[Footnote 77: The distance from one station to another varies from six to twelve miles.]
[Footnote 78: Repartimientos (literally, distributions) were the compulsory sale of articles by the provincial authorities.]
Road to the Primeval Forests—Barbacoas, or Indian Suspension Bridges—Vegetation—Hollow Passes—Zoology—the Montana—Plantations—Inhabitants—Trade in Peruvian Bark—Wandering Indians—Wild Indians or Indios Bravos—Languages, Manners, and Customs of the Indios Bravos—Dress—Warlike Weapons and Hunting Arms—Dwellings—Religion—Physical formation of the Wild Indian Tribes—Animals of the Aboriginal Forests—Mammalia—Hunting the Ounce—Birds—Amphibia—Poisonous Serpents—Huaco—Insects—Plants.
Leaving Ceja de la Montana, we will trace the route to the Aboriginal forests, which extend eastwardly from the bases of the Andes. The whole plain is overspread by a thick veil of mist, which does not disperse until about noon, and then an undulating dark green canopy clouds the vapory atmosphere. A European, whose heart throbs at the bare idea of one of those vast virgin forests, gazes anxiously forward on the boundless distance, and finds the pace of his cautious mule too tardy for his impatient hopes and wishes. He beholds in perspective the goal of his long journey. Nature, in all her virginal freshness and grandeur, opens to his astonished eyes, and he feels a sensation of delight he never before experienced. Regardless of present toil and danger, he sees only the pleasure to come. But he is soon drawn back to cool reality, and is forcibly reminded of the truth, that every enjoyment must be earned by labor. The road is broken, narrow, and steep; over the woody sides of the hill it is easily passable; but as soon as it begins to descend, it presents all those difficulties which have been interestingly described by the early travellers in Peru. The scanty population of the surrounding districts, the native listlessness of the Indians, and their indifference to the conveniences of life, are obstacles to the making of roads which might be passable without difficulty and danger. However, where nature from the state of the country has compelled man to establish a communication, it is executed in the most rude and unsatisfactory manner. A most decided proof of this is apparent in the bridges called barbacoas, which are constructed where the way is through a derumbo, or a small narrow mountain-pass, or where there is an obstruction caused by a rock which cannot be passed circuitously. The barbacoas are constructed in the following manner. Stakes from three to three and a half feet long are driven into the ground, or into the crevices of rocks. Over the ends of these stakes are fastened strong branches of trees, the interstices are filled up with mud, and the whole is covered by a sort of matting composed of plaited branches and reeds. If the ground admits of it, which is seldom the case, a pile of stones is built up beneath the barbacoa, extending to at least one half its breadth. When it is considered that there is, probably, on the one side of this bridge, a rock inclining at a very acute angle, or an almost perpendicular declivity of a hill of loose earth, and that on the other side there yawns a deep abyss against which there is not the least protection, the traveller may well be pardoned if he shudders as he passes over the creaking and shaking barbacoa. These fragile bridges are often so much worn, that the feet of the mules slip through the layers of mud and reeds, and whilst making efforts to disengage themselves, the animals fall over the edge of the barbacoa, and are hurled into the chasm below, dragging down the crazy structure along with them. In consequence of these accidents, the way is often for weeks, or even months, impassable.
In the construction of these rude bridges, I observed that the Indians, in their simplicity, always faithfully copy their great instructress, nature. The majority of the plants growing in these regions belong, if I may use the expression, to an aerial vegetation. The small, gnarled, low-branched trees, have often scarcely one half of their roots in the earth: the other half spreads over the surface of the soil; then winding round the roots or branches of some neighboring plant, fastens on it, and intimately uniting with it, forms a kind of suspension bridge, over which the intertwining of numerous luxuriant climbing plants makes a strong, impenetrable network. All the trees and shrubs are covered with innumerable parasites, which, in the higher regions, are met with in their smaller forms, as lichens, mosses, &c.; but lower down, in the course of the various transformations they undergo, they appear in larger development.
The whole vegetable kingdom here is stamped by a peculiar character. It presents immense fulness and luxuriance: it spreads widely, with but little upward development, rising on the average only a few feet above the earth. Trees, shrubs, and tendrils, in endless complication of color, entwine together, sometimes fostering, sometimes crushing each other. Out of the remains of the dead arises a new generation, with an increase of vital impulse. It seems as though the ice-crowned Andes looked down with envy on the luxuriant vegetation of the forests, and sought to blight it by sending down cold, nightly winds. The low temperature of the night counteracts that extreme development which the humidity of the soil and the great heat of the day promote. But what the vegetation loses in upward growth it gains in superficial extension, and thereby it secures more protection against the ever-alternating temperature.
The further we descend the eastern declivity, the more difficult becomes the way. During the rainy season deep fissures are worked out by the flow of waters; the ground is slippery and full of holes. The sides of these hollow passes are often so close together that the rider cannot keep his legs down on each side of his mule, and is obliged to raise up his feet and thrust them forward. When beasts of burthen, coming in opposite directions, meet in these places, the direst confusion ensues, and frequently sanguinary conflicts arise among the Indians. The weaker party are then obliged to unload their mules, and the poor beasts are dragged backward by their hind legs, until they reach a point at which there is sufficient space for the others to pass. When I was proceeding through one of these cavities on Christmas-eve, 1840, I encountered a heavily laden ass coming down a steep declivity. Ere I had time to leap from my saddle, the ass came direct upon me with such force that my horse was driven backwards by the concussion, and I was thrown. Ten months afterwards, another encounter of the same kind threatened me with a similar disaster, and to save myself I had no alternative but to shoot the ass. The Indian who was driving the animal neglected the usual warning cry, given by the arrieros when they enter those dangerous passes, and he was regardless of my repeated calls desiring him to stop.
In some steep places, with the view of improving the roads, the Indians lay down large stones in the form of steps; but to ride over these rude flights of steps is no easy task, for the stones are small, and are placed at the distance of a foot and a half or two feet apart. The mule begins by placing his hind feet on the first stone, then springing forward he reaches the third stone with his fore feet, at the same time placing his hind feet to the second. By this manoeuvre the mule's body is kept at full stretch, and the rider is obliged to lean forward over the animal's neck to avoid being thrown head-foremost by the violent jerks when the mule springs from step to step. It is absolute torture to ride down a descent of five or six leagues, along a road such as I have just described: willingly would the harassed rider dismount and pursue his course on foot; but were he to attempt to do so, the mule would stand stock still. I have already remarked the singular obstinacy with which the mules refuse to proceed when their riders dismount, and it sometimes gives rise to very comical scenes. On my way to Vitoc, I was passing through a ravine in which the uprooted trunk of a tree was resting slantwise against a rock. Though there was not room for me to ride under it, yet there was sufficient space to allow my mule to pass, and I accordingly dismounted; but all my efforts to drive the animal forward were fruitless. I had no alternative but to ride close up to the tree, then spurring the mule, I quickly slipped out of the saddle, and seizing the trunk of the tree, I hung to it until the mule had passed on.
No less difficult and dangerous are the steep declivities over loamy soils, which are frequently met with in these districts. On them the mule has no firm footing, and is in danger of slipping down at every step. But the wonderful instinct of these animals enables them to overcome the difficulty. They approximate the hind and fore feet in the manner of the Chamois goat, when he is about to make a spring, and lowering the hinder part of the body in a position, half sitting half standing, they slide down the smooth declivity. At first this sliding movement creates a very unpleasant feeling of apprehension, which is not altogether removed by frequent repetitions. Accidents frequently occur, in which both mule and rider are mortally injured.
There is more variety of animals in these regions than in the mountainous parts; but they have few peculiarities of character. The swift-footed roe of the Cordillera roams here and dwells in the thickets, avoiding the warm forest. The dark brown coati (Nasua montana, Tsch.) howls, and digs at the roots of trees in search of food; the shy opossum crawls fearfully under the foliage; the lazy armadillo creeps into his hole; but the ounce and the lion seldom stray hither to contest with the black bear (Ursus frugilegus, Tsch.) the possession of his territory. The little hairy tapir (Tapirus villosus, Wagn.) ventures only at twilight out of his close ambush to forage in the long grass.
Of the birds there is not much variety of species; but all are remarkable for gay-colored plumage. Among the most characteristic of these districts are the red-bellied tanagra (Tanagra igniventris, Orb.), the fire-colored pyranga (Phoenisoma bivittata, Tsch.), two species of the crow, one of which is of a fine blue color (Cyanocorax viridicyanus, G. R. Gray), the other green on the back and bright yellow on the belly (Cyanoc. peruanus, Cab.). The Indians call the latter Quienquien, as it utters a sort of screaming sound resembling these syllables. Individual birds belonging to the Penelope family (P. rufiventris and adspersa, Tsch.) and the green pepper-eater (Pteroglossus caeruleo-cinctus, Tsch., Pt. atrogularis, Sturm.) are found in the lower forests.
