Tab 14 - Mato-Tope, Adorned with the Insignia of his Warlike Deeds

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 Hurlimann
Printed by Bougeard

In this portrait of Mandan chief Mato-Tope, or "Four Bears," Bodmer showed him as he might appear in readiness for combat, stripped of the finer regalia of his office, with the symbols of his past accomplishments in battle exposed on his body. In addition to several coup feathers, he wears in his hair six colored wooden sticks, signifying wounds received in battle, and a wooden replica of a knife he once took from a Cheyenne chief during hand-to-hand combat.

The large turkey feather represents an injury Mato-Tope received from an arrow. The cluster of owl feathers at the back of his head identifies him as having been a member of the prestigious Dog Society. The stripes on his right arm commemorate additional feats of war. The large hand painted on his chest indicates that he had captured prisoners.

Like the original of the full-figure portrait of Mato-Tope represented in Tableau 13, the watercolor at Joslyn which furnished the basis for this print also is a studio version of an earlier life study.

Facsimiles of the wooden hair emblems, which Mato-Tope made expressly for Prince Maximilian, are preserved today in the Maximilian collection at the Linden-Museum in Stuttgart, West Germany.

See Tableau 48 of this series for depictions of other artefacts associated with Mato-Tope which Maximilian collected during his stay at Fort Clark over the winter of 1833-4.

Other Mandan portraits are featured in Vignette XXIV.

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

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Original Print

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