The Present State of Peru/6
INDIAN AND OTHER INHABITANTS OF PERU.
ESSAY ON THE FALSE RELIGION, AND SUPERSTITIOUS CUSTOMS, OF THE PERUVIAN INDIANS.
To be acquainted with the Supreme Being, man does not need the instruction of a master, but has within himself a light emanating from the divinity, which fails not to point out to him his maker. On this account, nations have at all times agreed, that there is a deity, the artificer of the world, by whom it is governed and preserved. Nature herself affords the strongest evidences of his existence and power. The celestial vault, adorned with luminous stars which usurp the empire of night; the sun, the sovereign ruler of years and days; the plains covered with flowers and golden harvests; the quadrupeds which tread the earth; the birds which skim the diaphanous region of the air; and the fishes which inhabit the liquid element of the waters; magnify the glory of the Eternal, displaying the magnificence and skill of his hand. Man alone, departing from the paths of light, follows the obscurity of his aberrations, substituting impiety for religion, and ascribing to the creatures the worship which is required by his Lord.
The insolent Ham, loaded with the maledictions of his father, and not having been instructed by him in the worship which he owed to his Creator, drew down ignorance on his posterity, and established idolatry. Thence originated the chimerical traditions which led man by degrees to the greatest absurdities. In this deplorable state every thing is God: even that which is most vile receives the adorations that are solely due to him. Some offer up their incenses to the crocodile; others, possessed by a religious terror, prostrate themselves before the voracious ibis, which feeds on serpents; others erect golden statues to the ape; and others, again, worship the dog, and the fishes of the seas and rivers, dreading least they should prophane the leek and the onion which grow in their gardens, if, peradventure, they should be made to constitute a part of their food.
The infatuations of the inhabitants of Peru were similar to these extravagancies, when Manco-Capac, the founder of the Peruvian empire, replete with cunning and ambition, supposed himself the offspring and envoy of the sun, sent to establish his worship, and to govern all nations in his name. The brilliancy of this luminary, the stupidity which prevailed among the Peruvians, and the fabulous relations contrived by that adventurer, laid the foundation of a new religion, and of the monarchy of the Yncas. As the latter gloried in deriving their origin from the above planet, they were very anxious to give proofs of the zeal with which they fulfilled the wishes of their progenitor, and of the profound veneration in which they held him. They ere6ted to him, in the capital of their empire, a sumptuous temple, on which they bestowed a profusion of gold and silver, adorning it with magnificent statues of animals of every description. The sun did not shine on his altar solely beneath the figure by which he is usually represented, but likewise in the idols; Apuinii, the sun, the father and lord; Churi Inti, the son of the sun; Imic Vatiqui, the brother of the sun; and Tarigatanga; all of which received the highest homage and adoration.
Virgins, to whom they gave the name of Acllacunas, were dedicated to his service, and lived perpetually in the cloisters of his temple, to watch over his altars;—a prerogative which rendered them highly venerable, insomuch that an affront offered to them was deemed a sacrilege. The Ynca, and the Cucipatas, or priests of the sun, alone were allowed to approach the altars of this divinity, but not without giving tokens of the greatest respect, by their genufle6tions and silence. It was thus that they presented themselves during the raymi, one of their most solemn festivals, celebrated with dances and songs in the month of December.
The monarchs of this empire, zealous in the worship of their father, followed, in their conquests, maxims very different from those of ancient Rome. That republic, when at the summit of its power, had no sooner received its triumphant generals, crowned with martial laurels, than it placed in the Capitol the gods of the vanquished countries, to the end that they might partake of the victims it offered up to its deities. But the former, at the same time that they extended their dominions, augmented the number of the adorers of the sun: and if they deposited in their temple the idols of the subjugated provinces, it was not to bestow on them the adoration of which they had deprived them, but to keep them as hostages, or pledges of the fidelity of their new vassals.
Whatever might have been the interest which the Yncas had, in promoting a worship so useful and profitable to themselves, since their diadem was secured to them by the sacred bonds of religion; and whatever the scrupulous care with which they endeavoured to maintain that worship; one of them, observing the planet of day to revolve perpetually, was constrained to acknowledge, that this continued agitation was peculiar to a creature, and clearly indicated that the planet itself was dependent on a Supreme Cause by which it was entirely governed. Inspired by these sublime ideas, which were manifested to his unshackled reason, he confessed the omnipotence of that Cause, bestowing on it the attribute of Pachacamac.
Amid the thick gloom of paganism, that celestial light which illumines mortals at their birth, could not shine with greater lustre. But as, notwithstanding a Socrates may from time to time appear, among the nations prone to error, and enslaved by their caprices, they shut their ears against the truth, and cover their eyes that they may not see its fascinating splendour; so the superstitious worship which the Peruvians paid to a creature, did not suffer any abatement.
If, however, we pay attention to the beauty and beneficial influence of that planet, we may find certain reasons which render this error in some measure excusable; since, in diffusing its light over the earth, it gladdens the spirits; invigorates and vivifies bodies; produces flowers grateful to the eye and smell; covers the meadows with salutary herbs; ripens the swelling blades of Ceres; and matures the fruits of Pomona. But the gratification which arises from these reflexions, is denied to those who place their hope in inanimate images; who regard as deities the artificial works of man; who worship statues of gold and silver; and who adore the effigies of animals, and the useless stone wrought by an unskilful hand.
Such were the objects of the veneration of the bulk of the people. Not content with adoring the god of their conquerors, they undertook to find a deity in every situation, under every necessity, and for every ministry. From each direction they bent their steps to the huacas, or pagan temples, where they sacrificed to their idols, making libations of chicha offering up cuyes and coca and exhaling in vapours, or consuming in the fire, the aromatics they presented to them. Conceiving that their life, health, and prosperity, as well as the fertility of their grounds, depended on these idols, they recommended to them, in their prayers, themselves, and all that they possessed.
Not satisfied, however, with such protecctors, they contrived lares, or household gods, who had the particular charge of their families. These were considered as the proprietors of the habitations; and their ministry was implied by the names of conopas, or guasicamayoc, which were bestowed on them. Their plantations, which they regarded as a considerable part of their property, were not destitute of a divinity who was to provide for their fertility, and for the abundance of the crops. The compas were charged to contribute all the water requisite to the irrigation of their cultivated lands. It was the province of the mamateras to multiply the maize, and to prepare copious stores of grains. On the huaticas, as the peculiar lords of such a portion of territory, it was incumbent to alleviate the labours of the cultivators.
Soliciting on every occasion the aid of the Divinity, they sought to divide that which is indivisible, and to communicate His essence to vile creatures deprived of every sensation, and incapable of themselves to produce the smallest effects. This error prepared them for still greater ones, and led them to disturb the manes of their forefathers. The sanctuary of the sepulchre was profaned through a principle of religion; and the malquis, elevated to the rank of gods, received in the plains the sacrifices of the living.
All their errors having been covered by the veil of piety, they were insensible to this strange alienation of the mind, and were persuaded of the assistance of a particular deity, in the rocks, in the elevated grounds, in the vallies, in the streams, springs, and rivers, and in all the places inhabited by men or wild beasts; insomuch, that they did not proceed a step without invoking the names of the divinities their imagination had created, and tendering to them an offering. By these ridiculous and degrading superstitions they were fascinated; and as religion has a powerful influence on the customs, their spirit, occupied by ideas of so chimerical a nature, unnecessarily invented rites, and multiplied presages. When, for the first time, they cut off the hair of their male offspring, they were at infinite pains to celebrate the act. Imagining it to be the dawn of their felicity, they assembled their relatives and friends, and solemnized the festival with every demonstration of joy, presenting to the shorn youths, gold, silver, and other gifts. The same practice was followed by the mothers, when their daughters attained the age of puberty. With an eager desire for their welfare, they strove, by certain charms and incantations, to provide for their future felicity.
The sick hastened to bathe in the pools and rivers, practising an infinite number of extravagant ceremonies, and discharging their saliva on the ychu. They were persuaded that by these acts their pains would be mitigated or dispelled.
If there was an eclipse either of the sun or moon, they fancied that these luminaries, being pursued by powerful enemies, were fatigued, and were in need of succour. On these occasions, they began to weep, and to utter the most lamentable shouts and cries, imagining, with all simplicity, that their echoes would reach the sphere, and would disconcert the enemy, so as to oblige him to desist from his enterprize.
