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Hamatsa Whistle

Arts of the Americas

On View: Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor
Whistles are generally used in indigenous cultures of the Americas to announce the presence of supernatural forces. In the Hamatsa ceremony, young male initiates who behave like wild cannibals as part of their initiation go through a process of four ceremonial cycles that calm and socialize them until they are accepted into society. During the fourth and final section, they reenact the unruly cannibal behavior of Baxbakwalanuksiwae (Man Eater at the End of the World). The wild Hamatsa dancer is brought inside the ceremonial house while whistles such as this one, representing the Man Eater’s many mouths, are blown.


Los silbatos se usan generalmente en las culturas indígenas de las Américas para anunciar la presencia de fuerzas sobrenaturales. En la ceremonia Hamatsa, iniciados jóvenes que se comportan como caníbales salvajes como parte de su iniciación, atraviesan un proceso de cuatro ciclos ceremoniales que los calman y socializan hasta que son aceptados en sociedad. Durante la cuarta sección, ellos reinterpretan la conducta caníbal descontrolada de Baxbakwalanuksiwae (Comedor de Hombres en el Fin del Mundo). El bailarín Hamatsa salvaje es llevado al interior de la casa ceremonial mientras silbatos como éste, representando las muchas bocas del Comedor de Hombres, son soplados.

MEDIUM Cedar wood, cotton cord, resin, pigment
DATES 19th century
DIMENSIONS 8 11/16 x 2 3/4 in. (22.1 x 7 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor
ACCESSION NUMBER 05.588.7351
CREDIT LINE Museum Expedition 1905, Museum Collection Fund
RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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CAPTION Gwa'sala Kwakwaka'wakw (Native American). Hamatsa Whistle, 19th century. Cedar wood, cotton cord, resin, pigment, 8 11/16 x 2 3/4 in. (22.1 x 7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1905, Museum Collection Fund, 05.588.7351. Creative Commons-BY
IMAGE overall, 05.588.7351_acetate_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
"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.
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION The whistle is in the form of a human face with an open mouth and the instrument is likely to have been used during the Hamatsa initiation ceremony. Cotton cord is wrapped around the "neck."
RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (83%)
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Hamatsa Whistle