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also are held from time to time. The slaves are strangled and then burnt before the idol, for it is thought the odour of these flames is agreeable to it, just as we believe that our saints like the light of wax and the smoke of incense.
According to very ancient tradition, angry divinities formerly dried up the rivers and springs, at which time the greater part of the natives perished of thirst and hunger. The survivors, abandoning the mountain regions, came down to the vicinity of the seacoast, where they dug pits along the beach to replace the springs. For this reason the caciques and those who have not lost remembrance of those hard times piously and respectfully maintain within their houses priests and walled sanctuaries; they wash and sweep the latter each day, taking care that neither humidity nor blotches nor even grass or the least dirt shall pollute them. When the cacique desires to implore the particular zemes either for sunshine or for rain, or any similar favour wanted for the neighbourhood, he and his priests ascend a platform in the house-chapel, from which none of them come down until the divinity invoked shall have granted their prayers. They redouble the fervency of their petitions, which they believe to be efficacious, and the severity of their fasting, entreating the idol to grant their desires and imploring it not to forget them.
When the Spaniards asked them to what divinity they addressed their prayers they responded that it is to the god who created the heavens, the sun and the moon, and all existing things; and from whom every good thing proceeds. They believe that Dabaiba, the divinity universally venerated in the country, is the mother of this creator.
While the cacique and his companions are engaged in prayer inside the temple, the people, believing themselves obliged to do penance, pass the time in a strict fast lasting four days, during which period they neither drink nor eat anything. To prevent these excessive privations from weakening the stomach, they only drink on the fifth day a beverage in which maize-meal has been dissolved, and little by little their strength comes back. But perhaps it may not be useless to know the manner of summoning people to the ceremonies and the instruments used.
Goaded by their love of gold, a numerous band of armed Spaniards went one day to explore the banks of the Dabaiba River. They cut to pieces a cacique they met on the road, and robbed him of about 14,000 gold pesos. This gold was in the form of artistically wrought articles, amongst which there were three trumpets, and as many bells. One of the bells weighed six hundred pesos while the others were less heavy. When asked for what these trumpets and bells were used, the natives replied that the notes of the trumpets delighted them on feast days and the tinkling of the bells summoned people to ceremonies. The tongue of the bell seemed to be made as are ours, but was so brilliant and so fragile that at first glance one would have thought, save for its length, that it was made of pearls or of the shells of pearl oysters. It was later discovered that it was made from fish-bones. Although beaten gold has a dull sound, the natives affirm that their bells give forth sweet, soft tones which charm the ear. The bell tongue only strikes the extremity of the bell, when moved; just as do ours. Amongst this plunder there were thirteen hundred V golden bells, and all have a pretty tone, just as in Europe. There were also golden pouches, in which the nobles carried their private parts, attaching them behind their backs with little cords. Their priests are obliged to abstain from luxury, and if any one of them were convicted of having violated the laws of chastity, he would be stoned or burned, for they believe that chastity pleases the Creator above everything else. While fasting or praying, their faces are washed and rubbed, but at all other times they paint their bodies. They raise their hands and eyes towards heaven. It is not only from lascivious women and all carnal acts they must abstain during this period, but even from their wives.
So simple are these natives that they have no name for the soul, nor do they realise its power. When asked what is this mysterious something, invisible and incomprehensible, which gives life to men and animals, they are amazed and stammer. They, however, affirm that there exists something after this terrestrial life. This something after our passage through this world has to do with eternal felicity if we live unpolluted, and have preserved from contamination the body confided to us. If, on the contrary, we have allowed ourselves to be carried away by some shameful passion or have committed acts of violence or fury, we shall suffer a thousand tortures in gloomy places under the centre of the earth. In speaking of this, the natives raise their hands and point to heaven, or they lower them and point to the interior of the earth.
The bodies of the dead are buried in tombs, and women follow the funerals of their husbands. A man may have as many wives as he chooses, but not among his near relatives, unless they are widows. The reason of this is a superstitious belief, sufficiently ridiculous in itself, but which has taken a firm hold upon them; for they pretend the patch visible upon the face of the moon, when it is full represents a man who is cast into that damp and freezing planet to suffer perpetual cold, in expiation of incest committed with his sister.
Above each tomb a small cavity is scooped out, in which every year a little maize and some of their usual drinks are deposited; for they believe these gifts will not be useless to the manes of their deceased relatives. A barbarous act in excess of anything one could imagine is the following. When a nursing mother dies, the living child is buried with her. Widows either remarry with the brother or
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the nearest relative of the husband, especially when they have children. The natives are easily deceived by their priests, and from this arise a thousand silly practices which they religiously preserve. Their life is passed in the country watered by the Dabaiba River.
I quote some other similar particulars which have been reported to me by trustworthy witnesses who have visited these southern countries. It is well to remember that these details have been omitted by Egidius Gonzales and his companions. Besides Egidius, a number of other captains have, as I have stated, frequently explored with their fleets these immense regions and tribes towards the south.
Not to mention many errors peculiar to them, there is one amongst the caciques of this country like unto which I have never read or heard anything. The king and the nobles alone are considered to have immortal souls. Other people possess souls which die with their bodies. An exception exists for indispensable servants of princes and those amongst them who, when their masters die, choose to be buried alive with them. In fact they are convinced that the souls of kings, once freed from their human bodies, enjoy perpetual delights, in evergreen gardens where they eat, drink, play, and dance with young women, or divert themselves as they did in their lifetime. This is the tradition handed down from their ancestors and for them is an article of faith. For this reason, numbers gladly cast themselves into the graves of their masters. If the prince's servants fail to fulfil this duty, their souls forfeit immortality and perish. We have already noted the same custom among the widows of caciques in other regions.
Each year the heirs of the cacique and the lords repeat the funeral ceremonies, according to ancient rites. The ceremony proceeds in the following order: The cacique or lord invites his subjects and neighbours to the tomb. Each one brings some of the usual wine but the organiser of the ceremony supplies all the food. Men and women, but especially the women, pass the whole of the first night watching, during which they give vent to mournful cries, deploring in funeral canticles the fate of the dead, especially if he has been killed by his enemies in war; for although they are content with so little in their life, the barbarians nourish eternal hatred amongst themselves.
They speak in offensive language of the life and morals of the victorious enemy, heaping furious insults upon him; they call him tyrant, cruel traitor, accusing him of having triumphed over their master and ravaging the country by fraud, and not by courage and virtue. Such indeed is the habit of these barbarians. Presently they bring a figure representing the enemy, and engage in mimic combat with it, wounding it and finally cutting it into bits, as a sterile sort of vengeance for their master. Then they give themselves up to eating and drinking, until drunkenness and nausea overtake them.
They have intoxicating herbs, from which they manufacture different drinks, as the Flemish make beer of barley and fruits, and the Galicians cider from apples. Afterwards they begin to dance and sing until they drop exhausted, exalting the virtues of their master, congratulating him on being good, generous, devoted to his people, self-sacrificing for the good of his subjects, free-handed in distributing seeds amongst them,—this being the chief duty of the cacique,—and finally upon being a brave soldier, and a skilful general in war. The lamentations are renewed and they begin again to deplore his death, crying, "He has robbed us of you, O illustrious Prince! Alas! the fatal day that has deprived us of such a great joy. Alas, unfortunate creatures that we are, to have lost such a father of the country!"
After many repetitions of these laments and others of the same sort, they turn to the reigning cacique and praise his merits, his courage, and his other virtues. They