Skip Navigation

Peyote Gourd

Arts of the Americas

This peyote rattle was played during Native American Church ceremonies, which combine Native and Christian beliefs. Peyote is a hallucinogenic cactus that is ritually ingested in tea or dried form to induce visions, which are believed to help achieve more harmony with the universe. The gourd symbolizes the world, and the sound it makes represents prayers. The gourd’s zigzag decoration symbolizes Christ’s crown of thorns. The handle’s beaded lightning design, which signifies man’s ability to ascend from earth into heaven, is encircled by a red horsehair fringe that represents the rays of the sun at sunrise, the hour when Christ arose from the dead. The medal attached to the handle reads, “Behold the heart of Jesus is with me.”

Esta maraca de peyote se tocaba durante ceremonias de la Iglesia Nativo Americana, en la que se combinan creencias nativas y cristianas. El peyote es un cactus alucinógeno que se ingiere ritualmente en forma de té o seco para inducir visiones, las cuales se cree que ayudan a alcanzar mayor armonía con el universo. La calabaza simboliza el mundo, y el sonido que produce representa a las plegarias. La decoración zigzagueante de la calabaza simboliza la corona de espinas de Cristo. El diseño relampagueante de las cuentas en el mango, el cual significa la habilidad el hombre para ascender desde la tierra al cielo, está rodeado por un borde rojo de crin de caballo que representa los rayos del sol al amanecer, la hora en que Cristo se levantó de entre los muertos. La medalla sujeta al mango dice, “Contemplad que el corazón de Jesús está conmigo.”
MEDIUM Gourd, glass beads, metal, feathers, brass, sinew, nut or seed, cork
DATES late 19th–early 20th century
DIMENSIONS 27 9/16 x 2 3/4 in. (70 x 7 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
CREDIT LINE Museum Expedition 1911, Museum Collection Fund
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Gourd rattle painted with a red zigzag line that represents the crown of thorns. The handle is worked with beads that represent lightning, divided into two parts by a band in the middle. The lower part of this band represents earth and the upper the sky, illustrating man ascending into heaven. The metal heart attached to the handle reads “Behold the heart of Jesus is with me." Stewart Culin purchased this rattle from Saucy Calf who explained the symbolism to Francis La Flesche. It would have been used in what is now the Native American Church.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Osage. Peyote Gourd, late 19th–early 20th century. Gourd, glass beads, metal, feathers, brass, sinew, nut or seed, cork, 27 9/16 x 2 3/4 in. (70 x 7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1911, Museum Collection Fund, 11.694.9059. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 11.694.9059_PS2.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 11.694.9059_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2008
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form (charges apply). For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch. For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright. If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.