Spanish, Portuguese, and American women: As they are in their home, in the fields, in the cities, in church, during festivities, in the workshop, and in salons: descriptions and pictures of the Character, Customs, Typical Dress, Manners, Religion, Beauty, Defects, Preoccupations, and Qualities of Women from each of the Provinces of Spain, Portugal, and the Spanish Americas [Translation]

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Las Mujeres Españolas Portuguesas y Americanas (Madrid: Miguel Guijarro, 1876)

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Title: Spanish, Portuguese, and American women: As they are in their home, in the fields, in the cities, in church, during festivities, in the workshop, and in salons: descriptions and pictures of the Character, Customs, Typical Dress, Manners, Religion, Beauty, Defects, Preoccupations, and Qualities of Women from each of the Provinces of Spain, Portugal, and the Spanish Americas [Translation]
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  • Creation of translation: Lorena Gauthereau-Bryson, Portuguese translations by Robert Estep
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Publication date: 2010-06-07
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Translation: This document is an English translation of the "Las Mujeres Españolas Portuguesas y Americanas." Translated by Lorena Gauthereau-Bryson ;Portuguese translations by Robert Estep. The language of the original document is Spanish and Portuguese.
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Description: Printed document, 301pp. Madrid. A survey of women in Latin America, illustrated with 21 chromolithographic plates mounted on separate sheets with printed borders and titles.
Abstract: This book covers a broad range of topics treating Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American women. Passages address each of the provinces of Spain, Portugal, and the Spanish Americas, offering a brief history concerning the manner in which the Spaniards colonized Latin American lands. The work constructs a framework for understanding the impact of Spanish history on the colonies and specifically on indigenous women. Furthermore, the writers of these accounts seem especially preoccupied with capturing the regional qualities that distinguish these women. Some writers even provide poetic excerpts to bring to life the illustrations contained in this volume.
Source(s): Las Mujeres Españolas Portuguesas y Americanas (Madrid: Miguel Guijarro, 1876)
Source Identifier: Americas collection, 1811-1920, MS 518, HQ1692 .M88 1872 V.3 ( CALL NUMBER), Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University. Contact info:
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Spanish, Portuguese, and American Women

Spanish, Portuguese, and American Women

Volume Three

J. M. A R.

Spanish, Portuguese, and American Women

Spanish, Portuguese, and American Women
As they are in their Home, in the Fields, in the Cities, in Church, during Festivities, in the Workshop, and in Salons.
Descriptions and pictures of the Character, Customs, Typical Dress, Manners, Religion,
Beauty, Defects, Preoccupations, and Qualities of Women from each of the Provinces of
Spain, Portugal, and the Spanish Americas
Work written
by the most distinguished literati of Spain, Portugal, and America
And illustrated
By the Most Notable Spanish and Portuguese Artists.
Volume Three.

Press and Bookstore of D.Don Miguel Guijarro, Editor
Preciados Street, number 5.

Mr. D.Don Ramon Molinas
Cuba Street, number 74.

La Publicidad Bookstore [1]"
Bolivar Street, number 77.


Property of D.Don Miguel Guijarro.



(Woman of Havana)





A woman’s soul is the heart of society. Perhaps this idea seems somewhat bold, and what’s more, absurd, since the soul is impalpable and therefore impossible to affix to the entirety of people and things that compose the social machine. This idea, however, makes more sense if you analyze the importance woman has acquired since the seduction in the Garden of Eden (in which Eve destroyed the happiness of the entire Universe) to the individual seductions with which Eves of subsequent time periods have destroyed and continue to destroy domestic happiness, utilizing their charms to convert every individual into an Adam, who is more or less innocent, but nonetheless just as fragile as the father of man. –Who can negate this importance? – As for me, I will admit that during the pilgrimage of my youth, they, and only they, beautified the places which my somewhat adventurous life took me to. I regret the many hours I wasted, which I mourn through my pleasant dreams; and I must confess that upon setting foot in the cities and villages I visited, it never once occurred to me to inform myself regarding their hygienic conditions, their fruits, the transparency of their water, their customs, etc. I was content merely walking down the streets, without asking a single question, so as to determine upon first glance, the locality’s advantages, presented by the women whom I would find along the way.

Back then, I was young, independent, enthusiastic, and I would walk up to women– I don’t know if I had the intention of studying them, but I was definitely willing to be caught in their webs. Those lessons cost me dearly! Times have changed: when the grey began to cool my head, when I became the head of a family, my entire


being was renewed; and seeing women through eyes of reason– as a better counselor and more appreciative of the good that comes from passions– I have to confess that in youth’s tempest, one rushes into the torrent, where he is swallowed by overflowing waters, and runs away from the tranquil lake, which offers repose to the body and purity to the soul.

Having recognized the importance of women, I believe that the Editor of this publication conceived a wonderful idea in which descriptions of women from countries closely related to each other (due to similar manners and customs) would be united in one collection. It is often said that men are not the most favorable painters in capturing a woman’s essence, but anyone who thinks this is incorrect, because if women were allowed to describe themselves, there would not be a single word of truth in their work. Their desire to disfigure themselves is so strong that even those who know them best at one hour of the day, would find them completely changed at another hour! The editor knew what he was doing, and this book contains an article for every Spanish province. These articles reveal the compliments that man never overlooks when dealing with this beautiful half of the human race; though they occasionally mistreat us with disdain, they always embellish our existence with their seductive charms. Woman, as the great poet Breton de los Herreros once said, spoils us when we are infants, adores us when we are children, and suffers us when we grow old.

After having read the different articles regarding the women of Spain’s provinces, one question jumps out at the reader: which woman is the best? The witty pens that were in charge of capturing the images of these women have almost always copied their countrywomen and, due to love of their home, they tried to present them with the most beautiful tones, with the most delicate features, with the most convenient importance to the physical and moral image. On my part, I confess that I will try to be impartial, echoing the just appreciators’ opinion of the Cuban woman’s merit.


The idea of writing a poem about the discovery of American has often attacked my literary dreams! Yet, the pen always flew out of my hand, implying that such a task was beyond my abilities; such an endeavor would require a poet to exalt the spirit to regions of inspiration in order to honorably praise the boldest of undertakings, crowned by a glory more splendorous than any recorded by the history of adventurers.

Those who have not seen the bottomless sea far from its shores, those who have not elevated their gaze to contemplate the immense lantern in the sky above their heads, those who do not know the power and caprice of the seas that challenge man’s daring, will not appreciate the bravery of the spirit, who – without a course, without a chronometer, defenseless within his ships against the fury of the waves– embarked into unknown waters in search of imagined beaches. No other thoughts could have entered the minds of the


crew who departed from the Port of los Palos in 1402 to carry out the nautical Genoese’s chimera. Such grand chimera!

What a colossal struggle, that of Columbus! Traversing the land, begging nations for the favor of giving them a new world! Geneva, Italy, and Portugal turned a deaf ear to his requests and turned their backs on this dreamer, scorning the voice of truth. With determination as strong as iron and the fortitude of conviction, Columbus set foot in Spain and arrived at the foot of the throne, extending an open hand to the Catholic Kings, which held the key to a new world. Yet, the courtiers laughed at this adventurer, pointing to their foreheads and calling him demented. Insane! He who resolves a great problem is always insane! The rejected navigator swallowed his indignation and, cherishing his idea, continued his insistence one day after another. A ray of light struck a sublime woman who, superimposing herself onto the concerns of the time and inspired by the grandeur of her soul, held out her hand to the prostrate genius humiliated by the court’s ignorance, the genius who was attacked by Salamanca’s scholars, who did not believe the truth was possible because it was not palpable. Although the royal treasury was exhausted due to the war, this woman, possessed by divine inspiration, in a outburst of patriotic enthusiasm, pronounced these magnificent words, which were inscribed on the pages of History in gold: “I will assume the undertaking for my own crown of Castile, and will pawn my jewels to raise the necessary funds.” Those funds launched the caravels into the sea and immortalized the name of Isabella the Catholic, patroness of the discovery of the New World.

The demented Columbus, transformed into an Admiral, crewed his ship with brave adventurers– how brave they must have been to go in search of the unknown, with nothing more than the hope founded on an insane man’s promises– and as the people watched him depart from the port of Palos de Almoguer, they paraphrased these two verses of a contemporary poet 1

If no land you find, profoundly insane;
If land you find, a world’s redeemer. [2]

In any work exclusively consecrated to women, one cannot forget the names of two ladies who contributed directly to the result of such an undertaking– and here we see how women always have an influence upon the works of man, because it is obvious that everything large, beautiful, and useful carries either the initiative or impulse of a woman within it. Upon arriving in Cordoba, Columbus fell violently and passionately in love with Beatriz Enríquez and this passion kept him in Spain, sweetening his saddest hours with futile hopes and bitter disabuses. Without Beatriz Enríquez, the desperate Columbus would have continued traveling across the land in pursuit of the world that existed


in his head. Another woman, Isabella the Catholic, took civilization to a savage country, placing the royal standard in Columbus’ hand– a coat of arms adorned with a green cross and the letters F and I, the initials of the Monarchs of Castile.

On October 12, 1492, Spaniards set foot upon the first island, which they named San Salvador, called Guanahuai by its inhabitants. Today, it is one of the islands of Lucayan, or the Bahamas. The caravels’ crews cried out in joy in an outburst of surprise and enthusiasm. In his journal, the Admiral himself described the effect caused by that privileged land overflowing with fruit, that virgin nature, that delightful panorama, those seminude indigenous people with copper skin and long, straight, black hair floating across their backs or braided and twisted on their heads, beardless, of beautiful stature, with faces that announced docility and shyness.

Explorers set off for those islands in hopes of finding gold and the natives who accompanied them led them to Cuba; at that time, Columbus doubted whether Cuba was actually a large island or part of a continent. He named it Juana, in honor of the Catholic Monarchs’ first-born son. [3] Juana, or Cuba, called the Pearl of the Antilles by those who have seen it, is my current object of study and I will begin my description in the city of San Cristobal de la Havana– not the city founded by Diego Velazquez on July 25, 1515 with the same name, but rather the city located in the North, one of the most important and civilized capitals of the New World.


