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Karl Bodmer's Illustrations to Prince
Maximillian of Wied-Neuwied's Travels in
the Interior of North America 1832-34
Published in Association with the
Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska

Bodmer's America

Catalogue of Prints

Pehriska-Ruhpa, in the Costume of the Dog Dance [Item Image]

Engraved by Rene Rollet
Printed by Bougeard
(unavailable - please enquire)
Tableau 23. Pehriska-Ruhpa in the Costume of the Dog Dance

As principal leader of the Hidatsa Dog Society, Pehriska-Ruhpa posed for Bodmer in full society regalia for the second of two portraits of him featured in the atlas. Bodmer depicted him wearing the distinctive society headdress of magpie and wild turkey feathers and a long cloth mantle or trailer over his shoulders, Maximilian described this last article in his journal as being colored red on the left side and blue on the right, illustrating it more precisely in a colored drawing of the figure, as seen from the back, which is preserved today in the Maximilian-Bodmer collection at Joslyn. Bodmer, however, represented this mantle as red, only, seen from the front, Maximilian stated that Bodmer's portrait presents the costume of both the Mandan and Hidatsa societies, although he admits that there were minor differences in insignia between the tribes, and sometimes between villages.

Pehriska-Ruhpa, or "Two Ravens," wears a war whistle around his neck and carries a rattle in one hand made of small deer hooves or dewclaws attached to a beaded stick, also a society emblem. The dance he performed for Bodmer usually was accompanied by the sound of drums and rattles.

Hidatsa societies in the nineteenth century included the Stone-hammers, Crow, Lumpwoods, Kit-foxes, Little-dogs, Dogs, Half-shaved Heads, Enemies or Black-mouths, Buffalo Bulls, and Ravens or Crow-Ravens. Among Hidatsa women were the Buffalo-Cow-women, Goose, and River-women.

Bodmer's original watercolor portrait of this subject at Joslyn describes a half-figure. An early engraving of this version is known, carrying the title only in German and French, with the plate number in Roman numerals. The face in this print is different from that of the watercolor, Bodmer may have judged the plate as unsuccessful, and decided to re-engrave the subject in full-figure, allowing for more semblance of bodily movement suggestive of the dance.

Some confusion in the numbering of this plate exists, known examples being designated as Tableau 28, which is the number for the view of Fort Union in most versions of the atlas.

Tableau 17 reproduces another portrait of Pehriska-Ruhpa. Other Hidatsa subjects are pictured in Vignette XXVI and Tableaux 24, 26, and 27. Of related interest, see also Vignettes XXV, XXVIII, and Tableau 18.

Text by David Hunt, Director, Stark Museum, Orange, Texas, USA

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