A Yadan or large rattle and Imas or Ancestor Mask painted in black, green, red and white with cedar bundles on top and sides
View Interactive Version

« Back to Collection

Yadan with Imas

Rattle with Ancestral Spirit Mask

Imas: The Imas is the founding ancestor of a given ‘namima or extended family group. There are different rankings for Imas which can be claimed by different family lines within the ‘namima. At a memorial potlatch, the Imas is shown. It is believed that the spirit of the ancestral being is present to witness and validate the transfer of all the deceased's privileges to the designated inheritor. When the Imas enters into the Bighouse, the attendants would spread mountain goat pelts on the floor for the Imas to walk on. The spirit of the first ancestor, as well as that of the recently deceased are called into the Big House to approve the transfer of privileges. The dancer travels in a counter-clockwise motion around the room in a slow, dignified manner.


Imas: Mungo Martin (attributed by Peter L. Macnair 1994)

Catalogue Information


Yadan: Surrendered to Indian Agent William Halliday on March 25, 1922. Halliday later displayed and photographed the seized pieces at the Parish Hall in Alert Bay.

George Heye, a private collector and the founder of the Museum of the American Indian (now the National Museum of the American Indian), was on a buying trip. He obtained 35 of the seized artefacts. The photographs were taken before he secured them. Halliday sold this object to Heye before listing and crating the remainder of the collection for shipping to Edward Sapir at the National Museum of Man (now the Canadian Museum of History). It appears on the “List of Potlatch Material Sold to Mr. Heye,” certified correct by Halliday. It became part of the MAI collection in 1924. It was repatriated to the U’mista and Nuyumbalees cultural societies and was returned from the NMAI with a first batch of items in 1993.


Yadan: Wood, Cedar; Bark, Cedar; Paint; Rocks

Imas: Wood, Cedar; Bark, Cedar; Cloth, Cotton; Cloth, Canvas; Paint; Metal, Nails


Yadan: 33.0 cm x 18.0 cm

Imas: 35.0 cm

Accession Number

Yadan: 93.02.002

Imas: 80.01.146

Physical Description

Yadan: Large round rattle painted on both sides to represent an animal head, with a thin rope coiled around the base of the handle. Cedar bark is attached to the sides and top of the rattle. There is also a distinct separation between the two halves of the rattle so they are not completely joined.

Imas: Carved from one piece of red cedar. To the sides and top edge are nailed five bundles of shredded cedar bark (red-dyed and natural), bound with strips of cloth. On the back is nailed a piece of heavy canvas, used to cover the wearer's head. The carving is painted overall in black, red and green on a white background. There are several inclusions in the green painted surface.