While visiting the foothills of Southern California, I came across a small museum with a presentation of musical instruments from the area’s indigenous Chumash culture. Several of the traditional instruments were very familiar and can be seen in most tribes across the country. Other, however, were were truly unique and beautiful. Here are the seven musical instruments presented on display at the Ojai Valley Museum.
For more information, check out the book on Chumash culture below or visit the museum’s online site, here: http://www.ojaivalleymuseum.org/
This truly unusual rattle used for ceremonial purposes is made from the cocoon of the Ceanothus Silk Moth (Hyalophora euryalus) and each cocoon is filled with pebbles. The cocoons are then attached to short lengths of reed which are bound together with fiber.
Bear Claw Rattle
The bear claw rattle (seen at the bottom middle section of this picture) was used as part of mourning ceremonies by the Chumash. In this rattle, each claw is strung on a piece of thread or fiber and the fibers are bunched together to make the instrument. Museum notes say that bears teeth can be used in this rattle as well.
A sturdy clamshell is filled with small noise-makers; such as small pebbles, then mounted on a stick for this decorative rattle (lower right of display).
Double Turtle Shell Rattle
Turtle shells are used across the USA as part of Native American ceremonial rattles. Frequently mounted on a stick, turtle shells are also used when tied in bundles and attached to the legs of dancers as part of the Cherokee stomp dance. The Chumash turtle shell rattle here uses two shells mounted on a stick along with beautiful ornamentation.
Almost every Native American tribe uses some form of the frame drum as part of their music and ceremony. The 2-sided, animal skin frame drum on display here measured about 14 – 16” in diameter and was accompanied by a traditional beater.
A bullroarer is a small piece of wood attached to a piece of string and swung around a large circle. The wooden piece is carved in such way that it creates a buzzing, droning or whirring noise when spun. You can see the Chumash bullroarer in the left half of this picture among other artifacts. It is carved on the edges and decorated with paint and three “X”s.
To learn more about bullroarers in general, check out the post below which also includes a DIY kids bull roarer activity.
Make Your Own Bullroarer – A Kid’s Activity
California’s Chumash Indians
Published by the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Education Center
Available on Amazon, here: http://amzn.com/0945092008