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).

The skull does not present any deformities or fractures, and the singular aperture is almost exactly round, measuring two centimetres in diameter.  A careful examination shows that the cut was made a long time, several years in fact, before death.  The regularity of the hole indicates beyond doubt that it is artificial.

Another skull taken from a burial-cave near Nararachic is also that of a female, and the opening here, too, is in the parietal bone, and in almost the same place as the opening in the first skull described.  In this second specimen the cavity is almost filled in with new bone, and as in this instance the edges are very regular and uniform, and distinctly beveled, they show that the operation was performed by scraping.  This cannot be said of the first specimen found; the almost circular form of the opening, and its perpendicular walls, prove conclusively that in this instance the surgeon did not employ the simple method of scraping the bone.  I have never found among the Tarahumares any implement with which such an operation could have been performed.  Possibly it was done with a kind of flint wimble with three teeth, much like the instrument used to-day in trepanning by the Berbers in L’Aures, who cure even headaches by this method.  It is, of course, impossible to say now whether the ancients performed the operation simply to relieve the patient of bone splinters, pus, blood, etc., pressing on the brain, or whether it was done to let out an evil spirit.  It is the first time that cases of trepanning have been found in Mexico.

Chapter XVIII

Relation of Man to Nature—­Dancing as a Form of Worship Learned from the Animals—­Tarahumare Sacrifices—­The Rutuburi Dance Taught by the Turkey—­The Yumari Learned from the Deer—­Tarahumare Rain Songs—­Greeting the Sun—­Tarahumare Oratory—­The Flowing Bowl—­The National Importance of Tesvino—­Homeward Bound.

Since the people obtain their subsistence from the products of the soil, they naturally are deeply concerned in the weather upon which their crops depend.  Rain, therefore, is the focal point from which all their thoughts radiate.  Even the plough is dipped into water before it is put to use, in order that it may draw rain.  The people may try to force the moon and the sun to give them rain.  In times of drought they reproach especially the moon for making the people live on the leaves of the ash-tree and what other poor stuff they can find; on her account they are getting so thin that they can no longer recognise themselves.  They scold her, and threaten to denounce her to the sun.  The sun himself may be rebuked for lack of rain.  At other times they may throw up water to heaven with many ceremonies, that Tata Dios may replenish his supply.  Generally, however, their relations with the gods, as with men, are based on the business principle of give and take.

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