Kastaweh’shae’ [ká’nowa’, gasdöwøe’ sä]
- Mary Riemer-Weller
- , revised by J. Richard Haefer
[ká’nowa’, gasdöwøe’ sä]
Generic term for vessel rattles of the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois Confederacy peoples of northeastern North America. Haudenosaunee vessel rattles are made from horn, bark, gourd, tin, and coconuts, as well as snapping, box, and painted turtles.
The most important rattle is the kanyáhte’ [kánˀo:waỉ] (‘great turtle rattle’) made from the shell, head, and neck of the common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentine). It is called ganya:hde gano:wa or ganya:hde gasda’wedra in Cayugan. Its construction is a skilled and lengthy process: the legs, tail, and viscera are removed and the shell is placed in the earth for ants to clean it; chokecherry pits are placed inside the shell and all openings are sewn closed. The head and neck are stretched out to form a handle, which is supported by a wooden rod or splints and wrapped with a rawhide thong, friction tape, or strips of inner tree bark (hickory or slippery elm are preferred). After the rattle has dried, it may be varnished and painted with red, black, or brown dots, bands, or crosses. The dimensions vary according to the size of the turtle and the total length can be from 25 to 50 cm. Instruments of about 30 cm are considered best for playing....