Unknown Mexico, Volume 1 (of 2) eBook

Carl Sofus Lumholtz
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 450 pages of information about Unknown Mexico, Volume 1 (of 2).

But the greater part of the Tarahumares are nominally Christians, though all that they know of Christianity are the words Senor San Jose and Maria Santissima.  Moreover, they have adopted the words Tata (Father) Dios (God) for their Father Sun; and the Virgin Mary becomes with them a substitute for Mother Moon, and in natural sequence the wife of Tata Dios.  They celebrate in their own peculiar way all the Christian feasts they know, with as much pleasure and as elaborately as their own native ceremonies.

Next in importance is the Devil, whom they fear even more than their own sorcerers.  He is always represented with a big beard, such as the Mexicans wear.  He is old and has only one eye, and the shamans have seen him often.  He plays the guitar, but never the violin, because the bow and the strings form a cross.  He would like very much to go to heaven, and the shamans have to work hard to keep him from doing so.  There is also a female devil, his wife, who bears many children, always twins, who are the original Mexicans.

Their paradise consists in big ranches, where they will get all the animals which in this life they sacrificed to Tara Dios.  The occupation of Tata Dios in heaven is to run foot-races with the angels, while the Devil vies with the sorcerers in making the lives of the Tarahumares uncomfortable, he being the chief sorcerer of all.

The Tarahumares are the sons of God, and the Mexicans the sons of the Devil.  For this reason the Tarahumares say that it is no crime to eat the cows of the Mexicans; they think the cows do not really belong to the Shabotshi anyway.  Neither do they tell when a Tarahumare steals anything from a Mexican, while they are very quick to find out if one Tarahumare steals from another.

I give here some of the myths and traditions of the tribe.  Those which Christian ideas have entered into will easily be recognised, and it is not necessary to draw special attention to them.

Creation Myths

In the beginning there were many worlds before this, but one after the other came to an end.  Just before the world was destroyed for the last time, all the rivers flowed toward the place where the sun rises.  But now the waters also flow toward the other side, where the sun sets. [5]

The bears put the world into shape.  Before their time it was nothing but a waste of sand.

In ancient times there were plenty of lagoons around Guachochic; but the land was put in order, when the people came and began to dance yumari.

The rocks were at first soft and small; but they grew until they became large and hard.  They have life inside.

The people grew up from the soil, while the earth was as level as a field ready for sowing.  But in those days they lived to be only one year old, and then they died like the flowers.

According to another tradition they descended from heaven with corn and potatoes in their ears, and were led by Tata Dios into these mountains, the middle of the world, having originally come from the north-east or east.

Project Gutenberg
Unknown Mexico, Volume 1 (of 2) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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