Proceeding still further downward we at length reach the Montana. The Peruvians apply this name to the vast aboriginal forests which extend across the whole country from north to south along the eastern foot of the Andes. Those which lie higher, and in which the spaces between the lofty trees are overgrown with thick masses of bushes and twining plants, are called by the natives simply Montanas. Those which are free from these intermediate masses of vegetation they call Montanas reales (royal mountains). At first sight they produce the impression of a virgin forest of oaks.
The distance from the Ceja to the district properly called the Montana is very various at different points. In some parts it takes six or eight days' hard riding; in other directions the traveller may, in the morning, leave the snow-covered Puna huts, and at sunset, on the uninhabited margin of the primeval forest, he may taste pine-apples and bananas of his own gathering. Such a day certainly deserves to form an epoch in his life; for in the course of a few hours he passes through the most opposite climates of the earth, and the gradual progression of the development of the vegetable world is spread out in visible reality before him.
The Montanas of Peru are, in general, but thinly peopled with Christian Indians. They are employed either in cultivating their own fields, or in working as day-laborers in the great plantations. The productions of the haciendas consist chiefly of sugar, coffee, maize, coca, tobacco, oranges, bananas, and pine-apples, which are sent to the Sierra. The cultivation of bark, balsams, gums, honey and wax, also occupies a great number of Indians.
The plantation buildings stand on rising grounds. The walls are constructed of reeds, the interstices being filled up with loam, and the roofs are of straw or palm leaves. Around the buildings are the fields allotted to cultivation, in which the soils favorable to the production of certain plants are selected. The coffee usually grows round the house, and an adjacent building contains the store-rooms. The fruit-trees grow along the margins of the maize fields; marshy ground is selected for the sugar fields; in the vicinity of brooks and streams the useful banana flourishes; the pine-trees are ranged in rows on the hot, dry declivities, and the coca is found to thrive best in warm, hollow dells.
As the humidity of the atmosphere, added to the multitudes of insects, mice and rats, prevents any lengthened preservation of provisions, the cultivators sell or exchange them as speedily as possible; hence arises a very active intercourse in business between the Montanas and the Sierra. The mountain Indians bring llamas, dried meat, potatoes, bark, and salt, to exchange for fruit; it is very seldom that any money circulates in this traffic. Only the owners of plantations sell their productions for ready money, with which they purchase, in the upland towns, European goods, particularly printed and plain cottons, coarse woollen stuffs, knives, hatchets, fishing-tackle, &c.; with these goods they pay their laborers, charging them for every article five or even six times its value. As there is throughout these forest regions a great want of men, the plantation owners endeavor to get the few Indians who settle voluntarily on their property, fixed to it for ever. They sell them indispensable necessaries at an extravagant price, on condition of their paying for them by field labor.
I have seen an Indian give five days' labor, from six o'clock in the morning to sunset, for a red pocket-handkerchief, which in Germany would not be worth four groschen. The desire to possess showy articles, the necessity of obtaining materials for his wretched clothing, or implements to enable him, in his few free hours, to cultivate his own field, and, above all, his passion for coca and intoxicating drinks, all prompt the Indian to incur debt upon debt to the plantation owner. The sugar-cane is seldom used in the forest plantations for making sugar. The juice is usually converted into the cakes called chancacas, which have been already mentioned, or it is made into guarapo, a strong liquor, which the Indians spare no effort to procure. When they begin to be intoxicated, they desire more and more of the liquor, which is readily given, as it is the interest of the owners to supply it. After some days of extreme abstinence they return to their work, and then the Mayordomo shows them how much their debt has increased, and the astonished Indian finds that he must labor for several months to pay it; thus these unfortunate beings are fastened in the fetters of slavery. Their treatment is, in general, most tyrannical. The Negro slave is far more happy than the free Indians in the haciendas of this part of Peru. At sunrise all the laborers must assemble in the courtyard of the plantation, where the Mayordomo prescribes to them their day's work, and gives them the necessary implements. They are compelled to work in the most oppressive heat, and are only allowed to rest thrice for a few minutes, at times fixed, for chewing their coca and for dinner. For indolence or obstinacy they suffer corporal punishment, usually by being put into a kind of stocks, called the CEPO, in which the culprit stands from twelve to forty-eight hours, with his neck or legs fixed between two blocks of wood.
The labor of bringing the forest lands into a productive state is one of the severest tasks in the Montanas, and it can only be performed in the hottest season of the year. As the soil is always moist, and the vegetation full of sap, the trees must be cut down about the end of the rainy season, and after drying for some months they are burned; but they are seldom brought into a state of such aridity as to be destroyed by the action of the fire. This is a considerable obstruction to the progress of raising plants; for the seed must be sown between the felled trees, which are perhaps only half-charred, and are still damp. In consequence of this, the practice is, in the first year, to plant maize at the places where the burnt trees are laid; the maize grows in almost incredible abundance, and the result is a singularly rich harvest, after which, part of the burned wood is removed. The same process is renewed after every harvest, until all the burnt trees are cleared off and a free field gained for the cultivation of the perennial plants.
Far more fortunate than the Indians who are neighbors of the plantations, are those who live far back in the interior of the forests, and who, in consequence of their great distance from any settlement, seldom have intercourse with the civilized world. Content with what bounteous nature offers them, and ignorant of the wants of more refined life, they seek nothing beyond such things as they can, without any great efforts, obtain in the districts in which they dwell. There they plant their little patches of ground, the care of which is consigned to the women. The men takes their bows and arrows and set out on hunting expeditions, during which they are for weeks, often months, absent from their homes. The rainy season drives them back to their huts, where they indulge in indolent repose, which is only occasionally suspended when they are engaged in fishing. The return of the sunny sky draws them out again on their expeditions, in which they collect a sufficient supply of food for the year.
But wherever these Indians have settled on the banks of great rivers, the trading intercourse produces an alteration in their mode of life. Europeans and Creoles then try to create among them, as among the plantation Indians, a desire to satisfy unnecessary wants, and thereby they are induced to collect the valuable productions of the forests. In the loftier districts of the Montanas the Peruvian bark is found: the lower and more marshy places produce the sarsaparilla, and a sort of wood for dyeing called Llangua. This last-named article has not yet found its way to Europe.
In the month of May the Indians assemble to collect the Peruvian bark, for which purpose they repair to the extensive Cinchona woods. One of the party climbs a high tree to obtain, if possible, an uninterrupted view over the forest, and to spy out the Manchas, or spots where there are groups of Peruvian bark trees. The men who thus spy out the trees are called Cateadores, or searchers. It requires great experience to single out, in the dark leaf-covered expanse, the Cinchona groups merely by the particular tint of the foliage, which often differs but very little from that of the surrounding trees. As soon as the cateador has marked out and correctly fixed upon the mancha, he descends to his companions, and leads them with wonderful precision through the almost impenetrable forest to the group. A hut is immediately built, which serves as a resting-place during night, and is also used for drying and preserving the bark. The tree is felled as near the root as possible, divided into pieces, each from three to four feet long, and with a short curved knife a longitudinal incision is made in the bark. After a few days, if the pieces are found to be getting dry, the bark already incised is stripped off in long slips, which are placed in the hut, or in hot weather laid before it to dry. In many parts, particularly in the central and southern districts of Peru, where the moisture is not very great, the bark is dried in the forest, and the slips are packed in large bundles. In other districts, on the contrary, the bark is rolled up green, and sent to the neighboring villages, where it is dried. Towards the end of September the Cascarilleros return to their homes.
In the more early periods of South American history, the bark was a principal article of Peruvian commerce. Since the commencement of the present century its value has, however, considerably diminished, chiefly in consequence of adulterated and inferior kinds, which are supplied from other quarters, perhaps also on account of the more frequent use of quinine; for in the production of the alkaloids less bark is employed than was formerly used in substance. During the war of independence the bark trade received its death-blow, and for the space of several years scarcely more than a few hundred-weights of bark were exported from Peru. The Montanas of Huanuco, which once furnished all the apothecaries of Europe with the "divine medicine," are beginning again to yield supplies. From the roots of the felled trees a vigorous after-growth has commenced. In the Montanas of Huamalies a kind of bark is found, the nature of which is not yet defined by botanists; and from the Montanas of Urubamba comes the highly esteemed Cascarilla de Cuzco, which contains an alkaloid, named Cusconin. Possibly the medicinal bark may again become a flourishing branch of trade for Peru, though it can never again recover the importance which was attached to it a century ago. During my residence in Peru, a plan was in agitation for establishing a quinine manufactory at Huanuco. The plan, if well carried out, would certainly be attended with success. There is in Bolivia an establishment of this kind conducted by a Frenchman; but the quinine produced is very impure. The inhabitants of the Peruvian forests drink an infusion of the green bark as a remedy against intermitting fever. I have found it in many cases much more efficacious than the dried kind, for less than half the usual dose produces, in a short time, convalescence, and the patient is secure against returning febrile attacks.