They considered the sparks which fire is wont to emit, as evident tokens of its wrath; to appease which, and to shun the mischiefs its severity might otherwise occasion to them, they offered up to it maize and chicha. The cooing of the turtle-dove, and the plaintive notes of other birds, were to them the most sinister prognostics. Either their own death was near at hand, or that of their neighbours, or that of those at whose abode these ominous birds appeared. Anxious to shift from themselves the calamity by which they were threatened, they made offerings to them, beseeching them to leave them free, and to discharge all their fury on their enemies.
Stimulated by a vain curiosity, and desirous to penetrate into the future, they had recourse to impostures, and to magic charms. The Camascas and Achicamayos were their oracles. These individuals pretended to obtain a knowledge of that which was most hidden and obscure, by laying the juice of the coca plant, blended with saliva, on the palm of the hand, and allowing it to glide by the thumb and fore- finger. All their skill consisted in observing the manner in which this liquor flowed; and the issue was decided by the form it assumed. They regarded themselves as the sovereign disposers of the awards of Nature, and presumed that they were able to distribute good and evil, pains and disasters, health and fortune.
To such absurd extravagancies the idea of the Divinity, when disfigured and corrupted, is sure to lead. Man, proud of his own intelligence, seeks the truth, but finds it not. He pursues the idle flights of his fancy, embraces shadows, and is the slave of his caprices. God alone comprehends His works, and derides the vain efforts of men. From the eminence on which His august throne is established, he contemplates their idle imaginations; and knows both the false ideas which mortals form of their Creator, and the futile opinions they erect into dogmas by which they are involved in endless disputes. He alone can kindle that celestial light, in a manner extinguished, by the aid of which man presumes that he can acquire the genuine and true notion of the Supreme Being. He alone can display Himself, and bestow on His creatures the intelligence they need, immersed as they are in darkness and error.
To accomplish this aim. His immense wisdom prepared the fittest means. It discovered to Europe this valuable part of the globe, and transferred its dominion, by the right of conquest, to Spain. Instantly the sonorous voice of her apostolic ministers was heard on every side, and the law of Christianity was promulgated. The clash of arms counteracted the first
Virgin of the Sun.
Pub. Feb. 12. 1805. by Richard Phillips. 6. New Bridge Street.
impressions: the Peruvian even doubted of the soundness of a law which was occasionally profaned by those who gloried in professing it, and who fancied themselves inspired by it in all their enterprizes. The Peruvian gave to the God of clemency the worship to which he was bound by his chains, but preserved at the same time an affection for his ancient idols. He concealed them beneath the most sacred representations of the Catholic religion, to direct his prayers to them, while the Spaniard thought that the efficacy of these prayers would ensure him a ready access to heaven. Happily those times of calamity and bloodshed ceased; and, peace being restored to this highly-favoured soil, the respectable prelates, the fathers of the Peruvian church, were seen to dire6l their stepson every side, not like the thunderbolt which carries terror in its train, but like the lovely light of the morning, dissipating the dark shades of ignorance, instilling confidence into every breast, and presenting the august spirit of religion beneath the semblance of the charity which constitutes its essence.
Plate XIV. introduces to the notice of the reader a virgin, or priestess, of the sun. However the modern Indians of Peru may have been obliged, by their conquerors, to abandon the rites of the idolatrous worship of their ancestors, they have not failed to perpetuate, by succeeding generations, the remembrance of their ancient forms and ceremonies. The costume of the pleasing subject of this engraving, taken from the representation, on canvas, of a modern Indian festival, may be deemed correct, if an analogical reasoning can be founded on the care the Indians have taken, in various other particulars, to hand down the customs and usages of their nation.
ACCOUNT OF THE COSTUMES, SUPERSTITIONS, AND EXERCISES, OF THE INDIANS OF THE PAMPA DEL SACRAMENTO, AND ANDES MOUNTAINS OF PERU.
Of the three classes of men who exist in the universe, destined to invent fables, and to obtrude them, on the credulity of their fellow-creatures, it is uncertain which has been, the boldest and most fertile in inventing them, or the most successful in inducing their belief. They have all of them inundated the earth with visions, and have alike gained over proselytes. These are, the poets, the philosophers, and the travellers. The first insinuate falsehood even into the heavens, and cause it to be adored by stupid mortals: the second dispose tyrannically of Nature and her magnificent works, and draw into their lures the republic of the learned: the third feign marvels at their will, and impress with a belief of them, both the monarch and the minister of state.
With the conquest of the Americas, such a swarm of the latter description was raised in the western continent, that if all the empires and opulent titles of which they dreamed had been real, the planet of the earth would not have contained them, and it would have been necessary to place a part of them in that of the moon. In those times, Manoa was the first and most celebrated city. It was conjectured to be the capital of the empire of Dorado, so called, because gold not only glittered in the temples, palaces, and gardens, as in Peru, but likewise, 'according to report, in every part of its vast territory, insomuch, that the banks and profound depth of the lakes, nay, the groves even, were covered with that precious metal. One of its discoverers, who was enabled, by the dispersion of the advanced bodies of troops stationed to defend the frontiers, to reach a point whence he descried the above-mentioned capital, reported that its walls were crowned with statues and turrets of the finest gold, which was infinitely more flattering to the view, than were the gardens with which Semiramis adorned the walls of Babylon, and even than the Elysium of the poets. So grateful a piece of intelligence, to which the spoils of Atahualpa and Montezuma attached some degree of credit, made a rapid progress from America to the north of Europe. While the Pizarros, in Peru, Ordaz, in Quito, and Quezada, in the new kingdom, made preparations for its conquest; and while the court of Madrid glowed with pretensions founded on a priority of claim, and fitted ships in the ports of Spain, the a6live English, and other powers, opened their coffers, and redoubled their efforts, with a view to be the foremost to seize on the prize. But this prize, like the enchanted palaces of fairy tales, fled from province to province, mocking those by whom it was pursued. The imagination, and the eyes, view objects in a different manner. To the latter they diminish with the distance, and augment in proportion as they are approached: but to the former, on the other hand, they enlarge in the ratio of the space by which they are separated, and decrease in the same manner by the proximity, until they entirely disappear. Thus it happened to Raleigh, and to all those who engaged in the conquest of Dorado.
Far happier would have been the lot of Don Francisco Bohorquez, had his reveries been realized. In the year 1635 he discovered Enim, reached its confines, and ordered his arrival to be announced to the monarch. His lofty stature, his valour, his fine personal qualities, and his discretion, procured him an access to the capital. Its plan, its superb pillars, the order and disposition of its palaces and squares, and the refined policy of its inhabitants, would have terrified any other than Bohorquez. He was, notwithstanding, overpowered by surprize at the sight of the imperial alcazar, or castle. It was built on a multitude of columns of porphyry and alabaster, and had its flooring skirted by a spacious gallery, at the extremities of which the cedar and the ebon were sculptured in a thousand forms. The majesty of the portico could not be described, unless by saying that Nature and Art had challenged each other at that spot, to vie in the production of its beauties. The staircases and entrances were most sumptuous. In all the inner apartments the energy of the pencil was displayed on jaspar, in portraying the august heroes, the lords of this favoured region. The floors were covered with the richest carpets of feathers, and the air perfumed with the most fragrant aromatics. Our adventurer having been ushered into the royal cabinet, found the sovereign reclined on a throne of ivory, and surrounded by his principal courtiers, who occupied various estrades of gold, superior to that of Arabia.
He was received with every token of humanity, and placed next to the throne. The ceremonials, festivals, and tournaments by which the monarch, in exhibiting his own magnificence, endeavoured to afford him pleasure, were essentials which required, for their description, the pen of Homer, or of Virgil, or, rather, that of Miguel Cervantes Saavedra. The diversions being concluded, and he being desirous to set out on his return, the eldest daughter of the king, into whose bosom the god Cupid had introduced the violent flame of love, enveloped in the graceful form of the stranger, made a tender to him of her person. But our Bohorquez, in whom the madness of Don Quixote must have been blended with the address of Cacus, chose rather to be the depredator, than the peaceful possessor of the new empire. After having beguiled Peru with his fabulous Enim, he entered that territory, accompanied by thirty-six Spaniards, in the year 1643, achieve its conquest; but was guilty of so many piracies, not only among the barbarians, but likewise in Jauxa and Tarma, that the viceroy was under the necessity of sending a detachment of troops to apprehend him. This having been successfully accomplished, he was banished to Valdivia, with another individual, named Villa-Nueva, his captain-general. Don Antonio, and Don Benito Quiroga, inhabitants of la Paz, were not more successful in the conquest of Gran Paititi, in their endeavours to accomplish which they consumed a very flourishing capital, and were left in an impoverished state. This reward was justly due to an insatiable ambition.
