Kaladlit Okalluktualliait...

RINK Hinrich ed (1863.)

£25000.00  [First Edition]


[Legends from Greenland].

First edition. 4 vols. V1: Coloured woodcut vignette on the title, 12 wood cuts and 8 lithographed plates of music. V2: Woodcut vignette on the title and 18 woodcuts (all bar 6 of these coloured, either by hand or printed) & two folding maps; V3: Woodcut vignette and 12 [of 14] lithographs (2 of these coloured and loose possibly from a slightly shorter copy); V4: Woodcut vignette 3 woodcut plates & eight woodcuts in text. Original printed boards, one volume rebacked. Housed in a blue morocco box. [8], 136, [2]; [8], 111; [6], 136, [1]; [6], 123pp. Noungme [Godthaab, Greenland, Printed at the Inspectorate Press by L. Moller], 1859 -

This series of volumes of collected Greenlandic folktales, printed on the first permanent press to operate there, and illustrated with remarkable woodcuts prepared by an Inuit artist, must rank among the rarest and most extraordinary of exotic imprints.


Although ephemeral pieces had been printed on a small hand press in Greenland as early as 1793, the first real press was brought there by the enthusiastic Danish Crown Inspector for Southern Greenland, Hinrich Rink, in 1857. He began his career as an administrator based at the Moravian mission at Godthaab, on the southwest coast of Greenland, and used the press to produce both official notices and literary works. Rink was determined to collect legends and folktales of the Greenland Inuit and publish them, an ambition achieved in these four volumes produced over a five year span. All of the letterpress was printed in a small, unheated workshop next to Rink's house, mostly executed by Lars Moller.


Rink collected oral tales from throughout Greenland, although mainly in the southern area he administered. The remarkable oral tradition of these communities, polluted by few outside influences, stretched back to the early Middle Ages. Many of the stories, especially in the first volume, describe the clashes between the Norse and the Inuit. Rink recognised that some of the tales existed in the realm of pure myth, but that others represented recollections, passed from one generation to the other, of events of many centuries earlier. In the preface to the third volume, Rink sets out his theories on the tales, laying the foundation for scholarship on the Greenland Inuit. All of the text is given in both Greenlandic and Danish.


The most amazing aspect of these books are the illustrations. In the first two volumes these were supplied by an Inuk named Aron of Kangeq, a sealer and walrus hunter who lived at the Moravian mission at the small trading station of Kangeq. Aron was stricken with tuberculosis (which was epidemic in Greenland in this era), and confined to bed. Having heard of his raw artistic talent, Rink supplied him with "paper, coloured pencils, and the necessary tools for woodcutting." Thirty of his woodcuts, about half of them hand-coloured, appear in the first two volumes. Aron illustrated the myths. As Oldendow says, "With his fertile imagination Aron drew men in violent motion... he depicts the legendary world of the Greenlanders with insight and ability... He makes us understand the vastness, loneliness, and weirdness of the majestic Greenland landscape and evokes the soul of the country as the ancient Eskimos have known it..." Indeed, Aron created pictures of remarkable power, all the more extraordinary for the circumstances of their production. In the third volume Lars Moller, the printer, supplied a series of illustrations of Greenland life created on the first lithographic press in Greenland.


This set is notable for containing two folding maps not regularly issued with the set, but published to be distributed separately. Both were prepared by S. Kleinschmidt, and are lithographic maps showing the fjords around Godthaab, with accompanying letterpress text. These maps are extremely rare in their own right.


Needless to say, Rink's volumes were produced in small editions, and the attrition of the Greenland climate could not have aided their survival. They are today of the greatest rarity. An imprint, and ethnographic document, of stellar importance.


cf. Knud Oldendow (The Spread of Printing... Greenland), Amsterdam, 1969, pp39-44..

Stock Code: 207372

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