In order to paint a picture of the women of Cuba, it occurred to me to find one of those beautiful Indians with a copper complexion that Columbus found upon setting foot on Antillean soil. Where are they? I traverse the island from Punta de Maisi to Cabo de San Antonio and do not come across a single feminine face whose angles reveal the features of the 15th century natives. Although there are families in Caney (near Santiago de Cuba) and even in Bayamo who claim to be branches of that tree, the evidence has disproved their affirmations. How has the race disappeared? Has it not been able to perpetuate itself? – Native Indian women have disappeared through absorption. The mixture of races is the cause of this change; just as a single grain of indigo loses its color as it is dissolved in water, the Indian woman, in the confusion with the white colonists, and later, the union of their natural descendents with African women, erased the racial print, taking with it savage customs, which would have been pushed aside naturally by the growth of civilization. As a result, much of Europe can be seen here today, altered by the necessities of the location, but it is, nonetheless, still European in essence; though the seed takes in the conditions of the land which fertilizes it, it always produces the fruit hidden within its bosom.


What, then, represents today’s Cuban woman? From whence do the ladies who shine in the parlors of Havana, Puerto Principe, and Santiago de Cuba (capitals of the Western, Central, and Eastern departments that divide the island) come? From whence do the women who inhabit the villages, without particular determining features that differentiate them from Europeans, come? From whence do the guajiras (peasants) that dedicate themselves to caring for their children in estancias 2 [4] and potreros 3 or that roughly twisted tobacco in thevegas 4come? – The answer is simple. These women have nothing in common with the native Indians that Columbus civilized. These women are Cuban– Creoles in the true sense of the word. The dictionary clearly informs us that a Creole is “a child born in America of European parents.”– The vernacular term reyoyo , which refers to the child of two Creoles, stems from this definition. – Cuban women are Spaniards who bear the stamp of their birthplace; this rationale obligates me to express my surprise regarding the tenacity with which Spain has demonstrated a marked interest in presenting Cuban women as different from Spanish women, despite the fact that the same blood courses through their veins.

The excessive heat of the tropics relaxes fiber extremities and weakens the spirit; but this hot zone, which causes the enervation of strength in the human body, produces an identical or larger effect on Europeans than on Creoles, who have become accustomed to suffering the rigors of this climate since birth. What historians call indolence, exaggerated by slanderers who mostly speak hearsay, and so often used by novelists and playwrights who search forimpactin the creation of strange characters– this indolence, I repeat, which is presented as innate in Creoles, is proven false through the amount of activity presented when their blood boils and they brush off laziness. A recent example is the current war between the separatists and the peninsular Spaniards in which the former are accused of being bad children of Spain, but not of being indolent, because they are fighting for the independence they have dreamt of (which is much more disastrous for them than for the motherland) in a movement that is incessant and full of great hardships. And even if it were true that the calm seems to harm the Antilles men, my mission today does not revolve around them; I’ll get to the point, which is to prove that this so-called indolence indolence is, perhaps, the Creole woman’s most dazzling characteristic.

If, by good fortune, all my readers had set foot upon those far beaches, I would not have to strain myself to praise Cuban women, since they would surely harbor admiration and a debt of gratitude toward her, not to mention those readers whose hearts would bear the type of wound that neither closes with the passage of time nor scars due to the immensity of water that the Ocean places in between them to produce the beneficial cure that only forgetting


offers to impressionable souls. What did you expect? That women– who sway like poetic palm trees, who bend their waists like sugar canes caressed by a soft breeze, who bear the sun’s flames within their hearts, the moon’s the brilliant paleness in their faces, and the luster of the stars in their eyes– can be seen without opening the soul to great impressions?

In order to understand the Cuban woman, one has to study her in the Antilles– far from one’s land, like a fish out of water, which cannot move as gracefully and easily as it did in its liquid element. There, one must follow her in all daily actions–watch her drop into the soft cushions of the trap carriage, settling within them like a nautilus in its shell, watch her hospitably greet visitors in a way the old and egotistical Europe believes is implausible, watch her ride a horse and dash through fields as blissfully as a butterfly in a garden, watch her sway while dancing, without hopping or making violent motions. One must watch her, in sum, be an angel of solace, since she is always found where a tear must be wiped away, where suffering must be consoled, or the needy must be helped. Reproaching tongues say that Havanan women do not know how to walk; it is true that they do not step with the firmness and grace of Andalusian women, but this is simply due to a lack of habit since, from the time they are children, they always travel across cities and the countryside in carriages. On the other hand, while in parlors, they hold on to men’s arms for support, inclining their body so capriciously and indolently that they resemble lilies bending on their lush stems, threatening to fall over with the slightest breeze. – This is the true sense of their indolence.

Cuban women are different, depending on the part of the Island where they come from, as noted in the Spanish Provinces. As a general rule, the Asturian woman is more robust than the woman from Valencia, the woman from Madrid is shorter than the one from Biscat, and the Andalusian woman is more graceful than the Galician. In the Eastern and Western departments, the women tend to be of medium stature, slim, languid, with lively and passionate imaginations; they are lovers bordering on delirium– erotic passion exalts the vehemence of their passions, and they follow their heart. As a result, it is easy to impress them and capture them in love’s net. They are consistent to the point of exaggeration and their virtue’s triumph is not merely praise, since, endowed with fiery souls and exquisite sensibility, their exemplary conduct disabused the terrible aphorism that Balzac let slide into his magnificent book, Fisiología del matrimonio:[5] "A woman's virtue is, perhaps, a question of temperament." And though the French philosopher attempted to distort the effect of his idea with the adverb"perhaps", nothing so bitter or harsh has ever been written about the much-contested virtue of woeful women. To feel and contain emotional impulses– that is virtue; there is no triumph in not feeling and not fighting. Balzac’s pen became tangled in the nets of his skepticism. Virtue is the halo which rests upon the hero’s head, the heart’s martyr. Fortunately, Cuba is not the demoralized land where disorder is measured by the total number of women;


here, as in all other places, there are faults to be corrected, but these are exceptions and this is consoling in light of village statistics.

The Cuban woman, despite reproachful rumors, is an attentive mother and excellent housekeeper, who cares for her home and children. In a country where people live in splendor due to the richness of the soil, where the servants are a part of the apparatus of luxury, it is not strange that images of Cuban women are presented in the same way as Cisneros’ magnificent plate, which accompanies this monograph. That is, delicately seated in a rocking chair with a fan in her hand. Yet, Ferran contrasts this image, putting her in motion,crocheting: one plate corrects the other. In Spain, the Cuban woman cannot be imagined without her fan; her representation is often exaggerated to the point of ridiculousness, placing a black woman next to her, whose only duty throughout the entire day is to fan the child– which is the term that Ethiopians supposedly use to refer to their mistresses, despite their age. In Cuba, as in Spain and other countries, women who have servants at their disposal to carry out the domestic chores are entrusted with their supervision, without having to abandon the vigilance which corresponds to them. Anyone who says otherwise echoes calumny and slanders Cuban women. I have seen the interior of many main houses in Havana and the mistresses, despite their fabulous wealth, despite having a handmaid assigned to serve every member of the family, wake up early to supervise the cleaning of the furniture; they, themselves, brew the coffee, bathe the children, and go into the pantry and kitchen to check on the black cook and give him the day’s provisions.

In the Central department, the women require a different description, not because they are that different from their fellow countrywomen in moral physiognomy, which the rigidness of principles makes equal, but rather because I am obligated to do so by the dissection of the image, altered by an insane outburst that planted mourning, desolation, and ruins on that piece of land. Camaguey’s daughters are amazingly beautiful; they are a species of matrons with magnificent figures. It seems as if they proposed to eclipse the fame of the Circassians in America. They are women with pistols for eyes (according to the happy expression invented by a Governor General of the Island who visited the city of Puerto-Principe). Today, Camaguey’s daughters mourn the consequences of a terrible loss of reason. With the fascinating influence of their beauty, dominated by the fever of political passion, and obeying the rapture of the bellicose spirit that burned within their souls, they rose up as a single body to the cry of war, launching themselves into the fields, arousing the men’s ardor with their patriotic fanaticism. Like the historic Spartan women, they led their husbands and children into battle.

Oh! They will deplore their error now, because, after losing their health, tranquility, and wellbeing, they found only tears and misery upon returning to their homes– a natural result of abandonment and the war which they incited in their own home.


Poor, generous land where guests received such noble hospitality! That rich soil of abundance, which lavished with a generous hand, now lives off charity, begging for pauper’s bread!

The woman’s influence is powerful and is never satisfied with a little. The Camaguey woman’s imagination is a torrent, and that torrent swept everything away. Let us admire her heroism, lament her errors. Woman should not be an instrument of pain. Woman is born to love and not to fight in the battlefield. Her influence should reach man’s heart, but it should not derange his head; a woman should always be a woman and not aspire to be admired for her masculine qualities, but rather for her feminine charms. The brilliant rays of the spirit exalt her; the destructive rays of gunpowder cause her to lose the merit of her sex. Whatever the result of her heroism or the fundament of glory that inspires her actions, I never want to see her bearing the weapons of war and much less holding the assassin’s dagger in her hands. I prostrate myself before the feet of Saint Teresa and Sappho, but I turn my back on Charlotte Corday and Joan of Arc.


The tropical sun, which beats down heavily upon the children of Cuba, heats the imagination, as seen through vivid flashes, genius rays of light. In the place where everything is poetry, everything is love, where the sky is clothed in the most beautiful colors as it bids farewell to the sun in the west, where palm trees conspicuously and gracefully sway in the air amongst the most varied and exuberant vegetation, where trees never lose their leaves, where brightly colored birds sing melodious trills, where the moon’s light contests the brightness of the morning sun, where woman imprints voluptuous languor on her steps, the poet’s muse should strum the mind to pluck harmonious sonnets from the mysterious lyre, the lyre with invisible strings, known as inspiration. In that place, everything sings– youths sing to relieve the fire that burns within their souls; in the villages, the guajiro sings to the sounds of his tiple 5 to delight his beloved; in the fields, the slave sings to silence his chains; the bird sings in the bower; love sings in the heart.