Time has slowly dissipated these chimeras, which have been in one respecl useful, inasmuch as they have stimulated certain missionaries to explore the mountains. From their relations we can collect, that throughout the whole extent of them, in Manoa, and in the immense plains which separate them from the cordillera of Brasil, there are not any other treasures, beside those that will be pointed out in illustrating the peregrinations of fathers Sobreviela and Girbal; nor any greater degree of civilization and policy than that which is exhibited in the account we now proceed to give, of the costumes, superstitions, and exercises of the barbarians who inhabit them.
They live dispersed in the forests and woods, and are collected, under the direction of one or two caciques, into small tribes, each of which considers itself as a distinct nation, and even hostile to the others. They are usually tall, robust, and well made, it being the invariable custom, whenever any male child is born, with the limbs distorted, or with any remarkable defect, instantly to deprive the infant of life, as an inauspicious birth. Their complexion is fairer than that of the Peruvians, and some of them, the Conivos, for instance, would even vie in that respect with the Europeans, if the erratic life of the mountains, the unguents, and the pandtures of the sand-flies and mosquitoes, did not give them a swarthy hue. All their attention is bestowed on preserving a firm texture of the body, and on flattening the forehead and hinder part of the head, with a view of resembling, as they say, the full moon, and of becoming the strongest and most valiant people in the world. To attain the former of these aims, they bind the waist, and all the joints, of their male offspring, from their tender infancy, with hempen bands. With a view to the latter, they wrap the forehead in cotton, and lay on it a small square board, applying another similar board to the occiput, and adjusting them with cords until the intention has been answered. Thus the head is elongated above, and flattened both before and behind. This practice cannot fail to alter the functions of the brain; and, accordingly, the reproach of stupidity is attached to the bonzes, or Japanese priests, at whose birth the head is compressed, until it acquires the shape of a sugar-loaf, to the end that it may serve as an altar on which the minister may kindle the sacred fire, as a token of their being admitted into the priesthood. In reality, our Indians of the mountains are remarked to be the people the most devoid of thought any where to be found.They go in a great measure naked, but with some distinction. The men wear a short cotton shirt, painted with a variety of colours, and provided with a half sleeve: this covering, which reaches to the middle of the thigh, is named usti. The married women are invariably clad in a pampanilla of the same stuff, or, in other words, in a short petticoat, open at the sides, which barely reaches from the waist to the knees. In seating themselves, both men and women carefully cross the skirts of their garment between the legs, to cover the parts which decency obliges them to conceal. The unmarried females, however, appear like Eve in Paradise. When we reflect that, among the nations in question, there must be many virgins in a state of puberty, we cannot fail to be persuaded, that custom is a species of antidote against the darts of the impure god of the gardens, whose wounds, beneath the torrid zone, give an impulsion to the sexes, and hurry them on blindly: in furias, ignesque ruunt. There are other tribes in which all the individuals of either sex present themselves, like the athleta, the wrestlers at the Olympic games, who, after the accident that befel Orcippus, appeared entirely naked. This custom, which was highly reprehensible in a civilized nation, such as Greece, is perhaps not so much to be condemned in our barbarians, who are incited to it by the warmth of the climate, in the particular regions they inhabit. The men cut short their hair, leaving it to fall in front to the brows, and behind as low as the point of the ear: on the top is a knot or wreath, interwoven with long and beautiful feathers. They perforate the chin, and the cartilaginous part between the nostrils, after the manner of the Persians, Arabians, and inhabitants of the coast of Malabar; and wear a variety of pendants of gold and silver. They adorn the arms and neck with bracelets and collars, made of the teeth of men who have perished in the war, or of those of animals. Over the shoulder they throw the quiver, and in the hands they bear the bow and the arrow. The women likewise cut the hair in front, leaving it to fall to the brows; but are particularly careful of the hinder hair, which flows loosely and copiously over the shoulders: they ornament their ears with the choicest trinkets. Both males and females stain the teeth and lips of a black hue, and the body of various colours. In painting the face, they have recourse to red, the colour which, among the Romans, served as a distinctive mark to Jupiter on the days of the public festivals, and which likewise decorated the countenance of the heroes, when they made their public entry into Rome. If the god Cupid were to throw off his bandage, he and his mother Venus might serve to depict these nations. But the resemblance in this respect, does not produce in them an identity of customs, as happens to the inhabitants of the Maldivian Isles, in whom an analogous stile of dress, or rather the absence of all covering, has obliterated even the idea of shame.
A warrior belonging to one of the barbarous nations, inhabitants of the mountainous territory, is introduced in Plate XV.; but in a costume appropriate to a particular tribe, such as could be displayed, with a proper observance of decorum, in the capital of Peru, by the civilized Indians, by whom a group of these warriors was represented, in the procession which has been so often referred to in this work. It will be perceived by the engraving, that the performers in the spectacle, constituting the group in question, were masked; no doubt with a view to save themselves the pain and trouble of having the nose perforated, so as to display the pendant which decorates that part.
To return to the subject: of the narration. When compared with the Maldivians above-cited, and with many other nations of Asia, Africa, and Europe, our Indians may be reckoned continent. With the exception of the caciques, who in some instances have two wives, the rest hold in abhorrence polygamy, as well as contracts of marriage entered into with those who are near of kin, to the fourth degree inclusive. They are solicitous to form an alliance with a family distin6l from their own, demanding of their parents their future consorts, with the interposition of the cacique, or, which is more commonly the case, by virtue of a contra£l made between the heads of the two families, the young couple are united, and brought up together from their infancy, cohabiting when they are of an age to enter into the matrimonial state. The mode in which they are reared, has the effect of producing such tender loves, that there are not wanting Artemisias, who bury in their entrails the ashes of their defunct lords. These bonds are not, however, indissoluble; and the husband is as free to
Indian warrior belonging to a barbarous tribe.
Printed for Richard Phillips. 6. New Bridge Street. Feb. 18– 1805.
quit the wife, and to seek another, whenever to him, as is, on the other hand, the companion of his bed. The women, however, are commonly the last to break the connubial chains. Finally, it would appear, that here the conditions are equal. It is well known, that among the Turks, Parthians, and other eastern nations, the balance inclines in favour of the man, who, in his seraglio, represents a cock surrounded by innumerable hens. On the coast of Malabar, the ascendancy is on the side of the females, who are affianced to as many men as they please, and who even take them by surprize in the streets. In that country, observes a sage, love, in a physical point of view, has an irresistible force: the attack is certain, and the resistance null. Man, without religion, is capable of the greatest excesses.
Idolatry being an evil of so ancient a date, that it is conjectured by some writers to have been anterior to the flood; and so pestilent, that having contaminated the whole world, it oppressed ancient Caria to such a degree, as to oblige the inhabitants of Caunus to institute a strict search, in the course of which, darting their javelins furiously in the air, they pursued and banished from their confines the odious and troublesome gods whose worship did not permit them to respire; it is extraordinary that it is not to be found among the greater part of the Indians of the mountains. They believe in one God, on whom they bestow the human figure, and whom they make to be the author of the earth, and of the heavens, whither, they say, he retired, after having terminated the creation of the former. They name him our Father, our Grandsire; but neither erect to him an altar, nor build him a temple, nor pay him the slightest homage. They simply address themselves to him at the time of an earthquake. They think that this phenomenon arises from his quitting the sky, to pass in review living mortals, and to infer, from the noise they make, the number of those who exist. Impressed with this belief, and persuaded that at each of his steps the globe trembles, they scarcely perceive the smallest movement, than they all quit their huts simultaneously, running, leaping, and stamping the ground, with the exclamation of, here we are, here we are! A superstition of this nature unquestionably originated from those primitive sentiments, deeply engraven in the human breast, touching the adorable and beneficent providence of God, which watches over mortals?—from those ineffable sentiments which can never be obliterated, either by barbarism, by idolatry, or by those pernicious and perverse deists who dare to lift the finger against Him to whom they owe their being, and who watches over their existence. How great a benefit would it be to the human race, if these pretended fathers of philosophy could be colle6led, and immured in the forests of the country of the Amazons, to the end that, in stamping the ground with the barbarians, they might at least be led in this way to acknowledge the Divine Providence, and cease to disturb the order which is so essentially connected with the felicity and repose of man!
