Status: Complete
Show Translation

C H I L E.


[of a people, wlio, to preserve their intlepeudencc,
have shed such torrents of Spanish biood.

2. Character. — The Araucanians, aithoiighlhej
do not exceed the ordinary height of the human
species, are in general muscular, robust, well
proportioned, and of a martial appearance. It is
very unusual to find among them any person w'ho
is crooked or deformed, not from their pursuing,
as some have supposed, the cruel custom of the
ancient Spartans, of sufibcating such unfortunate
children, but because they leave to nature the care
of forming them, Avithout obstructing her opera-
tions by the improper application of bandages and
stays. Their complexion, Avith the exception of
the Boroancs, who are fair and ruddy, is of a
reddish broAvn, but yet clearer than that of the
other Americans ; they have round faces, small
animated eyes full of expression, a nose rather flat,
a handsome mouth, even and white teeth, muscu-
lar and well shaped legs, and small flat feet ; like
the Tartars, they have scarce any beard, and the
smallest hair is never to be discerned on their faces,
from the care they take to pluck out the little that
appears ; they esteem it very impolite to have a
beard, calling the Europeans, by Avay of reproach,
the long beards. The same attention is paid to
removing the hair from their bodies, Avhere its
growth is more abundant ; that of their heads is
thick and black, but rather coarse ; they permit it
to groAv to a great length, and Avind it in tresses
around their heads ; of this they are as proud and
careful as they are averse to beards, nor could a
greater affront be offered them than to cut it off.
Their Avomen are delicately formed, and many of
them, especially among the Boroanes, are very
handsome. Possessed of great strength of consti-
tution, and unencumbered with the cares that
disturb civilized society, they are not subject, ex-
cept at a very advanced period of life, to the in-
firmities attendant upon old age ; they rarely be-
gin to be grey before they are 60 or 70, and arc
not bald or Avrinkled until 80 ; they are generally
longer lived than the Spaniards, and many are to
be met Avitli Avhose age exceeds 100 ; and to the
latest period of their lives, they retain their sight,
teeth, and memory unimpaired. Their moral
qualities are proportionate to their personal en-
dowments ; tiiey are intrepid, animated, ardent,
patient in enduring fatigue, ever ready to sacri-
fice their lives in the service of their country, en-
thusiastic lovers of liberty, which they consider
as an essential constituent of their existence, jea-
lous of their honour, courteous, hospitable, faith-
ful to their engagements, grateful for services ren-
dered them, and generous and humane towards

the vanquished. But these noble qualities arc
obscured by the vices inseparable from the half
savage state of life Avhich they lead, unrefined by
literature or cultivation; these are drunkenness,
debauchery, presumption, and a hauglity con-
tempt for all other nations. Were the civil man-
ners and innocent improvements of Europe intro-
duced among them, they Avould soon become a
people deserving of universal esteem ; but under
the present system, this happy change appears
impossible to be effected.

3. Dress. — All those nations, Avhom either the
nature of the climate or a sense of decency has
induced to clothe themselves, have made use at
first of loose garments, as being the most easily
made. But the Araucanians, from their great
attachment to war, Avhich they consider as the
only true source of glory, haAm adopted the short
garment, as best suited to martial conflicts ; this
dress is made of wool, as Avas that of the Greeks
and Romans, and consists of a shirt, a vest, a pair
of short close breeches, and a cloak in form of a
scapulary, Avith an opening in the middle for the
head, made full and long so as to cover the hands
and descend to the knees ; this cloak is called
poncho, and is much more commodious than our
mantles, as it leaves the arms at liberty, and may
be throAvn over the shoulder at pleasure ; it is also
a better protection from the wind and the rain, and
more convenient for riding on horseback, for
Avhich reason it is commonly Avorn, not only by the
Spaniards in Chile, but by those of Peru and Pa-
raguay. The shirt, vest, and breeches are abvays
of a greenish blue, or turquois, which is the fa-
vourite colour of the nation, as red is that of the
Tartars. The poficho is also, among persons of
inferior condition, of a greenish blue; but those
of tlie higlier classes Avear it of different colours,
either Avhite, red, or blue, Avith stripes a span broad,
on Avhich are Avrought, Avith much skill, figures of
floAvers and animals in various colours, and the bor-
der is ornamented with a handsome^ fringe : some
of these po«c/ms are of so fine and elegant a tex-
ture as to be sold for 150 dollars. The Arauca-
nians make use of neither turbans nor hats, but
Avear upon their heads a bandage of embroidered
Avool, in the form of the ancient diadem ; this,
whenever they salute, tiioy raise a little as a mark
of courtesy, and on going to Avar ornament it with
a number of beautiful plumes ; they also wear
around the body a long Avoollen girdle or sash
handsomely Avrought. Persons of rank wear avooI-
len boots of various colours, and leather sandals,
called chelle, but the common people ahvays go
barefooted. The women arc clad with innch ,
3 r 2


Notes and Questions

Please sign in to write a note for this page


This section is not in Alcedo's text