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

Monday, October 18, 2010

Patagonian devils or cattle?

satyr mask
Horned Satyr. A horned devil resembles a horned animal. From [3]

Devils are usually depicted as horned beings in our western and Christian world. In a previous post I mentioned that the Tehuelche groups of Patagonia believed in demons or devils which, surprisingly were "horned" beings (Native prehispanic cattle in Patagonia?).

Today I came across an interesting comment written after the voyage of English Admiral and Privateer Sir Francis Drake, which touched the coasts of Patagonia in 1577. Upon returning to England his Chaplain, Francis Fletcher, wrote an account of this journey and in it, he mentions the Tehuelche natives and their head-dress as follows: (in its original ancient English spelling)[1]

Some of them […] sticke on either side of their heads […] a large and plaine feather, shewing like horns afarre off: so that such a head upon a naked body (if diuels [devils] do appaere with horns) might very nigh resemble diuels [devils]. [1]

Original text in the box below:

So Fletcher gives us an indication that the natives used feathers attached to their heads in a manner that resembled "diuels" or devils. Perhaps the devil connotation was due to the chaplain's religious upbringing and the natives merely did it because they liked how the feathers looked. However, I am inclined to believe that they did it to imitate some sort of horned animal that then roamed Patagonia.

I base this assertion on the comment written by another English explorer, John Narbrough in 1670. While in Patagonia, at San Julián (where Magellan had wintered in 1520 and Drake in 1577), he explored the surrounding areas and discovered that:

The People of the Country have made in a Valley, the form of the Ship in Earth and Bushes, and stuck up pieces of sticks for Masts […] theModel i imagin is to record our Ship, for they cannot have any Records but by imitation. [2]

Original text below:

If Narbrough's comment is valid, then the Tehuelche made a model ship to depict the European ships that had passed through San Julián. Why not do the same to depict a massive Patagonian buffalo with large sharp horns?


[1] Fletcher, Francis, (1854). The world encompassed... London. Haklyut Society. pp. 53
[2] Narbrough, John, (1670). An Account of several late voyages & discoveries to the south and north ... 1694. London. S. Smith and B. Walford.
[3] Image Credits. Name: mask_7032. Description: Satyr, Italian Renascence by Sansovino. Source: F. S. Meyer, Handbook of Ornament (New York: The Bruno Hessling Company, 1917) 96. Retrieved: 18.10.2010. Online:

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia
2010 International Year of Biodiversity Copyright 2009-2010 by Austin Whittall © 

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