Northwest Coast Art

Northwest Coast Art

The Haida people, along with their Tsimshian neighbours, have a distinct art style that is widely recognized. Northwest Coast artists make use of primary and secondary formlines as well as ovoids. Primary formlines outline each part of a figure while secondary formlines can be found within the primary parts. Ovoids are rounded oval or rectangular shapes representing an animal’s joints, eyes, teeth, and orifices such as the nostrils and ears.  The Haida people believe that bodily joints and orifices are the sites of exit for souls after passing and often place small faces within the ovoids to represent this belief. 

A common Haida design is that of Chief of the Undersea World, better known as Konankada to the Haida people. Konankada, a mythical being characterized by its oversized head and hands, represents wealth and is the master of the seals. The Chief of the Undersea World design can be found on many Haida storage chests and food vessels. The Haida people believe that those visited the Chief of the Undersea World were given fortune and power.

There is many different Haida designs incorporated with today’s fashion and products. Each design represents its own spirit and has a story behind it.

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