the Interior Salish and sepú ‧nme ʔs mít ʼip by the Sahaptin. A heated metal rod is used to push the pith out of a straight section of elderberry stalk 38 to 60 cm long and about 2.5 cm in diameter, and to burn fingerholes (typically six) into the stalk; often an additional non-fingered hole is made near the bottom. A V-shaped slot is cut near the proximal end and partially filled with pine pitch to deflect the air; the slot is covered with a rawhide block to direct the wind over the pitch and against the lower end of the V. Historically it was used by men to court women; nowadays it is more commonly used for personal enjoyment....

Article

Chad Stephen Hamill

Suspension rattle of the Native Americans of the Columbia Plateau. It is called čt ʼewá by the Interior Salish and c’al ʼá·kstin by the Sahaptin. Approximately 20 to 50 deer dewclaws, each about 3.5 cm long, are strung together on a buckskin thong 30 to 40 cm long. One or more lengths are wrapped around the ankles (or nowadays the knees) to accentuate ceremonial dancing, or fastened to a wooden staff or cane as used in the Medicine (or Winter) Dance, the oldest ceremony practiced today in the region. Among Sahaptin-speaking groups the ...

Article

Victoria Lindsay Levine

Dance rattle of the Cherokee people of the southern USA. Each rattle consists of four to 20 containers made from box turtle shells or evaporated-milk cans, the number depending upon the dancer’s age and experience and on whether she is wearing shells or cans. The overall size of the rattle is approximately 28 cm by 31 cm, and a pair of rattles weighs about 2.7 kg. The containers are drilled with small soundholes at regular intervals, and each is filled with rounded pebbles. Shells and cans are tied vertically with wire to a leather backing so that they do not strike against each other. Cherokee women wear the rattles during nighttime dances at ceremonial grounds. First they wrap their lower legs with a towel or piece of foam rubber and then tightly tie the rattles on with leather thongs, wearing one rattle on each leg. The choreography involves a quick, double gliding step that provides rhythmic accompaniment to the song in an even subdivision of the beat. Ceremonial dances generally last all night; ideally, once a dancer dons her leg rattles, she wears them until sunrise. Chickasaw, Delaware, Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, Shawnee, Yuchi (Euchee), and other southeastern Indian female dancers wear similar leg rattles. Each tribe has its own word for leg rattles, for example Creek, ...

Article

Daluka  

Goblet drum of Sudan. It is traditionally made of clay and played by women, notably by the main singer during spirit possession ceremonies. The Arabic name daluka, of Nubian origin, denotes a small drum beaten by the hand; in a bowl excavated from Tumulus VI at Hobagi, Meroe, one such drum is shown hanging from the drummer’s neck....

Article

J. Richard Haefer

Percussion board of the Dena’ina (Tanaina Athabascan) people of Alaska. It is a plank, usually of poplar, about 1 metre long by 25 cm wide and 3 to 4 cm thick. It is struck with two wooden sticks. Two holes about 4 cm in diameter are drilled near each end of the board for cords that suspend it from the rafters of the ceremonial house. The board may be decorated with the tail of a sea mammal at one end and the head at the other, or with other clan symbols such as the raven or beaver. The board is used to accompany singing in the potlatch ceremonies. The Yup’ik of Siberia have a similar instrument....

Article

J. Richard Haefer

Generic term for drum among the Ojibwa Indians of the Great Lakes area of North America. It specifically refers to the large powwow-style drum that is a recreation of the historic war drum. The drum is made from a large log or from a staved washtub about 50 to 60 cm in diameter and 35 cm deep. Traditionally it was double-headed, but modern washtub drums have a circular wooden piece attached to the base to hold the staves in place, with a circular opening cut in the middle of the circular piece and a single cowhide head on the top. Leather straps attached to each side are used to mount the drum to the ...

Article

J. Richard Haefer

Term for a percussion idiophone of Native Americans in the present-day USA. It is a plank or log stamped upon rhythmically. Planks are used in the kivas of the Pueblo Indians, in the Northwest and the Great Basin, while inverted hollowed logs are found in California. The plank or log may be placed over a shallow hole in the ground which acts as a resonator and may either be danced upon or beaten with sticks. In the Northeast a sheet of birch bark may be placed over a hole and struck with beaters, and boxes and poles are found as similar instruments in the Northwest....

Article

Klisala Harrison

Zoomorphic vessel rattle of the Tsimshian people of the North American Pacific Northwest Coast. Indigenous oral histories suggest that the concept of the ‘raven rattle’ originated with the Tsimshian, but it is also used by the Haida, Nuuchahnulth, Coast Salish, Kwakwaka’wakw, and Tlingit. The Tlingit, the most prolific carvers of the rattle, call it ...

Article

Gaaw  

J. Richard Haefer

Generic term for drums, and specifically the frame drum, of the Tlingit and Haida peoples of Alaska. The circular frame, about 30 to 35 cm in diameter, is made from willow wood. The single head, of elk skin, is wetted and then dried around the frame. The head is tied across the back of the frame with sinew strips crossing at the centre to form a grip. It is struck with a willow stick about 30 cm long with a padded hide tip. The head is usually decorated on the outside in black, red, and green colours depicting crests symbolizing the clan of the owner. Some instruments are also decorated on the inner surface. The term ...