The Full Wiki

Guanches: Wikis

Advertisements
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Guanches
"man of Tenerife"
Bencomo.jpg
Statue of Bencomo at Candelaria, Tenerife.
Total population
Unknown
Regions with significant populations
 Canary Islands
Languages

Guanche language · Silbo · Canarian Spanish

Religion

Animism (Guanche mythology)

Related ethnic groups

Berber · Riffian

Guanches (also: Guanchis or Guanchetos), now extinct as a distinct people,[1] were the first known inhabitants of the Canary Islands, having migrated to the archipelago sometime between 1000 BC and 100 BC or perhaps earlier. Their aboriginal culture as such has since disappeared, although traces of it can still be found, an example being the "whistle" Silbo language of La Gomera Island.

Contents

Etymology

The native term Guanchinet or Achinet literally translated means "man of Tenerife" (from Guan = person and Chinet = Tenerife).[1] It was modified, according to Juan Núñez de la Peña, by the Castilians into "Guanchos".[2]

Historical background

Reconstruction of a Guanche village (Tenerife).
Guanche rock carvings in La Palma

The Roman author and military officer, Pliny the Elder, drawing upon the accounts of Juba II, king of Mauretania, stated that a Mauretanian expedition to the islands around 50 BC found the ruins of great buildings, but otherwise no population to speak of.[3] If this account is accurate, it may suggest that the Guanches were not the only inhabitants, or the first ones; or that the expedition simply did not explore the islands thoroughly.

Strictly speaking, the Guanches were the indigenous peoples of Tenerife, where the population seems to have lived in relative isolation up to the time of the Castilian conquest, around the 14th century (though Genoans, Portuguese, and Castilians may have visited there from the second half of the 8th century onwards). The name came to be applied to the original populations of Tenerife island.

Many Guanches died resisting the new colonizers, while others died from infectious diseases that accompanied the invaders, diseases to which the Guanches, because of their long isolation, had little immunity.

What remains of their language, Guanche—a few expressions, vocabulary words and the proper names of ancient chieftains still borne by certain families—exhibits positive similarities with the Berber languages.[4][5] The first reliable account of Guanche language was provided by Genovese explorer Nicoloso da Recco in 1341, with a translation of numbers used by the islanders.

Petroglyphs attributed to various Mediterranean civilizations have been found on some of the islands. In 1752, Domingo Vandewalle, a military governor of Las Palmas, attempted to investigate them, and Aquilino Padron, a priest at Las Palmas, catalogued inscriptions at El Julan, La Candía and La Caleta on El Hierro. In 1878 Dr. R. Verneau discovered rock carvings in the ravines of Las Balos that resemble Libyan or Numidic writing from the time of Roman occupation or earlier. In other locations, Libyco-Berber script has been identified. However, according to European chroniclers, the Guanches did not possess a system of writing at the time of conquest.

Advertisements

Before the Spanish conquest

The geographic accounts of Pliny the Elder and of Strabo mention the "fortunate islands" but do not report anything about their populations. Accounts about the Guanche population were first made around 1150 AD by the Arab geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi in the Nuzhatul Mushtaq, a book he wrote for King Roger II of Sicily, in which al-Idrisi reports a journey in the Atlantic Ocean made by the Mugharrarin ("the adventurers"), a family of Andalusian seafarers from Lisbon, Portugal. The only surviving version of this book, kept at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, and first translated by Pierre Amédée Jaubert, reports that, after having reached an area of "sticky and stinking waters" (probably the Sargasso Sea), the Mugharrarin moved back and first reached an uninhabited Island (Madeira or Hierro), where they found "a huge quantity of sheeps the meat of which was bitter and uneatable" and, then, "continued southward" and reached another island where they were soon surrounded by barks and brought to "a village whose inhabitants were often fair hair with long and flaxen hair and the women of a rare beauty". Among the villagers, one did speak Arabic and asked them where they came from. Then the king of the village ordered them to bring them back to the continent where they were surprised to be welcomed by Berbers[6]. Apart from the marvelous and fanciful content of this history, this account would suggest that Guanches had sporadic contacts with populations from the mainland.

