« הקודםהמשך »
Their history is so wrapped in obscurity, and their vestiges so rare, that our speculations as to their origin and manners are principally derived from their embalmed remains, or the questionable authority of ancient writers and travellers. As the work of Dr. Prichard contains a collection of the greater portion of the history of this singular people, I shall here take the liberty of quoting some of the most important information that he has been able to procure.
“ It is supposed that the Guanches, the ancient inhabitants of the Canary Islands, were a branch of the great Lybian or Atlantic stock. It has been often conjectured that the Canary Islands were the vnooi Mukupwv of the ancients, and the site of the fabulous gardens of the Hesperides. They seem to be obscurely indicated in the traditions of the early Grecian mythology ; but the first occasion in which they are mentioned in history, or in any account that approaches to authenticity, is in the report which was given by Sertorius, on the credit of which we are told by Plutarch, that the Roman general was seized with a desire to return to them, and live in peace
and repose. It is said that, when flying from the arms of Sylla, Sertorius met with some seamen but newly arrived from the Atlantic islands, which were said to be distant 10,000 furlongs from the coast of Africa. They are called,' says Plutarch, 'the Fortunate Isles.' Rain only falls there, as it is said, in moderate showers ; the seasons of the year are temperate ; and gentle breezes abound, bringing with them soft dews, which so enrich the soil, that it bears untilled, plenty of delicious fruits, and supports its inhabitants, who enjoy an immunity from toil."Lyon's Travels.
These islands were described by Juba, an African prince, and one of the oldest travellers and geographers. According to him, one of the islands was called Canaria, (now Grand Canary,) from its containing a number of dogs of a great size. In his time the islands seem to have been but very partially inhabited. During a long lapse of time, that is, from the period when Juba wrote, in Cæsar's time, to the 14th century, history is silent as to the state of the Fortunate Isles. In the 15th century, Cadamosto, the Spanish navigator, and discoverer of the Cape de Verd Islands, waged war against the Guanches; at that period the population of Grand Canary amounted to 9,000, and Tene
riffe to 5,000. - The natives of the latter island are said to have been of great, and even gigantic stature.” This assertion is certainly not verified by the remains of Guanches found at the present day. “They were a people of very simple habits, and possessed of
very few arts ; were ignorant of the use of metals, and are said to have plowed the land by means of the horns of bullocks. They believed in a future state, and worshipped a Supreme Being, whom they termed Achuharahan, the author and preserver of all good things. They also believed in a malignant being, termed Guayotta, and placed the abode of the wicked in the burning crater of Teneriffe.” “ What remained of the Guanches,”
says Humljoldt, perished mostly in 1494, in the terrible pestilence called the Modorra, which was attributed to the quantity of dead bodies left exposed to the air by the Spaniards, after the battle of La Laguna. The nation of the Guanches was therefore extinct at the beginning of the sixteenth century. A few only were found at Candelaria and Guimar."
“ The practice of embalming bodies and laying them up in mummy-caves or catacombs in the sides of mountains, is the most curious circumstance in the history of the Guanches; it is at least that which has attracted the greatest attention. The mummies were placed erect upon their feet against the sides of the caves; chiefs had a staff placed in their hands, and a vessel of milk standing by them.” The vessels that were shown me in the museum at Santa Cruz, as those found along with the mummy, were rude wooden bowls. A similar practice was observed by the ancient Peruvians. “Nicol, an English traveller, states, that he had seen 300 of these corpses together, of which he says, that the flesh was dried up, and the bodies as light as parchment. Scorey was assured that in the sepulchre of the kings of Guimar there was to be seen a skeleton measuring fifteen feet, the skull of which contained eighty teeth.” As this, however, is but parole or hearsay evidence, little reliance can be placed upon it. bodies were imbued with a sort of turpentine, and dried before a slow fire, or in the sun. This dessication was so complete that the whole mummies were found to be remarkably light; and Blumenbach informs us, that he possesses one which, with its integuments entire, weighs only seven and a half pounds, which
is nearly one-third less than the weight of an entire skeleton of the same stature, recently stripped of the skin and muscular, flesh. The corpses are decorated with small laces, on which are hung little disks of baked earth.” In the Guanche mummy
that I had an opportunity of examining, and to which I before referred the thongs or laces with which the coverings are decorated, and which were part of the skin in which it was enveloped were knotted in a very peculiar manner, and evidently with some design. It was not unlike the knotted thongs or Quippoe writing found among the ancient Mexicans. As to the little disks of baked clay to which Dr. Prichard refers, and those pieces of bone which I mentioned in the text, and concerning which the tradition current in the Canaries is, that they were used as money, a remarkable circumstance has come under my observation since the first part of this volume was printed. In a most singular and extensive bone-heap, lately discovered in the county of Meath, and which I have had an opportunity of examining, there were found, along with some human remains, and a vast collection of antiquities, several circular bone disks, and some cut out of bits of slate, precisely similar to those at Teneriffe. Their use is supposed to have been for spinning thread like teetotums; may not those have been used for a like purpose? I am much indebted to Mr. Barnwell, on whose ground they were found, for liberty to examine these curious relics, as well as for the bones found in the same situation. I may also remark, that the form of the cranium of this Teneriffe
many respects with the forms of those curious Celtic heads lately found in the Phønix Park, to which I have referred at page 450 of the second volume; one instance, however, can possess but little weight.
