1884.109.17

Wooden drum stick or baton, carved at end with head of raven. [CAK 06/05/2009]

Place details: N AMERICA. Canada / British Columbia Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) NW Coast. Cultural Group: NW Coast Haida Local Name: Unknown. Materials: Cedar Wood Plant / ?. Processes: Carved / ?. Dimensions: Max L = 355 mm Maker: Unknown Field Collector: Unknown When Collected: By 1874 Other Owners: ?John Wickham Flower. Pitt Rivers sent this object to Bethnal Green Museum for display, as part of the first batch of objects sent there, probably in 1874. This object was listed in the Delivery Catalogue as having been transferred from South Kensington Museum in 1884 PRM Source: Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers founding collection Acquired: Donated 1884

KEYWORD: Medical Accessory / ?Dance Accessory / ?Musical Instrument Accessory / ?Striker / Bird Figure / CLASS: Medicine / ?Dance / ?Music / Figure / ?.MUSIC CLASS: 4. MUSIC NAME: Drum Stick.

Object description: Wooden drum stick or baton, carved at end with head of raven. It is carved from a single piece of red cedar wood. The handle is rounded, with a slight curve, and tapers toward the end. Midway along the stick is a thicker ring of wood. The remainder of the handle moving toward the carved raven is rounded, with a slight curve and widens slightly toward the striker. The other end is carved to represent the head of a raven. It is much wider than the handle. The top of the bird's head is flat. An eye is carved on either side of the head. The terminus is carved as a long beak with a curved underside. [CAK 06/05/2009]

Research notes: The following information comes from Haida delegates who worked with the museum’s collection in September 2009 as part of the project “Haida Material Culture in British Museums: Generating New Forms of Knowledge” :

This object was viewed alongside coppers and musical instruments including rattles and flutes on Thursday Sept 10, 2009. The identification of this object as a 'drum stick' was debated. Candace Weir noted that the drumsticks used today have padded heads and wooden handles; people do not beat their drums with naked wood. When Candace picked up this item, she picked it up and held it by the animal's head and mimed hitting a drum with the plain wooden part. People wondered if the very smooth top edge allowed for a different sound to be made. It was suggested that it could have been used for beating wood rather than the hide of a drum. (Cara Krmpotich note: Haidas made and used bentwood box drums.) Christian White and Natalie Fournier wondered if this could have been used by a shaman either to beat time on a board or log drum, or alternatively whether it could have been used by a shaman as a baton when dancing rather than as a drum stick, or as gambling sticks.

Kwiiawah Jones identified the material as red cedar.

Diane Brown's husband carved a spoon with a very similar raven's head on it.

After a day's reflection, Gwaai Edenshaw thought it was unlikely that this was ever used to beat time on wood as it lacked signs of wear you would expect from such activities, and it lacked signs of 'polishing' that comes from repeated use. He thought its designation as a baton or wand more likely. He also cautioned that if this was the possession of a shaman, anyone coming into contact with it needed to take care. [CAK 12/02/2010]

Note that only a tiny fraction of JW Flower items are also marked as being related to the Pitt Rivers founding collection. Whilst it is possible that they did originally form part of the founding collection, were brought from London in 1884 and then placed with the geological collections at Oxford University Museum of Natural History before eventually being transferred to the Pitt Rivers Museum it seems odd that they were not all recorded as being related to the founding collection. Most are attributed to being donated by Flowers to OUMNH and being transferred from there [AP 23/07/2009]