Cocoon Rattles made by Native Californians appear on the cover of Shuttle Spindle and Dyepot- issue 101- winter 94/95. The photographs give clues as to how to construct the rattle. The article describes the materials used...and why. A rattle is a personal possession, it can only have significance for the person who uses it. The rattles were believed to be very powerful, not everyone possessed one...and they were used for various purposes.
On paper I design my rattle based on the photos and other information I find on the internet. "Maa-Yoy" is the Eastern Pomo name for both cocoon and rattle. Native American Rattles represent three kingdoms. Animal. Mineral. and Plant.
...I gather my materials, they are symbolic. Cocoon rattles make a soft shusshing sound, thought to clear ones mind. I try to include the same sorts of materials used in traditional cocoon rattles..(seeds and seed beads, bits of seashell and egg shells and bones) I am fascinated to learn that traditional Pomo Indian rattles contained (among other things) grains of sand or gravel from ant hills, and seeds from the scat of certain powerful animals. Some people/cultures believed that because these seeds passed inside the animal, they possessed certain spiritual attributes or strength associated with that animal.
The base of the rattle was constructed from sticks that the porcupine chose from the hemlock. This is my favorite part of the rattle. You can still see the teeth marks where it stripped the bark.
In order to fill the cocoon, the "former resident" must first be extracted. Humm..what to do with THAT? Richard Peigler- in his article about Moth Cocoon Artifacts states: "There is some debate about whether or not native Californians ate the pupae from H. euryalus cocoons they collected, although it seems that routine entomophagy would be unlikely given the power most groups associated with the rattles made from the cocoons."
I tied the rattle with braided handspun flax and decorated the ends with porcupine quills and seed beads. thanks for keeping me inside the loop!