“ Mr. Golberry took much pains to collect information respecting the mode used by the Guanches in preparing their mummies, and he has described a mummy in his possession which he selected from among many others still remaining in his time in the mummy-caves at Teneriffe. Of this, he says, the hair was long and black; the skin dry and flexible, of a dark brown colour, the back and breast covered with hair, the belly and breast filled with a grain resembling rice; the body wrapped in bandages of goat's skin.'
Colonel Bory de St. Vincent, in his celebrated and elaborate
miles from the main land—a gale of wind 424 work upon the Canary Archipelago, (Essais sur les Isles Fortunees,) has laboured to prove their Egyptian origin, and Blumenbach is inclined to a like opinion; while Dr. Prichard states that there is not sufficient proof to establish identity of origin, or any connexion between the Guanches and the Egyptians. He says—“there seems to be a sufficient evidence in what remains of the languages of the Guanches, to prove their descent from the Berbers of Atlantica. It is difficult to imagine how such a people as the Berbers of Shúlúh, who are not known to have practised navigation, could find their way from Africa to the Canaries; but many seas have been traversed by rude, and even by savage people, under circumstances apparently still more unfavourable ; and the first population of many countries, notwithstanding all that has been said to the contrary by some writers, has certainly been spread along the sea-coasts, and across seas, for traversing which the races of men thus dispersed appear to have been in general but ill provided." The Frenchman, to whose work I have already referred, seemed to have anticipated this objection of a distant voyage, and has ventured an opinion that the Canary Archipelago once formed part of a vast Atlantic continent, separated from that of Africa by a narrow strait, (not broader than that of Gibraltar,) called Cape Bojador; and that the elevated portion of these islands was a continuation of the Atlas mountains, which remained standing during some powerful convulsion that rent the surrounding portion of the Atlantic continent from them. But it requires no such plausible but unproved assertions to account for the peopling of an island not more than 200 would have sent the simplest boat or raft across. in forty-eight hours.
Glass, in his history of the Canaries, gives us a description of the mode of embalming of the Guanches, taken from an old Spanish MS.
“First they carried it (the body) to a flat stone, where they opened it, and took out the bowels; then twice a-day they washed the porous parts of the body, viz. the arm-pits, behind the ears, the groins, between the fingers, and the neck, with cold water. After washing it sufficiently, they anointed those parts with sheep's butter, and sprinkled them with a powder made of the dust of decayed pine-trees, and a sort of brush
wood, which the Spaniards call Bressos, together with the powder of pumice-stone; then they let the body remain till it was perfectly dry, when the relations of the deceased came and swaddled it in sheep or goat-skins dressed, girding all tight with long leathern thongs; they put it in the cave which had been set apart by the deceased for his burying-place, without any covering. The king could be buried only in the cave of his ancestors, in which the bodies were so disposed as to be known again. There were particular persons set apart for this office of embalming; each sex performing it for those of their own. During the process they watched the bodies very strictly, to prevent the ravens from devouring them ; the wife or husband of the deceased bringing them victuals, and waiting on them during the time of their watching.” This account bears a strong resemblance to the mode of preservation used by the Egyptians. Another point of similitude between the two nations is, that the incisor teeth of both were ground down, either by their particular food, or, what is more probable, by some artificial process. Blumenbach gives a representation of the skull of a Guanche, in the 5th Decade of his collection; and this has many points in common with the white Egyptian race. At the same time it has also some resemblance to the Celtic races to which I before referred, in the flattened crown, the projecting occiput, and the great length in its antero-posterior diameter. Guanche mummy in the museum of Cambridge, each of the toes and fingers is bound separately by a strip of leather, the same as we find in the higher class of Egyptians. Mr. Marsden has given a table of affinities between the Berber or Numidian, and the Guanche tongues, which in many respects is synonymous with that of the Tuariks near Egypt, as shown by the vocabulary of Mr. Norneman.
On the whole, there seem to be many points of resemblance between the Guanches of the Canaries, and one of the races of the ancient Egyptians.