Изображения страниц

peared in narratives of various voyagers, and in letters from missionaries sent out by the South American Missionary Society, especially those of the Rev. Thos. Bridges, to whom we are greatly indebted, not only for much valuable information regarding the people, but also for most of the skeletons and skulls the description of which will form the chief subject of this communication. Before beginning the anatomy of the Fuegians I have thought it desirable to give a resumé of the knowledge we possess regarding them and their social customs.

The inhabitants of Fuegia are scattered along the coasts and are usually to be found located at the heads of bays and creaks in sheltered spots; the interior of the country is, as far as we know, uninhabited. The Fuegians never possess fixed places of abode or villages, but wander about in small detachments from place to place, constructing, during their temporary residence at any place, shelters, called wigwams, of the branches of trees. They travel from place to place chiefly in their canoes, which are to them what horses are to the Patagonians. The only domestic animal they possess is the dog.

Captain Fitzroy describes four different tribes inhabiting the Fuegian archipelago; they are-1st, the Yacana-Kunny tribe, now called the Onas, who inhabit the north-eastern, eastern, and south-eastern shores of King Charles's Land as far as Sloggett Bay; 2nd, the Tekeenica tribe, now called the Yahgans, inhabiting the shores of the Beagle Channel and the islands to the south of it; 3rd, the Alikhoolip tribe, now called the Alaculoofs, who occupy the western islands from Stewart Islands to Cape Pillar; 4th, the Pecheray tribe, a name given by Fitzroy to the people dwelling on the shores of the central part of the Straits of Magellan, but of whose existence as a distinct tribe I am unable to find any confirmation in the writings of Mr. Bridges or others. Information on this point is very desirable.

The Onas are a tall stout race of men, of a redish brown colour, resembling the inhabitants of Eastern Patagonia, of whom they are now generally considered to be a branch. They clothe themselves in long loose mantles extending from their shoulders to their ankles, made of the skin of the guanaco, the flesh of which appears to be their principal article of food. Those in the southern part of the island were found by Mr. Bridges "living apart, family by family. In ordinary weather they are content with the shelter of a few guanaco skins to shut off the wind, nothing overhead or to leeward save the foliage of the trees. They also much frequent caves and any shelter afforded by overhanging rocks. Their language is very jerky and gutteral, difficult to pronounce and to determine its spelling." Where the guanaco is scarce, and as a variety in their food where that

animal is more abundant, they live largely on shell-fish, fish, and seals, also" on a considerable variety of strange food, half animal and half vegetable, they find washed up on their coasts." Among the eastern and southern Onas a large mixture of Yahgan women are to be found who are known not only by their language but by being shorter than the Ona women. The weapons used by the Ona tribe are bows and arrows, balls (bolas), slings, lances, and clubs, and their chief employment is hunting.

The Yahgan tribe is the best known to us, through the South American Missionary Society having chiefly directed its energy towards their civilisation, and that with very considerable success. They were considered by Fitzroy and Darwin to be amongst the most degraded of savages, and have been graphically described by Fitzroy as "low of stature, ill-looking, and badly proportioned. Their colour is that of very old mahogany, or rather, between dark copper and bronze. The trunk of the body is large in proportion to their cramped and rather crooked limbs. Their rough, coarse, and extremely dirty black hair half hides, yet heightens, a villainous expression of the worst description of savage features. They suffer little hair to grow excepting on their heads. Even their eyebrows are almost eradicated, two mussel shells serving for pincers. Sometimes these satires upon mankind wear a part of the skin of a guanaco or a sealskin upon their backs, and perhaps the skin of a penquin or a bit of hide hangs in front; but often there is nothing to hide their nakedness or to preserve warmth excepting a scrap of hide, which is tied to the side or back of the body by a string round the waist. Even this is only for a pocket, in which they may carry stones for their slings and hide what they pick up and pilfer. Women wear rather more clothing than the men.

Neither men nor women have any substitute for shoes." No ornaments are worn in the nose, ears, or lips, nor do they tattoo themselves; but both sexes are fond of necklaces and bracelets, which are usually made of shells or pieces of birds' bones. They rub themselves over with grease or oil, and paint their faces and bodies of various colours with ochre, clay, or charcoal. The weapons of this tribe are small lances headed with wood or bone, bows and arrows headed with stones, clubs, and slings. Their wigwams are of a conical form, with two openings or entrances, exactly opposite each other, and made of a number of long poles or young trees, placed touching one another in a circle, with the small ends meeting in the centre; sometimes a few branches of grass or pieces of bark are laid against the side exposed to the wind. In the centre is the hearth, on which 1 "South American Missionary Magazine," October, 1812, p. 125. 21 Voyage of the Adventurer and Beagle," vol. ii, p. 137.

a wood fire burns, and surrounding it a few branches or handfuls of grass form places of repose for the inmates during the night.

Their canoes are made of several large pieces of bark, sewed together and kept from collapsing by sticks placed transversely across; in the bottom of the canoe is placed a quantity of mud or clay, on which a wood fire burns in the middle. The usual dimensions of a canoe is about 15 feet long and nearly 3 feet broad. The sea furnishes this tribe with their principal food, which consists of shell-fish, fish, birds and their eggs, seals, porpoises, and other Cetacea, and indeed anything they can obtain. The guanaco does not exist in many parts of their country; where it is found they hunt it with dogs in the snow during the winter months.

The Alaculoofs seem to resemble the Yahgans very closely in their physical characters and mode of life. Fitzroy, however, states that they are superior to them, being the stoutest and hardiest, and the women the least ill-looking of the Fuegians. They make their wigwams beehive-shaped, and frequently excavate them within. They also clothe themselves better than the Yahgans. More information is wanted, however, regarding them.

The Pecherays, if they exist as a distinct tribe from the other two as stated by Fitzroy, seem to be as miserable as the Yahgans, and to lead a life very similar to theirs. They construct their wigwams of a beehive shape like the Alaculoofs.1 More information is, however, wanted regarding them also.

The Fuegians do not seem to have any form of government, superiority of one over another being acquired by age, sagacity, or daring conduct. In families, and in the small clans into which the tribes are broken up, the word of the old men is accepted as law by the younger people.

They marry young, and among the Yahgans and Alaculoofs bigamy is common. In order to procure a wife a youth has to obtain the consent of her relatives and do some work for them, such as to assist in building a canoe. Then, having procured one for himself, he watches his opportunity and carries off his bride. Should she object to the suit she hides herself in the woods and avoids him till at last she gets rid of him.

When a person dies, his relatives wrap the body up in skins and carry it a long way into the woods, where they place it on pieces of wood, and pile a quantity of branches over it. They also in some places deposit their dead in caves. Fortunately, they can be easily induced to part with the bones of their deceased relatives, according to Captain Bové, which it would

I am inclined to believe that Mr. Bridges considers the Pecherays a branch of the Alaculoofs.

Fig. 1. Norma Frontalis.

Fig. 2. Norma Lateralis.


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »