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

Friday, November 15, 2019

The Haush of Tierra del Fuego used clicks in their language

Charles Darwin's "The Voyage of the Beagle" is an extraordinary account, and I enjoy picking it up and reading pages at random. Last night, I read about the Beagle's arrival in Tierra del Fuego and Darwin's first contact with Fuegian natives, which took place at Good Success Bay (Bahia de Buen Suceso in Spanish).

The bay is located on the eastern tip of the Island of Tierra del Fuego, it is the western side of the Strait of Lemaire, which separates the Isla de los Estados island from the main Tierra del Fuego island. Its name is due to the protection it offered sailors from the roaring winds and terrible waves of the South Atlantic Ocean.

Darwin and a party of sailors landed here and met natives, he was shocked:

"I could not have believed how wide was the difference between savage and civilized man: it is greater than between a wild and domesticated animal, inasmuch as in man there is a greater power of improvement. The chief spokesman was old, and appeared to be the head of the family; the three others were powerful young men, about six feet high. The women and children had been sent away. These Fuegians are a very different race from the stunted, miserable wretches farther westward; and they seem closely allied to the famous Patagonians of the Strait of Magellan. Their only garment consists of a mantle made of guanaco skin, with the wool outside; this they wear just thrown over their shoulders, leaving their persons as often exposed as covered. Their skin is of a dirty coppery red colour."

The Haush were people that lived on the Mitre Peninsula, on the last ranges of the Andes, in the forest, sandwiched between the Selknam people who lived to the north, in the grasslands, and the sea to the south, the domain of the Yamana (or Yaghan) canoe people.

What drew my attention was how Darwin described their language: (see bold highlighted text)

"Their very attitudes were abject, and the expression of their countenances distrustful, surprised, and startled. After we had presented them with some scarlet cloth, which they immediately tied round their necks, they became good friends. This was shown by the old man patting our breasts, and making a chuckling kind of noise, as people do when feeding chickens. I walked with the old man, and this demonstration of friendship was repeated several times; it was concluded by three hard slaps, which were given me on the breast and back at the same time. He then bared his bosom for me to return the compliment, which being done, he seemed highly pleased. The language of these people, according to our notions, scarcely deserves to be called articulate. Captain Cook has compared it to a man clearing his throat, but certainly no European ever cleared his throat with so many hoarse, guttural, and clicking sounds."

The fact that Darwin described them as having "Clicking sounds" is remarkable (see my recent post on click languages), it is the first reference that I have found of clicks in an Amerindian language.

I have mentioned the Haush (or Manek'enk) and their myths in my book (Monsters of Patagonia), they became extinct so not much is known about them. They were related to the Selknam people, hunted the local camelid (guanaco) and had a distinct language that though close to that of the Selknam, was unintelligible to them.

Lucas Bridges, son of Thomas, the English missionary who was the first European to settle in Tierra del Fuego (Ushuaia, the world's southernmos city was the site of his mission among the Yamana people), wrote about the Haush. He reported that they feared both Selknam and Yamana, and believed that they had been forced into the forested cul de sac where they lived due to this constant conflict with their neighbors. He also noticed the difference between the language of Selknam and Haush.

Bridges also believed that the Haush (or Aush) arrived in Tierra del Fuego before the Selknam did, and he based this belief on the fact that many place names in Selknam territory had Haush names.

My Map of Patagonian natives. The Haush are on the lower right tip of Tierra del Fuego:

A close up view of Mitre Peninsula, the land of the Haush, and Bahia Buen Suceso is marked with a red circle:

A photo of one of the last Haush ca. 1920s (notice the guanaco fur, worn with the "wool outwards". The European man is a Catholic priest. Their missions only spread measles, tuberculosis and flu, wiping out the few remaining Haush (and also Selknam and Yamana) people.:

Little is known about them, their customs and language. I have not been able to find any scholarly papers about these people (most refer to the Selknam or Yamana). We have photos, and some articles written later, such as Anne Chapman's books, but if you dig deeper, they repeat the same themes and don't add new information beyond the anecdotes compiled by Bridges, the Catholic priests and the first "scientific" expeditions to Tierra del Fuego in the late 1800s.

The click language of the Haush is another mystery worth being studied.

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2019 by Austin Whittall © 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hits since Sept. 2009:
Copyright © 2009-2018 by Austin Victor Whittall.
Todos los derechos reservados por Austin Whittall para esta edición en idioma español y / o inglés. No se permite la reproducción parcial o total, el almacenamiento, el alquiler, la transmisión o la transformación de este libro, en cualquier forma o por cualquier medio, sea electrónico o mecánico, mediante fotocopias, digitalización u otros métodos, sin el permiso previo y escrito del autor, excepto por un periodista, quien puede tomar cortos pasajes para ser usados en un comentario sobre esta obra para ser publicado en una revista o periódico. Su infracción está penada por las leyes 11.723 y 25.446.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means - electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other - except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without prior written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review.

Please read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy before accessing this blog.

Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy

Patagonian Monsters -