In the place that bore Heredia, [6] Milanés, Zequeira, [7] Plácido [8] and many other exceptional geniuses who left behind names that cannot die, woman found her preferential post and Nature was bountiful, uniting the talent, which could have been distributed amongst many, in a single mind. And, so that Cuba could rival Spain’s boast of


having produced unrivaled talent, Camaguey, the paradise of American women, sent the Pilgrim to the motherland in 1836. [9] Her first cantos were able to draw the attention of Seville’s newspapers, where they first appeared. And Madrid, the center of Spain, whose curiosity had been piqued by the veil of anonymity, summoned Gertrúdis Gómez Avellaneda, who did not take long to provide superior examples of the pilgrim ingenuity she possessed.

After her death in 1873, Gertrúdis Gómez Avellaneda left a distinguished legacy–a Cuban glory, which Spain would have envied if Cuba had not been theirs. When discussing the women of the island of Cuba, it is impossible to gloss over this illustrious writer, who, upon completing her pilgrimage, bequeathed a crown of laurels to an entire people– the people of Havana– on the night of January 20, 1860. This was an honor that had only been achieved in Spain by the distinguished Quintana. Never before had talent been rewarded with more spontaneity; never before had it been honored with such justice or enthusiasm.

Who was Gertrúdis Gómez Avellaneda? – She was the eminent poet whom the famous French writer, Mr. Darien, dubbed the Castilian Melpomène. She was the supreme talent, according to D.Don Juan Nicasio Gallego, “whose supremacy above countless people of her sex who have written Castilian poetry, in this as well as past centuries, cannot be negated.” She was the laurelled writer who owed many praises to the French scholar, Mr. Joly, who translated some scenes from Baltasar. She was the one who merited the following description by Carolina Coronado, the other woman of the golden quill: “Spain has never had a poet with so much energy, with such sublime genius, of such exaltation and grandeur. I, at least, do not know of any other talent such as this, despite how far back I look into the centuries.” She was the famous contemporary whom the great authority, Mr. Villemain, called the heiress of Fray Luis de Leon’s lyric, in his “Introducción de las obras de Píndaro.” [10] She was a woman of supernatural genius for whom D.Don Nicomédes Pastor Díaz, a distinguished scholar, wrote the following epitaph for her tombstone (while she was still alive): “She was one of the most illustrious poets of her nation and century; she was the greatest poet of all time.” She was, in short, the author of the dramas Saul, Baltasar, and Catalina, of the novels Sab and Dos mujeres[11], and of the comedy La hija de las flores.[12]

Gertrúdis Gómez Avellaneda, or Tula, – as she was called by her friends, as well as by her most intimate friend, the public­– will soar into posterity on wings of fame; the five volumes of the literary works that she had just printed when death surprised her, live on as a monument to literature and to her name. Who can deny her such an enviable right? There was never a divergence of opinions regarding her talent. No one dared to deny the sun’s light. There was no lack of critics who stripped her of her talent as a poet in order to criticize her cantos as too masculine– which overflowed with energy; yet, even this could not absolutely wrench away the delicate sentiment that emanates from some of her lyric poetry. Tula did not find her inspiration


in Spring breezes, in the essence of flowers, the tenderness of eroticism, the mockingbird's chirps, or the harmonic chords of the bucolic lute. Tula Tula found inspiration in hurricane winds, a fire’s flames, the shadows of death, the roar of a lion, the greatest passions that needed to be inflamed in the characters of her plays, the violent movements of the heart, the exaltations of vitality that made her write this Munio Alfonso,line at the end of the third act of her play:

“Horrid tempest, unleash a thunderbolt!” [13]

An energetic invocation, sparked by Camaguey vigor, caused one of our premier writers to shout a phrase, which has been conserved as a portrait of the author: “This woman is very manly!”[14]

Avellaneda’s special personality, her romantic spirit and her superior talent, offer an important image for the heroine of novels and dramas of the future. This laurelled author no longer lives! Glory to Cuba, which will always be proud to be the birthplace of such a great talent! I saw her die! I accompanied her on February 2, 1873 from Ferraz Street to the San Martin’s Sacramental cemetery, and one moment before her body was hidden beneath the soil, I contemplated those motionless eyes, those lips withered by implacable death. Her broad forehead revealed quid divinum,[15] which had lodged there and I felt that the poetic genius was wandering around, murmuring these verses, which she wrote for Heredia, the exalter of Niagara:

No more, no more mourning
Destiny, our blind tenderness,
The inopportune complaint does not rise toward heaven…
He died! … His body returns to the earth,
His spirit to the Lord, his glory to Cuba;
That his genius, like the sun, reaches the point of setting,
Leaving behind a resplendent trace of his path![16]

Besides Avellaneda, Cuba swells with pride for the other women of sophisticated ingenuity, sublime pens, the honor of the land. Who has not heard of the illustrious Havanan, the Countess of Merlin[17], who published such select books as Sor Inés[18] and Mis doce primeros años[19]in France, where she lived many years until her death? Who in America has not heard of the inspired poet of Santiago de Cuba, a lady of superior beauty, who strums the strings of her harmonious lyre with a vigor that elicits the exaltation of the soul and excites inspiration? Luisa Perez, the sweet Ossian singer, after leaving the beaches of her birthplace and moving


to Havana– where the wise scholar, poet, and man of science, D.Don Ramón Zambrana, awaited the union of their fates– completed a beautiful goodbye poem with this stanza:

Oh Cuba! If in my breast becomes extinguished
This very tender sacredness and forgets
This story of love,
I would deny myself the gift of feelings…
Since, he who does not love the homeland, oh, dear Cuba!
Has no heart.[20]

Other distinguished writers stand out in Cuba, including: the verses of Luisa’s sister, the sweet Julia Pérez y Móntes de Oca, who was taken from this life in the flower of her youth; María de Santa Cruz, with her delicate and heartfelt cantos, emanations of love for family and home, which she enthroned in her heart; Mercedes Valdés Mendoza, with her beautiful inspirations; Matilde Troncoso, who justifiably popularized the adoptive name Raquel; and Ursula Céspedes de Escanaverino, with her sublime spirit and admirable courtesy.

As I close the doors on this gallery of women who conquered fame in the cultivation of fine literature, I must not forget Virginia Auber, who, since the dawn of life, demonstrated a love for the land she walked on, even as a child. In the course of many years, she provided several proofs of this love through her excellent writings and was a constant contributor to the Diario de la Marina and the Gaceta de la Habana[21]; because of all this, she could very well be granted her naturalization papers. All Cuban ladies are friends of the extremely popular serial writer who wrote under the pseudonym, Felicia, despite the fact that she wrote from Madrid, where she resides today. She remains in communication with them, sending letters by means of the Journal– an expression of affect, as well as a keepsake.


The traveler who sets foot upon Havana’s pier is surprised by the bustling image of the loading and unloading of a hundred cargo ships– a flurried movement that naturally portrays the people of the great city in the background. Anyone would think that the pier establishes the spirit of speculation as this land’s only motive, and they would cross the streets dominated by a certain sentiment reflecting egoistical positivism, but, upon seeing everyone welcome them with open arms, offering the most generous hospitality, they would quickly open their hearts to the friendly affection. In Cuba, every house has an extra bed, an extra chair at the table, and, at the very least, a cup of coffee to welcome the guest or stranger that arrives and asks for shelter from the rain


or a place to rest their weary body after a long day. Unlike Europe, the Cuban chest bears no locks or bolts, which bar the opening of the lid, or the ability to attend to the necessities of a fellow man or to help those in need. Just read the lists of subscriptions published in the daily newspapers in which charity collections for the poor reach fabulous quantities. Holy charity is exercised according to God’s orders and there is no person who would not be willing to imitate Saint Martin by sharing his suit (since the cape is unknown here) to cover the skin of the destitute person. Misery was a myth in Cuba during the times of prosperity, which have been snatched away by a dire civil war.

Life in Cuba can be described as transparent because of the special construction of houses, where the free passage of the breeze – the primary necessity of life, which architects keep in mind– can be felt from the windows facing the street all the way to the last room, since the rooms are built in a row. As a result, when strolling down the street in the afternoon, one can see ladies sitting in a row, rocking themselves in comfortable wicker rocking chairs, without interrupting their conversation. Many houses have two stories and those with one story now close off the path between the front door and the parlor that was once accessed through the porch. Many houses with this older construction still remain; in these, the parlor is directly accessed through the street and the open carriage or Victoria carriage is displayed through the side entrance, like the principle piece of furniture. The horse, therefore, has to pass between the guests. The carriage in Havana is a primary necessity; since the women never go out on foot, it is said that the vehicle is indispensable footwear Consequently, there are families in which each individual has their own carriage. It is only on Holy Thursday and Good Friday that the Havanan women can be found walking through the streets as they go to Services and, afterward, to the open-air concert at the main square, where they flaunt their svelte figures. When they attend Mass on Sunday, their page– dressed in a braid-trimmed uniform or black jacket with large boots and noisy silver spurs– enters the church to lay out the carpet on which the ladies will kneel.

The Cuban woman’s wardrobe is less expensive than that of the Spaniard’s, since they rarely wear silk and never wear velvet due to the excessive heat. Therefore, they show off their delicate figures, wrapped in vaporous fabrics of gauze or nipis, adorned with ribbons and flowers, for visits or dances, and light, lacey dresses for the house. The pergola of the nearby towns Marianao and Puentes-Grandes is used in seasonal dances. It resembles a garden, where weightless butterflies flutter to the beat of the spicy (as they say) music, which is characteristic of the country: the men wear white denim suits with panama hats and dance endlessly, sweating copiously, not allowing the high temperature to stop their dance– a passion which borders on delirium in the Antilles.