In developing the obscure traditions of the above-mentioned Indians, a glimpse of the great events of the earliest epochs of Nature, and even of those of posterior times, may be discerned; but so imperfectly, that it would be rash to deduce from the little information which can be collected on this head, the preaching of the apostles in South America, as some have asserted.
These Indians likewise admit an evil being, the inhabitant of the centre of the earth, whom they consider as the author of their misfortunes, and at the mention of whose name they tremble. The most shrewd among them take advantage of this belief, to obtain respect; and represent themselves as his delegates. Under the denomination of Mohanes, or Agoreros, they are consulted even on the most trivial occasions. They preside over the intrigues of love, the health of the community, and the taking of the field. Whatever repeatedly occurs to defeat their prognostics, falls on themselves; and they are wont to pay their deceptions very dearly.
To extend the empire of Cupid, they have recourse to the piripiri, the generic name of various kinds of compositions derived from the vegetable kingdom. One of these compositions, received into the stomach, is deemed to have a peculiar effect on females. The plant guavanchi, worn by the man in the usti, and by the woman in the pampanilla, or rubbed on the legs, arms, weapons, &c. cements the bonds of love, and gives a successful issue to every enterprize.
Another species of piripiri they chew and throw into the air, accompanying this act by certain recitals and incantations, to injure some, to benefit others, to procure rain, and the inundation of the rivers, or, on the other hand, to occasion settled weather, and a plentiful store of agricultural productions. Any such result having been casually verified on a single occasion, suffices to confirm the Indians in their faith, although they may have been cheated a thousand times. Fully persuaded that they cannot resist the influence of the piripiri, as soon as they know that they have been solicited by its means, they fix their eyes on the impassioned object, and discover a thousand amiable traits, either real or fanciful, which indifference had before concealed from their view.
But the principal power, efficacy, and, it may be said, misfortune, of the Mohanes, consist in the cure of the sick. Every malady is ascribed to their enchantments, and means are instantly taken to ascertain by whom the mischief may have been wrought. For this purpose, the nearest relative takes a quantity of the juice of fioripondium, and suddenly falls, intoxicated by the violence of the plant. He is placed in a fit posture to prevent suffocation, and on his coming to himself, at the end of three days, the Moharis who has the greatest resemblance to the sorcerer he saw in his visions, is to undertake the cure, or if, in the interim, the sick man has perished, it is customary to subject him to the same fate. When not any sorcerer occurs in the visions, the first Moharis they encounter has the misfortune to represent his image.
It cannot be denied, that the Moharises have, by practice and tradition, acquired a profound knowledge of many plants and poisons. with which they effect surprizing cures on the one hand, and do much, mischief on the other; but the mania of ascribing the whole to a preternatural virtue, occasions them to blend with their practice a thousand charms and superstitions. The most customary method of cure is to place two hammocks close to each other, either in the dwelling, or in the open air: in one of them the patient lies extended, and in the other the Mohan, or Agorero. The latter, in contact with the sick man, begins by rocking himself, and then proceeds, by a strain in falsetto, to call on the birds, quadrupeds, and fishes, to give health to the patient. From time to time he rises on his seat, and makes a thousand extravagant gestures over the sick man, to whom he applies his powders and herbs, or sucks the wounded or diseased parts. If the malady augments, the Agorero, having been joined by many of the people, chaunts a short hymn, addressed to the soul of the patient, with this burden: thou must not go, thou must not go. In repeating this, he is joined by the people, until at length a terrible clamour is raised, and augmented in proportion as the sick man becomes still fainter and fainter, to the end that it may reach his ears. When all the charms are unavailing, and death approaches, the Mohan leaps from his hammock, and betakes himself to flight, amid the multitude of sticks, stones, and clods of earth, which are showered on him. Successively all those who belong to the nation assemble, and dividing themselves into bands, each of them, if he who is in his last agonies is a warrior, approaches him, saying; whither goest thou? Why dost thou leave us? With whom shall we proceed to the aucas (the enemies)? They then relate to him the heroical deeds he has performed, the number of those he has slain, and the, pleasures he leaves behind him. This is practised in different tones: while some raise the voice, it is lowered by others; and the poor sick man is obliged to support these importunities without a murmur, until the first symptoms of approaching dissolution manifest themselves. Then it is that he is surrounded by a multitude of females, some of whom forcibly close the mouth and eyes; others envelop him in the hammock, oppressing him with the whole of their weight, and causing him to expire before his time; and others, lastly, run to extinguish the candle, and dissipate the smoke, that the soul, not being able to perceive the hole through which it may escape, may remain entangled in the structure of the roof. That this may be speedily effected, and to prevent its return to the interior of the dwelling, they surround the entrances with filth, by the stench of which it may be expelled.
Relatively to the destiny of the soul itself, there are various opinions: some believe that it goes to the other world, to live as in this one, but in the enjoyment of a greater degree of repose. One of the earliest missionaries to the Maynas tribe, inquired of a dying old man, whether he was desirous to visit another world? He replied, without hesitation, yes, and for this reason, that his relations were there, in expectation of him, with boiled plantains and jucas. As whatever they figure to themselves is material, they are consequently of opinion that, in a future state, there are dances and scenes of revelry, wars, and rural excursions. The flashes of lightning are the assaults; the noise of the exhalations, the decapitated enemies, who are instantly converted into wild beasts; and the milky way, the grove of diversions. The warrior there finds a splendid reception; on which account they are accustomed to lay at his side a copper hatchet, or an arrow, that he may make his entry triumphantly. Others are persuaded of a transmigration, not only into other human bodies, but likewise into those of brutes. The caciques, warriors, and faithful wives, constantly pass into the animals that are deemed the most estimable, such as the monkey, the tiger, &c.; and as the certain inference is drawn by these Indians, that the soul of their father, or of the cacique, entered into this monkey with a tail, or into that one with a beard, they make a thousand genuflections to the animal, and worship him as if he were a patriarch. Quintus Ennius could not have passed more effectually, when he was in the body of the peacock; nor the brachmanes, the progenitors of the modern brahmins, whose highest satisfaction it was, when they found their dissolution approaching, to be so near to a cow or a horse, as to be enabled to drag it by the tail, and thus find a ready entrance for their spirit by the posterior opening. Notwithstanding, in imitation of the Greeks and Romans, the Indians in question fancy that certain spirits flutter in the air, or are pent up in the bottom of the rivers, either on account of particular crimes, or until they can meet with a body which may be adapted to them; still, generally speaking, they have not any idea of sins, or of an abode of torments in a future state. To a Jesuit who reproached an old man with the former, and endeavoured to persuade him of the existence of the latter, he replied in a very serious tone: "take notice, there is nothing in all this; my sins are very good; I find them about me, and shall not go, neither do I wish to go, to burn myself."
Proceeding from the soul to the body, it is to be observed, that as soon as the dying man is suffocated by the closing of the mouth, nostrils, &c. and wrapt up in the covering of his bed, the most circumspect Indian, whether male or female, takes him in the arms in the best manner possible, and gives a gentle shriek, which echoes to the bitter lamentations of the immediate relatives, and to the cries of a thousand old women collected for the occasion. As long as this dismal howl subsists, the latter are subjected to a constant fatigue, raising the palm of the hand to wipe away the tears, and lowering it to dry it on the ground. The result of this alternate action is, that a circle of earth, which gives them a most hideous appearance, is collected about the eye-lids and brows; and they do not wash themselves until the mourning is over. These first clamours conclude by several good pots of masato, to assuage the thirst of sorrow; and the company next proceed to make a great clatter among the utensils of the deceased: some break the kettles, and others the earthen pots, while others, again, burn the apparel, to the end that his memory may be the sooner forgotten. If the. defunct has been a cacique, or powerful warrior, his exequies are performed after the manner of the Romans: they last for many days, all the people weeping in concert for a considerable space of time, at daybreak, at noon, in the evening, and at midnight. When the appointed hour arrives, the mournful music begins in front of the house of the wife and relatives, the heroical deeds of the deceased being chanted to the sound of instruments. All the inhabitants of the vicinity unite in chorus from within their houses, some chirping like birds, others howling like tigers, and the greater part of them chattering like monkeys, or croaking like frogs. They constantly leave off by having recourse to the masato, and by the destruction of whatever the deceased may have left behind him, the burning of his dwelling being that which concludes the ceremonies. Among some of the Indians, the nearest relatives cut off their hair, as a token of their grief, agreeably to the practice of the Moabites, and other nations.
