Raven, Gwa We Na

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'waka 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

Raven is the transformer, a trickster cultural hero who created the world. He is full of magical and supernatural power. Raven is distinguished by a long straight beak having blunt or short turned down tip; usually a tongue and clawed feet.

Physical description

Black outlined frontal view of a raven with white negative spaces creating a dramatic effect. Semi-rounded figure has two large white ovoids with black angular eyebrows and outlined eyes, a long pointed beak, and wings on each side with white u forms. Under the beak, there are two clawed feet below which, there is a black tail in a u shape containing two white forms. Black inscription below image. The print is on vertically rectangular, off-white paper.