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 treatment accorded to the dead by these people, and their notions regarding them, are, in the main, the same as those obtaining with the tribes which I visited before them, but there are some new features that are of interest.  Here, for instance, near the head of the dead, who lies stretched out on the ground in the house, the shaman places a god’s eye and three arrows; and at his feet another arrow.  He sings an incantation and smokes tobacco, though not on the dead, while the widow makes yarn from some cotton, which she has first handed to the shaman.  When she has finished the yarn, she gives it to the shaman, who tears it into two pieces of equal length, which he ties to the arrow standing at the right-hand side of the man.  One piece he rubs over with charcoal; this is for the dead, and is tied lower down on the arrow.  He winds it in a ball, except the length which reaches from the arrow to the middle of the body, where the ball is placed under the dead man’s clothes.  The other thread the shaman holds in his left hand, together with his pipe and plumes.  After due incantations he divides the white thread into pieces of equal length, as many as there are members of the family, and gives one piece to each.  They tie them around their necks and wear them for one year.  Afterward they are mixed with Some other material and from them a ribbon or girdle is made.

On the fifth day the dead is despatched from this world.  In the small hours of the morning the shaman, with his plumes and pipe, and a jar of water into which some medicinal herbs have been thrown, leads the procession toward the west, while the people, including women and children, carry branches of the zapote-tree.  They stop, while it is still dark, and the shaman steps forward and despatches the deceased.  He returns very soon, and sprinkles water on the people and toward the west, where the dead has gone.

Chapter XXVII

    Inexperienced Help—­How to Acquire Riches from the
    Mountains—­Sierra del Nayarit—­The Coras—­Their Aversion to
    “Papers”—­Their Part in Mexican Politics—­A Dejeuner a la
    Fourchette—­La Danza.

It is practically impossible to travel from tribe to tribe in Mexico without changing muleteers, not only because the men generally object to going so far from their homes, but also because it is not advantageous to employ men who do not know the country through which they are passing.  Whenever the Indians understood something about packing mules, I preferred them to the Mexicans, because I could learn much from them on the way.  The latter part of my travels I employed none but Indians.

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