A class of Indians who live far back in the heart of the woods of Southern Peru and Bolivia employ themselves almost exclusively in gathering balsams and odorous gums from resinous plants, many of which are burned in the churches as incense. They also collect various objects, supposed to be sympathetic remedies, such as the claws of the tapir, against falling sickness; and the teeth of poisonous snakes which, carefully fixed in leaves, and stuck into the tubes of rushes, are regarded as powerful specifics against headache and blindness. Various salves, plasters, powders, seeds, roots, barks, &c., to each of which is attributed some infallible curative power, are prepared and brought to market by the Indians. When the rainy season sets in they leave the forest and proceed in parties to the mountainous country. On these occasions, contrary to the general custom of the Indians, the men, not the women, carry the burthens. They are accompanied by the women as far as the Sierra; for the loads, which are often very heavy, graze the backs of the men who carry them, and the women then act as surgeons. The injured part is first carefully washed with copaiba balsam, moistened, then covered with leaves fixed on with small strips of leather, overlaid with the hide of some forest animal. These operations being performed, the loads are again fastened on the backs of the Indians. In their native forests these people wear but little clothing. Their dress is limited to a sort of loose tunic without sleeves for the women, and for the men merely a piece of cloth fastened round the waist. They go barefooted; but they paint their feet and legs with the juice of the Huito (Genipa oblongifolia, R. Pav.) in such a manner that they seem to be wearing half-boots. The juice of the Huito has the effect of protecting them against the stings of insects. The coloring adheres so strongly to the skin that it cannot be washed off by water; but oil speedily removes it. In the Sierra these Indians put on warmer clothing, and on their feet they wear a kind of boots called aspargetas, made of the plaited tendrils of plants.
The stock of balsams and drugs being disposed of, the Indians, after a few months' absence, return to their homes. Some of them, however, wander to the distance of two or three hundred leagues from their native forests, traversing the greater part of Peru, and even visiting Lima, carrying large flask gourds filled with balsams. These wandering tribes seek frequent contact with other nations. They are not distrustful and reserved, but, on the contrary, annoyingly communicative. It is not easy to discover the cause of this exception, or to ascertain the time when the Indians began to travel the country as physicians and apothecaries. The earliest writers on the oldest epochs of Peruvian history make no mention of this race of medical pedlars.
The Indians here alluded to all profess Christianity, and must, as Indios Christianos, in strict correctness, be distinguished from the wild Indians, Indios Bravos, who exclusively inhabit the eastern Montanas of Peru, towards the frontiers of Brazil. These Indios Bravos comprehend numerous tribes, each of which has its own customs, religion, and also, in general, its own language. Only very few of them are known, for since the overthrow of the missions there is little communication with them. Respecting the Indios Bravos who inhabit the Montanas of Southern Peru, I have been unable to collect any accurate information. They remain quite unknown, for impenetrable wilds intervene between them and the civilized world, and seldom has a European foot ventured into their territory. The wild Indians in Central Peru are most set against the Christians, particularly those called Iscuchanos, in the Montana de Huanta, and those known by the name of Chunchos, in the Montana de Vitoc. The Iscuchanos sometimes maintain with the inhabitants of Huanta a trade of barter; but this intercourse is occasionally interrupted by long intervals of hostility, during which the Iscuchanos, though rather an inoffensive race, commit various depredations on the Huantanos; driving the cattle from the pastures, carrying off the produce of the soil, and spreading terror throughout the whole district. Some years ago, when the inhabitants of Huanta had assembled for the procession of the Festival of Corpus Christi, a troop of Iscuchanos came upon them with wild bulls, turning the infuriated animals against the procession, which was dispersed, and many of the Huantanos were killed or severely wounded. These Iscuchanos are so favored by the locality of the district they inhabit, that even were a military expedition sent to drive them farther back into the woods, it would probably be unsuccessful.
The Chunchos are far more dangerous, and are one of the most formidable races of the Indios Bravos. They inhabit the most southern part of the Pampa del Sacramento (the terra incognita of Peru), and chiefly the district through which flow the rivers Chanchamayo and Perene. Those regions are inhabited by a great number of tribes, most of which are only known by name. The frontier neighbors of the Chunchos are the sanguinary Campas or Antes who destroyed the missions of Jesus Maria in Pangoa, and who still occasionally pay hostile visits to San Buenaventura de Chavini, the extreme Christian outpost in the Montana de Andamarca. The savage race of the Casibos, the enemies of all the surrounding populations, inhabit the banks of the river Pachitea. This race maintains incessant war with all the surrounding tribes, and constantly seeks to destroy them. According to the accounts of the missionaries, they, as well as the Antes and Chunchos, are still cannibals, and undertake warlike expeditions for the purpose of capturing prisoners, whom they devour. After the rainy season, when the Simirinches, the Amapuahas, or Consbos, hunt in the western forests, they often fall into the hands of the Casibos, who imitate in perfection the cries of the forest animals, so that the hunters are treacherously misled, and being captured, are carried off as victims. Many horrible accounts of this barbarous tribe were related by the missionaries centuries ago, when romantic stories and exaggerations of every kind were the order of the day; but the most recent communications of the missionaries from Ocopa confirm the fact, that in the year 1842, the Casibos continued to be savage Anthropophagi. It is worthy of remark that they never eat women, a fact which some may be inclined to attribute to respect for the female sex. It is, however, assignable to a different feeling. All the South American Indians, who still remain under the influence of sorcery and empiricism, consider women in the light of impure and evil beings, and calculated to injure them. Among a few of the less rude nations this aversion is apparent in domestic life, in a certain unconquerable contempt of females. With the Anthropophagi the feeling extends, fortunately, to their flesh, which is held to be poisonous.
The languages spoken by the wild Indian tribes are very various. From the Maranon to Omaguas, Quichua, the language of the Incas, is spoken. On the left bank of the Ucayali the dialect of the Panos prevails. On the right bank the Cascas, the Sinabus, and the Diabus, preserve their own idioms, which are so different that those races are reciprocally unable to communicate with each other. On Upper Ucayali evidences of common origin are said to be apparent between the Simirinches, Campas, Runaguas, and Mochobos. But on this subject no accurate conclusions can be formed; for the accounts given by the missions in early periods were very imperfect, and most of the races are so intractable that it has since been impossible to collect correct information. According to the accounts of travelled missionaries which I had the opportunity of examining in the convent of Ocopa, it appears that, besides the Quichua, the idioms spoken by the Panos, Cascas, Simirinches, and the Chunchos, may be set down as dialects of decidedly different origins.
The mode of living among all these Indians is very much the same. War and hunting in summer, and repairing their warlike weapons in winter, are the occupations of the men. The women cultivate the fields, lay up the stores of provisions, fish, spin and cook. Their clothes are of the most simple kind. Many of the races wear no clothing, and have their bodies wholly or partially bedaubed with paint. The men of some races wear a kind of shirt without sleeves, and the women a petticoat reaching from the waist to the knees. These garments are made of cotton obtained from the uncultivated tree Bombax, and their color is white, blue, or red. The custom of boring the ears, the nose, and the under lip, for the insertion of some ornament, is much practised, particularly by the Panos, Shipeos, and Pirras. They paint their bodies, but not exactly in the tattoo manner; they confine themselves to single stripes. The Sensis women draw two stripes from the shoulder, over each breast, down to the pit of the stomach; the Pirras women paint a band in the form of a girdle round the waist, and they have three of a darker color round each thigh. These stripes, when once laid on, can never be removed by washing. They are made with the unripe fruit of one of the Rubiacaceae. Some tribes paint the face only; others, on the contrary, do not touch that part; but bedaub with colors their arms, feet, and breasts.
In hunting, bows and arrows are the principal weapons used by the Indians. In war they use, besides bows and arrows, clubs and a kind of sword made of wood. The arrows are reeds, five or six feet long, and of the thickness of a finger. The point is of very hard wood, and is strongly barbed by notches and with sharp fish teeth about three inches long. To the other extremity of the arrow colored feathers are always affixed.
