Haida Tattoo Gallery

A selection of tattoo sketches (some are different versions of the same tattoo), and photographs of Haida people showing their tattoos.

Fish eagle (Koot) drawing by Geneskelos, painter and tattooer.
Wasgo, a mythological wolf being. Copied from the tattoo mark on the back of Chief Gitkun (Kitkun). Sketched by J.G. Swan, 1873.
A Beaver, with the characteristic hachure on its broad tail, and large incisors. Drawn by John Cross, a former tattooer, for J.R. Swanton, 1905.
Sun, drawn by John Wiah for J.R. Swanton, 1905.
Dogfish, with large triangular forehead indicating the long snout of the fish. Its dorsal fins are represented on both outer sides, while the pectoral fins are shown under the mouth, which is set with sharp teeth. Drawn by John Cross for J.R. Swanton, 1905.
The woman who was pulled up to the moon for insulting it, with her water pail and salal-bushes. Drawn by John Wiah for J.R. Swanton, 1905.
Eagle, the principal crest of the Eagle clan. Drawn by John Cross for J.R. Swanton, 1905.
Dogfish. The woman indicates that the dogfish has human form and is female. Drawn by Charles Edenshaw for F. Boas. J.R. Swanton, 1905.
Sea-lion with dorsal fin. Drawn by Charles Edenshaw for J.R. Swanton, 1905.
Raven after he had been thrown into the sea by Master Fisherman. Drawn by John Wiah. J.R. Swanton, 1905.
Killer Whale with raven-beak at the end of its dorsal fin, or Raven-Fin. Drawn by John Cross for J.R. Swanton, 1905.
Emily Carr's rendition of Swanton sketch, 1914-1917. BCA.
Wasgo. Emily Carr's rendition of Swan's sketch, 1914-1917. BCA.
Emily Carr's rendition of Swan sketch, 1914-1917. BCA.
Chief Gitkun. The tattoo mark on the breast represents Kahatla, the cod-fish, and that on his arms Cheena, the salmon. A.P. Niblack.
Johnnie Kit-Elswa sitting bare-chested to show off his chest tattoo of a frog crest and arm tattoos. A.P. Niblack, 1886.
Sketches of Chief Gitkun's tattoos around figure that represents Johnnie Kit-Elswa with frog tattoo on chest. A.P. Niblack, 1886.
Portrait of Tom Price with chest tattoo retouched to show possible design.
Chief Xana in Masset, 1881. Photograph by E. Dossetter.
Portrait of Chief Xana showing his chest and arm tattoos from W.H. Collison's "In the Wake of the War Canoe". Photographer uncredited.
Sea-monster, Ts'um'a'ks, described as having a raven's body with a whale's body attached to its head, and a fin attached to the raven's back. Shown in profile with one leg, the dorsal fin and the tails of raven and whale, twisted around so as to be seen from the side. In other cases it is described as having a bear's head with the mouth of a shark. Drawn by John Wiah for F. Boas.
Sketch of a dogfish tattoo from the back of a Haida woman. F. Boas, "Primitive Art".
J.G. Swan sketch of people from Haida Gwaii showing off their tattoos. 1879.
Stylized version of J.G Swan's 1886 sketches of people from Haida Gwaii. The man's tattoos are based on Chief Gitkun's.
Stylized version of J.G Swan's sketches of people from Haida Gwaii. The man's tattoos are based on Chief Gitkun's.
Sculpin, enlarged from the right leg of the woman. J.G Swan, 1886.
The frog enlarged from the left leg of the woman. J.G. Swan, 1886.
Codfish from the breast of Chief Gitkun. J.G. Swan, 1886.
Squid or octopus, enlarged from man's thigh. J.G. Swan, 1886.
Wasgo, a mythological wolf being. Copied from the tattoo mark on the back of Chief Gitkun (Kitkun). Sketched by J.G. Swan, 1873.
Mountain-goat, characterized by the two horns rising over its forehead. J.R. Swanton, 1905.
The moon, shown as the crescent under the animal figure. J.R. Swanton, 1905.
A face surrounded by a red and a blue line, represents the rainbow. J.R. Swanton, 1905.
J.R. Swanton, 1905.
Frog. J.R. Swanton, 1905.
Starfish. J.R. Swanton, 1905.
A skate, drawn by Charles Edenshaw for F. Boas. J.R. Swanton, 1905.
Thunder-bird. J.R. Swanton, 1905.
Represents first tree on Haida Gwaii, tattooed by John Cross on woman's arm. J.R. Swanton, 1905.
Killer Whale. J.R. Swanton, 1905.
A representation of a rainbow made in 1888 for F. Boas by John Wiah. J.R. Swanton, 1905.
Wasgo, a whale monster with wolf's head and wolf's tail, represented as split in two. J.R. Swanton, 1905.
Raven, split in two. J.R. Swanton, 1905.
The sculpin, seen from above and split along the chest and belly. J.R. Swanton, 1905.
The black whale. J.R. Swanton, 1905.
Five-finned Killer Whale. J.R. Swanton, 1905.
Halibut (x̱aaguu), from tattoo on the back of Haida woman's hand at Port Townsend. June 1873.
The grizzly bear. J.R. Swanton, 1905.

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Resources:

Swan, James G. 1874. "The Haidah Indians of Queen Charlotte’s Islands, British Columbia: With a Brief Description of Their Carvings, Tattoo Designs, Etc." Pp. 1-15 in Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge. Washington.
    

    – 1886. "Tattoo Marks of the Haida Indians of Queen Charlotte Islands, B.C., and the Prince of Wales Archipelago, Alaska." Pp. 66-73 in Fourth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology for the Years 1882-1883. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Swanton, John R. 1905. "Contributions to the Ethnology of the Haida." Pp. 1-300 in Publications of the Jesup North Pacific Expedition 5. Memoirs of the American Museum of Natural History 8 (1). New York.