Indigenous artwork on the Pacific Northwest Coast often incorporates figures and animals that are related to crest symbols. Crests have been passed down through families and have varying meanings depending on the context and association with a nation, clan, or family. The figures depicted in contemporary Northwest Coast Indigenous artwork also have varying meanings but there are some common characteristics from a range of sources, including oral histories and artist descriptions.
Sun is not a common crest figure but does occur as a crest amongst the Kwakwaka’wakw. Therefore, Sun is often depicted by artists of this nation. The designs can be quite dramatic, with pronounced and elaborate rays. To the Haida, oral traditions suggest that Sun (along with Moon and all Light) was stolen by Raven and released into the sky to illuminate the world. Sun is often, though not always, portrayed as a masculine form and viewed as the counter-figure to Moon. Depicted with any number of rays surrounding a humanoid face, Sun is, at times, emblematic of life-giving, creativity, and benevolence. In some depictions, Sun will have the face of Eagle or Hawk, and may have rays shown in the shape of human hands.