Guide to Patagonia's Monsters & Mysterious beings

I have written a book on this intriguing subject which has just been published.
In this blog I will post excerpts and other interesting texts on this fascinating subject.

Austin Whittall

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Minoan - Cretan civilization and Patagonian myths

labyrinth coin Knossos Crete
Labyrinth on coin from Knossos, Crete

Late Argentine Historian Rodolfo Casamiquela's book "En pos del Gualicho" (Searching for Gualicho)[1] is an in-depth essay on the mythical evil being known as "Gualicho" to contemporary Argentines.

He traces the etymology of the word to its ancestral Tehuelche home in Patagonia and the cultural flow between Tehuelche groups in southern, central and northeastern Patagonia and the Mapuche groups (the later in Chile and northwestern Patagonia).

This flow morphed the being and gave it peculiar local features.

As there are few sources dating back to the period when the natives were free entities that roamed the Patagonian steppes and forests, he relies on his notes (and those of other researchers) from interviews with elder natives who in their childhood heard the ancient tales from their parents and grandparents and saw the ritual dances and ceremonies. But these eyewitness accounts only date back to the early 1900s, a period when native culture was in frank decay and distuption due to the onslaught of White Men's civilization.

He also adds quite complex (not because of the subject or its inherent complexity, but because of his complicated way of putting down his thoughts - you just lose the thread and miss the point he is trying to make) etymological studies that dig deeply into the meaning of the many (yes, there are many) native words that refer to the evil beings which Casamiquela ends up blending into the Gualicho, though I believe may actually be different creatures and not different interpretations of the same one.

So, over the next few posts I will share with you a "purified" summary of different parts of his book, getting rid of extraneous pieces of information that clutter the picture.

Today we will talk about horned beings and his very interesting hint, which, unfortunately he does not follow up in the book!

Horned creatures

I have posted extensively on horned creatures (horned as in cow or bull, not deer -who have antlers) in Patagonia (there are deers in Patagonia -i.e. huemul, pudu pudu, but no native horned beings of the buffalo or bovid groups).

Casamiquela refers to a native dance, which spans Patagonia (Tehuelche and Mapuche alike), known as Lonkonmeo and points out the following [pp. 127]:

... the costume of the dancers, which I must point out here that it is distinguished by two large bundles of feathers on their heads, as horns, and a conspicuous tail... it points strongly towards a costume...evoking the one usd by the North American natives in their renown "buffalo dance"...[1]

He later mentions the horned being cited by Bridges among the Fuegians, Talimeoat and his representation of a "bull-like" being (see my post on horned Patagonian beings, where I mention it and states [pp. 190]:

What horned and snorting animal was T'alemiot (correct pronunciation) trying to represent if not a bull? Gallardo (1910, 336) recalled that on the Island [Tierra del Fuego ] there was a "black bug, a beetle, that had two tiny horns", and asked himself: "di the idea of the horns come from here or should we attribute it to the influence of the missionaries who described to, or showed to the natives images of the devil?". In view of the antiquity -pre-missionary- of this being among the Ona [now known as Selknam] and of all we have seen in Patagonia, the anseer is "neither one, or the other". To that associated element, the labyrinth... why not instead think about the mythical Mediterranean bull, the Cretan Minotaur? It seems fantastic, crazy!
But it woun't seem so to the layman reader if I explain tha the notion of the labyrinth entered Patagonia, to its southernmost reaches (at least) around the time of Christ: it appears in many representations of its rich rock art, especially through engravings throughout Patagonia
... What is singular is that many curvilinear motiffs that appear on the Patagonian outcrops clearly derive from European ones, particularly those known in Spain, which archaeologists have critically linked to the typical Cretan model, which in Knossos has been dated to 220 Before Christ. [1]

An amazing and unexpected link between Patagonia and the Mycenaean civilization and the mythical Minotaur and his labyrinth.

I believe that his date is wrong, 220 BC is the period that Rome was taking on Greece and Carthage. Crete and its labyrinth date much further back...

The cataclysmic eruption of the volcano at the Island of Thera (now Santorini) around 1630 BC, greatly affected the Cretan - Minoan civilization, and although it recovered, it never recovered its past grandeur. Around 1450 BC the Minoan palaces, villages and homes were razed by fire and were never rebuilt. Was it provoked by invaders, civil war, earthquakes? The Cretan civilization disappeared for ever.

So Casamiquela is 1.200 years off his mark.

More in my next posts, I have to do some reseach.

Below is Gallardo's text quoted by Casamiquela above, [2] in it he points out that "Jachai" (the Selknam Horned being, as he writes the name) has two horns, which is quite singular since horned animals (cattle) were only recently introduced into Tierra del Fuego. He then wonders about the missionaries and their devil imagery and the horned beetle:

Gallardo - Onas


[1] Casamiquela, R. , (1988). En Pos del Gualicho. Fondo Editorial Rionegrino.
[2] Gallardo, Carlos, R. (1910). Los Onas. Cabaut, pp. 335+

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2011 by Austin Whittall © 


  1. Horned 'gods' and goddesses are in every civilised country during in the period you mention, right across Mesopotamia, India, Egypt even across Europe.

  2. I agree with you, and so were mazes engraved in rocks all across that region, from Finland to Spain, to the Middle East. Perhaps it is some "common" myth that appears on its own among different groups of humans who were not in touch with each other.
    An independent event that happened time and time again.
    If so, the Patagonian mazes are coincidentally similar to those found in Europe and not the outcome of some kind of "close encounter" between Patagonian natives and Cretan sailors.
    Thanks for your comment.


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