In Santiago de Cuba, the women go to Mass on foot and their dress resembles the European style much more, since the customs in the Western department are more Spanish. It is in this city that the Cuban carnival, called Los Mamarrachos, is celebrated every June;


the festivities are based on the feast days of Santiago and Saint Anne. During three days of general frenzy, the people keep their doors open, welcoming in costumed youths that arrive playing music. During this popular festival, magnificent balls are held in the Casino and by the Philharmonic Society.

The life of Cuban ladies does not manifest a significantly marked difference from that of Spanish ladies, whose customs they follow. Girls are carefully educated– their parents cultivate their dispositions, they make them learn the different aspects of what is considered an appropriate education for females, similar to those practiced in more advanced countries. Almost all young Cuban women possess excellent handwriting and shine in society due to their knowledge of arithmetic, grammar, modern languages, geography, feminine tasks, and most superiorly in music, which they cultivate with enthusiasm, excelling in the primary vocal lines. They are not only fans of music like those produced by the Havana Lyceum and the old Society of Saint Cecilia, where they completed tests of their natural talent in piano and song, but are also artists like the Matanzas singer, Úrsula Deville de Miró y Jesusa Martinez, known as the Cuban Mockingbird. They have performed Bellini and Donizetti operas amongst loud applause. There are many schools and institutions in Cuba that are just as good as the best in Europe and accredited professors take their extensive instruction to the home; the families make no scarce pecuniary sacrifice to support such a good cause.

In the interior communities, as happens in all countries, education loses its importance and statistics reveal doleful facts. Ignorance is widespread in the countryside, since guajiras are barely literate and the people from the mountains, who are secluded within the Cuzco hills or in other areas far from populated areas, do not know a single thing; they also live in complete ignorance of our Religion and of the fundamental principles of social morality.

Destined for the rude tasks of the countryside, the black guajira women look after their mud brick homes, 6 which have guano roofs 7 and dirt floors; fathers, children, relatives, dogs, pigs, and chickens all live crowded in these boxes. Consequently, it is not strange that once, while I was traveling, I was obligated to spend the night in a bohío; 8 after agreeing to some good people’s offer of a cot in the corner of the parlor, the father hung a sheet up as a curtain or screen, blocking my view of the other beds. This will provide an idea of the sad condition of these poor souls, who will never know the advantages of privacy within the intimacy of the familiar sphere and who aspire to nothing more than a small piece of land to rest their bodies.


They cultivate their farms; they eat roasted pork and plantains and drink coffee, which is always boiled on the hearth so that they may drink an abundant amount or share it with those who arrive at their door.

The guajiras dress in percale on regular days and in gauze for parties. Their taste is poor, but they wear flowers when going to the bodega (grocery store), halls generally used for the dancita or the zapateo;[22] The thundering timpani's rhythmic beating animates the party and puts even the calmest people in motion; there is no doubt that such harmonies make the feet dance on their own.

The guajiro's, luxury, as a great rider, is his horse. He uses a silver harness and saddle9 to go off in search of parties (amusement); he puts away his yarey10 hat and his daily nankeen11 suit, and he dons his finest clothes, with a embroidered shirt, which he always wears over his pants, his rich silk scarf at his waist, holding his great machete with its shiny, silver hilt, brace, and chape, and his Panama hat. He passes in front of his beloved’s house, who waits for him at the window, adorned in gala, and, after making the mare prance around, he digs his spurs in to make it jump over the fence, saying, “Eat it, horse!”, a very popular phrase and, more importantly, of a surprising effect to inflame the love in his peasant Dulcinea [23] who rewards this repeated flirtation with a smile.

The guajira woman sings in tune, accompanied by the tiple, which is well-played by the men, and whose harmonies are very sweet to the ear. Generally, the meter chosen for these songs is that of the décima. Espinel, the famous musician from Ronda, did not suspect that his ten verse combination would later serve as a characteristic of folk music in the Cuban countryside. I remember that many a time, I would stop my horse in some guardarraya12 or hide in the brush 13 in order to enjoy the echoes of the tiple strummed by the guajiro at the door of his bohío or seated in the cart that crossed the calzada (road), taking advantage of the oxen’s slow place to sing his décimas to the wind.

These décimas undergo all types of violent transformations by the guajira muse. Some are inspired by emotions, like Spain’s southern songs, and contain melancholic overtones and true poetic expression. Others provide a minute idea of the miserable state to which the Erato Creole woman is reduced to by the bard’s outpouring. All public and private events that brush against the guajiro's existence hardly appears, they are depicted in unequal terms, subjected to the actions of a rhyme; and I must confess that they have an amazing natural talent for improvisation.


I would have liked to expound more in order to complete the monograph of Cuban women, but the Editor has given me eight days (since the scholar whose name originally appeared in the work’s proposal did not write it) and limited the number of pages that I could write. There is neither enough time nor space to describe the woman who, due to her national importance, her way of being, and her special conditions, deserves an entire book.


Have I been a just appreciator of the Cuban woman’s merit? – My heart says yes: a tranquil conscience does not rebel against the heart. Perhaps some idea which appears to be flattering jumped from my pen, perhaps I presented some feature that seems exaggerated, but, don’t we pardon a painter when his brushes add too bright of a touch as he transfers the features of a beloved woman onto his canvas? Should I not love the land in which I was born?

There is yet another, stronger reason that obligates me to see everything Cuban in a brilliant light– if my heart could not blindfold me, severe criticism would sever me from my patriotic love. Woman, in her three conditions, ties my tongue, since I render her veneration in the trinity of different affections that she inspires. Mother, wife, and daughter! These are the indissoluble links of the chain that unites man and woman. My mother’s, my wife’s, and my daughters’ cribs were rocked in the shade of Cuba’s palm trees as they breathed the delightful breeze. Past, present, and future! My saintly mother brings to mind the beloved memories of yesterday; I enjoy the ineffable delights of today with my good wife, with my daughters, I invade tomorrow– that tomorrow full of uncertainties and happy hopes.



(ISLAND OF PUERTO RICO- Lady from the Capital.)



Cuba and Puerto Rico are commonly referred to as sister islands, not only because of their similar climate and customs, but also, undoubtedly, for having remained loyal to the motherland, not wanting to share the fate of the old colonies, which had long been the rich jewels of the Castilian crown. Perhaps it was this fraternity which prompted the Editor of this work to confide in my pen for the immense task of depicting the women of both regions; yes, an immense task because the truth is exposed through comparison, which does not always favor the subject being portrayed, especially when the brush decides not to alter physiognomic lines.

When my well-trodden life as a civil servant led me to the island of Puerto Rico, I carried with me the honored cloak of a Magistrate, bestowed upon me by the Spanish Government as a reward for my humble merits and unwavering loyalty; the seriousness of the administration of justice, which such a position imprints on a man, seems to close this book to me, since there will most likely be critics who will claim that this position poses an obstacle in my ability to approach women at a necessary distance with the objective of properly appreciating them. The truth is that the Laws of the Indies are very particular regarding protectors of the ultramarine Provinces; they prohibit all types of socializing in order to distance us from the commitments men develop through intimate relationships. Yet, the strictest observers of this type of etiquette, which seems somewhat tyrannical in this era of all types of liberties, guiltlessly undertake the endeavor of portraying colonial women


as worthy interpreters of Themis. Isn’t the Judge able to appreciate the private matters of domestic life more fully with a closer view? Who is more educated in the art of examining the human heart, revealing its secrets, and unveiling its mystery than he? Having clarified this matter, which could be called an exception to the rule, I will proceed to the subject at hand.

Upon traveling across our old colonies, Europeans logically find the names with which the first settlers baptized the islands–in general– and the cities– in particular– quite improper. They say that “Puerto Rico is not rich, Puerto Principe is not a port, and Santo Domingo is not saintly".[24] Santo Domingo’s history– from Toussaint-Louverture’s treason to Spanish annexation– does not require much from the chronicler to erase the Spaniards’ canonization of it; its saintliness is no longer problematic. The city of Puerto Principe is found several leagues inland, making Nuevitas the true port. As for Puerto Rico, I only need to relate my experience upon setting foot there in 1867 to demonstrate its richness; I carried with me the immediate memory of the greatness that progress had bestowed upon Cuba, but I did not find a single telegraphic wire, no rail extended across its lands, there were no other land routes for communication other than the six-league highway, that led from the capital to the town of Caguas and other, less important interior towns.

Cuba and Puerto Rico are two sister islands– sisters because of their affections, their customs, their blood, the sun which heats them, and the fruit of their land. The former lives sated, like the old-fashioned primogeniture, the latter in poverty, like the younger child. The adjective "rich" that was given to that Antilles island was, according to historians, a consequence of having a beautiful port that was closed off and safe from storms, there are also some, 14 however, that assure us that it was “because of the wealth of gold they found there.” Nothing regarding this point is mentioned in the Historia geográfica, civil y política de la isla de San Juan Bautista de Puerto-Rico, [25] written by Friar Iñigo Abbad and first published in Madrid in 1788. It only mentions that Admiral Christopher Columbus, upon discovering it in November 1493, on his way from Guadalupe to Santo Domingo, gave it the name of San Juan Bautista;[26] he later adds that it was forgotten until Ponce de Leon returned to rediscover it in 1508. Yet, the Biblioteca histórica de Puerto-Rico,[27] published in 1851 by D.Don Alejandro Tapia, claims that, in 1505, the Catholic King entrusted Vicente Yánez de Pinzón with the task of populating the Island of San Juan, naming him Captain and Corregidor[28] of the same and Mayor of the fortress he was to construct. It is important to remember that Yánez de Pinzón captained the Niña caravel during Admiral Columbus’ first expedition to the Indies and


discovered Brazil in 1500, becoming the first European to cross the equinoctial line toward the waters of the Western ocean.

When speaking about the women of Puerto Rico, I do not find it out of place to provide a slight description of the inhabitants of that ancient island of Borinquen, [29] since effects are always the consequence of causes. Friar Iñigo Abbad said that when the Spaniards arrived at this island, it was as densely populated as a beehive and so beautiful and fertile that it looked like a garden. Different caciques [30] governed it: Agueynaba was the main chief; he had many subjects, and resided in the present-day city of Aguadilla.

