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Grabhorn Peyote Ritual—Illustrated by Tsa Toke

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544.     TSA TOKE, Monroe. The Peyote Ritual: Visions and Descriptions of Monroe Tsa Toke. San Francisco: Grabhorn Press, [1957]. [i-vi] vii-xvii, [1-2] 3-66, [3] pp., title in red and black, 14 full-page vividly colored text illustrations of Tsa Toke’s visionary ceremonial art work. Folio (39 x 26.4 cm), original natural linen over terracotta and sand patterned boards, title on spine in terracotta. Slight browning to endpapers, usual light offsetting from color illustrations to adjacent pages, and one short tear to blank margin of one leaf (no loss), otherwise fine.

     First edition, limited edition (325 copies) of a fine press book of great beauty with special interest for students of ethnobotany and Native American religion. Grabhorn 589. Howell 52:194 (Horowitz): “A striking study of the Peyote Cult, the ‘most enduring and influential’ of the religions produced by the interaction of the Caucasian and the American Indian, as interpreted through the life and paintings of Monroe Tsa Toke, a Kiowa of exceptional talent and perception. His paintings, reproduced here in full color, are accompanied by Toke’s own explanations and comments. With a foreword by A.L. Kroeber, the distinguished anthropologist, who declared that ‘the combination of a deep belief with its fervent aesthetic expression make the record of Tsa Toke’s life work an unusual and important one.’” Magee 444. White, Peyotism and the Native American Church 370.

     Monroe Tsa Toke (1904-1937), also known as Tsa To Kee (Hunting Horse), was one of the six Native American artists known as the “Kiowa School,” who initiated the modern phase of the Native American Art Movement. In the late 1870s, Kiowa warriors incarcerated at Fort Marion in St. Augustine, Florida, developed their ledger art at the Carlisle Indian School. Kiowa ledger art combined their ancient pictographic tradition and Western art. Upon their return to the reservation, that Kiowa artistic flowering withered, but eventually blossomed again through the work of the Tsa Toke and the “Kiowa School.” The group was trained at the School of Art at the University of Oklahoma. Ironically, Kiowa art did not receive recognition and acclaim until published in Europe (see our Auction 21, Item 238).

     Like its ledger art predecessors, the art work in this volume represents a balancing act by a Native American. Leslie Van Ness Denman states in the introduction: “Peyote gave them faith in a new power and a new road that they might follow from the path that was still in their hearts and minds to a feared and little understood future. The meeting of compelling forces, conscious and unconscious, of racial memories, the loss of tribal security and religious beliefs, added to the drive of the creative urge to make live in form and color the spirit of the Indian.” Monroe Tsa Toke’s paintings in this work are generally considered the best illustrations of the peyote ritual and visions.


Sold. Hammer: $300.00; Price Realized: $360.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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