On the day of decease, they put the body, with its insignia, into a large earthen vessel, or painted jar, which they bury in one of the angles of the quarter, laying over it a covering of potter's clay, and throwing in earth until the grave is on a level with the surface of the ground. When the obsequies are over, they forbear to pay a visit to it, and lose every recollection of the name of the warrior. The Roamaynas disenterre their dead, as soon as they think that the fleshy parts have been consumed; and having washed the bones, form the skeleton, which they place in a coffin of potter's clay, adorned with various symbols of death, like the hieroglyphics on the wrappers of the Egyptian mummies. In this state the skeleton is carried home, to the end that the survivors may bear the deceased in respectful memory, and not in imitation of those extraordinary voluptuaries of antiquity, who introduced into their most splendid festivals a spectacle of this nature, which, by reminding them of their dissolution, might stimulate them to taste, before it should overtake them, all the impure pleasures the human passions could afford them. A space of time, which appears to be about a year, being elapsed, the bones are once more inhumed, and the individual to whom they belonged forgotten for ever. Respect and charity for the ashes of the deceased, are not characteristics peculiar to civilized nations, seeing that they are likewise infused into the breast of barbarians; but as those who people the extensive territories of the Andes, and the surrounding plains, are innumerable, there are not wanting among them Massagetans, who pierce with arrows their expiring companions; Romans, who cast them into the rivers; Troglodytes, who abandon the dead bodies, or cover them with stones; and Issedonians, who devour them.
Strabo asserts, that the Bactrians delivered up their living old men to be devoured by dogs; and Eusebius testifies the same of the Hyrcanians: an inhumanity which the learned marquis of St. Aubin regards as incredible. In our opinion, that which father Figueroa relates of the Cocamas, and other barbarians residing on the same territory, is not less so. He says, that when a child is born, the parents deliberate whether they shall grant it life, or, on the other hand, put it to death, to the end that they may not be burthened with children, or leave any one behind them to lament their loss. If the latter resolve be taken, they bury them alive with the secundine, unless one of the progenitors, or any other person, approach to lift them from the earth. In that case, they rear and love them affectionately. Can it be credited, however, that a mother can refuse to stretch out her arms, at the joyful moment when she receives the fruit of her pangs? When the tender cries of the infant put in motion all the affection of which the human heart is susceptible, will she be desirous that her offspring should pass from her own bowels into those of the earth? These Indians may perhaps think the days of man so unhappy, that they confer on him a kindness, when they abridge the term of his misfortunes; but they would not do this in so cruel a manner. They are in possession of poisons. It is beyond a doubt, that the Carthaginians sacrificed their children to their false deities; and that the Chinese expose them on the highways, to want, and the inclemency of the weather;—certainly a most barbarous and infallible death, unless they are succoured by the piety of the passenger. But the Indians have neither the fanaticism nor the indigence of those nations. They live in a manner naked, and have not any hand which oppresses them, nor any gods which require bloody holocausts: securi adversus homines, securi adversus deos; and it is necessary that they should multiply, to cultivate their fields, and to maintain the mutual and constant wars which are fomented.
They find some difficulty in subsisting without implements of husbandry, which is not owing to any deficiency of soil and rivers, since these are most fertile in fruits, birds, quadrupeds, and fishes; but they cannot dispense with certain roots which require culture. Of these the principal is the yuca, with which they make the masato, their only comfort and drink. They seldom taste water, which, in consequence of the heat, and of the innumerable morasses, is of a very noxious quality. To cultivate the yuca, they clear a small portion of the forest with hatchets of stone, wrought with much patience, and having burned the felled wood, turn up the earth, that it may dry and fall in pieces, with a kind of stick shaped like a sword. They likewise cultivate cotton, the pods of which supply them with the greater part of the materials they employ in the manufacture of the ustis and pampanillas.
Their attention is, however, so little occupied by agriculture and manufactures, that it may be asserted, that their sole occupations are hunting, fishing, and war. For these three purposes they employ the same instruments, consisting of tubes, spears, clubs, chinganas, poniards, and darts and arrows, made of the hardest woods, and having their points imbued with active poisons derived from the vegetable kingdom. For the fishes, they usually have recourse to the tubes and arrows; and for the quadrupeds, to the latter, and to the darts, throwing them with the greatest dexterity. For this reason they are not afraid, in their forests, to defy the tiger, or any other ferocious animal. They insult him, and calmly wait his attack, entertaining so firm a persuasion of the violence of the poison, as to be satisfied that, on the infliction of a wound with one of their arrows, still more terrible than those of Hercules, when dipped in the blood of the hydra of Lerne, the most powerful quadruped must fall dead. They have an equal address in fishing, wounding the large fishes in the head with their arrows, as soon as they perceive them, and employing nets, and hooks made of bones, for the smaller ones. From the age of five years, both males and females are accustomed to the canoes; and they are accordingly very powerful as well as skilful in the management of them. They navigate and stop alternately, one of them being stationed at the stern, with an oar which supplies the place of a rudder, and the other at the prow, to discover, as the canoe proceeds, the shelves which are wont to be formed by the large trees swept along by the rivers.
But the ruling passion, the object of their rejoicings, of their pleasures, and of their greatest felicity, is war. To undertake it, a general congress of all the nation, presided either by the cacique, or by the individual who is to command the warlike hosts, is assembled. The pipes of tobacco are lighted, the pots of masato are handed round, and when Bacchus has already taken possession of their senses and faculties, they deliberate on this important point, and on the nation which is to be the object of their vengeance. The causes are, either a desire to plunder; or because they deem themselves affronted; or, lastly, because they have received an injury from other tribes on which they dare not seek revenge. The expedition being resolved on, they recommend to the Mohan certain fasts, to which he is to subject himself most rigorously. For this purpose he retires from all human intercourse, and immures himself in a solitary hut, which he usually quits half dead. He replies by urging the necessity of entering on the campaign. If it be prosperous, they bestow on him a thousand praises, and the best of the spoil; but if it terminate unfortunately, he receives from them as many stripes and execrations. When the day arrives on which they are to march, they invest themselves with all the trappings and offensive weapons that have been pointed out, carrying, as defensive ones, bucklers made with interwoven reeds, and lined with the skins of animals. That they may have a clear sight to descry the enemy, they rub the eyes with red pepper. Having formed in column, the general delivers a short harangue, exhorting his people to valour and constancy; and from time to time bestows a few taps on the legs of those whom he observes to be sluggish, or to be out of their station. This disposition having been made, they set out for the enemy.
As these piracies are frequent and unexpected, the towns they inhabit are as many fortifications prepared for defence. They are formed of several large buildings, with two doors of communication, one at the side of the steep ascent, and the other next the level ground. The whole represents a half moon, with the convex part turned towards the forest. In this way, while they are assailed at one of the doors, and while a part of them repress the enemy's impetuosity, the rest gain the forest by the other outlet, and, having divided themselves into two wings, maintain advantageously the defence of the place. With the same view, deep excavations are made in the centre of the half moon, and, in other parts, brambles and stones are heaped together, and covered over with earth and palm-leaves, to the end that, by entangling the feet of the incautious in their progress, they may be prevented from advancing with promptitude. At a certain distance, drums made of hollow trunks are suspended from the trees: being slightly secured in the ground, the passage of the enemy disengages the cord, and the noise they make in their fall gives notice of the danger. As all these Indians are, however, of the same stamp, they are acquainted with and deride these stratagems.
As soon as the invaders imagine themselves near to the populations they mean to assault, they halt, and dispose themselves in a column. The general now harangues them a second time, and inflames their courage. They then proceed to adjust carefully the llautos, or plumes, as well as the collars and bracelets, preparing their weapons, and rushing impetuously on each other, with a view to render themselves formidable. After these preliminaries, they send out their scouts to reconnoitre the ground and the trees, and to ascertain the path by which they may proceed with security. Having found it, they advance with the utmost silence, towards the dwellings, which they assail with a terrible war-whoop, maiming and decapitating all they encounter, with the exception of the children, whom they lead into captivity. After having satiated themselves with the spilling of human blood, and having plundered whatever is within their reach, more especially the heads of those they have slain, they return victoriously to their homes. The invaded sometimes stand on the defensive; but usually those who attack are the vanquishers. Their most common pra6lice, therefore, is to fly to the forest, and having assembled there, to proceed to the encounter of the invading foe, whose progress they arrest. Having in their turn become the assailants, the issue of the contest is frequently so much in their favour, that they do not leave any one of the adversaries to carry to his nation the tidings of the defeat. But whether their attempt be prosperous or unsuccessful, they complete the destruction of the town which the enemy had assaulted, and remove to another part.
