- Victoria Lindsay Levine
Vessel rattle of the Cherokee people of the southern USA. Cherokee singers make their own handheld rattles. A hollow gourd, coconut shell, or terrapin carapace is partially filled with round pebbles and drilled with small soundholes; a wooden handle about 30 cm long is inserted lengthwise through the container. The rattles may be decorated with feather pendants. Song leaders play them to support the song’s pulse and to signal changes in direction or choreography during communal dances performed at ceremonial grounds. The male song leader holds the rattle in his right hand and shakes it while singing and dancing at the head of the line of dancers. He plays a tremolo to indicate the start and end of individual songs within a longer series; during a song, he plays steady, evenly spaced beats. Similar rattles are used to accompany communal dances among the Chickasaw, Delaware, Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, Shawnee, and Yuchi (Euchee), and in the 18th century were used by the Choctaw. Each tribe has its own word for such rattles; for example, Creek, ...