During the 14th century, the Guanches are presumed to have had other contacts with Balearic seafarers from Spain, suggested by the presence of Balearic artefacts found on several of the Canary Islands[citation needed].

The Spanish conquest

Alonso Fernández de Lugo presenting the captured Guanche kings of Tenerife to Ferdinand and Isabella.

The Spanish conquest of the islands began in 1402, with the expedition of Jean de Béthencourt and Gadifer de la Salle to the island of Lanzarote. Gadifer would conquer Lanzarote and Fuerteventura with ease since many of the aborigines, faced with issues of starvation and poor agriculture, would surrender to Castilian rule.

The other five islands fought back. El Hierro and the Bimbache population were the next to fall, then La Gomera, Gran Canaria, La Palma and in 1496, Tenerife.

Tenerife was most successful against the Castilian invaders. In the First Battle of Acentejo (31 May 1494), called La Matanza or "The Slaughter," Guanches with stones and spears ambushed the Castilians in a valley and killed many. Only one in five of the Castilians survived, including the leader of the expedition, Alonso Fernandez de Lugo. Lugo would return later to the island with the alliance of the kings of the southern part of the island, and defeated the Guanches in the Battle of Aguere. The northern Menceyatos or provinces fell after the Second Battle of Acentejo with the defeat of the successor of Bencomo, Bentor, Mencey of Taoro – what is now the Orotava Valley – in 1496.

Origins

Genetic evidence shows that northern African peoples (most likely descendants of the Capsian culture) made a significant contribution to the aboriginal population of the Canaries following desertification of the Sahara at some point after 6000 BC. Linguistic evidence suggests ties between Guanche language and the Berber languages of northern Africa, particularly when comparing numeral systems.[5][7] Research into the genetics of the Guanche population have led to the conclusion that they share an ancestry with Berber peoples[8]

The islands were visited by a number of peoples within recorded history. The Numidians, Phoenicians, and Carthaginians knew of the islands and made frequent visits,[9] including expeditions dispatched from Mogador by Juba.[10] The Romans occupied northern Africa and visited the Canaries between the 1st and 4th centuries AD, judging from Roman artefacts found on the island of Lanzarote. These show that Romans did trade with the Canaries, though there is no evidence of their ever settling there.[11] Archaeology of the Canaries seem to reflect diverse levels of technology, some differing from the Neolithic culture that was encountered at the time of conquest.

Population genetics

A 2003 genetics research article by Nicole Maca-Meyer et al. published in the European Journal of Human Genetics compared aboriginal Guanche mtDNA (collected from Canarian archaeological sites) to that of today's Canarians and concluded that, "despite the continuous changes suffered by the population (Spanish colonisation, slave trade), aboriginal mtDNA [direct maternal] lineages constitute a considerable proportion [42 – 73%] of the Canarian gene pool. Although the Berbers are the most probable ancestors of the Guanches, it is deduced that important human movements [e.g., the Islamic-Arabic conquest of the Berbers] have reshaped Northwest Africa after the migratory wave to the Canary Islands" and the "results support, from a maternal perspective, the supposition that since the end of the 16th century, at least, two-thirds of the Canarian population had an indigenous substrate, as was previously inferred from historical and anthropological data."[8] mtDNA haplogroup U subclade U6b1 is Canarian-specific[12] and is the most common mtDNA haplogroup found in aboriginal Guanche archaeological burial sites.[8]

Y-DNA, or Y-chromosomal, (direct paternal) lineages were not analyzed in this study. However, an earlier study giving the aboriginal y-DNA contribution at 6% was cited by Maca-Meyer et al. but the results were critiqued as possibly flawed due to the widespread phylogeography of y-DNA haplogroup E1b1b1b, which may skew determination of the aboriginality versus coloniality of contemporary y-DNA lineages in the Canaries. Y-DNA, or Y-chromosomal, (direct paternal) lineages were not analyzed in this study; however, an earlier study giving the aboriginal y-DNA contribution at 6% was cited by Maca-Meyer et al., but the results were criticized as possibly flawed due to the widespread phylogeography of y-DNA haplogroup E1b1b1b, which may skew determination of the aboriginality versus coloniality of contemporary y-DNA lineages in the Canaries. Regardless, Maca-Meyer et al. states that historical evidence does support the explanation of "strong sexual asymmetry...as a result of a strong bias favoring matings between European males and aboriginal females, and to the important aboriginal male mortality during the Conquest."[13] The genetics thus suggests the native men were sharply reduced in numbers due to the war, large numbers of Spaniard men stayed in the islands and married the local women, the Canarians adopted Spanish names, language, and religion, and in this way, the Canarians were Hispanicized.

