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).
hunter but a poor shot he brought home but little game, and made his living chiefly by trading with the Indians.  He was the picture of good-nature, laughing with the Indians at their jokes, and weeping with them at their sorrows.  Among them he passed as a wit, and being very honest was a general favourite.  He never took anything without asking, but was not backward about that.  Of his teeth he had hardly any but two of his upper incisors left, which was rather hard for a man of his ravenous appetite; but he utilised them with such squirrel-like dexterity as almost to keep pace with others.

Chapter XIII

The Tarahumare Physique—­Bodily Movements—­Not as Sensitive to Pain as White Men—­Their Phenomenal Endurance—­Health—­Honesty—­Dexterity and Ingenuity—­Good Observers of the Celestial Bodies and Weather-forecasters—­Hunting and Shooting—­Home Industries—­Tesvino, the Great National Drink of the Tribe—­Other Alcoholic Drinks.

The Tarahumare of to-day is of medium size and more muscular than his North American cousin, but his cheek-bones are equally prominent.  His colour is light chocolate-brown.  I was rather surprised often to find the faces of the people living in the warm barrancas of a lighter colour than the rest of their bodies.  The darkest complexions, strange to say, I encountered on the highlands near Guachochic.  In the higher altitudes the people also develop higher statures and are more muscular than in the lower portions of the country.

Both men and women wear long, flowing, straight black hair, which in rare cases is a little wavy.  When a woman marries, I am told, she cuts her hair once.  When the hair is cut because it has grown too long and troublesome, they place it under a stone or hang it in a tree.  A shaman once cut his hair short to get new thoughts with the new hair, and while it was growing he kept his head tied up in a piece of cotton cloth to keep his thoughts from escaping.  When the people are very old, the hair turns gray; but they never grow bald.  Beards are rare, and if they appear the Indians pull them out.  Their devil is always represented with a beard, and they call the Mexicans derisively shabotshi, “the bearded ones.”  Much as they enjoy tobacco, an Indian would not accept some from me, because he feared that coming from a white man it would cause a beard to grow on his face.

There are more women in the tribe than men.  They are smaller, but generally just as strong as the other sex, and when angered, for instance by jealousy, the wife may be able to beat her husband.  Hands and feet are small.  Many of the women have surprisingly small and well-shaped bones, while the men are more powerfully built.  The corner teeth differ from the front teeth in that they are thicker, and, in spite of exceptionally fine teeth, tooth-ache is not unknown in the tribe.  Men, even those who are well nourished, are never stout.  The women are more inclined to corpulency.

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