Sea Monster, Ya-Gish

About this object

History of use

Northwest Coast print making is a relatively new art form, which began in the late 1940's, but did not develop until the late 1960's. The establishment of the Northwest Coast Indian Artists Guild, in 1977, aided the implementation of standards in limited addition runs and various aspects of quality control. Silk-screen prints have been used to portray traditional and contemporary themes, as well as, to make personal statements. Kwakwaka'wakw artists have, in general, preferred to work with traditional crest designs and mythical themes. More colours are used by Kwakwaka'wakw artists than are used by northern Northwest Coast artists, and the images are composed of many small elements combining into relatively realistic forms.


Nb3.1335 to Nb3.1343 were given to Audrey Hawthorn in 1973. This collection of Henry Speck prints is from an unnumbered collection probably printed in the 1960's.

Cultural context

contemporary art

Iconographic meaning

Sea monsters take different forms and have different names, frequently they are whale-wolf combinations and thus have coiled tails, clawed feet, flippers and dorsal fins.

Physical description

Configurative design of a sea monster in Kwakwaka'wakw style. The figure is crouching on one knee and the other knee is at a right angle. The arms are out-stretched. The head is a large black outlined ovoid with blue-green eye sockets, teeth, a large red nostril and tongue with red, yellow, and black dash lines all over body. The arms are made of three ovoids of different sizes and are clawed as are the feet. It has fins on its back in u forms and multi-coloured ovoids. A creature is on its back with an open red mouth and ovoid eyes on the feet, knees, and shoulders. Black inscription below image. The print is on vertically rectangular, off-white paper.