According to a 2005 study, in spite of the geographic nearness between the Canary Islands and Morocco, the genetic heritage of the Canary islands male lineages, is mainly from European origin. Indeed, nearly 72% of the haplogroups resulting from are Euro–Eurasian (R1a, R1b, I and G). Unsurprisingly the Spanish conquest brought the genetic base of the current male population of the Canary Islands. Nevertheless, the second most important Haplogroup family is from Africa, Near and Middle East. E1b1b (12% including 7% of the typically berber haplogroup E-M81), E1b1a (2%), J (10%) and T (3%) Haplogroups are present at a rate of 27%. Even if a part of these "eastern" haplogroups were introduced by the Spanish too, we can suppose that a good portion of this rate was already there at the time of the conquest[14][15].

According to Fregel et al. 2009 the presence of autochthonous North African E-M81 lineages, and also other relatively abundant markers (E-M78 and J-M267) from the same region in the indigenous Guanche population, "strongly points to that area [North Africa] as the most probable origin of the Guanche ancestors". In this study, Fregel et al. estimated that, based on Y-chromosome and mtDNA haplogroup frequencies, the relative female and male indigenous Guanche contributions to the present-day Canary Islands populations was respectively of 41.8% and 16.1%.[16]

It is thought that the arrival of the aborigines to the archipelago led to the extinction of some big reptiles and insular mammals, for example, the giant lizard Lacerta goliath (which managed to reach up to a meter in length) and Canariomys bravoi, the giant rat of Tenerife.

System of beliefs

Religion and mythology

Guanche idol.

Little is known of the religion of the Guanches. There was a general belief in a supreme being, called Achamán in Tenerife, Acoran in Gran Canaria, Eraoranhan in Hierro, and Abora in La Palma. The women of Hierro worshipped a goddess called Moneiba. According to tradition, the male and female gods lived in mountains, from which they descended to hear the prayers of the people. On other islands, the natives venerated the sun, moon, earth and stars. A belief in an evil spirit was general. The demon of Tenerife was called Guayota and lived at the peak of Teide volcano, which was the hell called Echeyde; in Tenerife and Gran Canaria, the minor demons took the form of wild black woolly dogs called Tibicenas, which lived in deep caves of the mountains, emerging at night to attack livestock and human beings.[citation needed]

In Tenerife Magec (god of the Sun) and Chaxiraxi (the goddess mother) were also worshiped. In times of drought, the Guanches drove their flocks to consecrated grounds, where the lambs were separated from their mothers in the belief that their plaintive bleating would melt the heart of the Great Spirit. During the religious feasts, hostilities were held in abeyance, from war to personal quarrels.

Idols found in the islands, including the Idol of Tara (Museo Canario, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria) and The Guatimac (Museum Archaeological of Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife).

The principal gods of the Guanches of Tenerife

Mount Teide on Tenerife.
  • Achamán: the supreme god of the Guanches on the island of Tenerife; he is the father god and creator.
  • Chaxiraxi: the native goddess known as the Sun Mother.
  • Chijoraji or Chijoragi: divine child, son of Chaxiraxi.
  • Magec: was the god of the Sun and the light and also thought to be one of the principal divinities.
  • Achuguayo: god of the moon. It was the duality of Magec god (god of the sun).
  • Guayota: was the principal malignant deity and Achamán's adversary.

Other mythical beings

  • Maxios: benevolent minor gods or genies; domestic spirits and guardians of specific places.
  • Tibicenas: demons in the form of black dogs, these were children of Guayota, the malignant deity.

