Wood, horn and bone main content.

Wood, horn and bone

Part of Northwest Coast Hall.


The careful decoration of both everyday and ceremonial objects was characteristic of all the Northwest Coast tribes. Most of the designs portrayed supernatural beings in animal form, often enacting an episode from a myth. The principal features of the distinctive Northwest Coast art were four:
1. the whole animal was usually carved or painted;
2. the designs were often symmetrical and highly conventionalized, with emphasis on certain identifying details such a the beaver’s tail or the killer-whale’s dorsal fin;
3. on flat surfaces the animal was usually shown as if it had been spit lengthwise and the halves spread out;
4. there was a strong tendency to fill all vacant space by interlocking the figures of the design. Displayed here are ceremonial objects, spoons, dishes and a variety of other implements.