A certain idea jumps out, which is somewhat unfavorable to the virtue of the Indian women due to the distrust involved: the caciques’ eldest sons inherited this position but if the cacique died without a successor, rather than it passing to the eldest son of the second brother, it was passed on to the son of the eldest daughter because (according to the historian) “there was no doubt that he was a true nephew, as opposed to those of the other brothers.” This suspicious thought is not new, in fact, an identical privilege, for identical reasons, was conceded to the sons of the sisters amongst blacks from the African coast; this proves that civilization is more generous or blinder in the subject of concessions to women and the recognition of men’s rights.

All the men and maiden women went about entirely naked, although they smeared their bodies with monstrous drawings, using viscous oils, waters, and resins, which they extracted from trees. In truth, this barbaric procedure can be pardoned, since it did not merely encourage the vain flaunting of beauty in the style of the day; the oils and resins not only protected them from the excessive heat and perspiration, which enervate strength in those climates, but the odor also warded off the plagues of mosquitoes and other insects that pursued them. Do women of modern society, by chance, have such rational intentions as they smear their faces and ruin their skin with the concoctions invented by merchants who use chemistry to take advantage of gullible people by giving them a cat instead of a hare? Those poor Indian women were content with adorning their heads with multicolored feathers, they put gold bars in their cheeks, they hung small snails, shells, rocks, and other charms from their ears and noses, without ever forgetting to wear the image of their cemí (deity).

The borinqueñas of the 16th century lived pleasantly and looked presentable at such a small cost! How the times have changed! You should see the domestic budgets of today’s families, the bills from La Villa de Paris, [31] France’s commission store in Puerto Rico’s capital and you will understand there is not a single father or husband who does not miss those primitive times when maidens were satisfied with a box of paint and some feathers, and married women with the gift of an apron that tied at the waist and only reached the calf, leaving the rest of the body in its natural nudity, saving, this way, several yards of linen


and expensive fineries; fineries which, in sum, are and have always been, a woman’s paradise, the soul’s hell, and the husband’s purgatory.

In those times, the woman was a slave, a thing, so to speak; we are not familiar with the formalities used at that time to validate matrimony, but the civil registry, or anything else that resembled the formalities of a contract, had not been invented yet. Men took the wives they could support and abandoned them how and when they pleased. They lived with them, in sweet tranquility, they combed their husbands’ hair each time he needed to leave the house, they were in charge of all the domestic duties as well as the cultivation of the crops, and what was most flattering for the cacique’s concubines was that, upon his death, they were obligated to be buried along with him. We can therefore be certain that, due to the perpetuation of such a just law, they did not need a civil registry of employees, because the women of those days remained, in the words of a common phrase, old maids. Men are not worth such a tremendous sacrifice! If the sacrifice were mutual, I do not doubt that the single women would assure themselves with the saying, everything has a price.

Today, Cuban women have a great advantage over Puerto Rican women due to the difference in education received in the sister islands. The state of education in Puerto Rico is dreadful and women’s education, above all, has been terribly neglected, so much so that the effects have lasted well into the time in which I visited the Island. The problem originated from the beginning; Friar Íñigo Abbad, knowing that the lack of instruction during youth was the cause of ignorance, while others were not aware of the necessity of Christian indoctrination, said:

“Child rearing is dreadful: the indiscreet love which is manifested to them, the lack of any type of education, the continuous time spent in the fields, the lack of schools, not being guided toward any trade– this makes them indolent, independent of all subordination, uneducated and so free that they leave their parents’ home after finding a way to survive.”

In 1765, Count O’Reilly also mourned the intellectual slowness of that Antilles island, saying: “It should be known that there are no more than two children’s schools in the entire Island and outside of Puerto Rico and San German very few people know how to read.” Luckily, free trade with foreigners helped disseminate education in the country [32] and a great step was taken. The Bishop and the Santo Domingo and San Francisco convents dedicated themselves to the cultivation of studies in Latinity and philosophy; in 1824 various professorships were created to teach the youths; in 1831, the Seminario Conciliar [33] and later, the Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País [34] founded an elementary school for twelve poor girls– this was the first time the door had been opened to women’s education! Women’s education in Puerto Rico is still sad, very sad; the statistic I have in mind will suffice to convey its status: in 1864, on an island of more than six hundred thousand inhabitants, there were 48 public schools and nine private schools for girls, but only one thousand ninety-two children attended. Although education has improved somewhat in the years that have elapsed


due to the protection granted by certain Governors and the praiseworthy San Ildefonso girl’s school in the capital, it must be understood that Puerto Rican women cannot be cited as models of an education they have not received.

I do not know if this should be attributed to the fact that Puerto Rico lacks literary geniuses to honor the land in which they were born. Puerto Rico has produced neither a Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda, nor a Luisa Perez de Zambrana– poets who scattered the glory of Cuba across the world; perhaps the geniuses, encased within the cocoon of ignorance, lacking the gust of education, have not yet transformed from chrysalis to butterflies; lively imaginations are found in excess upon all the lands pounded by the sun.

No matter how far back you delve into Puerto Rico’s history not a single woman can be found who made her name famous; I, for one, am unaware of any, though I would have taken much pleasure in portraying her. I have not only searched eagerly for geniuses in the letters, but also some celebrity in the arts or in the field of glorious deeds. Not a single crown of laurels, or a name carved into the marble of History! Political fever has not invaded that land; the daughters of Puerto Rico have had a sufficiently long period of calm to meditate and convince themselves that woman is much better off at her family’s side rather than wandering through the fields in search of chivalric adventures. The Puerto Rican woman is not found within History, but she can be found in her home’s retreat: like a violet, she emits her perfume in the shadows.


So as to proceed in an orderly fashion, and respecting social hierarchies, I see myself obligated to surprise the woman from the capital of the Island of Puerto Rico, who I am going to describe, since it is very difficult to seize a woman’s secrets. It is well-known that these women only guard their own secrets; luckily, in the Antilles, it can be said that people live in the open-air because their houses are always open. The city of San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, however, is small, built atop an amphitheater; and the houses, with two or more stories, since there are very few terreras (single story houses), present the image of a Spanish population. Whites live on the top floors, while the blacks live on the lower ones, forming different families. This confusion makes life somewhat unpleasant, since it is not possible to enter a house due to the filth, the natural bad odor produced by the African race, and the noise, which is a natural form of entertainment for all segments of the uneducated classes. The presence of blacks is announced as they enter the zaguán [35] and fill the patio; the adults are always poorly dressed and the little ones are completely naked. Many houses in the capital are burdened by this inconvenience and I confess that, if I had not chanced to provide myself with the


magnificent Arroyo house on San Jose Street, my stay in the city of San Jose would have been less pleasant. Incidentally, it turned out to be a very afflicted residence, since my bad luck kept me there during the series of frightening tremors (earthquakes) that began in November 1867 and ended in March 1868.

I should divide the Puerto Rican women into three categories, investigating the different classes that society separates them into. Yet, I do not dare to assess them based on the conditions of their birth, on talent, and wealth since this is not the nature of the work that the Editor of this book has entrusted me with; they must be analyzed here in a group, so to say. I have no other choice but to explore the cities, the villages, and the countryside in order to study the typical dress, traditions, religiousness, beauty, defects, preoccupations, and excellence of the women in that colony, which today is a Spanish Province.

Does the woman from Puerto Rico’s capital constitute a very special type of person? I do not think so– even her essence fails to offer variety amongst the daughters of any of the other Spanish Provinces; it is not there that one must visit to search for the legitimate Puerto Rican woman, the typical Creole. They compose the white population in that city, whose majority includes merchant families and Peninsular employees, who do not eat the delicious mofongo, [36] (traditional local dish), and, not having altered the domestic interior in any possible way, they do not lend any new physiognomy to home life. The ladies dress in somewhat outdated fashions because after the clothes arrive at the Island in foreign steamships, they have to submit their orders to France, where changes in fashion alter feminine clothing weekly. Add to this the fact that neither the fashion industry nor mediocre seamstresses exist there, since, at that time– my courtly feminine readers, prepare to be astonished!– the person in charge of interpreting the fashions and of dressing the ladies was a mulatto! I must give him his due justice because he was very skillful in the use of scissors for the cut and decoration of clothes.

In the capital, due to the cleanliness of the streets and the short distances, there are only a few vehicles: the Governor Captain General’s carriage and two or three coaches owned for luxury’s sake by a few families who, having achieved honorable marks of nobility, feel that this vehicle is necessary in a place where it only exists for luxury. Therefore, one can often see the Puerto Rican woman walking (which is used in the same sense as the Antillian definition of the verb andar) to church, wearing her Spanish mantilla or to the penurious theater located in the Santiago plaza, or to the Plaza Mayor [37] in order to enjoy the open air concerts at night, or particular reunions, which, by the way, are not viewed favorably by their families, since the latter close their doors at ten in the evening to go to sleep. This speaks highly of that city, where morality sits upon its true throne. It is important to note that good education, which results from role models, healthy peace and quiet, and the absence of contact with youth (who, today, lose their good instincts in large European circles, where men learn to divorce women), encourages girls to conserve their innocence and virtue– invaluable


qualities that lay the foundation for a future matrimonial bliss. Men are not aware of the harm they cause through preaching and practicing corrupt doctrines; they are the actual victims of their misconduct. Ill-taught women cannot be good wives and it is stupid to hope to pick good fruit where bad seed was sown. Adventurous youths become bored in that tranquil place and renounce patriarchal family lives; but once the calm finds them and they choose those women for their wives, they thank God for their luck and cherish such excellent companions.

