Unknown Mexico, Volume 1 (of 2) eBook

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

The people are, for Indians, not especially fond of ornaments, and it is a peculiar fact that mirrors have no special attraction for them.  They do not like to look at themselves.  The women often wear ear-ornaments made of triangular pieces of shell attached to bead strings, or deck themselves with strings of glass beads, of which the large red and blue ones are favourites; and necklaces made from the seed of the Coix Lachryma-Jobi are used by both sexes, chiefly for medicinal purposes.  The men wear only single strings of these seeds, while the necklaces of the women are wound several times around the neck.  The shaman, or medicine-man—­a priest and doctor combined—­is never without such a necklace when officiating at a feast.  The seed is believed to possess many medicinal qualities, and for this reason children, too, often wear it.

Peasant women in Italy and Spain use the same seed as a protection against evil, and even American women have been known to put strings of them on teething children as a soothing remedy.

An important fact I established is that the Indians in the barrancas, in this part of the country, use something like trincheras for the cultivation of their little crops.  To obtain arable land on the mountain slopes the stones are cleared from a convenient spot and utilised in the construction of a wall below the field thus made.  The soil is apt to be washed away by heavy rains, and the wall not only prevents what little earth there is on the place from being carried off, but also catches what may come from above, and in this way secures sufficient ground to yield a small crop.  Fields thus made can even be ploughed.  On the slopes of one arroyo I counted six such terraces, and in the mountainous country on the Rio Fuerte, toward the State of Sinaloa, chile, beans, squashes, Coix Lachryma-Jobi, and bananas are raised on trincheras placed across the arroyos that run down the hills.  There they have the form of small terraces, and remind one of similar ones found farther north as ancient ruins, to such an extent that one might suppose that the Tarahumares have made use of the relics of antiquity.  Mr. Hartman in one long arroyo thereabouts observed four at some distance from one another.  They were from four to ten feet high, and as broad as the little arroyo itself, some eight to sixteen feet.

Chapter VIII

The Houses of the Tarahumares—­American Cave-dwellings of To-day—­Frequent Changes of Abode by the Tarahumare—­The Patio or Dancing Place—­The Original Cross of America—­Tarahumare Storehouses.

The houses we saw on this excursion were of remarkable uniformity, and as the people have had very little, if any, contact with the whites, it is reasonable to infer that these structures are original with them.  On a sloping mesa six families were living in such buildings not far from one another.

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