Body Language is the first exhibition to fully explore the rich history and artistry of Indigenous tattooing, piercing and personal adornment on the Northwest Coast.
Since ancient times, both men and women on the coast marked their clan crests and symbols of personal identity onto their skin. Tattoos were a celebration and recognition of special life events, potlatches and social rank. Lip, nose and ear piercing was also linked to rank and status.
After 1885, when the practices of tattooing and potlatches were banned, the display of personal crest designs was transferred to clothing and jewelry.