Among many Indians, particularly in the western and northern districts of the Pampa del Sacramento, the Pocuna is a weapon much used in hunting. It is made of a long reed, and measures eight or ten, or even more, feet. At one end are fixed two teeth of a javali, or white-lipped peccary (Dicotyles labiatus), on which the reed is rested when taking aim. The arrows, which are only one and a half or two inches long, are made of the thick part of a strong cactus stem. In general their small arrows are poisoned, for otherwise the wound would be too inconsiderable to kill even a little bird. The poison for arrows differs almost with every tribe, and very mysterious ceremonies are observed at its preparation. On this account the art of preparing it, and the ingredients employed, are only very partially known to Europeans. Their elements are obtained from several plants not yet defined botanically, among which the Apihuasca and poison capsicum are much resorted to. Infusions of the leaves of a very strong kind of tobacco, and of the Sanano (Tabernaemontana Sanano, R. P.), and of Euphorbiaceae, are also taken. Some modern travellers, contrary to the testimony of the oldest writers on Peru, have asserted that no animal substance is employed in the poison for arrows. I am, however, enabled to state, on the authority of an Indian who had himself often made the poison, that not only the black and very poisonous emmet (Cryptacereo atrato affin), but also the teeth of the formidable serpent, known to the Indians by the name of Miuamaru or Jergon (Lachesis picta, Tsch.), are used for that purpose.
The wound of the poisoned arrow is fatal and rapid. Men and large mammalia die in about four or five minutes after receiving the wound; the smaller mammiferous animals and birds, in two minutes. The blow-reed sends these deadly arrows with great certainty to the distance of thirty-two or thirty-six paces. Hunting with the blow-reed must be long practised in order to acquire dexterity in its use, and great caution is requisite to avoid being self-wounded by the small sharp arrows. An example came to my knowledge in the case of an Indian who let an arrow fall unobserved from his quiver; he trod upon it, and it penetrated the sole of his foot; in a very short time he was a corpse.
The club called Matusino is four or five feet long, and is encircled in a spiral form at the thick end, by a row of deer's horns. A single long horn is fastened in the centre, the chief use of which is to stick it in the earth when the club is rested. Only a few races of upper and lower Ucayali and the Sensis use this formidable weapon, which is very inconvenient and obstructive in passing through thick forests. The macana, or wooden sword, is made of strong chunta. The color of this wood is a deep blackish brown; it is very hard and heavy, and is always used for implements which require great durability and strength. The macana is about four feet long, one inch thick, and from five to six inches broad; towards the hilt end the breadth is about three inches, and it is rounded. It is so well cut and polished, that a sabre scarcely excels it in sharpness. The weapon is so heavy that it requires both hands to wield it.
There are not only offensive, but also defensive, weapons. One of the latter is the viche, a very simple shield, one and a half or two feet in diameter. It consists of a strong frame of twisted creeping plants, over which the skin of a deer or tapir is stretched and fastened with twine. On the inside there are two holds for the arm; the edge is adorned with colored feathers.
The Indians of the races above noticed seldom live in villages, but chiefly in huts scattered through the forests. Sometimes they construct a few of their dwellings near together, and so form a hamlet. Their huts are either quadrangular, oblong, or circular. The walls consist of strong stems of trees, bound together by twining plants; and the roof is of palm leaves laid over a skeleton of reeds. The entrance, which is on the side opposite to the prevailing wind, is left open, and but seldom protected by a door. At Chanchamayo I saw a very simple kind of hut among the Chunchos. It resembled an open umbrella with the handle stuck in the earth. The single wall, which also formed its roof, consisted of eight long reeds: they spread out below in the form of a fan, standing obliquely on the earth, and fastened to three stems of trees. On this simple skeleton were laid lengthways the leaves of the omero, a kind of palm. A strong stem fixed firmly in the earth, extended obliquely to the middle of the inner side of the wall, and two thinner stems on each side, served as supports for this frail building. According to the direction of the wind the hut is turned round.
The Indian huts all stand detached from each other, and they are seldom divided internally into apartments. They occupy very little ground, never more than sixty square feet of superficies. In the principal settlement of an Indian race, the huts are scattered over a circuit of some miles in the forests.
Any form of government is a thing quite unknown to most of the Indios Bravos of Peru. Uniformity of speech, manners, and arms, unite together a number of Indians, who thus form a race, but there is among them no bond of subjection, or of duty to any government, either voluntarily chosen, or self-constituted. Among the inhabitants of Lower Ucayali, however, the oldest, or the bravest individuals of each race are either publicly, or silently recognised as chiefs. Respect to age prevails only among a few of the races, as the Setebos, Mayorhunas, and Panos. Among others, as the Campos, Casibos, and Cunchos, the old are put to death. It is a general custom of the wild Indians to kill their aged prisoners immediately on their being captured.
Social meetings among these races are of rare occurrence. Gloomy, reserved, and distrustful, the Indian is only at ease in the circle he has himself formed. When, however, the general interest of the race is in question, then he comes boldly forward in support of the whole. The usual assemblages are for the arrangement of long hunting excursions, and warlike expeditions. The departures and the returns are celebrated by tumultuous feasts, in which intoxicating drinks flow freely. Most of the liquors are prepared from Yucca, or the fruits of the Chunta, called the Mazato, or other species of palms. In the most remote forests, and among the most insulated tribes, the preparation of intoxicating liquors is known; and there certainly is not in all South America an Indian race which is not familiar with it. Wild dances form part of the entertainments, and the banquet usually ends with a sanguinary battle.
Marriage in most races is celebrated socially, but not among those in which polygamy prevails. The formula observed on the occasion differs in different tribes; in some the union is effected under painful ceremonies to the bride, in others with fasting and penitential torments to the bridegroom. In general the Indian selects a wife for himself. In the greater number of tribes a maiden is set up as a prize, and the young men commence a life or death contest for her. The oldest warriors are arbitrators, and from their hands the conqueror receives the prize. This is the practice among the inhabitants of the Rio de Santa Catalina. With them, as well as with most of the tribes of Western Ucayali, the birth of a child is festively celebrated. The oldest individuals of the race assemble to receive the child, which is repeatedly blown on to drive demons and sickness away from it; the name of an animal is then given to it, and, according to Don Pedro Beltran, the witnesses of the ceremony mark with a wooden pencil some hieroglyphic characters on two leaves, which are carefully preserved, and on the death of the Indian, deposited in the grave with him.
The dead are buried in the huts. The survivors having testified their sorrow by a melancholy howl three times repeated, leave the place and build a new residence for themselves in a distant district. They break in pieces all the household furniture of the deceased, but they bury with him his warlike weapons and his agricultural implements, under the conviction that he will use them in the place to which he is going. A peculiar custom among several races is this: the oldest son cuts a piece from the heel of his deceased father, which he hangs round his neck, and wears as a sacred relic. Some of the tribes on the Perene and Capanegua do not, like most wild nations, respect the remains of the dead, but throw the bodies into the forest unburied, to be devoured by beasts of prey.
Very little is correctly known of the religion of the Peruvian Indios Bravos. All believe in the existence of superior beings, and distinguish them as good and evil; and they are accordingly venerated from gratitude, or from fear. The former they regard as beneficent; but the latter as having the power of bringing into exercise all the destroying forces of nature. These people, therefore, find in the sky, in the air, and on the earth, objects for their adoration. Certain constellations are regarded as favorable phenomena, while others are looked at with a secret horror. The sun is by all gladly worshipped, more particularly by the descendants of those who in early times stood in connexion with the Incas. On the other hand, they pay but a reluctant tribute to the moon, perhaps because by its pale light fearful images are reflected around them in the forests, and because its phases are to them involved in impenetrable mystery. They ascribe thunder and lightning to demoniacal influences, and to the same origin they attribute certain winds which have an injurious influence on their health. But their religious notions are not connected exclusively with the phenomena of nature, which are to them inexplicable. With all their ideas on surrounding nature, two conflicting principles are invariably connected, one of which is believed to be beneficial, the other injurious to them. In the animals of the forest, the plants, the stones, in everything, they trace these beneficent or demoniacal powers. Every idea, every action is with them a consequence of the influence of one of these two powers, and free will is impossible. Though a rude materialism cripples the intelligence of these Indians, yet they seem to be sensible of the connexion between that which is perceptible to their senses, and something higher—something beyond the sphere of corporeal perception. But of the nature of this higher something they have no comprehension, nor do they endeavor to render to themselves any account of it. They are satisfied with an obscure idea of the difference between the visible and the invisible; but still this idea is so contracted that they always give to the spiritual a corporeal form: and they attribute to natural objects with which they come most in contact, the possession of good or evil qualities, thus assigning to them the nature of spiritual beings.
