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Rattle, Sepik River Region, Papua New Guinea
Late 19th/Early 20th Century

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NMM 1483.  Rattle, Sepik River region, Papua New Guinea, late 19th/early 20th century

NMM 1483. Rattle, Sepik River Region, Papua New Guinea, late 19th/early 20th century. Nut husks from the kepayang tree, strung together with a fibrous material. After the nuts were removed, the husks were hollowed out and boiled to neutralize a poisonous acid present in the nut meats. Rattles such as this one are often tied around a dancerís wrists or ankles to accentuate the rhythm of the accompanying music and are part of elaborate and colorful dancersí costumes. Through their movements and costuming, dancers seemingly transform themselves into animal spirits or mythical beings. This reflects the belief, common throughout Melanesia, that music and dance are tangible connections between humans and the spirit world. Board of Trustees, 1976.

Rattle Handle and Nut Husks

Close-up of handle Close-up of husks

This rattle is made from kluwak nuts from the pangium edule, also known as the kepayang tree. These meaty nuts contain poisonous hydrocyanic acid and are boiled before being used for cooking or other purposes.

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