Tab 17 - Pehriska-Ruhpa, a Minataree or big-bellied Indian

Karl Bodmer

Bodmer’s America


Pulled from the original steel and copper plates, engraved in Paris between 1836 and 1843 under Karl Bodmer's direction, after the artist's own watercolours drawn from nature during the journey.

The engravings are hand-printed in colours, à la poupée, with extensive hand-colouring and some application of gum arabic, in the nineteenth-century manner.

Engraved by Legrand and/or Riffaut and Hurlimann
Printed by Bougeard

Both of the watercolor portraits of Pehriska-Ruhpa, or "Two Ravens," in the Joslyn collection were reproduced in the European atlas. In Tableau 23 he is shown wearing the dance regalia of the Minitari or Hidatsa Dog Society.

Pehriska-Ruhpa held a position of importance in his tribe as a soldier or warrior and possibly also a chief. According to Prince Maximilian, he spent considerable effort on his appearance and carefully dressed himself each time he posed for Bodmer. Some of his finery may have been obtained through trade with or as gifts from the Crow, to whom the Hidatsa claimed kinship ties.

In this portrait, Pehriska-Ruhpa's shirt is decorated with broad bands of quillwork and fringed with ermine fur, locks of human hair, and dyed horsehair. His quilled leggings feature long flaps at the bottom which sometimes were tied around the ankles, and at other times were allowed to trail loosely at the heels. He also wears a distinctive necklace of grizzly bear claws attached to a roll of otter skin decorated with small trade beads.

George Catlin also painted a portrait of Pehriska Ruhpa and another of his wife, both of which were included in the artist's North American Indian Gallery, now at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D. C.

Initially credited to Paul Legrand, this plate was later reattributed to Riffaut and Hurlimann. On some prints, Legrand's name, at lower right, and the Bodmer reference in French, at lower left, are faintly visible above the other credits. Legrand prints usually feature Roman numerals at upper left, suggesting an early issue. Within the lower right foreground of the image, the name "Ch. Bodmer" often appears in prints attributed to Legrand.

In a photo-facsimile of the atlas issued by Reuben Gold Thwaites in 1906, Pehriska-Ruhpa was incorrectly identified as a Mandan.

Other Minitari or Hidatsa subjects are represented in this series by Vignette XXVI.

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

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Original Print

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