None of these tribes appear, as yet, to have advanced so far as to be impressed with the persuasion that the whole of nature is guided by unchangeable laws over which one will presides. In general, they have no idea of a spiritual unity, and are utter strangers to the knowledge of one God. They all, however, believe in the immortality of the soul. They see the lifeless body, they have certain proof that the earthly integument is no longer the abode of the soul; but, as they can form no notion of anything spiritual entirely self-existent, they imagine that their dead will, in new life, appear under a new bodily form. The several tribes differ greatly in their belief of the nature of the metamorphoses which they expect to take place. Those who look forward to the re-appearance of the deceased in human life, bury with the men hunting and agricultural instruments; but their notions even on this head are not very clear, and when questioned on the subject their answers are very confused. They say that they are going to a very beautiful place, far from their present dwelling; but, according to their conception, it appears that the place, though distant, is still on earth. Those races who believe in metamorphoses into the forms of the lower animals, are persuaded that the dead in their new forms will inhabit the woods around their homes, and avenge the wrongs they have suffered during life. This is the belief of the inhabitants of Upper Ucayali and Pachitea.
In considering the physical formation of the wild Indians, we may class them according to their natural divisions, viz., the inhabitants of the more highly situated lands, or mountains, and those of the low hot flat country. The former dwell on the eastern side of the hill-chain, dividing the river territory of the Huallaga and Ucayali, and spreading to the banks of the Chauchamayo, Perene, and Apurimac. These are the Iscuchanos. They are rather tall and generally slim; their limbs are vigorous; their hands and feet small, and in walking their toes are much turned in. The head is proportionally large, with very strong bones; the forehead is low, the eyes small and animated, the nose large and rather sharp, the cheek-bones a little prominent. The mouth is not large, and the lips are delicately formed, but often disfigured by ornaments. The ears are small, quite the reverse of those of the Indians of the flat lands. The pointed chin is only sparingly covered with beard, which does not appear until advanced age, and on the cheeks there is none. The hair of the head is long, stiff, and of a brilliant black. Many of the tribes dye their hair; the Chunchos dye it red, and the Antis are said to dye it blue; as to the latter color it appears to me improbable, but I mention it on the authority of Friar Leceta. The skin is fine and soft, the color a deep rusty brown. In speaking of the South American Indians, it is usual to describe their skin as copper color, but this term is incorrect, for there certainly is no single tribe to which it might be perfectly applicable. It appears to me that the color of all is much fainter, and tending more to brown or yellow. "Rusty brown," if the expression may be used, appears to me far more descriptive.
The second natural section of the wild Indians inhabits the northern part of the Pampa del Sacramento, the banks of the Ucayali, and of the Maranon. They are smaller than those just described. There is a certain peculiarity in the make of these people; for though they are broad over the shoulders yet their chests are flat, and their shoulder blades lie low. Their limbs are lank, and their hands rather small; the soles of the feet are broad and flat. The face is broad, the eyes long shaped, the pupil deeply set, the nose is flat, with large oblique nostrils, and the cheek-bones are prominent. The mouth is wide, the lips thick, and among some tribes the mouth and nose are very close together. The chin is small and round, the ears large and standing out from the head. The hair and beard of these Indians are the same as in those of the hilly country. The color of the skin varies much; in some it is a light reddish brown; in others, a kind of yellow, very like that of the Mongols. The women of all these tribes are exceedingly ugly, and far from corresponding with the picture a European imagination might form of the daughters of the aboriginal forests. These women soon become old, for they not only fulfil female duties, but execute the greater part of those severer labors which ought to fall to the share of the stronger sex.
To the above outline sketch of the human inhabitants of the aboriginal forests, I will now add some description of the animal world, as it came under my observation in those luxuriant regions.
Unlike the peaceful repose which presides over animal life on the level heights, are the constant aggressions and combats which prevail in the forest regions. There the strong attack the weak, and the cunning inveigle the unwary: strength and intelligence, caution and instinct, are unceasingly in active operation. The variegated forms and colors which meet the eye, and the multifarious cries and tones which resound through the woods, form, altogether, the most singular contrast. The gold-feathered colibri hums lightly through the air, soaring over the heavy, sombre-colored tapir. The sprightly singing-bird pours forth his melodious chants amidst the thick foliage of the aged trees, whilst the fierce ounce, prowling for his prey, growls as he passes over their enormous, spreading roots. Slowly do the eye and the ear learn to distinguish individuals in the vast mass of apparent chaotic confusion, and to recognise quickly fleeting forms, or distant resounding sounds.
The whole of the animal world is here developed to the view, and it would be difficult to assign the predominance to any one class. Yet, perhaps, the variegated feathered tribe is relatively most extensively represented. The number of the mammalia is also important. They are seldom seen by the hunter during the day, but twilight draws them from their hiding-places.
Troops of monkeys skip from tree to tree, looking timidly around, and uttering mournful howls. Among them are swarms of the black marimonda (Ateles), with slender long arms and red-brown or black faces; in some the faces are encircled with white hair (Ateles marginatus, Geoff.), which gives them a striking resemblance to an old negro. Next is seen a group of silver-grey monkeys (Lagothrix Humboldtii, Geoff.), stalking over heaps of broken branches and twigs in search of a resting-place. These monkeys, which are the largest in South America, are about three feet high, and are bold and vicious. When wounded they take a position of defence against the hunter, struggling, and uttering loud cries, upon which their companions hasten down from the trees to assist them. But soon a short stifled cry is heard: it is the cry of mortal convulsion. That sound drives them instantly back, and they disperse in wild flight. The sly sayu ventures to approach the dwellings of men, where he plunders maize fields with incredible dexterity. The delicate silky-haired monkey, shivering at every cool breeze or shower of rain, and starting at the slightest noise, creeps for shelter into the thicket, where he lies peeping with his penetrating eyes in the direction of the apprehended danger.
At sunset swarms of bats flutter through field and forest in all directions, and greedily devour the insects which in the twilight awaken to full activity. Some of these bats (Phyllostoma hastatum, Geoff.) are remarkable for their expanse of wing, which measures nearly two feet. Others are distinguished for ugliness and for their offensive smell. These latter fly into the Indian huts at night and greatly annoy the inhabitants, who cannot get rid of them by fire or smoke, or any other means, until at the midnight hour they retire of their own accord. Not less troublesome are the leaf-nosed bats (Phyllostoma), which attack both man and beast. This bat rubs up the skin of his victim, from which he sucks the blood. The domestic animals suffer greatly from the nocturnal attacks of these bats, and many are destroyed by the exhaustion consequent on the repeated blood-sucking. The blood drawn by the bat itself does not exceed a few ounces; but if, when satisfied, it drops down to the ground, or flies away, the wound continues to bleed for a long time, and in the morning the animal is often found in a very weak condition, and covered with blood. One of my mules, on which a leaf-nosed bat made a nightly attack, was only saved by having his back rubbed with an ointment made of spirits of camphor, soap and petroleum. The blood-suckers have such an aversion to the smell of this ointment that on its application they ceased to approach the mule. These bats are very mischievous in the plantations of the forests, where beasts of burden and horned cattle are exposed to their attacks. Whether they venture to assail man has been a much disputed question. Several travellers declare that they do not. I may, however, mention a case which occurred within my own knowledge. A bat (Ph. erythromos, Tsch.) fastened on the nose of an Indian lying intoxicated in a plantation, and sucked so much blood that it was unable to fly away. The slight wound was followed by such severe inflammation and swelling that the features of the Cholo were not recognisable.
