The geographical and historical dictionary of America and the West Indies [volume 1]
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another whose note resembles atrumpet. It abounds in quadrupeds, as mules, horses, and cattle of the large and small kind, the antas, which is called here gran bestia^ (great beast), huanacos, vicunas, llamas, or native sheep, stags, bears, ant-eaters, wild bears, otters, tigers, mountain cats, viscachas, (or large hares), large and small foxes, tortoises, higuanos, and others ; all of which afford food to tlie voracious Indians. In this province are also found many insects, such as scorpions, vipers, snakes of several kinds, some of two heads, and some with rattles, squirrels, mocamucas, ampalabas, or what are called in other countries owls, which are extremely deformed, and attract small animals to them by their screeching, quiriquinchos of various sorts, glow-worms, a great variety of flies and spiders, and of these a large kind very venomous, silk-worms, Avhich, if taken care of, would yield an abundance of silk, locusts, Avhich are eaten by the Indians both dry and fresh ; also ants, the beds of which are so deep as to render the road dangerous for men and for horses to pass, these insects being of such an undaunted and troublesome nature as often to attack a viper or locust in large bodies, and in some settlements to enter a house like a plundering army, devouring every insect and worm in their way, not leaving a single eatable thing untouched ; scarcely shall these have finished their operations, but they are succeeded by another band, and indeed it is very liazardous to disturb them, since they bite very fiercely and cause much pain. This province has no mines, although it is said that formerly some were worked by the Indians ; some little time since, however, one of iron was discovered, when it was thought to have been of gold. This extensive and pleasant country is inhabited by a multitude of infidel Indians, of different nations and of various barbarous customs. It was casually discovered in 1586 by Juan de Banos, a native of Chuquisaca, a factor of the settlement of Yala ; he had an Indian slave who used frequently to run away from his master for a time and return again, and who being asked once whither he went, replied toChacu; this it Avas tliat led to its discovery, and to the subse•quent attempts at several times made to conquer it; first by Martin de Ledesma, afterwards by .Tuan Manso, Don Pedro Lasarte, and lastly by D >11 Christoval de Sanabri, all of which were ineffectual. San Francisco Solano entered the country, and succeeded in reducing some of the natives to the Christian faith ; these, however, soon returned to their idolatry. The regulars of the company of Jesuits likewise engaged themselves in the reduction of this country in 1587, the first of their
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preachers here being Father Alonzo Barzana, called the apostle of Peru ; they continued here for a number of years, and during their stay founded seven settlements. The inhabitants of the whole province are computed at 100,000. Catalogue of the nations which inhabit Chaco.
(Chaco, a large plain of the above province, in which Azara noticed a singular phenomenon, which he calls a large piece of pure iron, flexible and malleable in the forge, but at the same time so hard as not to be cut, though obedient to the file. It contains about 468 cubic feet, and lies on the surface of the large plain of Chaco, on which not a single stone excepting this is to be found ; and what is still more curious, there is no volcano within 300 leagues, nor any iron mine to be heard of in that part of tho country.)