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Carl Sofus Lumholtz
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 383 pages of information about Unknown Mexico, Volume 1 (of 2).

One contestant after another drops out.  The excitement becomes wilder; more and more people join in accompanying the few runners left, their principal motive being to shout encouraging words to the runners and urge them to exert themselves to the utmost.  And at last the best man comes in, generally alone, the others having either given up the contest or being far behind.

The race usually commences at midday; but often the bets are not finished until late in the afternoon.  It may last four hours and even longer.  A famous runner, now dead, could run from midday until sunrise.  There is no prize for the winner himself, except the golden opinions he earns among the women; and his father may accept presents from lucky bettors.  A man who wins a cow is expected to give two pesos to the victorious runner; in case he wins a goat he gives half a real.

The race over, the wagers are immediately paid and the Indians quickly disperse, soon to arrange for another contest.

Sometimes there is an old man’s race preceding that of the young men, the latter being always the principal event of the day.  Races are also run by women, and the betting and excitement that prevail on these occasions run as high as at the men’s races, though on a smaller scale.  Instead of tossing the ball with their toes, they use a large wooden fork, with two or three prongs, to pitch it forward.  Sometimes they have a ring of twisted strips of yucca leaves instead of the ball, but more often two interlocked rings which they throw ahead with a stick curved at the end.  This game, which is called rowe-mala (rowe signifies a ring), must be very ancient, for rings of this kind have sometimes been found in ancient cliff-dwellings.  It is certainly a strange sight to see these sturdy amazons race heavily along with astonishing perseverance, when creeks and water-holes come in their way, simply lifting their skirts a la Diane and making short work of the crossing.

Chapter XVI

    Religion—­Mother Moon Becomes the Virgin Mary—­Myths—­The
    Creation—­The Deluge—­Folk-lore—­The Crow’s Story to the
    Parrot—­Brother Coyote—­Beliefs about Animals.

The pagans or gentiles in the barrancas say that they have two gods, but no devil.  These gods are Father Sun (Nonorugami) and Mother Moon (Yerugami).  The Sun guards the men in the daytime; therefore the Tarahumares do not transact business after sunset.  He also makes the animals sleep.  The Moon watches at night, and is the special deity of the women.  In her nightly vigils she is assisted by her son, the Morning Star, who commands all the other stars, because they are his sons and they are Tarahumares.  The Stars advise their brothers on earth when thieves are entering their houses.  When the Tarahumares affirm anything solemnly, they say, “By those above!” meaning the Sun, Moon, and the Stars.

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