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The geographical and historical dictionary of America and the West Indies [volume 1]

414

4J4

CHILE.

[into two or three points, which they call that/, andspecify the number by saying, epu thoy-gei tnn enpiaxin, “ what I am going to say is divided intotv\o points.” They employ in their oratory se-veral kinds of style, but the most esteemed is therachidugiin, 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 noother rules in their compositions than the impulseof their imaginations. Of course, their poetry ge-nerally contains strong and lively images, boldfigures, frequent allusions and similitudes, noveland forcible expressions, and possesses the art ofmoving and interesting the heart by exciting itssensibility. Every thing in it is metaphorical andanimated, and allegory is, if we may use the ex-pression, its very soul or essence. The principalsubject of the songs of the Araucanians is the ex-ploits of their heroes. Their verses are composedmostly in stanzas of eight or eleven syllables, ameasure which appears most agreeable to the hu-man ear. They are blank, but occasionally arhyme is introduced, according to the taste orcaprice of the poet.

20. Medical The Araucanians have three

kinds of physicians, the anipives, the vi/eus, andthe machis. The ampixes, a word equivalent toempirics, are the best. They employ in their curesonly simples, arc skilful herbalists, and have somevery 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 opinionheld by many yjhysicians in Europe. For thisreason, they generally give to epidemics the nameof 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 thesavage nations of both continents. They maintaintliat all serious disorders proceed from witchcraft,and pretend to cure them by supernatural means,for which reason they are employed in desperatecases, when the exertions of the ampixes or thevileus are ineffectual. Their mode of cure is de-nominated machitun, and consists in the followingidle ceremonies, which are always performed in thenight. The room of the sick person is lighted witha great number of torches; .and in a corner of it,among several branches of laurel, is placed a largebough of cinnamon, to which is suspended themagical 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 meanwhile he fumigates three times with tobacco smokethe branch of cinnamon, the sheep, the singers, andthe sick person. After this ceremony he kills thesheep, takes out the heart, and after sucking theblood, fixes it upon the branch of cinnamon. Henext approaches the patient, and by certain charmspretends to open his belly to discover the poisonwhich has been given him by the pretended sor-cerer. He then takes the magical drum, which hebeats in concert to a song sung by himself and thewomen, who follow him round the room in proces-sion ; when, all at once, he falls to the ground likea maniac, making frightful gesticulations and hor-rible contortions of his body, sometimes wildlyopening his eyes, then shutting them, appearinglike one possessed of an evil spirit. During thisfarcical scene, the relations of the sick interrogatethe machi upon the cause of the malady. To thesequestions the fanatical impostor replies in such amanner as he believes best calculated to promotethe deception, either by naming, as the cause ofthe malady, some person of whom he wishes to berevenged, or expressing himself doubtfully as tothe success of his incantations. In this mannerthese 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 thesepractices, and sometimes involve in their revengethe whole family, should they not be strong enoughto resist their violence. But these malicious fo-menters of discord are careful never to accuse theprincipal 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. Thesephysicians, notwithstanding the different systemsthey pursue, sometimes meet to satisfy the solici-tude or the vanity of the relations of the sick ; buttheir consultations, which are called thauman,have generally the same issue as those of the physi-cians of Europe. They have besides these otherkinds of professors of medicine. The first, whomay be styled surgeons, are skilful in replacing dis-locations, in repairing fractures, and in curingwounds and ulcers : they are calletl gutarve,possess real merit, and often perform wonderfulcures. But this is by no means the case with theothers, called cupove, from the verb cupon, to ana-]

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