The domestic peace provided by the wives in this land, where prostitution has not rooted its evil, is delightful for the spirit and consoling for the soul. If it were necessary to reinforce this idea with an incontestable fact, my citation of one observation would suffice: not a single orphanage exists on the Island of Puerto Rico. This is not due to any governmental deficiency; one has not been created because it is thought unnecessary. Can there be another, more eloquent example of morality’s triumph on this island? I was able to appreciate this first-hand, as a man of the law and, I assure you, with the utmost satisfaction; Puerto Rico is commended above all because of its low crime rate. In the two years in which I administered justice in that Court, not a single case of infanticide occurred. This proves that it had not been necessary to found an establishment such as the Casa-Cuna in Havana or the Inclusa [38] in Madrid. I dare not emphatically negate that there are women who mourn the consequences of a bad past; yet, if there are any, they forget the rest of the world by obeying maternal instinct, in order to fulfill the first responsibilities that God imposed upon woman: to nurse and educate her children. Perhaps this labels me as somewhat sociable, but I always speak from the heart and, in regard to the subject at hand, I wrote the following in one of my books: 15 [39] “A mother who, obligated by demands, separates her child from her side is twice a criminal: absence demands heroism! She who forgets her duties as a woman cannot forget her duties as a mother. Otherwise, she deceives the world and deceives her child.”


In the villages of Ponce, Mayaguez, Aguadilla, and Arecibo, one will find the Puerto Rican woman– a pure-blooded Creole. Even the appearance of the populations transcends the land, if I am allowed to use this phrase. The construction of the buildings, more open and elegant, announces America, and her women captivate Europeans with their pale skin, suggestive ears, poetic shadows that highlight the sparkle of black pupils, and indolent bodies that suffer under the influence of the tropical sun.


There, as in all backward societies, the women exaggerate their Sunday worship, not only because of their devotion, which would be laudable, but also because they are holidays. In the morning, they attend high Mass, extremely adorned, taking their eagerness to dress in gala to such an extreme that I once saw some enter the church wearing ball gowns. In the afternoons, they walk around the streets, without leaving the village, delicately reclining inside light, open-air carriages called calashes; there are hardly any families of moderate means that do not have such a vehicle.

It is impossible to portray the Puerto Rican women of all classes without slightly touching upon dance, which, just as in Cuba, is a type of delirium on this island. According to Fray Íñigo Abbad, the previously mentioned historian, this passion is not limited to these times; he says:

“Any event following happy or melancholic circumstances is celebrated with areito or dance, accompanied by music, song, and drunkenness. The truth is that these Indians did not exactly consider the areito entertainment, but rather, something very serious and important. If war was declared, the arieto explained the emotions that motivated their vengeance. If they wanted to mitigate their cemí’s wrath, celebrate the birth of a child, mourn the death of a cacique or friend, they held dances appropriate for the circumstances and emotions of such an intended purpose. If someone became sick, a dance was held as an effective remedy for the recuperation and if the patient could not withstand the fatigue of this exercise the buhití (doctor) would dance in his place.

“All their dances were an imitation of a certain matter and although the music which dictated the movements was simple, the dances were very lively and animated. The war dance was the most expressive of all; in it, they acted out all the actions of war: the parting of the troops, their arrival in enemy territory, the precaution in the fields, the ambush, the way to surprise the enemy, the fury of the combatant, the celebration of victory, the management of captives. Everything was represented to the spectators with such ardor and enthusiasm that it seemed as if they were actually engaged in combat; they adjusted their gestures, physiognomy, and voices to the respective circumstances of the event, always accompanied by music and song.

“Their musical instruments included a drum made from a somewhat large, hollow tree; they would make a hole on each side of it and beat one side of it, producing an extremely horrisonous and unpleasant sound. They usually accompanied this with the maraca and other drums, which are still used on the island today.

“Their folk songs were grave and factual. The majority chronicled their history, which recounted their nation’s most serious and important events– the series and genealogy of their caciques, their deaths, their feats, victories achieved, good or bad seasons– everything was recounted and contained in these chants.

“The arieto or dance was composed of many people: sometimes men danced


alone, other times women danced alone, and occasionally everyone danced together, forming two lines, holding hands, while a guide carried the beat and the vocals, and everyone would responded by repeating the history he sang. While some danced, others brought drinks to the dancers, who did not stop dancing until they fell down inebriated. Sometimes, others stepped in to take the vacant spot, at times the arieto came to an end with a general drunkenness. It was without this motive that they surrendered themselves in excess to the chicha drink, [40] which the women would make with corn, fruits, and other things. They also became intoxicated with tobacco smoke, which they inhaled through their noses with cañutillos.” [41]

One would think that the progression of the centuries, the rational conviction that civilization brings with it, and the strength of the excessive heat would have calmed the furor for dance in a land most unsuited to suffer the restlessness of the body, but nothing has calmed it down and it is difficult to find countries that love dancing more than our colonies. The arieto, which Fray Íñigo speaks of, has not changed except in form; today, as in the past, everything becomes a pretext for dancing; in fact, dance even occurs in funerals as a way for blacks and jíbaros [42] to happily bid farewell to the deceased. Music produces a type of fanaticism in Puerto Rico; thus, there are few families who do not own a piano and almost all the young ladies know how to play, even if it is simply a little dance.

The dance frenzy is general, even in larger populations dances are held not only during the Patron’s celebrations and the Crosses of May, but also throughout the year. Reunions, which are called jaranitas when there is only a piano present and dances when there is an orchestra present, are improvised. In order to celebrate these functions, where public celebrations are created with the character of private ones, one need only deliver the news to domiciles or spread the word half an hour before opening the parlor doors. Families from the community take turns hosting celebrations at their homes each night, without being able to use unwillingness as a pretext; the assailants enter with the lively resolve of dancing and with the assurance of reciprocation.

In the village of Bayamon, my friend from Jerez said to me: “Anyone who has never seen Creole women dance hasn’t seen anything,” [43] They do not dance with the grace of Andalusians, or bump their hips like the Biscayans, or jump like marionettes like the Galicians; they appear to not dance; however, that movement, so rhythmic, so languid, so sweet, is– according to the expression of a distinguished scholar 16 – “a moan of pleasure.”

He who dances with a young lady does not enjoy the satisfaction of the dance by himself, since he sees himself attacked by other young men who would also like to dance with her, and it would be discourteous, almost a casus belli, [44] to not cede a punta, which is what they call ceding their partner for a cedazo dance; [45] she would then quickly return to him.



The women from the villages of Puerto Rico are a degeneration of those from the cities; they attempt to imitate the latter and, in doing so, they exaggerate fashions to the point of ridiculousness. With few exceptions, they have received little to no education and are ignorant of music, but share the same passion for dance. The parties of the village’s Patron are always celebrated with dances for which bands are brought in from the nearest city. Yet, there is always an improvised jaranita during the year, in which violins, guitars, and güiros [46] are used as substitutes for the piano. For these parties, the women wear many mismatched flowers and ribbons and smear their face with cascarilla, [47] which they abuse so much that after every dance, they enter the powder room to powder their face again. This however, is not a defect that Europeans can throw in the faces of American women because here, women are no longer satisfied with the simple egg cascarilla or with the blanco-cera, [48]but rather, are more extreme, paying restorers to varnish them, like old paintings. It is a more excusable custom here, since the sweat caused by the elevated temperature obligates one to look for a blotter, while there women paint themselves for the pleasure of deceiving men. What attracted my attention the most amongst the accessories of these young ladies was a glow that was emitted from their heads– the women arrange cucubanos in their hair; 17 and this glow of lively rays produces a surprising effect, which makes their black pupils sparkle.

The village women ride horses perfectly, since, due to the lack of roads, means of communication are very poor; they travel on horseback through the interior and are taught to be excellent riders from a very young age. Thus, at every step on those so-called paths, one will find a family paying a visit, galloping on the country’s mares, with the formalities required by etiquette in those cases.

Since all the women of our Antilles are distinguished by an identical kindness, it is impossible to stop rendering them tribute of admiration for the noble hospitality that they extend to any who stop at their door, be it a friend or a stranger, rich or poor. Women who know how to love according to God’s laws– with the heart, instinctively good, and taught to be hospitable by customs– deserve to have a preferential page in the history of the world’s women. I am honored to be a just appreciator of their merit and admirer of their charms.



A separate chapter is needed to describe the woman of the countryside in Puerto Rico; and by saying a separate chapter I must better express the thought that determined such a need. If a traveler were to form an opinion of the women from that country based on those he met outside of the villages, who live in yagua [49] or palm tree bohíos, he would surely believe that he had been transported to the time of the conquest. The ignorance of those peasants, called jíbaros, is so great! The soul feels such sorrow upon studying their customs since there– as in all places where religion and salutary education do not exert their beneficent principles– the evil seed of immorality is fruitful. The jíbaros do not send their children to school and they are not only illiterate, but they also speak incorrectly, ruining the Castilian tongue with extremely unintelligent idioms that have been perpetuated, making them commonplace. They pronounce l as ll, [50] and r as l; they say compae and comae instead of compadre and comadre. [51] To refer to two persons or things, they use the expression dambos á dos; a first cousin is referred to as a coyunto cousin; they refer to each other as señó man and señá woman. [52] When talking about or to an elder woman, they say la doña [53] and a person who misbehaves in their associations is referred to with the original adjective confiscao. [54] –This provides some insight into the social condition of the jíbaros.

In general, the women dedicate themselves to the rough tasks of the fields, such as gathering rice, harvesting coffee, and sowing batata (called boniato in Cuba). [55] They wake up at four in the morning and light the fire, on which they boil coffee in a large, earthenware bowl; they drink it abundantly throughout the day and offer it to neighbors and passers by. The coffee that they do not add anything to is called black coffee, while the coffee they do not sweeten with melado (the country’s black sugar) [56] is called puya [57] coffee. While the woman makes the coffee, the husband, in other words her man, goes down to the batey [58] to milk the cow and collects the milk in a specially prepared coconut. Their ordinary meals, accompanied by strong Rum (cane liquor) libations, are composed of roots, such as the batata, ñame, yucca, and yautía; [59] they often use mafafo bananas roasted in milk, soruyo, guanime, 18 white rice, and on special occasions, they prepare mofongo, [60] the natives’ favorite meal; they also eat the very tough Cassava from the Loyza and Cangrejos villages– the only places in which the sweet yucca 19 can be cultivated in abundance due to its sandy terrain; they prepare pan de palo, [61] as the Spaniards call it.


