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Miwok Material Culture: Indian Life of the Yosemite Region (1933) by S. A. Barrett and E. W. Gifford


MUSIC

Music was called kowana (C), a word apparently connected with kowa, musical bow. There were melodies used in every-day life, such as lullabies and love songs. Those connected with medicine and ceremonial practices were of wider range. They comprised songs for good luck in hunting, gambling, and war, also songs used in ceremonial and religious dances.

The musical instruments of the Miwok were few and simple. The foot drum used in the assembly house has been described. Double and single bone whistles (mi'kūya'ke, P; kūya'ke, N) were used in dances (plate LVII, figs. 1-8). An elder whistle was used by Central Miwok shamans in curing the sick, and by dancers among the Southern Miwok (Field Museum 70203).

With the dance whistles were used the split-stick, clapper rattle (taka'tta, P, N) and to a less extent the cocoon rattle (sokō'ssa, C), Handbook, figure 37f. The latter was also used by shamans. It was made of the large gray cocoons of a butterfly. Into the dried cocoons small bits of white stone were introduced. Feathers were often added for ornament. A Northern Miwok example from West Point, Calaveras county, in the Peabody Museum at Harvard University, consisted of three cocoons on a one-foot handle. This was used in the kalea dance. Another cocoon rattle called wasilni (C), differed in being much larger and attached to a four-foot stick. A single cocoon with pebbles, attached to a stick, was called muliya (C). The cocoon rattle shown in Kroeber, 1925, figure 37f has two sticks for the foundation. These are lashed together at the top. Included in the lashing are six large quills upon each of which one of the six cocoons is impaled. Each cocoon contains small seeds which make the rattling or rushing sound when the rattle is shaken. The feathers, perhaps those of the body plumage of a large hawk, are tied in groups of two, three, or four to a string and then the string is wound around the stem of the rattle. The feathers are tied by folding over and lashing the bases of the quills. The string also runs through the loop thus formed by the quills. There appear to be four windings. The string employed is the ordinary commercial cotton string. The diameter of the feather bunch is nine inches. Each feather has the base of its quill cut off. The whole rattle has the appearance of having been smoked. Its double handle of slightly pointed sticks may have been used for insertion in the hair as well as carrying in the hand. Rattles were also made from dew claws of deer.

An elder wood clapper rattle in the Field Museum (70199), from the Southern Miwok of Chowchilla river, Mariposa county, is 535 millimeters long, ten millimeters in diameter, and painted red. Like all elder clappers it has had the pith removed from the split portion. The bisecting of the stick extends from the distal end to within about three inches of the proximal end. These three inches form the handle by which the clapper is held and manipulated. Two other Field Museum examples (70200, 2-3) are from the Central Miwok of Groveland. The first is 855 millimeters long and two centimeters in diameter. The second is 760 millimeters long and about 25 millimeters in diameter.

The flute (lula, C), Kroeber, 1925, plate 43c, was played for courtship and pastime. It had a range of several tones. Informants mentioned six-hole and eight-hole instruments of elder wood. A specimen (70195) in the Field Museum has six holes on one side and one on the opposite side. It is from Groveland in Central Miwok territory. Another (70196) is 672 millimeters long.

The musical bow (kowa, C) was of elder, with a deer-sinew string, twisted on the bare thigh. The Field Museum of Natural History has a Central Miwok example (70206), 1280 mm. in length, from Groveland. In one method of playing the bow was held in the middle between the teeth and the string played with the fingers. In the other method one end of the bow was held in the mouth. The musical bow was usually played by men and for pleasure only. It was not used ceremonially.

The bull-roarer is represented in the collection of the Field Museum of Natural History by two specimens (70201, 70202) from Yosemite valley, collected by Hudson, and reputed to be Southern Miwok. Both are made of pine.



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