Show Translation



[into two or three points, which they call that/, and
specify the number by saying, epu thoy-gei tnn en
piaxin, “ what I am going to say is divided into
tv\o points.” They employ in their oratory se-
veral kinds of style, but the most esteemed is the
rachidugiin, a word equivalent to academic.

19. /befry.— Their poets are called gempin,
lords of speech. This expressive name is well ap-
]died to them, since, possessing that strong enthu-
siasm excited by passions undebilitated by the re-
straints and refinements of civil life, they follow no
other rules in their compositions than the impulse
of their imaginations. Of course, their poetry ge-
nerally contains strong and lively images, bold
figures, frequent allusions and similitudes, novel
and forcible expressions, and possesses the art of
moving and interesting the heart by exciting its
sensibility. Every thing in it is metaphorical and
animated, and allegory is, if we may use the ex-
pression, its very soul or essence. The principal
subject of the songs of the Araucanians is the ex-
ploits of their heroes. Their verses are composed
mostly in stanzas of eight or eleven syllables, a
measure which appears most agreeable to the hu-
man ear. They are blank, but occasionally a
rhyme is introduced, according to the taste or
caprice of the poet.

20. Medical The Araucanians have three

kinds of physicians, the anipives, the vi/eus, and
the machis. The ampixes, a word equivalent to
empirics, are the best. They employ in their cures
only simples, arc skilful herbalists, and have some
very good ideas of the pulse, and the other diagnos-
tics. The vileus correspond to the regular piiy-
sicians. Their principal theory is, that all conta-
gious disorders proceed from insects, an opinion
held by many yjhysicians in Europe. For this
reason, they generally give to epidemics the name
of cut am pirn, that is to sny, vermiculous disorders,
or diseases of worms. The machis are a supersti-
tious class, that are to be met with among all the
savage nations of both continents. They maintain
tliat all serious disorders proceed from witchcraft,
and pretend to cure them by supernatural means,
for which reason they are employed in desperate
cases, when the exertions of the ampixes or the
vileus are ineffectual. Their mode of cure is de-
nominated machitun, and consists in the following
idle ceremonies, which are always performed in the
night. The room of the sick person is lighted with
a great number of torches; .and in a corner of it,
among several branches of laurel, is placed a large
bough of cinnamon, to which is suspended the
magical drum ; near it is a sheep ready for sacri-
fice, The machi directs the women who are pre-

sent to sing with a loud voice a doleful song, ac-
companied with the sound of some little drums,
which they beat at the same time. In the mean
while he fumigates three times with tobacco smoke
the branch of cinnamon, the sheep, the singers, and
the sick person. After this ceremony he kills the
sheep, takes out the heart, and after sucking the
blood, fixes it upon the branch of cinnamon. He
next approaches the patient, and by certain charms
pretends to open his belly to discover the poison
which has been given him by the pretended sor-
cerer. He then takes the magical drum, which he
beats in concert to a song sung by himself and the
women, who follow him round the room in proces-
sion ; when, all at once, he falls to the ground like
a maniac, making frightful gesticulations and hor-
rible contortions of his body, sometimes wildly
opening his eyes, then shutting them, appearing
like one possessed of an evil spirit. During this
farcical scene, the relations of the sick interrogate
the machi upon the cause of the malady. To these
questions the fanatical impostor replies in such a
manner as he believes best calculated to promote
the deception, either by naming, as the cause of
the malady, some person of whom he wishes to be
revenged, or expressing himself doubtfully as to
the success of his incantations. In this manner
these diabolical mountebanks become very fre-
quently the cause of horrible murders ; as the re-
lations of the sick, supposing the accusation true,
put to death without pity those accused of these
practices, and sometimes involve in their revenge
the whole family, should they not be strong enough
to resist their violence. But these malicious fo-
menters of discord are careful never to accuse the
principal families. The machis, though not in-
vested with the sacerdotal character, like the ph^'si-
cians of most other savage nations, greatly resem-
ble in their impostures the shamanis of Kamschatka,
the woAArs of Africa, and the piachis of Orenoque,
whose tricks are accurately described by the Abbe
(lili, in his History of the Orinokians. These
physicians, notwithstanding the different systems
they pursue, sometimes meet to satisfy the solici-
tude or the vanity of the relations of the sick ; but
their consultations, which are called thauman,
have generally the same issue as those of the physi-
cians of Europe. They have besides these other
kinds of professors of medicine. The first, who
may be styled surgeons, are skilful in replacing dis-
locations, in repairing fractures, and in curing
wounds and ulcers : they are calletl gutarve,
possess real merit, and often perform wonderful
cures. But this is by no means the case with the
others, called cupove, from the verb cupon, to ana-]

Notes and Questions

Please sign in to write a note for this page


This section is not in Alcedo's text