If those who engage in an expedition of this nature succeed in all the stratagems of the warfare, they dispatch a messenger to their nation to announce their victories. The instant these are made known, all who remained behind, the women more particularly, collect together, and sally forth to meet the warriors, bestowing on them welcomes and encomiums in proportion to the number of heads each brings with him, and reprehending and deriding him who comes without them. This operates so powerfully on these barbarians, that they would suffer death sooner than enter their house without the head of an enemy, or some other extraordinary token of their prowess. Those who maintain that the Indian does not pique himself on his honour, of which, according to them, he is devoid of every sentiment, certainly have not studied his heart. The Itucalis, in proportion as they decapitate their enemies, divide the skin which covers the bridge of the nose, and by the introduction of the small husks of the palm into the incised parts, form warts, or excrescences, the number of which is from time to time augmented, until at length they extend from the space between the brows to the tip of the nose, and occasion an uneven outer ridge, by which these Indians are extremely disfigured. The first process they perform on the heads they bring with them, is to boil them, and having stripped the skin from the head and visage, it is stuffed with straw, and dried in the smoke, thus forming a mask. The teeth they extract for their collars, and the skulls they suspend as trophies from the roofs of their dwellings.
Their victories are celebrated with much solemnity, in the house of the captain, or cacique, on a particular day appointed for that purpose. For these joyous occasions a provision is made of a great number of jugs of masato, which are placed in rows in a large saloon, having different seats, according to the quality of the guests. At the appointed time all the people assemble, decked with a thousand ridiculous and extravagant inventions.
The warriors constantly bring with them the masks which have been above pointed out, and which they grasp by the hair. Being assembled at the door of the banquetting-house, they prepare their weapons, and having made a feint attack, retire backward, as if they were repulsed: at the third assault they break their ranks, and proceed to form a circle. The dancing and singing now commence, the principal aim of the latter being to insult the masks, and to tax them with cowardice, and with not having either fasted, or anointed the eyes with red pepper. While they vent these reproaches, they commend the prowess of those by whom they were subdued. The dance concludes by copious draughts of masato; and in this alternation of dancing, singing, and drinking, they remain for several days and nights without intermission, until all the jars are empty. Father Figueroa pleasantly observes, that he is at a loss to conjecture how they have a head for so much noise, a throat for so much exclamation, and a tooth for so much liquor.
The whole being terminated, they rise, form into two columns, the one opposite to the other, and begin to dance, mutually attacking each other, dragging the adverse party by the hair, and striking him furiously. In this practice they resemble the Corybantes, the mad priests of Cybele, who introduced into their sacrifices to that goddess, armed dances, in the course of which they attacked and wounded each other with their weapons. They now depart peaceably for their homes.
The captives made by our barbarians are treated with infinite humanity, as if they were their brethren; a quality which they observe among themselves, begging pardon whenever they have given offence. They are very attentive to their guests, whom they salute by kissing the points of the fingers, with which they afterwards stroke the chin, and then hold out the hand agreeably to the usage of civilized nations.
ACCOUNT OF THE PUBLIC CONGREGATIONS OF THE NEGROES RESIDING IN THE DISTRICT OF LIMA.
The situation of these unfortunate slaves has a strong claim on our compassion. In the negotiations of those who hold them in subjection, they are reduced to the level of a bale of merchandize; and are sometimes treated worse than the mules and asses, in the very plantations they water with the sweat of their brow. They constitute, in Peru, the great mass of the rural and domestic servants; and an account of their different usages in the capital, of their public meetings more especially, cannot be other than interesting.
Religion is the consolation of the unhappy: accordingly, the most barbarous nations, at the epochs of their greatest calamities, have had recourse to this principle, and have found no other alleviation of their misery, except in the persuasion that the Supreme Being had, by anticipation, decreed their misfortunes. The Mexicans, when attacked by the Spaniards, terrified by the novelty of their weapons, and by the display of their prowess, fancied that they had been destined to subjection, by certain sacred prophecies, many years before. The Peruvians regarded their conquerors as demi-gods sent from heaven; and, with this idea strongly impressed on the mind, were faithful to them, served them cheerfully, and submitted to their domination. The Guinea negroes think that slavery, with those of their species, is the effect of an press mandate of God. With an awful regard for such notions, which are the elements of their conversation, it is not surprizing that all the recreations of the newly-imported slaves, should have an immediate reference to religion. The first step they take is to form themselves into associations, or fraternities, which, at the same time that they unite them in the discharge of their religious duties, maintain the social relations of the respective communities, and enable them to participate generally in their recreations.
The principal casts of the negroes engaged in menial services in Lima, are ten, namely, the Terranovans, Lucumes, Mandinguans, Cambundians, Carabalies, Cangaes, Chalas, Huarochiries, Congoes, and Misanguans. These names are not all of them precisely derived from the country in which each cast originated, several of them, such as that of Huarochiries, being arbitrary, and others derived from the region where they were first disembarked, such as that of Terranovans.
All these casts are subject to two head corporals, chosen by the communities themselves, who remain in the enjoyment of this post until their death. The election is holden in the chapel of our Lady of the Rosary, founded, at the expence of the nations in question, in the great convent of Saint Domingo. Those who are allowed to vote are the negro chiefs (capataces), and the twenty-four, who may be denominated senators, belonging to each nation. The chaplains of the communities are present at the election; and the choice invariably falls on the most ancient individuals, having to boast their descent from the founders. The names of the persons thus elected are entered in a book kept for that purpose, without any influence or concurrence on the part of the high judiciary court.
The same formalities are observed when a subaltern corporal, or any one of the twenty-four brethren, is appointed for either of the nations partially; but these individuals, on their admission, are made to contribute, the corporal ten piastres, and the brother twelve. The one half of this money is applied to the worship of our Lady, and the other half to the purchase of the refreshments distributed among the electors, whose decisions are entered in the book above cited.
These dignities procure their possessors much consideration on the part of those who belong to their tribe; but in whatever concerns their slavery and services, are absolutely useless, and do not afford them any relief. It is deserving of a smile, or rather of compassion, to see the sovereign of an African nation set out, with his subje6ts, at two or three o'clock in the morning, to mow the grass, and occasionally receive at their hands the stripes to which he is sentenced by the major-domo.
By the means of half a real subscribed annually by each individual, these African nations are enabled to defray the expences of the worship of our Lady of the Rosary. On the Sunday after the feast of Corpus Christi the contributions are laid on a table, placed in the centre of the little square of Santo Domingo, without an instance ever having occurred of a greater offering being made. With the total amount of what is collected, the charges of the annual festival, in honour of the above-mentioned image, are, however, liquidated, as well as all the disbursements attendant on the worship alluded to. In the case of the demise of any of the members, the burial charges are defrayed from the same source; but for the masses and responses each fraternity subscribes six reals. Whenever there is a deficiency, a collectlion is made by the head corporals, who distribute the amount among the subordinate corporals and brethren, the latter being, on all occasions, subject to their decisions.
Formerly the Terranovans and Lucumes cultivated the worship of the image of San Salvador, in the great convent of our Lady of Mercy; but at the present time this devotion belongs to the Congoes, whose fellowship is established in the avenue of the convent of San Francisco de Paula, without any support except that of the alms collected voluntarily among themselves. In the same way the Mandinguans had a fellowship, or place of assembly, in the church of the great convent of San Francisco, dedicated to the Virgin, under the title of our Lady of Lima: it is at this time in ruins; and the other fellowships which subsisted in the churches of San Sebastian and Monserrat, in the chapel of Baratillo, and in the small chapel at the extremity of the bridge, appear to be in the same condition. The negroes, mulattoes, and quarterons, consisting principally of Creoles, or individuals born in the country, have a fellowship in the church of San Augustin, for the worship of San Nicolas. They chase their major-domo with the approbation of the royal audience; but have not any funds for the support of their religious association, except the gratuitous contributions collected among themselves.
