Prof. Starr began his ethnological studies to westward of Oaxaca. Mitla is eastward. In the west, he visited two tribes—the Mixtecas and the Triquis. The latter are a branch of the former, but much different, living in round bamboo huts, surprisingly like those of some African tribes. He secured two excellent casts of the Triquis, and three of the Mixtecas. He intended to take five of each tribe he visited, but his plaster failed to arrive. He studies the languages, also, as he goes, and finds many varying dialects, from each of which he secures a test vocabulary of 200 words. He is now approaching the Mixes, the “cannibals.” All the City of Mexico papers laugh at the idea of his encountering the slightest danger, and the professor himself scoffs at it. He believes some of the Mixes have, within forty years, eaten human flesh, but he says he is certain they are harmless now.
CHARLES F. EMBREE. [From The Chicago Record: March 24, 1899.]
THE PURPLE SPOT ON MAYA BABIES
When I was in Yucatan in 1901 the parish priest of Texax told me that it was said that every pure blood Maya Indian has a violet or purple spot on his back, in the sacral region. He stated that this spot was called by the native name, uits, “bread,” and that it was vulgar or insulting to make reference to it. I at once examined three Mayas of pure blood—a boy of ten years and two adult males—but found no trace of such a spot. I concluded that the presence of the spot might be an infantile character, as it is among the Japanese, but at that time I had no opportunity to examine Maya babies.
Dr. Baelz, a German physician, who has spent many years in Japan, long ago called attention to the existence of such spots on Japanese infants. The spots described by him were of a blue or purple color, were located upon the back (especially in the sacral region), and were variable in form and size. They were temporary, disappearing at from two to eight years of age. The occurrence of these infantile color blotches was so common in Japan as to be almost characteristic of the race.
In time, other students reported similar spots on other Asiatic babies, and on non-Asiatic babies of Mongolian or Mongoloid peoples. Chinese, Annamese, Coreans, Greenland Eskimos, and some Malays are now known to have such spots. Sacral spots have also been reported among Samoans and Hawaiians.
Practically, all these people belong to the great yellow race, as defined by De Quatrefages, and are, if not pure representatives of that race, mixed bloods, in part, of it. Baelz and some other writers have, therefore, gone so far as to consider the purple sacral spot a mark peculiar to that race, and to believe its occurrence proof of Mongolian origin. They have asked whether the spot occurs among American Indians, and would consider its occurrence evidence of an Asiatic origin for our native tribes. Satisfactory observations had not been made. Baelz himself found two cases among Vancouver Island Indians.