The jíbaros’ houses have roofs that are made in an X shape, which are then covered with yagua or straw; the soberao (highest part) and the partitions (interior divisions) are made from the same palm or wood. If they have a door, they do not use bolts or keys; instead, they secure it with a plank or a reed. The entrance leads to the living room where there is usually only one straw chair, a wooden stool, and the chinchorro (a grass hemp hammock), in which the jíbaro idly spends the entire day. When night falls, he gets up to go play manigua (the prohibited scrubland card game). Some women don’t work either or do anything besides sit in the hammock, smoking twisted, very bad tobacco, which they call jumazos; in addition to smoking, almost all the jíbara women enjoy chewing tobacco, which they call mascadura. It is enough to see the yellow complexion of those people to understand that they suffer physically, undoubtedly due to the construction of their houses, which are built on swamp land, close to the malangares, 20 the breeding ground for intermittent fevers and malarias; on the other hand, though their bodies may suffer, their conscience is tranquil.

Jíbaros generally have one horse, which is used for their excursions to the Island’s interior. They always seem to be very diligent, but they stop riding the moment they meet a friend or compae on the road. Then, they cross their legs and place them on top of the cart and lose whole hours engaged in a conversation that, generally, does not even interest them. If they pass through an area where a group of people are playing cards, they join in to lose their chavos 21 [62] and sometimes, they do not return home for a week. During the jíbaro’s adventure, his horse runs loose, wandering over to the neighbor’s land to graze; if the beast takes full advantage of this education and knows how to live off the land, its owner says that his horse is very liberal. And this is where the jíbaros have taught the Academy of Spanish Language a great lesson: while they have yet to define the word liberal in a concrete manner that is agreeable to everyone, the jíbaros use it as a sort of catch-all phrase for the ideas of Protean politicians.

The liveliest jíbara women attend Mass on Sundays in the closest village and, from there, go to the market. They wear a cotton striped or checkered dress(outfit) that is either plain or embellished with frills, with a Madras scarf pinned at the neck, starched blouses and petticoats, and green, yellow, or flat, red Moroccan shoes, a black, cotton, pointy mantilla , and a flower in their bun hairstyle. In one hand, they carry a white handkerchief, displaying the four corners and a four reales fan. They wear gold earrings with coral or flint. For parties, they forgo the mantilla and, upon going to dance, they take off their shoes, leaving them underneath the bench, since it is a general custom amongst the jíbaros of both sexes to be barefooted all


week long, which they normally refer to with the honorable phrase, feet on the floor.

During the jaranitas they dance an extremely exaggerated danza, which they call a garabato and whose dances are called: matatoro, cadena, seis chorreao, seguidiya, seis punteao, and cabayo. During the month-long Crosses of May celebration, cape dances are performed and the attendees are obligated to accept a ribbon that is pinned onto their jacket or shirt, indicating that they will sponsor the following day’s dance and refreshments. Everyone is invited to eat rice with coconut and the festivities begin with the Rosary, which they sing, accompanied by string instruments such as the tiple, the cuatro, and the bordonú 22 until the dance begins, then they play the güiro, too. These family functions do not lack affairs of honor provoked by the chivalrous sensitivity of the dancers, who tend to tug at the machetes that hang at their waists, like caped heroes bearing swords in old comedies. In all social classes, it is the women who cause the disturbances in manly moods through their more or less provocative flirtations; here, however, the cause of the accusation is generally the simple act of the jíbara having taken the mascadura or the jumazo from some man other than her boyfriend. – “The glories of life are illusions!” said a poet [63]

The death of a child and, above that, the death of a newborn, provides the jíbaros with the occasion for a large celebration. They dance all night, and, of course, bring the lechón asado con salmorejo; [64] the parents are very happy because they have sent a little angel to Heaven. If the family is so poor that they cannot pay the expenses, a neighbor who is better-off takes the body to their house and the dance lasts until the next day, the guests retire at dawn after drinking black coffee.

The furor for dance is so great that it almost seems to be a joke, but anyone who has visited the Island can confirm it. Even some of the church bells, with distinct tones, mark the tempo and movement of the Merengue, the Puerto Rican dance; this is more clearly noticed in the chimes of the capital’s only Carmelite nun convent. And it is not only during the Patron’s parties and the Crosses of May celebration that dancing takes place on the Island; in order to have pretexts throughout the year, they invented the aguinaldos, [65] which begins with Christmas and ends with the eight days of Bethlehem


and in some places, such as in Ponce, it is prolonged a week longer, this is called the octavita. [66]

The aguinaldos (as the jíbaros call them) can be summed up as a reunion of several neighbors of both sexes; they go door to door (whether or not they are friends with those people), carrying the instruments I mentioned earlier, as well as maracas, to sing a few special folk songs. This reunion, called a truya, is carried out either on foot or on horseback, according to the distance that they will travel, and they stop in front of every house to sing their songs, which are always directed to either worshipping God or greeting the chosen family. I would like to record three folk songs I remember because of their characteristics and because they highlight what the muses and Castilian language have to thank the Puerto Rican jíbaros’ rhyme for.

Here they are:

“Mr. don Fesnando,
Come outside,
Take the doubloons
Out of your pocket.”
“Where is the doña,
Who is not seen?
May she come out and
Quickly put on the coffee.”
“And likewise
Compae Ramon
Should begin to open
The bottle of Rum.”


Would it be necessary to portray the woman of the countryside in a more natural light? There is more than enough to understand that she is outside of the frame that the Editor of this book desires to conserve; that woman, without necessities, without education, without an idea of what is good, unafraid of tomorrow, is not the type that defines the importance of a People.

And if I believe that the description of the jíbara was superfluous, I also believe that the description of the black woman, who would require more space to be portrayed, would be excessive. The time period’s demands have made the latter disappear from this island, due to a recent law, hateful slavery, and the black woman has entered into conditions of sociability, passing from a state of being a thing, to that of a person, but this does not authorize me to give her a space in this gallery because, despite


how gallant I would be with her, the color of her face and of her customs would distort the picture’s tone. Therefore, I leave this task up to another brush since, although I detest slavery, like Mrs. Beecher Stowe and the other philanthropists of this century, if I do not dare seat a black person at my table, or allow one to enter my parlor, I should not include them in this book.

The Puerto Rican woman is a legitimate Creole; in the confusion of the European with the tropical daughter, the Creole woman has been endowed with all that is good in the former all that is good in the latter. This has been confirmed via experience.



(Chichirica Indian.)


(Native from the surrounding areas of Manila.)



The person who claimed that gender was the smallest difference that God created between men and women, proclaimed a great truth, even though he did not know the Aragon doctor, Juan Huarte (an eccentric author, if ever there was one) who, in effect, maintains that such a difference was a trivial accident, a product of the more or less large caloric development in the womb. He also maintains that this development could be accidental, to the extent that a fetus, which should have originally been engendered as a female, could be born a male, and vice versa. Due to grave considerations for our genteel women readers, we should not explain the strange theory in Exámen de ingenios, [68] the fountain from which German philosophers have drunk many materialistic ideas that they try to pass off as new, adapting them to the times; a theory which is rotund and categorically disproved by the Philippine nature, whose female is the exact opposite


of the male, not simply because of her physical organism, but rather for her moral and intellectual qualities.

All intellectuals declare that they have carefully studied the archipelago conquered by Legaspi [69] three centuries ago, and believe that if those indigenous and mestizo races had a physiognomy that was, under certain circumstances, poetic and pleasant, it could not be credited to the man, who is chiaroscuro in a painting–rather than light, he is almost always dark; it is solely and exclusively the woman who lends herself to this idea. The Filipino, as everyone knows, whether he is Indian, mestizo, or a Spanish Creole, arrives at an intellectual level that he rarely surpasses; he acquires certain customs and certain habits that belong to all men of common races and lives and dies in the same way, by identical paths and with analogous ideas.

It is a trait of the Native man to work as little as possible, spending whole hours crouching, patting his pet rooster, having his tobacco or buyo, [70] whenever he feels like it, satisfying the impulses of love (whether lively or lazy) when and how he pleases, and snoring as he sleeps like a log the rest of the time, on a petate [71] or on a rock– it makes no difference to him. The mestizo would never even dream of being lazy; he is always very active and industrious, perhaps even more so than the European man. He dedicates himself in body and soul to commerce and usury, to politics and complications, to luxury and vices; he is cruel to his inferiors, weak and suggestive with his superiors, corrupter par excellence, and superiorly mobile, fickle, and dangerous. As occurs in all mixed races, in all hybrid nature, he possesses a larger degree of negative qualities that stem from the two bloodlines that course through his veins, whose combination, imitating Huarte’s style, sprouts glimpses and real glimmers of intelligence, like sparks from flint. If it were not for the backward jumps, whose anthropological phenomena we try to place within our readers’ reach, the Philippines would be lost to Spain because, assuming that every year five or six thousand Chinese immigrants disembark on its coasts and reside in the Archipelagio long enough to have at least one child, in three hundred years the seeds of a million and a half mestizo families would have been planted, making the indigenous population slightly less scarce than in Cuba, where they are as rare as meteorites. In regard to the Spanish Creole– a blessed child who has inherited from his parents a few mortgaged houses through pious work or an hacienda whose owner is unknown and paperwork is lost– is a real fossil who, as a victim of that exuberant and devouring nature, is losing, step by step, the three powers of the soul, whose total eclipse will be visible in his children. Like a greenhouse fruit, he will only slightly conserve a hint of his primitive smell and taste, which will be less perceivable each time.

The Philippine woman is the opposite side of the coin. Her intelligence is just as flexible and, at times, just as profound as that of Europeans, and her passions, although felt in a different manner and manifested through different essences, do not have any less of a physiological truth, something which can be doubted in the man. Perhaps, in them, this does not lead to paroxysm, a certain type of monomania that is commonly


fierce and results from the spirit that usually appears in the male, especially in the Indian man; but this is due to the greater clarity of her intelligence and solidity of her judgment. She easily controls her emotions, although she does not hide them in front of her peers, she saves this artificial instinctive entirely for the European, the principal objective of her amorous diplomacy.

