The ovoid is one of the basic shapes of traditional Northwest Coast art. Concave on the base and convex on the top, the corners are rounded. It is made from a single form line which swells along the top of the ovoid. 

The ovoids to the left are painted on the ends of chests and boxes. Note they are normally slanted slightly. Ovoid forms can be elongated or compressed to fit a space, to emphasize a type of line flow or for other aesthetic reasons. They do not all follow these proportions, some are almost as high as they are wide, while others are much wider than they are high. Some early artists can be identified by their consistent ovoid proportions.







Some artists used templates to duplicate shapes from one side of a design to the other. These templates of various sizes are made from bark and stored in the small twined basketry bag (as seen to the right).

The ovoids on this ivory carving are very rounded.

Very angular ovoids are woven into chilkat blankets.

This paint bag is made from deer skin. The rounded form lines and ovoids express the form of the whale beautifully. Can you see the design that was painted over?

Compare the ovoid forms on the four boxes above. One is very rounded, the others more elongated and angular. Note the different eye forms. The rounded ovoids have a 'salmon trouts head' form, while the elongated eye ovoids have a 'double eye' form. What is the overall effect of each shape as it modifies the composition?

This beautiful chest has a variety of ovoid forms. Compare the four sides, as pictured below. Compare the front and back to the sides. At first glance, the designs look the same - but there are differences. The first two designs are the more complex front and back. Look for the differences in the center near the bottom. The U forms on the bottom two end designs are quite different.