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date: 15 November 2019


  • Steve Elster


Rattle of the Mohave Indians of Southern California and Arizona. The narrow, tapered end of a dried gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) approximately 13 to 18 cm in diameter is cut off and the shell is emptied. Soundholes about 5 mm in diameter are drilled around the base, and seeds from the native palm tree are placed inside. A 15-cm-long handle is affixed with pitch or glue in the hole at the tapered end. The rattle accompanies all-night song cycle performances, during which 200–300 songs may be sung, each singer shaking an ahnalya in one hand. Some singers decorate their gourds with painted patterns. The art of playing it is called ‘throwing gourd’. Skilled performers can generate complex rhythms, essential in the music where the words, dance steps, and rhythmic patterns of the gourd are all tightly interwoven.

P. Munro and others: A Mojave Dictionary. UCLA Occasional Papers in Linguistics...

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