Aboriginal priests

The Guanches had priests or shamans who were connected with the gods and ordained hierarchically:

  • Guadameñe (in Tenerife). spiritual advisers to the Menceyes (Aboriginal kings), who directed the worship.
  • Faykan or Faicán (in Gran Canaria), a spiritual and religious person in charge, who directed the worship.
  • Maguadas or Arimaguadas (in Tenerife and Gran Canaria), women priestesses dedicated to worship. They took part in some rituals.
  • Kankus (in Tenerife) was the priests responsible for the worship of the ancestor spirits and Maxios (minor gods or genies).

Festivities

Beñesmer the festival was a festival of the agricultural calendar of the Guanches (the new year Guanche) to be held after the gathering of crops devoted to Chaxiraxi (on August 15). In this event the Guanches shared milk, gofio, sheep or goat meat (food good prices for Guanches). At the present time coincides with the pilgrimage to the Basilica of the Virgin of Candelaria (Patron of Canary Islands).

Among the cultural events are significant traces of Aboriginal traditions at the holidays and in the current Romería Relief in Güímar (Tenerife) and the lowering of the Rama, in Agaete (Gran Canaria).[17]

Funerals and mummies

Mummification was practiced throughout the islands. While in Tenerife, where it made was a greater perfection. In La Palma the old people were left to die alone at their own wish. After bidding their family farewell, they were carried to the sepulchral cave, with nothing but a bowl of milk being left them. The Guanches embalmed their dead; many mummies have been found in an extreme state of desiccation, each weighing not more than 6 or 7 pounds. Two almost inaccessible caves in a vertical rock by the shore 3 miles from Santa Cruz (Tenerife) are said still to contain bones. The process of embalming seems to have varied. In Tenerife and Gran Canaria the corpse was simply wrapped up in goat and sheep skins, while in other islands a resinous substance was used to preserve the body, which was then placed in a cave difficult to access, or buried under a tumulus. The work of embalming was reserved for a special class, women for female corpses, men for male. Embalming seems not to have been universal, and bodies were often simply hidden in caves or buried.

The method used by the aborigines of the island of Tenerife was the most perfect, because their mummies are the best preserved and most famous of the islands and Spain. In the Museo de la Naturaleza y el Hombre (Santa Cruz de Tenerife) mummies of original inhabitants of the Canary Islands are displayed.

Political system

Tenerife prior to the Castilian conquest.

The political and social institutions of the Guanches varied. In some islands hereditary autocracy prevailed; in others the government was elective. In Tenerife all the land belonged to the kings who leased it to their subjects. In Gran Canaria, suicide was regarded as honourable, and whenever a new king was installed, one of his subjects willingly honoured the occasion by throwing himself over a precipice.[1][18] In some islands, polyandry was practised; in others they were monogamous. Insult of a woman by an armed man was allegedly a capital offense.[19]

The island of Tenerife was divided into nine small kingdoms (menceyatos), each ruled by a king or Mencey. The Mencey was the ultimate ruler of the kingdom, and at times, meetings were held between the various kings. When the Castilians invaded the Canary Islands, the southern kingdoms joined the Castilian invaders on the promise of the richer lands of the north; the Castilians betrayed them after ultimately securing victory at the Battles of Aguere and Acentejo.

Kings (Menceys) of Tenerife

In Tenerife the grand Mencey Tinerfe and his father Sunta Mencey governed the unified island, which afterwards was divided into nine kingdoms by the children of Tinerfe.

Clothes and weapons

A statue of the Guanche mencey Añaterve. Candelaria, Tenerife.

Guanches wore garments made from goat skins or woven from plant fibers, which have been found in the tombs of Tenerife. They had a taste for ornaments and necklaces of wood, bone and shells, worked in different designs. Beads of baked earth, cylindrical and of all shapes, with smooth or polished surfaces, mostly colored black and red, were fairly common. Dr. René Verneau suggested that the objects the Castilians referred to as pintaderas, baked clay seal-shaped objects, were used as vessels for painting the body in various colours. They manufactured rough pottery, mostly without decorations, or ornamented by making fingernail indentations.

