2018-03 Gourd-shaped clay rattle

Object ID:
2018-03

Artist:
Randall Sahmie

Dimensions:
5.625" l X 3"w with 3.75" feathers

This is a visually simple and elegant “pot,” and thus is typical of much of Randall’s work.

Substantially heavy for its size, I assume the walls of this gourd -shaped rattle are fairly thick.  From what I can see, the only opening (to let out air during firing) is at the apex of the bulb and is now plugged with feathers.  Judging from the blushing, the rattle was fired outdoors in a traditional dung and shard kiln.  To my fairly large hand the handle seems a bit short but the rattle can be firmly grasped in a fist.

Randy was a talented painter, wood carver and ceramicist, probably producing fewer pots than paintings and carvings.  While he certainly had the skill to creatively paint a pot (cf 2015-09), he seemed to favor pottery with little decoration (cf. 2009-07 and 2015-08).  This rattle is of this last tradition.  Its only painted decoration is a red disk that surrounds to air hole.  Two short and parallel black lines are drawn on one side of this disk, thus throwing this minimalist decoration off balance and adding visual interest.

The clay body is embellished with a downy breast feather, a grey flat feather and a bright blue green feather.  Rattles are used in Hopi ceremony to mimic the sound of the prayed-for rain.  Feathers carry these prayers to Beings that can fill the sky with moist clouds.  The end of the handle is covered with soft leather, perhaps deer skin.  A small turquoise bead is attached, its color perhaps symbolic of water.

Clay rattles are used in Hopi ceremony, but I strongly suspect that this one was made for sale to a tourist.

Purchase History:
Rattle 2018-03 was purchased from The Indian Craft Shop in the U.S. Department of the Interior on 2-22-18. The shop was having a Valentine's Day sale and the price of this rattle was reduced 75%. It was entered into their invantory in January of 2017 but they had no other records.