The festival which more especially excites them to a display of all their show and finery, is that of the Sunday of the octaves of Corpus Christi day. All the tribes unite for the procession, which sets out on that day from the great convent of Santo Domingo. Each carries its banner, and a canopy, beneath which proceeds the king or queen, with a sceptre in the right hand, and a staff, or some other instrument, in the left. These personages are accompanied by all the individuals belonging to the nation, provided with certain noisy instruments of music, the greater part of them having a very disagreeable sound. Those who compose the retinue of the kings or queens, vie with each other in the adoption of the most horrible costumes. Some appear in the guise of devils; others are covered with feathers from head to foot; others imitate bears, with skins thrown over them; and others, again, represent monsters, with horns, claws of lions, tails of serpents, and feathers of hawks. They are all of them armed with bows, arrows, clubs and shields. They stain the face of a red or blue colour, according to the usage of the countries which gave them birth; and introduce into the procession certain horrid shouts and gestures, as terrific as if they were in reality engaged in the attack of an enemy. The seriousness and ferocious enthusiasm with which these scenes are represented, afford us an idea of the barbarity that would accompany their martial assaults. The decorations, which would be highly agreeable in a masquerade of carnival time, seem to be indecent in an ecclesiastical performance, and still more so in a procession, in which the smallest intrusive object profanes the dignity of the sacred act, and dissipates the devotion of the attendants. May our posterity look to the reform of this and other abuses, the eradication of which is so earnestly to be desired! The supreme authority has already, for wise and prudential reasons, prevented the negroes from carrying and discharging fire-arms in the course of the procession, as has been hitherto their practice.
All the assemblages which have been pointed out have religion for their pretext, but lead to others in which amusement is simply consulted. The negroes who are the object of this relation, have, in different streets of the city, quarters or spittals, denominated by them brotherhoods, which form the centre of their meetings on days of festivity. Each tribe has the separate enjoyment of one of these places for its meetings; and those which are numerous are in possession of two or three of them. These establishments are sixteen in number: by the voluntary offerings of the contributors, the site is purchased on which they are built; and they are holden by a small fine or quit-rent.
The corporal of each nation is the president of the assemblies, in which the strictest etiquette is observed, relatively to the precedence of the seats: they are invariably occupied according to the seniority of the members. These negroes, supporting with the utmost patience their hard agricultural labours; in a manner indifferent about good or bad fare; little sensible to the severity of chastisement; and intrepid in the discharge of all the duties to which they are called;—these very negroes cannot endure an injustice, or a neglect in the line of preferences. To occupy a hand's-breadth of ground higher or lower, decides all their satisfaction or grief. On a view of these contrarieties, it appears that the influence of opinion may overbalance that of Nature, the energies of which may be occasionally subdued by still more powerful impressions. There are men who suffer patiently both hunger and nakedness; who sleep tranquilly on wretched stools; who deprive themselves without regret of whatever society presents, of the most agreeable and consolatory description, in its civil bonds; and who then tremble, weep, become confused, and lose their reason, if in a casual encounter the left hand be touched instead of the right; if any one pronounce their name without annexing to it a flattering epithet; or if another combine the letters of the alphabet in this or in that manner, when it is to be described in writing. This is a species of insanity which has found its way into the obscure retreats destined for humility, patience, and freedom from error. Those who labour under this infirmity ought to blush, when they perceive that they are on a footing with these untutored negroes, and exposed to the same ridicule.
At two o'clock in the afternoon the assemblies which have been already cited regularly commence. The first hour of the session is employed in treating whatever may contribute to the advantage of the nation, in regulating the contributions, in bringing forward and settling the disputes which may have arisen between husband and wife, &c. The corporals give an account to the tribe, of the mode they have adopted in the disbursement of the contributions, and of the purposes to which the surplus, if there be any, is to be applied. What is most interesting, in these meetings, to the philosophical observer, is the formality with which the rulers and vassals pronounce, opine, listen, and obey. Man is not truly sensible of his dignity, unless when the ties and dependencies of society enable him to establish a comparison between himself and his fellow-creatures. He then begins to modify his chara6ter, to respect himself, and to form, relatively to his existence, an idea infinitely more advantageous than the one he entertained, when he lived, in the company of wild beasts, on the mountains, and in the forests.
The rapidity with which these negroes pass from one extreme of gravity to another of noise, turbulence, and disorder, is equally deserving of admiration. The hour of consultation being expired, the dancing commences, and continues until seven or eight in the evening. The walls of their quarters, more particularly within side, are covered with figures which represent their primitive kings, their battles, and their rejoicings. The sight of these grotesque paintings inflames and transports them. It has been frequently noticed, that the festivals which are celebrated without side these negro receptacles, and at a distance from their painted images, are of short duration, and destitute of any display of enthusiasm. In reality, the balls which are thus publicly given, do not possess any attractions, and are, besides, repugnant to the delicacy of our customs. When one of the negroes dances without a partner, which most commonly happens, he leaps confusedly in every direction, and twirls on his feet with violence, without directing his view to any object. All the address of the dancer consists in holding out for a considerable length of time, and in keeping, in the inflections of the body, within the limits of the pauses of those who sing in the circle. If two or four dance at the same time, the men first place themselves in front of the women, singing, and making a variety of ridiculous contortions. The dancers then turn the back on each other, and separate by degrees. Finally, they all whirl to the right with one accord, and run impetuously to meet each other face to face. The rencounter which ensues, appears indecent to those who fancy that the outward actions of these negroes are equally consequent with ours. This simple and rude exercise constitutes all their recreation, their balls, and country-dances, without any other rules or figures beside those of caprice. They are diverted, however; and when the festival is at an end the impressions are obliterated. It would be well if our delicate balls, the stile of which we have borrowed from the English, French, and Germans, were not productive of any other consequences except those of lassitude and a waste of time. It is to be lamented that they are most frequently the vehicle of amorous intrigues, and the centre of whispers and scandals.
It has already been observed, that the music of the negroes is extremely disagreeable. Their principal instrument is the drum, which is usually made of a flask of leather, or of a wooden cylinder hollow within side. When it is formed in this manner, it is not beaten with sticks, but struck with the hands. They have likewise small flutes, which they inflate with the nostrils. A kind of music is produced by striking the jaw-bone of a horse, or ass, dried in the sun, and having the teeth moveable. The friction of a smooth stick, against another cut transversely on the superficies, has a similar effect. The instrument which affords some degree of melody, is that which they name marimba. It is composed of a number of thin, long, and narrow tablets, adjusted at the distance of four lines from the mouths of several dry and empty calabashes, which are, as well as the tablets, secured on an arc, or bow of wood. It is touched with two small sticks, in the same way as the psalteries of the Bohemians. The diameters of the calabashes, which constantly go on diminishing, render this instrument susceptible of being modified to the alternations of the diapason, insomuch that the sounds it occasionally produces, do not fail to be agreeable, even to delicate ears. It must, however, be acknowledged, that in music and dancing, as well as in many other relations dependent on talent and taste, the negroes are much more behind the Indians, than are the latter, when compared respedlively with the Spaniards.
On the demise either of a corporal, or of one of the twenty-four brethren, or of the wife of the one or the other, the individuals composing the tribe to which the deceased belonged, assemble in the quarters set aside for the congregations, and there watch over the body. The funereal preparatives for this office are an irrefragable testimony that the negro, transported from his native soil, does not change his heart as well as his country; since he maintains among us, and conceals in the sepulchre even, his superstition and his idolatry. How, indeed, can he have an affection for his new residence, in which he is condemned to lead so unhappy a life? Can he do otherwise than abhor whatever contributes to cement his chains? Can he adhere to the faith of those by whom he is oppressed? This wretched being, who finds himself constrained to live with the eyes and body in a manner rivetted to the earth, and who generally dies without having acquired a proficiency in our language; how is this miserable v16lim to elevate his soul to the contemplation of our sublime mysteries? Four tallow candles illumine the piece of coarse cloth spread over the body. The children of the deceased seat themselves at the foot of the bier, and the relatives at the sides, apostrophizing the corpse from time to time. The condolers leap and turn themselves round, stopping occasionally to repeat, in a low voice, certain prayers, agreeably to their native rites and idiom. Each person present contributes half a real for the expences of the interment, and for the purchase of the drink which is distributed. This is commonly the guarapo, a species of fermented liquor, and sometimes brandy. Before the drinking commences, the cup, filled with liquor, is carried to the mouth of the defunct, to whom a long conversation is dire6ted, as if with a view to invite him to partake. He being supposed to have tasted the contents, it is passed to the chief mourners, and from them handed progressively until it reaches the last person in company, the same scrupulous attention to precedence being invariably observed, according to the degree of seniority of each individual. At length, this function, which was begun in sober sadness, concludes by drinking, singing, and dancing.
