CATLIN, George (1796-1872)
O-Kee-Pa: a religious ceremony; and other customs of the Mandans
Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1867. Octavo. (10 x 6 3/4 inches). Half-title. 13 coloured lithographic plates by Simonau & Toovey, all after Catlin. Minor foxing.
Publisher's green cloth, upper cover blocked in gilt, expertly rebacked with green cloth
First American edition of one of the rarest works by the noted painter of American Indians: this is Catlin's last major publication.
Catlin's account of O-Kee-Pa, or Buffalo Dance, a controversial Mandan religious ceremony, is of particular importance as he witnessed the sexually-charged and barbaric dance first hand shortly before the upper Missouri tribe was decimated by a small pox epidemic in 1837. Catlin here gives a full account of the ceremony, illustrating the rituals and self-tortures of the Buffalo dance in thirteen beautifully executed colour lithographs. An unauthorized account of the ceremony was privately circulated by the Philobiblon Society in 1865, prompting several, including Henry Schoolcraft, to question Catlin's descriptions. Thus, Catlin published the present work, and included within a letter by Prince Maximilian Wied zu Wied, who visited the Mandan with Karl Bodmer, though did not witness the ceremony first hand.
The explicit details of the sexual elements of the ceremony were considered too shocking for the general public and were included in a very rare separately-issued three-page "Folium Reservatum," purportedly issued in an edition of approximately 25 copies (not present here, as usual).
Bennett p.22; Field 262; Howes C244,"b"; McCracken Catlin pp.101-108; Pilling 693.