Guanche weapons adapted to the insular environment (using wood, obsidian and stone as primary materials), with later influences from medieval European weaponry. Basic armaments in several of the islands included javelins of 1 to 2 m in length (known as Banot on Tenerife); round, polished stones; spears; maces (common in Gran Canaria and Tenerife, and known as Magado and Sunta, respectively); and shields (small in Tenerife and human-sized in Gran Canaria, where they were known as Tarja, made of Drago wood and painted with geometric shapes). After the arrival of the Europeans, Guanche nobility from Gran Canaria were known to wield large wooden swords (larger than the European two-handed type) called Magido, which were said to be very effective against both infantrymen and cavalry. Weaponry made of wood was hardened with fire. These armaments were commonly complemented with a stone or obsidian knife known as a Tabona.

Dwellings were situated in natural or artificial caves in the mountains. In areas where cave dwellings were not feasible, they built small round houses and, according to the Castilians, practiced crude fortification.

Presumed Guanche names of the Canary Islands

  • Tenerife: Achinech, Achineche or Asensen.
  • La Gomera: Gomera or Gomahara.
  • La Palma: Benahoare.
  • El Hierro: Eseró or Heró.
  • Gran Canaria: Tamaran.
  • Lanzarote: Titerogakaet or Titeroigatra.
  • Fuerteventura: Maxorata, Erbania or Erbani.

Museums

Many of the museums island islands in their collections of archaeological material and human remains from prehistory and history archipelago of the Canaries. Some of the most important are:

New religious movement

In 2001, the Church of the Guanche People (Iglesia del Pueblo Guanche), a Neopagan movement with several hundred followers, was founded in San Cristóbal de La Laguna (Tenerife). [20] [21]

Guanche people

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b c "Section 14". The Encyclopaedia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information. Encyclopaedia Britannica. 1910. pp. 650. 
  2. ^ (in Castilian) Conquista y antigüedades de las islas de la Gran Canaria y su descripción, con muchas advertencias de sus privilegios, conquistadores, pobladores y otras particularidades en la muy poderosa isla de Tenerife, dirigido a la milagrosa imagen de Nuestra Señora de Candelaria. 
  3. ^ Pliny, "Natural History" Bk 6 ch 37
  4. ^ Andrew Dalby, Dictionary of Languages, 1998, p. 88 "Guanche, indigenous language of the Canary Islands, is generally thought to have been a Berber language."
  5. ^ a b Bynon J., "The contribution of linguistics to history in the field of Berber studies." In: Dalby D, (editor) Language and history in Africa New York: Africana Publishing Corporation, 1970, p 64–77.
  6. ^ Idrisi, La première géographie de l'Occident, NEF, pARIS 1999
  7. ^ Andrew Dalby, Dictionary of Languages, 1998, p. 88
  8. ^ a b c Maca-Meyer N, Arnay M, Rando JC, et al. (February 2004). "Ancient mtDNA analysis and the origin of the Guanches". Eur. J. Hum. Genet. 12 (2): 155–62. doi:10.1038/sj.ejhg.5201075. PMID 14508507. http://www.nature.com/ejhg/journal/v12/n2/full/5201075a.html. 
  9. ^ Galindo, Juan de Abreu. "VII". The History of the Discovery and Conquest of the Canary Islands. Adamant Media Corporation. pp. 173. ISBN 1-4021-7269-9. 
  10. ^ C.Michael Hogan, Mogador: promontory fort, The Megalithic Portal, ed. Andy Burnham, Nov. 2, 2007 [1]
  11. ^ Andrew L. Slayman, "Roman Trade With the Canary Islands", Archeology Newsbriefs, A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America, Volume 50 Number 3, May/June 1997 [2]
  12. ^ Pereira L, Macaulay V, Prata MJ, Amorim A (January 2003). "Phylogeny of the mtDNA haplogroup U6. Analysis of the sequences observed in North Africa and Iberia". Progress in Forensic Genetics 9. Proceedings from the 19th. 1239. pp. 491–3. doi:10.1016/S0531-5131(02)00553-8. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B7581-47W664D-1JF&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=365d5674ca70b3ac4a6f0522140ec294. 
  13. ^ http://www.nature.com/ejhg/journal/v12/n2/full/5201075a.html Ancient mtDNA analysis and the origin of the Guanches.
  14. ^ Y-chromosome STR haplotypes in the Canary Islands population (Spain), Zurita et al. 2005
  15. ^ Ancient Y chromosomes from the Canary Islands
  16. ^ Fregel et al. 2009, Demographic history of Canary Islands male gene-pool: replacement of native lineages by European
  17. ^ 1
  18. ^ Aliño, López-Ibor; Carmen Leal Cercós, arlos Carbonell Masiá, Janssen-Cilag. Images of Spanish Psychiatry. World Psychiatric Association. Editorial Glosa, S.L.. pp. 574. ISBN 8-4742-9200-X. 
  19. ^ "Guanches". 1911encyclopedia.org. http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Guanches. Retrieved 2008-09-17. 
  20. ^ (Spanish)Minorías religiosas en Canarias
  21. ^ (Spanish)laopinion on religious minorities in the Canaries´