Many beasts of prey, and among them some of formidable strength and fierceness, make havoc among the other animals of the forests. In the lofty Montanas the black bear (U. frugilegus, Tsch.) roams as wild as his fellow-depredator of the Cordillera. He often enters the maize fields of the Indians, breaks the stalks of the plants and drags the green tops away to his hole. When this bear cannot obtain his customary vegetable food, consisting chiefly of the fruits of a pandanea (Phytelephas), he watches for the deer and wild boars, or attacks the oxen employed to turn the machinery in the sugar-mills: he has even been known to assail solitary travellers. The lively coatis traverse the forests in flocks. They collect round the roots of trees and search for the larvae of insects; light-footed, they climb up bush and tree to find birds' nests, and feast on the eggs and the young. With a monotonous howl, not unlike that made by some dogs on a clear moonlight night, the yellow-breasted glutton (Galictis barbara, Wieg.), the omeyro of the Indians, announces his presence. But the most fierce of all these wild forest animals are those of the feline class. The spotless dark-grey yaguarundi, not much larger than the wild cat of Europe, pursues all kinds of birds, particularly the pigeon, the partridge, and the penelope. The oscollo (F. celidogaster, Tem.), the uturunca (F. pardalis, L.), and the long-tailed, yellowish-grey tiger-cat (F. macrourura, Pr. M.), all lie in wait, not only for the weaker mammalia, but sometimes they even venture into the plantations and kill dogs and poultry. The maneless Mexican Lion (the puma) roams through the upper regions of the forest, where he has almost undisputed hunting-ground. He fearlessly assails victims who cannot effectually defend themselves, such as the horse, the mule, and the ass, and he tears large pieces of flesh from their ribs; but he does not venture to meddle with oxen. He shuns men, and in the forest he even flies from the unarmed Indian. I fired at a very large puma, which immediately fled, roaring loudly. When severely wounded and driven into a corner, this animal frequently commences a combat of despair, and sometimes kills the hunter. The puma measures in length about four feet, and in height more than two feet. More direful than any of the felines mentioned above is the sanguinary ounce, which possesses vast strength, and is of a most savage disposition. Though the favorite haunts of this animal are the expansive Pajonales, yet he frequently takes up his abode in the vicinity of villages and plantations, spreading terror among the inhabitants. Far from being intimidated at the sight of men, he often attacks individuals, and when pressed by hunger is not afraid, even in broad daylight, to slip into the forest villages in order to carry off food, and the booty, when once seized, is not easily recovered.
An amusing example of this occurred in the Montana of Vitoc. An Indian one night heard his only pig squeaking loudly, as if in pain. He hastened to the door of his hut to see what was the matter, and he discovered that an ounce had seized the pig by the head, and was carrying it off. The Cholo, who determined to make an effort to recover his property, seized the pig by the hind legs, and endeavored to drag it from the grasp of the robber. This contest was kept up for some time, the ounce, with his eyes glaring in the darkness, holding fast the head of the pig, and the Indian pulling it hard by the legs. At length the Indian's wife came to the door of the hut with a lighted fagot, and the scared ounce, with terrible howlings, slowly retired to the forest. In general the Indians have a great dread of these animals, and seldom venture singly into the parts they frequent. The ounce hunter is the only one who ventures to approach them. He is armed with a long spear, with which he gives the ferocious animal a death-blow. He lets the ounce come within a few paces of him without making the least show either of flight or attack. If, however, the stroke he aims does not immediately reach the seat of life, the hunter, in general, becomes the victim of his bold attempt. Before he can stand on his defence, the wounded ounce drags him to the ground, and tears the flesh from his bones.
Sometimes the villagers collect their dogs together for a general hunt. They drive the ounce into a place from whence there is no escape, or often up a tree, where they shoot him with long arrows sent from their bows or blow-tubes. In a few places snares are laid, or large holes are dug, and a sharp-pointed stake is stuck in the middle, covered with stalks and branches of trees, on which the bait is laid. The ounce is, however, too cunning to be easily caught in traps, and it is only when pressed by hunger that he can be tempted by a bait. In some districts the ounces have increased so greatly, and done so much damage, that the natives have been compelled to remove and settle in other places. I need only refer to the Quebrada of Mayunmarca, in the Montana of Huanta, near the road to Anco. There once stood the little village of Mayumarca, which has been abandoned for more than a hundred years, as it was found that the jaguars annually decimated the inhabitants; this Quebrada is still in such bad repute that not a single Indian will venture into it.
There is a black variety of the ounce, by many erroneously regarded as a distinct species. It has the identical marks of the common jaguar, or ounce, only its color is a dark, blackish-brown, whereby the whole of the black spots are rendered indistinct. On the lower banks of the Ucayali and the Maranon this dark variety is more frequently met with than in the higher forests; in the Montanas of Huanta and Urubamba it is also not uncommon. It is upon the whole larger, stronger, and more daring than the lighter kind, and I have actually seen many black skins which exceeded the usual length; but of specific distinctions there is no indication. The superstitious Indians assign extraordinary powers to everything that departs from the common course; the black ounce is, accordingly, supposed to possess singular properties. The yana chinca holds a prominent place in the religious ceremonies of some of the Indian races.
Turning from these fierce natives of the forest, we will now take a glimpse at the peaceful inhabitants of those umbrageous regions. In the hollow stems of trees, or among their canopied branches, are found the timid marsupial animals (Did. impavida, and noctivaga, Tsch.). These animals remain in obscure holes until the sun sinks beneath the horizon, when they slip out in search of insects and fruit. Not unfrequently they penetrate into the slightly guarded Indian huts, creeping into every corner, until at last they are caught in traps baited with pieces of banana and pine-apple. The lofty Terebinthaceae, with their walnut-like fruit, are inhabited by swarms of squirrels, which strongly remind the European of his own woods. Numbers of the mouse family, from the small tree-mouse (Drymomys parvulus, Tsch.) to the large, loathsome, spinous rat (Echinomys leptosoma, Wagn.) swarm over all the Montanas, and love to approximate to the dwellings of man. These animals destroy the gathered harvest, and even in these remote regions they become a plague. It is a striking fact, that certain animals are almost inseparable from man. They keep with him, or follow him wherever he settles. The mouse genus is one of these. On the coast, mice are not the same as on the mountains, and in the forests they are again different. Everywhere they leave their original dwelling-places, which they exchange for an abode with man. As the mouse and the rat attack the gathered fruits of the earth, the agouti preys on those yet standing in the field. These animals are seldom found in the depths of the forest, but more frequently on its edge near the chacras of the Indians. Shortly before sunset they leave the thickets, and stealthily repair to the maize, yucca, and anana fields, where they scratch up the root and eat the grain and fruit; but the slightest noise drives them back to their holes. In the deeper recesses of the forest resounds the monotonous, drawling cry of the sloth. Here we have a symbol of life under the utmost degree of listlessness, and of the greatest insensibility in a state of languid repose. This emblem of misery fixes itself on an almost leafless bough, and there remains defenceless; a ready prey to any assailant. Better defended is the scale-covered armadillo, with his coat of mail. Towards evening he burrows deep holes in the earth, and searches for the larvae of insects, or he ventures out of the forest, and visits the yucca fields, where he digs up the well-flavored roots. The ant-eater rakes up with his long curved claws the crowded resorts of ants, stretches out his long, spiral, and adhesive tongue, into the midst of the moving swarm, and draws it back covered with a multitude of crawling insects.
In the soft marshy grounds, or in the damp shady recesses of the forests, the heavy tapir reposes during the heat of the day; but when the fresh coolness of evening sets in, he roves through the forest, tears the tender twigs from the bushes, or seeks food in the grass-covered Pajonales. Sometimes a multitude of tapirs sally from the forests into the cultivated fields, to the great alarm of the Indians. A broad furrow marks the tract along which they have passed, and the plants they encounter in their progress are trampled down or devoured. Such a visit is particularly fatal to the coca fields; for the tapirs are extremely fond of the leaves of the low-growing coca plant, and they often, in one night, destroy a coca field which has cost a poor Indian the hard labor of a year.
Flocks of the umbilical hog, or peccary, traverse the level Montanas. If one of them is attacked by the hunter, a whole troop falls furiously on him, and it is only by promptly climbing up a tree that he can escape; then, whizzing and grunting, they surround the stem, and with their snouts turn up the earth round the root, as if intending to pull down the tree and so get at their enemy. The stag lurks in the thicket to withdraw from the eyes of the greedy ounce; but towards evening he leaves his hiding place, and sometimes strays beyond the boundary of the forest; he ventures into the maize fields of the plantations, where he tarries until night is far advanced.
