Tlingit, Tsimshian, Shaman, Soul Catcher

Top: “Shaman’s amulet,” Tlingit, Made in Alaska, US, c. 1840-70 CE. (L.2018.35.78)
Bottom: “Soul Catcher,” Tsimshian, Made in British Columbia, Canada, c. 1840-60 CE. (L.2018.35.23) Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.

On top is the Shaman’s amulet, description from the Met’s website, “This shaman’s amulet is carved in the shape of a whale: its head, pectoral fins, and tail are clearly outlined. However, in place of the creature’s dorsal fin, a figure that is likely a Thunderbird holds a juvenile whale in its talons. Made of antler, possibly caribou, the object depicts powerful spirit images that ruled a shaman’s inner world. A row of ovoid shapes with shell inlay represents the whale’s vertebrae, the last shape doubling as the image of a toothed spirit.”
On the bottom is the Soul Catcher, carved from a bear’s femur, and the blue-green iridescent inlays are abalone shells. It is approximately 11 inches long and is a slightly curved cylinder. One each end is an animal figure, perhaps wolves, with their mouths open, eyes and nostrils are inlaid.

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