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Magallania (Punta Arenas)

On-line version ISSN 0718-2244

Abstract

QUIROZ, Daniel; CARRENO, Gastón  and  DE LA FUENTE, Paula. Stranded whales in the western Patagonian shores [from an engraving of mid-nineteenth century]. Magallania [online]. 2016, vol.44, n.1, pp.57-72. ISSN 0718-2244.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0718-22442016000100004.

For canoe peoples of southernmost American, the stranding of a whale was "a great gift of nature". The news of his presence, somewhere along the Patagonian coast, was transmitted very fast and people came from far places to share their products. In this paper we analyze the ethnographic information provided by a nineteenth-century engraving showing "an unusual yet ultimately practical way of carrying slippery blocks of whale blubber ashore". The engraving was published by English novelist Thomas Mayne Reid in his Odd People (1860), but the original information is in the texts generated by the expeditions of HMS Beagle in Fuego-Patagonian coast between 1831 and 1836. We make some observations about the context in which the "fuegian custom" of carrying pieces of blubber on the head appears.

Keywords : stranded whales; fuegians; Captain Thomas Mayne Reid; H.M.S. Beagle's expedition; XIX Century.

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