The same diversity of nature and habits is seen in the numerous hosts of birds that inhabit the leafy canopies of the forest. On the loftiest trees, or on detached rocks, eagles, kites, and falcons, build their eyries. The most formidable of these birds of prey, both for boldness and strength, the Morphnus harpyia, Cab., darts down on the largest animals, and fears not to encounter the fiercest inhabitants of the forest. The owl (Noctua, Scops, Strix), and the goat-milker (Caprimulgus, Hydropsalis, Chordiles), fly with softly flapping wings to their hunting quarters to surprise their victims while asleep. In the hilly parts of the Montanas the black ox-bird (Cephalopterus ornatus, Geoff.), the Toropishu of the Indians, fills the forest with his distant bellow, similar to the roaring of a bull. The Tunqui inhabits the same district. This bird is of the size of a cock; the body is bright red, but the wings are black. The head is surmounted by a tuft of red feathers, beneath which the orange bill projects with a slight curve. It lives sociably with other birds in thickets, or among Cinchona trees, the fruit of which is part of its food. Its harsh cry resembles the grunt of the hog, and forms a striking contrast to its beautiful plumage. Numberless fly-catchers and shrikes (Muscicapidae and Laniadae) hover on tree and bush, watching for the passing insects, which they snatch up with extraordinary dexterity. Finches twitter on the summits of the loftiest trees beyond the reach of the hunter's shot: they are distinguished, like the Ampelidae, who, however, live amongst the lower bushes, by the lively and almost dazzling colors of their feathers. In modest plumage of cinnamon-brown, with head and neck of dark olive, the Organista raises, in the most woody parts of the forest, her enchanting song, which is usually the prognostic of an approaching storm. The tender, melancholy strains and the singular clearness of the innumerable modulations charm the ear of the astonished traveller, who, as if arrested by an invisible power, stops to listen to the syren, unmindful of the danger of the threatening storm. On old decayed stumps of trees the busy creeper and the variegated woodpecker are seen pecking the insects from under the loose bark, or by their tapping bring them out of their concealed crevices; while the red-tailed potter-bird (Opetiorynchus ruficandus, Pr. Max.) builds his dwelling of potter's clay, or loam, as firmly as if it were destined to last for ever. The pouched starlings hang their nests, often four or five feet long, on the slender branches of trees, where they swing to and fro with the slightest breath of wind. Like a dazzling flash of colored light the colibri (humming-bird) appears and disappears. No combination of gorgeous coloring can exceed that which is presented in the plumage of the golden-tailed humming or fly-bird (Trochilus chrysurus, Cuv.) which haunts the warm primeval forests, but it is still more frequently found in the pure atmosphere of the ceja-girded Montanas. The silky cuckoo (Trogon heliothrix, Tsch.) retires into the thickest masses of foliage, from which its soft rose-colored plumage peeps out like a flower. The cry of the voracious chuquimbis accompanies the traveller from his first steps in the Montanas to his entrance into the primeval forests, where he finds their relative, Dios te de. This bird accompanies its significant cry by throwing back its head and making a kind of rocking movement of its body. The Indians, who are always disposed to connect superstitious ideas with the natural objects they see around them, believe that some great misfortune will befall any one who may shoot this bird, because it utters the sacred word, Dios. Long trains of green parrots fill the air with their noisy chattering. One kind of these birds (Ps. mercenarius, Tsch.) is remarkable for regular migrations. Every morning they sally forth in flocks from the upper to the lower forests, where they pass the day, and they regularly return before sunset to their roosting-places. From year to year these parrots leave their night quarters daily at the same hour, and return with equal punctuality before sunset. This regularity of departing and returning has caused the natives to give them the name of Jornaleros (day-laborers). From the depth of the forests sounds often arise which resemble human voices, and the astonished hunter then believes that he is in the vicinity of his companions, or, perhaps, of hostile Indians. He eagerly listens, and it is only when well acquainted with the sounds of the winged inhabitants of the woods that he can recognise the melancholy tones of the wood-pigeons (C. infuscata, Licht.; C. melancholica, Tsch.). When day begins to depart, groups of the pheasant-like Hachahuallpa assemble, and with the cry of Ven aca, Ven aca, summon their distant companions.
Not only are the trees of the forests peopled with myriads of birds, but the earth has also its feathered inhabitants, who seldom soar above the level of the soil. They build their nests among the roots and fallen branches, and depend for movement more on their feet than on their wings. Among those members of the winged tribe, who show no disposition to soar into the regions of air, we find here the turcassa, a pigeon with richly-shaded plumage; the beautifully speckled toothed fowl (Odontophorus speciosus, Tsch.), and short-tailed grass fowl, or crake, whose flesh when cooked is delicately white and finely flavored. In marshy places and on the slimy banks of rivers, the jabiru (Mycteria americana, L.) loves to wade, together with the rose-colored spoon-bill (Platalea ajaja, L.); the fish-devouring ibis (Tantalus loculator, L.), the curved-billed snipe (Rhynchoea Hilaerea, Val.), the party-colored cranes, plovers, land-rails, shrites, and even sea-swallows. In the rivers there are ducks: these birds are, perhaps, carried down by the currents from the Andes, or, possibly, they fly in great trains from the inner waters of Brazil.
Of the amphibia in the principal forests of Peru, only the great fresh-water tortoise (Hydraspis expansa, Fitz.) is useful to the natives. On the sandy banks of rivers this animal buries its eggs, from which the Indians extract oil: its flesh, also, supplies well-flavored food. All other animals of this class are objects of terror, or at least of aversion, to the Indians. In the warm sand of the river banks, lies the lazy caiman. He keeps his jaws wide open, only closing them to swallow the innumerable flies which he catches on his tongue. To the helplessness of these animals when on land, the natives have to be thankful that they are not the most dangerous scourges of the forest: in water, their boldness and swiftness of motion are fearful. The number of lizards here is not great, nor do they attain so considerable a size as in other equatorial regions. The serpents are to be feared, and on approaching them, it is not easy to decide at the first view whether they belong to a poisonous or innoxious species. In the forests, where the fallen leaves lie in thick, moist layers, the foot of the hunter sinks deep at every step. Multitudes of venomous amphibia are hatched in the half-putrescent vegetable matter, and he who inadvertently steps on one of these animals may consider himself uncommonly fortunate if he can effect his retreat without being wounded. But it is not merely in these places, which seem assigned by nature for their abode, that loathsome reptiles are found: they creep between the roots of large trees, under the thickly interwoven brushwood, on the open grass plots, and in the maize and sugar-cane fields of the Indians: nay, they crawl even into their huts, and most fortunate is it for the inhabitants of those districts that the number of the venomous, compared with the innoxious reptiles, is comparatively small. Of the poisonous serpents, only a few kinds are known whose bite is attended with very dangerous consequences. The Miuamaru, or Jergon (Lachesis picta, Tsch.), is, at most, three feet long, with a broad, heart-shaped head, and a thick upper lip. It haunts the higher forests, while in those lower down his place is filled by his no less fearful relative Flammon (Lachesis rhombeata, Prince Max.), which is six or seven feet in length. These serpents are usually seen coiled almost in a circle, the head thrust forward, and the fierce, treacherous-looking eyes glaring around, watching for prey, upon which they pounce with the swiftness of an arrow; then, coiling themselves up again, they look tranquilly on the death-struggle of the victim. It would appear that these amphibia have a perfect consciousness of the dreadful effect of their poisonous weapon, for they use it when they are neither attacked nor threatened, and they wound not merely animals fit for their food, but all that come within their reach. More formidable than the two snakes just described, but happily much less common, is the brown, ten-inch long viper. It is brown, with two rows of black circular spots. The effect of its bite is so rapid, that it kills a strong man in two or three minutes. So convinced are the natives of its inevitably fatal result, that they never seek any remedy; but immediately on receiving the wound, lay themselves down to die. In the Montanas of Pangoa this viper abounds more than in any other district, and never without apprehension do the Cholos undertake their annual journey for the coca harvest, as they fear to fall victims to the bite of this viper. The warning sound of the rattlesnake is seldom heard in the hot Montanas, and never in the higher regions.
Nature, who in almost all things has established an equilibrium, supplies the natives with remedies against the bite of the serpent. One of the cures most generally resorted to is the root of the amarucachu (Polianthes tuberosa, L.), cut into slips and laid upon the wound. Another is the juice of the creeping plant called vejuco de huaco (Mikania Huaco, Kth.), which is already very widely celebrated. This latter remedy was discovered by the negroes of the equatorial province, Choco. They remarked that a sparrow-hawk, called the huaco, picked up snakes for its principal food, and when bitten by one it flew to the vejuco and ate some of the leaves. At length the Indians thought of making the experiment on themselves, and when bitten by serpents they drank the expressed juice of the leaves of the vejuco, and constantly found that the wound was thereby rendered harmless. The use of this excellent plant soon became general; and in some places the belief of the preservative power of the vejuco juice was carried so far that men in good health were inoculated with it. In this process some spoonfuls of the expressed fluid are drunk, and afterwards some drops are put into incisions made in the hands, feet, and breast. The fluid is rubbed into the wounds by fresh vejuco leaves. After this operation, according to the testimony of persons worthy of credit, the bite of the poisonous snake fails for a long time to have any evil effect. Besides the two plants mentioned above, many others are used with more or less favorable results. The inhabitants of the Montana also resort to other means, which are too absurd to be detailed here; yet their medicines are often of benefit, for their operation is violently reactive. They usually produce the effect of repeated emetics, and cause great perspiration. There is much difference in the modes of external treatment of the wound, and burning is often employed. I saw an Indian apply to his wife's foot, which had been bitten, a plaster, consisting of moist gunpowder, pulverised sulphur, and finely-chopped tobacco, mixed up together. He laid this over the wounded part and set fire to it. This application, in connexion with one of the nausea-exciting remedies taken inwardly, had a successful result.