Our etiquettes of being seated in alcoves, to make a display of our grief; of putting on family mourning; of retiring for a determinate number of days; of incurring superfluous expences, &c. assimilate our funerals with those of the negroes, and render them equally defective, although by a route diametrically opposite.
When the widow of any one of those who had attained the distinction of being corporal of the tribe, is desirous to contract a second marriage, it is necessary that she should give proofs to the whole of the assembly, both of the affection she entertained for her defunct spouse, and of the grief she felt at his loss. On the day which is named quitaluto (quit-weeds), the widow is carried in a sedan chair from her dwelling to the brotherhood. She enters weeping; and if she does not display a sufficient address, in acting the part of a mourner, she exposes herself to the risk of receiving a few stripes, as a punishment for her insensibility. Immediately after her arrival, a lamb is immolated on one of the seats of earth within the quarters: this sacrifice is offered up to the manes of the deceased, to whose memory the bride is about to bid adieu for ever. She presents, on a silver salver, the shoes which during her widowhood had become old and crazy. These ceremonies being concluded, the preliminaries of the civil act of matrimony are performed; and all the brethren display their earnestness to treat the newly married couple with liquors and viands of every description.
When it happens that a widower weds a second time, not any of these formalities are observed. The negroes say, that it is derogatory in a man to manifest his grief for the death of a woman, when for the one that is lost a hundred are to be found. If in any particular it is apparent that these wretched Africans are barbarians, it is in the adoption of this iniquitous maxim. Sensible and just men do not think in this manner. Among us, there are those who are persuaded that the long life of an antediluvian patriarch would not suffice to deplore the loss of a good wife.
The other assemblages which the negroes are in the habit of forming, are less interesting, either on account of their similarity to those that have been already described, or because
Bozal, or raw negro residing in the district of Lima.
Printed for Richard Phillips. 6. New Bridge Street. Feb. 18– 1805.
they are analogous to our own. The short sketch we have given of their amusements and public occupations, may serve to illustrate the history of man, and extend the information we possess relative to the societies of the inhabitants of Peru in general, and of the casts in particular which constitute among us a third estate. The knowledge of their inclinations and defects, cannot fail to interest the curious by the novelty and singularity of the principles that govern them, and the politicians by the certain data which these principles afford to their combinations. We have ventured to introduce a few applications and corollaries, not so much to give a higher zest to the subject matter, as to show that all the ideas of philosophy, and the relations of history, are useless and ineffectual, if we do not direct them, by comparison, to the knowledge and advantage of ourselves.
One of the above unfortunate class of beings makes the subject of Plate XVI. His haggard and forlorn look, and the wretched garb he wears, betoken the misery of his condition, surrounded as he is by affluence, in the territory to which he has been transported; and afford a striking and melancholy contrast to the splendour, exhibited in several of the preceding engravings, of those who oppress and hold him in chains.
- One in three, and three in one. Several authors, by whom we are told that the apostle St. Thomas came to these regions, say that he resided at Cuzco, where he preached the gospel, and taught the great and incomprehensible mystery of the Trinity; but that, in the progress of time, and through the extreme ignorance of the Indians, this tradition was changed, and superstitiously accommodated, by the Yncas, to the sun.
- They remained there until they were married.
- Notwithstanding this general custom, the Ynca Huayna consulted the idol Rimac, or the Speaker, from whose name, corrupted by time, that of Lima is derived.
- The Indians being persuaded that the Yncas were the immediate descendants of the sun, regarded them as gods; insomuch, that the smallest offence which could be offered them, was construed into a most sacrilegious outrage.
- The Omnipotent, to whom a temple was erected in the valley of Lurin.
- That was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.—St. John, chap. i. v. 9.
- The fermented liquor of maize.
- Wild rabbits.
- A nutritive and Invigorating herb, similar to the betel of the East Indies, and applied to the same purposes.
- Lords of the house.
- Stones, of which they required water.
- Long cylindrical stones, of which abundant crops of maize were demanded.
- Large stones erected in their plantations, and regarded by the Indians as their tutelar deities.
- Dead bodies.
- A kind of reed.
- The archbishops of Lima, Geronimo De Loyasa, Bartolome De Guerrero, and Sanco Torriliio, employed their utmost zeal, authority, and intelligence, in extinguishing idolatry. The latter, more especially, in his second and third provincial councils, published the most salutary means to that effect. See the details relative to these councils, page 156.
- It is extraordinary that father Gumilla, in bis work entitled "Orinoco ilustrado," published in the middle of the eighteenth century, should have maintained the existence of this fabulous kingdom. Had he taken the trouble to consult his brethren, the missionaries of Maynas, he would not have confounded the names of Manoa, city of the lake, Omaguas, and Enaguas. It is equally surprizing that M. De La Condamine should have lost his time in endeavouring to find a site in which to place the city of Dorado, and the lake of Parima; and should at length have fixed on the Mahari, and the banks of the Yupara. The true lake of Parima, is the lake of the great Cocamas. Manoa was in those times the general and comprehensive name of the tribes of Panes, Cocamas, Maynas, &c. which were very numerous; and Enaguas, or Omaguas, is the province of that name, having for its capital San Joaquin. The lakes of gold are the sands, stored with that metal, swept along by the rivers which flow from the Cordillera into the Maranon and its branches, as well as into the Orinoko. The cities, statues, plates of gold employed as tiles, &:c. are the inventions of ambition, and of a propensity for the marvellous.
- These travels, which were undertaken in 1790, the year preceding that of the publication of the Peruvian Mercury, will, with other interesting details, relative to the tribes of uncivilized Indians, be given in an appendix.
- The following problem may be proposed: Why, among these Indians, the married women are covered, and the virgins naked?—and whence arises the sensation of shame, in the act which breaks through the boundaries of that estimable state?
- Quod ruhens color deorum sit, unde et triuntphantes facie miniata.—Serv. in Virg. Eclog. VI. A passion for beauty, according to the ideas they entertain of it, is not the only reason why the Indians who dwell on the mountains paint themselves: they likewise do this to guard against the punctures of the insects, whose feeble sting cannot penetrate the coat of paint which they spread over the surface of the body.
- We are informed by Plutarch, that Surena, the Parthian general by whom Crassus was vanquished, had ten thousand wives who followed him to the war.
- Una de ellas, tragada, se cree disminuir el volutnen de ciertas palles del sexo feminino, y inejorar su conformacion.—Spanish Text.
- Datura arborea.—Linn.
- The root of which the cassada bread is made.
- To procure this drink, they boil a certain quantity of yucas, and having reduced them into a paste, or meal, moisten it with saliva, leaving it to ferment for three days. By the addition of water, it becomes a very powerful and intoxicating liquor.
- Traité de l'Opinion, tom. v. p. 78.
- Father Francisco Figueroa, belonging to the extinguished order of Jesuits, a celebrated missionary who visited the Maynas provinces, and gave an exact and minute description of them in 1665. The MS. containing a hundred and fifteen folio pages, is in our possession, and has been of great use in the present details.
- Corn. Tacit, de Moribus Germ.
- Father Girbal brought from Manoa one of these hatchets, in shape perfectly resembling ours, but which, instead of a handle, was provided with two ears, with a channel to secure the extremity by the means of cords. The Indians manufacture them with other stones, aided by the chambo, or small copper axe, and then with water and patience proceed to sliarpen them.
- A particular kind of lance, the handle of which is made of chonta, a species of ebony, and the point of a scorched reed, which inflicts a cruel wound.
- The Conivos, in their festivals, amuse themselves with hunting the wild boar, for which purpose the animal is brought into an enclosed space, where they first render him furious, and then kill him with great address.
- It is deserving of notice, that these Indians never employ poisoned weapons in their combats; and that we, who have recourse to a thousand artifices destructive of the human race, and compel both iron and fire to serve against their destinies, call them barbarians!
- In the travels of the missionaries, a particular description of these canoes will be given.
- Solis: Historia de la Conquista de Mexico, lib. ii. cap. 4.
- The Dutch writer, Bosman, in his Voyage to Guinea, sedlion lo, relates the fable from which the negroes derive their unfortunate destiny. They say that "God having created negroes and whites, proposed to them two gifts, either that of possessing gold, or of learning to read and write. As he gave to the negroes the first choice, they decided in favour of the gold, leaving to the whites the knowledge of letters, which was granted them. But being enraged at this cupidity for gold, displayed by the blacks, he resolved at the same time that they should be eternally governed by the whites, whom they should be obliged to serve in quality of slaves."
- These are to be found under the distinct heads of Public Diversions, and Customs and Manners.