References

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

GUANCHES, GUANCHIS or Guanchos (native Guanchinet; Guan = person, Chinet = Teneriffe, - " ` man of Teneriffe," corrupted, according to Nunez de la Pena, by Spaniards into Guanchos), the aboriginal inhabitants of the Canary Islands. Strictly the Guanches were the primitive inhabitants of Teneriffe, where they seem to have preserved racial purity to the time of the Spanish conquest, but the name came to be applied to the indigenous populations of all the islands. The Guanches, now extinct as a distinct people, appear, from the study of skulls and bones discovered, to have resembled the Cro-Magnon race of the Quaternary age, and no real doubt is now entertained that they were an offshoot of the great race of Berbers which from the dawn of history has occupied northern Africa from Egypt to the Atlantic. Pliny the Elder, deriving his knowledge from the accounts of Juba, king of Mauretania, states that when visited by the Carthaginians under Hanno the archipelago was found by them to be uninhabited, but that they saw ruins of great buildings. This would suggest that the Guanches were not the first inhabitants, and from the absence of any trace of Mahommedanism among the peoples found in the archipelago by the Spaniards it would seem that this extreme westerly migration of Berbers took place between the time of which Pliny wrote and the conquest of northern Africa by the Arabs. Many of the Guanches fell in resisting the Spaniards, many were sold as slaves, and many conformed to the Roman Catholic faith and married Spaniards.

Such remains as there are of their language, a few expressions and the proper names of ancient chieftains still borne by certain families, connect it with the Berber dialects. In many of the islands signs are engraved on rocks. Domingo Vandewalle, a military governor of Las Palmas, was the first, in 1752, to investigate these; and it is due to the perseverance of D. Aquilino Padran, a priest of Las Palmas, that anything about the inscription on the island Hierro has been brought to light. In 1878 Dr R. Verneau discovered in the ravines of Las Balos some genuine Libyan inscriptions. Without exception the rock inscriptions have proved to be Numidic. In two of the islands (Teneriffe and Gomera) the Guanche type has been retained with more purity than in the others. No inscriptions have been found in these two islands, and therefore it would seem that the true Guanches did not know how to write. In the other islands numerous Semitic traces are found, and in all of them are the rock-signs. From these facts it would seem that the Numidians, travelling from the neighbourhood of Carthage and intermixing with the dominant Semitic race, landed in the Canary Islands, and that it is they who have written the inscriptions at Hierro and Grand Canary.