Innoxious snakes wind on tendrilled climbing plants, or lie like necklaces of coral on the brown decayed leaves (Elap. affinis, Fitz.). Where the branches of rivers enter the gloomy forests and form little narrow lagunes, over which the high trees spread in vaulted cupolas almost impervious to the light of day, there dwells the powerful giant snake (Eunectes murinus, Wagl.), called by the Indians, in their figurative language, yacumaman, "mother of the waters." Stretched in listless repose, or winding round the stem of an old tree, bathing her tail in the cool lagune, she watches wistfully for the animals of the forest who come to the waters to quench their thirst. Whilst she gazes at her distant prey, the fascinating power of her eyes seems to subdue the trembling victim, and, unable even to attempt escape, he falls an easy sacrifice.
The amphibia of the frog species, which lie concealed in silent repose during the day, raise, after sunset, their far-sounding voices. The violet colored throat-bladder (Cystignathus silvestris, Tsch.) maintains his loud, uniform croak beneath the bushes, or penetrates into the huts of the inhabitants. The trapichero, or sugar-mill frog, is a large species, almost half a foot in length. Its croak resembles very much the grating sound caused by the working of a sugar mill, for which reason the natives have given it the name of trapichero, or the sugar-miller. The croaking of these frogs, whose manifold tones blend together in confused union, augments not a little the distressing dreariness of a forest night.
Of the numerous species of insects which swarm in these regions, few are remarkable for beauty; but many fix attention by their peculiar habits. The bites and stings of numbers of them are very dangerous, and it requires much caution to guard against their attacks.
Variegated butterflies flutter noiselessly among the spreading branches of the trees, or sun themselves on the warm masses of fallen leaves. The most remarkable of these butterflies is the large atlas, whose brilliant blue tints shine out with lustrous radiance in the dim light of the forest. Along the banks of rivers, and especially in hot marshy spots, small musquitoes swarm. The bite of this animal produces an intolerable burning sensation, and often causes considerable inflammation. But more troublesome, and also much more numerous, are the stinging-flies (sancudos). On my first arrival in the Montana, I lay several days exceedingly ill in consequence of severe swelling of the head and limbs, caused by the bites of these insects. To the inhabitant of the forest the sancudos are an incessant torment. In no season of the year, in no hour of the day or night, is there any respite from their attacks. Rubbing the body with unctuous substances, together with the caustic juices of certain plants, and at night enclosing one's self in a tent made of tucuyo (cotton cloth), or palm-tree bast, are the only means of protection against their painful stings. The clothes commonly worn are not sufficient, for they are perforated by the long sting of the larger species, particularly of the much-dreaded huir-pasimi-sancudo (Lip-gnat). Regularly every evening at twilight fresh swarms of these mischievous insects make their appearance.
The ticks (ixodes) are a class of insects destined by nature for the suction of plants; but they often forsake trees, shrubs, and grasses, to fasten on man and other animals. With their long sharp stings they make punctures, in which they insert their heads, and thereby occasion very painful sores. These insects appear to have no preference for any particular class of animals. They are often found on the hair of dead mammalia, and among the feathers of birds which have been shot; even the toad, the frog, and the scaly lizard are not spared by them. Much more troublesome than these insects are the antanas, which are not visible to the naked eye. They penetrate the surface of the skin, and introduce themselves beneath it, where they propagate with incredible rapidity; and when some thousands of them are collected together, a blackish spot appears, which quickly spreads. If these insects are not destroyed when they first introduce themselves into the punctures, they multiply with incalculable rapidity, destroying the skin, and all the tender parts in contact with it. Washing with brandy, which is often found to be a remedy against the less mischievous isancos, is not sufficient for the removal of the antanas. For their extirpation the only effectual remedy is frequently bathing the part affected with a mixture of spirits of wine and corrosive sublimate.
Who can describe the countless myriads of ants which swarm through the forests? Every shrub is full of creeping life, and the decayed vegetation affords harbor for some peculiar kinds of these insects. The large yellow puca-cici is seen in multitudes in the open air, and it even penetrates into the dwellings. This insect does not bite, but its crawling creates great irritation to the skin. The small black yana-cici, on the contrary, inflicts most painful punctures. A very mischievous species of stinging ant is the black sunchiron. This insect inflicts a puncture with a long sting, which he carries in the rear of his body. The wound is exceedingly painful, and is sometimes attended by dangerous consequences. My travelling companion, C. Klee, being stung by one of these ants, suffered such severe pain and fever, that he was for a short while delirious. A few nights afterwards, a similar attack was made on myself during sleep. It suddenly awoke me, and caused me to start up with a convulsive spring. I must confess that I never, in my whole life, experienced such severe pain as I did at that moment.
A most remarkable phenomenon is exhibited by the swarms of the species called the naui-huacan-cici, the great wandering ant. They appear suddenly in trains of countless myriads, and proceed forward in a straight direction, without stopping. The small, the weak, and the neuters are placed in the centre, while the large and the strong flank the army, and look out for prey. These swarms, called by the natives Chacus, sometimes enter a hut and clear it of all insects, amphibia, and other disagreeable guests. This work being accomplished, they again form themselves into a long train, and move onwards. The united force of these small creatures is vast, and there is no approach to the fabulous, when it is related that not only snakes, but also large mammalia, such as agoutis, armadillas, &c., on being surprised by them, are soon killed. On the light dry parts of the higher Montanas we find the large conical dwellings of the termes so firmly built, that they are impenetrable even to rifle shot. They sometimes stand singly, sometimes together, in long lines. In form they strongly resemble the simple, conical Puna huts.
Before leaving the animal kingdom of these forest regions, which I have here sketched only briefly and fragmentally, I must notice two insects, the Cucaracha and the Chilicabra, species of the Cockroach (Blatta). They are exceedingly numerous and troublesome. The Cucaracha, which more particularly infests the deep regions of the forest, is an inch and a half long, and above half an inch broad; it is reddish brown, with a yellow neck. The Chilicabra, though smaller, is more mischievous, by reason of its greater numbers. They settle in the huts, where they destroy provisions, gnaw clothes, get into beds, and into the dishes at meal time. These insects defy every precaution that can be taken against their tormenting attacks. Luckily, nature has provided enemies for their destruction. Among these is a small reddish yellow ant, called by the Indians, the Pucchu-cici, a useful member of the ant family, for it pursues and destroys the mischievous cockroaches. There is also a very elegant little bird, called the Cucarachero (Troglodytes audax, Tsch.) which wages war against these insects. On seizing one of them it first bites off the head, then devours the body, and throws away the tough wings. These operations being completed, it hops to the nearest bush, and tunes its melodious song, the sounds of which closely resemble the words "Acabe la tarea!" a name which the Indians give to this bird. I could yet fill many pages with descriptions of insects which are dangerous or troublesome, and among them are included the julus, measuring six inches in length, the large black and red scorpion, not forgetting the numerous poisonous wasps and the cicadas. However, those which have been noticed will suffice to afford an idea of the ever-active movements of animal life in the forests.
Willingly would I take a view of the vegetation of the virgin forests, and attempt to sketch its progressive developments and alternations from the hilly Montanas of the eastern declivities of the Andes to the humid level banks of the larger rivers; but I do not feel myself competent to undertake a labor to which former travellers intimately acquainted with the world of plants have already rendered full justice. Being devoted to the study of zoology, and, unfortunately, too little familiar with botany, I have confined myself to a description of the general impression produced by the luxuriant growth of the soil, without entering into the individualities of the vegetation. In the more highly situated Montanas, where the cinchona is found in the place of its nativity, the gigantic orchidae, the numerous fern plants, the tree-like nettles, the wonderful bignonias, and the numerous, impenetrable complications of climbing plants, powerfully rivet the attention of the observer. Lower down, in the lighter forest soil, amidst numerous shrubs and climbers, the eye delights to dwell on the manifold forms of the stately palm, on the terebinthaceae, on the thickly-leaved balsam-yielding leguminosae, on the luxuriant laurels, on the pandaneae or the large-leaved heliconias, and on the solaneae, with their gigantic blossoms and thousands of flowers. Descending still further, the flat lands of the forest assume a dark and gloomy aspect. The massive foliage of trees overarches stems which are the growth of centuries, and form a canopy almost impervious to the light of day. On the slimy soil no small shrub uprears its head, no flowering plant unfolds its blossom. The mighty trees stand alone, and erect in rows, like gravestones in a churchyard; and the child of darkness—the rapidly-shooting mushroom—finds genial nurture on the warm humid earth.