The political and social institutions of the Guanches varied. In some islands hereditary autocracy prevailed; in others the government was elective. In Teneriffe all the land belonged to the chiefs who leased it to their subjects. In Grand Canary suicide was regarded as honourable, and on a chief inheriting, one of his subjects willingly honoured the occasion by throwing himself over a precipice. In some islands polyandry was practised; in others the natives were monogamous. But everywhere the women appear to have been respected, an insult offered any woman by an armed man being a capital offence. Almost all the Guanches used to wear garments of goat-skins, and others of vegetable fibres, which have been found in the tombs of Grand Canary. They had a taste for ornaments, necklaces of wood, bone and shells, worked in different designs. Beads of baked earth, cylindrical and of all shapes, with smooth or polished surfaces, mostly black and red in colour, were chiefly in use. They painted their bodies; the pintaderas, baked clay objects like seals in shape, have been explained by Dr Verneau as having been used solely for painting the body in various colours. They manufactured rough pottery, mostly without decorations, or ornamented by means of the finger-nail. The Guanches' weapons were those of the ancient races of south Europe. The polished battle-axe was more used in Grand Canary, while stone and obsidian, roughly cut, were commoner in Teneriffe. They had, besides, the lance, the club, sometimes studded with pebbles, and the javelin, and they seem to have known the shield. They lived in natural or artificial caves in their mountains. In districts where cave-dwellings were impossible, they built small round houses and, according to the Spaniards, they even practised rude fortification. In Palma the old people were at their own wish left to die alone. After bidding their family farewell they were carried to the sepulchral cave, nothing but a bowl of milk being left them. The Guanches embalmed their dead; many mummies have been found in an extreme state of desiccation, each weighing not more than 6 or 7 lb. Two almost inaccessible caves in a vertical rock by the shore 3 m. from Santa Cruz (Teneriffe) are said still to contain bones. The process of embalming seems to have varied. In Teneriffe and Grand Canary the corpse was simply wrapped up in goat and sheep skins, while in other islands a resinous substance was used to preserve the body, which was then placed in a cave difficult of access, or buried under a tumulus. The work of embalming was reserved for a special class, women for female corpses, men for male. Embalming seems not to have been universal, and bodies were often simply hidden in caves or buried.

Little is known of the religion of the Guanches. They appear to have been a distinctly religious race. There was a general belief in a supreme being, called Acoran, in Grand Canary, Achihuran in Teneriffe, Eraoranhan in Hierro, and Abora in Palma. The women of Hierro worshipped a goddess called Moneiba. According to tradition the male and female gods lived in mountains whence they descended to hear the prayers of the people. In other islands the natives venerated the sun, moon, earth and stars. A belief in an evil spirit was general. The demon of Teneriffe was called Guayota and lived in the peak of Teyde, which was the hell called Echeyde. In times of drought the Guanches drove their flocks to consecrated grounds, where the lambs were separated from their mothers in the belief that their plaintive bleatings would melt the heart of the Great Spirit. During the religious feasts all war and even personal quarrels were stayed.

Bibliography. - S. Berthelot, Antiquites canariennes (Paris, 1839); Baker Webb and S. Berthelot, Histoire naturelle des ties Canaries (Paris, 1839); Paul Broca, Revue d'anthropologie, iv. (1874); General L. L. C. Faidherbe, Quelque mots sur l'ethnologie de l'archipel canarien (Paris, 1875); Chil y Naranjo, Estudios historicos, climatologicos y Patologicos de las Islas Canarias (Las Palmas, 1876-1889); " De la pluralite des races humaines de l'archipel canarien," Bull. Soc. Anthrop. Paris, 1878; " Habitations et sepultures des anciens habitants des Iles Canaries," Revue d'anthrop., 1879; R. Verneau, " Sur les Semites aux Iles Canaries," and " Sur les anciens habitants de la Isleta, Grande Canarie," Bull. Soc. Anthrop. Paris, 1881; Rapport sur une mission scientifique dans l'archipel canarien (Paris, 1887); Cinq annees de sejour aux Iles Canaries (Paris, 1891); H. Meyer, Die Insel Tenerife (Leipzig, 1896), " Uber die Urbewohner der canarischen Inseln," in Adolf Bastian Festschrift (Berlin, 1896); F. von Luschan, Anhang fiber eine Schddelsammlung von den canarischen Inseln; R. Virchow, ' ` Schadel mit Carionecrosis der Sagittalgegend," Verhandlungen der Berliner Anthrop. Gesellschaft (1896); G. Sergi, The Mediterranean Race (London, 1901); The Guanches of Tenerife. .. , by Alonso de Espinosa, translated by Sir Clements Markham, with bibliography (Hakluyt Society, 1907).


<< Guanajuato, Mexico (Capital)

Guanidine >>


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

English

Noun

Guanches

  1. Plural form of Guanche.

Anagrams


Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message