If this were not paradoxical, we would formulate our opinion regarding the matter with these brief phrases:

– “The Indian woman does not love the Indian man; she feels an attraction guided by a natural impulse; rather than love him when they marry (or as they say there, when they pile up), she pities him because she feels superior to him; inversely, she is submissive and devoted to the European, because she feels inferior. With these distinct weapons she defeats both with one method; Cleopatra and Aspasia would have envied her. In her sweet tyranny, there is a depth of tenderness and justice that imparts gratitude to the Indian, especially since he is material and cannot see clearly, as a spiritualist would say;

and to the captivating and chivalrous Spaniard, she offers that passive sweetness which she frankly calls coldness (though perhaps it is not) and she nails herself– a harsh incentive for love– to the deepest part of his soul and they both willingly allow themselves to become entangled in their nets, like a child in the diapers that wrap and console him.”

The Spaniard, however, fights, and when he falls defeated, is embarrassed; the Indian man, on the other hand, takes pride in his inferiority, and does not feel complete or qualified to live in this world, to be formal and believed at his word, to achieve the trust of another, until he marries or has a female companion. Is it because he believes matrimony to be a profession, a blessed state, priesthood? Is it because he, a true philosopher like all primitive men, understands that the greatest display of human liberty consists of surrendering to another, sacrificing one’s personality in honor of God or a woman? Is it because he lives so close to Paradise that he remembers the holy parable of Adam and Eve– whose wardrobe and actions he vividly (so vividly!) imitates– better than other men? It is (and notorious throughout the world for being so) because the Indian argues about the title or category of being married, with as much composure and pomposity as Chinaman who says: “I am Mandarin with four blue buttons.” – and he is certainly not on the wrong track; if union is strength, there is nothing stronger than that which matrimony lends to a man so that he can fight against life’s troubles.

When an Indian man notices that we doubt his veracity or his exactness, and he hurries to tell us: “She, my woman, will talk to Your Lordship,” a beautiful poem about abnegation and modesty lies at the bottom of this confusion of inferiority. It makes us, the frivolous and unbelieving men from old Europe, laugh, but we carry the penance with the sin– God wants the truth to be the capital which yields the most and for the Indian man (whose candidness we ridicule because he sends his wife to complete the negotiation) to no longer be deceived in any manner (if we had wanted to do so), he now has the security of having deceived us because in the matter of


do ut des [72] contracts, and all minute things of the land, he can call on his wife and she can beat him and us with one hand tied behind her back.

Our Spanish Governors– if you can call the mediocrity which has knitted our modern history Governments– have failed to make a very important observation that sheds light upon the darkest problems of ultramarine politics. The intertropical races are undoubtedly incomplete and– most certainly driven by divine impulses– tend to look for their perfection in the elements that can thrive around them. Why are the women in the Philippines and in America favored when mixing races? We will not say that absolute disparity and physical incongruence produce this phenomenon in this first case, since abject women have gone to the Philippines mainly during the time in which they were presided over by Mexico and this is the type of life they made there; and they could not reject the Indian man by law, nature, or society. And yet, there is only one instance of a mestizo produced by an Indian man and a Spanish woman, though, by the way, she was not a common woman. Incidentally, since this case was not foreseen by the Laws of the Indies, it caused intense and endless arguments; in the end, their descendents were unable to claim the category of Spanish mestizos. Supporters of evolutionism and natural selection can make the most of this phenomenon. According to all the evidence, the superior model of inferior races approaches completion and perfection. In my opinion, the fiery passions of the Spaniard modify the Indian woman’s coldness, while a union with us gives the American woman solid judgment and restrains her exuberant fantasies. It seems indubitable that they have been losing their love of us for some time now. Is it because of the contemptible riffraff that we have sent them?

We will conclude this introduction with other, more modest observations, which touch upon the nature of this work. It is an exceptional country par excellence, where everything occurs in a manner opposite to the way it is done in Europe, where even the language, which is ours, is at times purer and more authentically Spanish and has phenomenal nuances and incomprehensible modes; things that are natural over there seem foreign here, and what is clear there is abstruse here. To avoid making the reader see us as full of flaws such as incongruence and contradictions, we would have to pave the way with buts and reservations, with historical and critical notes, with texts, in other words, that are more authorized that our own, a physiology, which, despite all this will still appear incongruent and contradictory to anyone who has not visited the Archipelago >in person. We will try to avoid this by speaking as clearly and plainly as possible, presenting the naked facts every time something is not described with exactitude and wherever a contradiction or an anthropological mystery appears in our path; we will faithfully declare things in the way that we understand them…if we understand them. Because once and for all, we must point out that nature itself is a contradiction, a primordial and original quality, which is clearly revealed in all of its manifestations. Can we find a greater phenomenon in the world than a country conquered by a scribe? Well, in morality, it presents us with even greater ones. Under a burning sun, the


Philippine woman says that she is water, and, in effect, she appears so, the rare circumstance leads us to deduce an amorous and well-known theory: “The Spaniard is fire, the Philippine woman is water…water extinguishes fire.” Likewise, she seems incapable of love, and she is a loving wife and mediocre mother. She seems, in short, indifferent to the changes in fortune, given that she reacts with the same impassivity as the Indian from wealth to misery, riding in coaches or walking barefooted, and no woman in the world has a better business instinct or a more developed sense of acquisitiveness and speculation. Would it be easy to reduce such a contradictory type to graphic formulas?

These general rules have many exceptions, which always favor the woman, always in an ascending sense regarding the ideal that we form of them in all regions. We have here another difficulty, which is not the most minor, with the task at hand. In all intertropical countries, the races are mixed and the hybridization of their products responds, identifies, and harmonizes with the hybrid nature of their social and administrative organization. It is impossible to completely illuminate that physiology, which is a kind of dark crucible where rare, anomalous, irreconcilable elements are in constant turmoil. Therefore, although the types of women appear to be identical in content, the Spanish-Philippine, or Creole woman, is very different in form from the mestiza, who differs from the Indian woman, who is, for us, the more preferable, because we consider her the true Eve of that paradise, where we, the Spaniards, from love’s point of view, have been the serpents from the very first day.

The subject of love– the essence and primordial objective of European women! If we believed it when the previously mentioned matter aired, we would have exposed ourselves to well-deserved censure by current and future readers for not having exposed enough light on the problem to resolve it. In fact, it has been a problem set forth since the 16th century by all those in the Philippines who know how to write, yet has remained unresolved and certainly appears unsolvable. Does the Philippine woman feel real love or is it passionate attraction, an exclusive effect of natural instincts from which Fourier [73] created the most robust and least solid basis of his communist system? Does the blind, absolute, servile submission that the Philippine woman shows her lover, especially if he is European or Spanish, arise from her astuteness? Does it arise from her indifference? Does it arise from the inconceivable coldness of her blood? Is it, in short, a tacit recognition of her weakness, of her lack of weapons for the fight? When they use the famous whatever you wish in response to the gravest questions, in the most transcendental and decisive occasions, which also means, “as you wish”– “that is for you to resolve”– “I am inert clay in your hands”– is it a character synthesis or a sentimental poem? Is it diplomacy or abnegation? Cunning or candor? Indifference or authority over her own self?

Only God knows. The interested parties will never know. We met a husband who died without having ever heard a single affirmation of love from his wife. The laissez faire, laissez aller of economists who are losing Spain, appears to be their only sentimental doctrine. They allow themselves to be swept away, to let things be done to them, without


repugnance, but also without any visible satisfaction, and this contradiction excites the ardent temperature of the Spaniard to such a degree that in the Philippines, love is neither a lasso nor a union, it is an inextricable net that holds him. Here is another example (though a thousand could be cited) of this glacial passivity in the most critical and dangerous situation for women. A distinguished young man wanted to place the immensity of the Atlantic between a projected wedding and an irresistible love. These voyages, which always have a tragic ending, such as that of Captain Febo, are abundant. His heart hesitated almost as much as his intelligence insisted, because, for him, doubt was an incentive, a stimulant, and a fear, a feeling of disabuse. In order to fill himself with more valor, he wished to see his sweetheart one last time, like the poet who wrote Gil Blas [74], who bid farewell to the muses daily…in verse. He had left her impassive, serene, without a single tear in her lashes, without a single wrinkle in her brow, and he found her in the same state.

“So, it doesn’t matter to you if I leave?” exclaimed the desperate man.


“But…what if I don’t return?”

“You will.”

“But…what if I don’t?”

“It is up to you.”

He had a license for one year. He traveled through Spain for three or four months mechanically, never able to stop thinking about that woman, whose love was an exasperating problem for his own love and intelligence, about a woman whose words were as cold as marble, with eyes that glowed like volcanoes. After six months, he returned, having written beforehand for her to be prepared for the wedding and she, neither excited nor sad, told him:

“I was sure that you would return.”

“But, what if I had married in Spain?” he responded furiously.

“It was up to you.”

I have known few couples happier than them, despite the fact that she never caressed him or pampered him in public or in private, which is what constitutes our conjugal happiness in the old world; yet, the poor Spaniard undoubtedly became accustomed to the marmoreal love of a statue, like a certain mythological character, and he spent his life struggling to steal a ray of sunlight from Jupiter to animate her.

There are no differences in this. The same occurs with the mestiza and the Creole woman. This introduction is written for these reasons: previously, to declare that certain characteristic traits are common amongst all Archipelago women and so as not to omit, for example, the buyo when describing the Creole women, so that readers will not think that she does not chew it, as does the purest Indian woman of Caloocan or Malolos. The same can be said of eating cut up morisqueta [75] with her fingers, the family bed, and certain liberty of customs that border on self-assurance, except when dealing with the Chinese mestiza, who needs a heavier hand. For men, however, there is


a very large and transcendental difference in having a woman from one race or another. He cannot return to Spain with an Indian because his rib embarrasses him and his children only look decent in Retiro. With the mestiza, he runs similar risks, though on a smaller scale; the lineage takes terrible jumps backwards, especially if there is a single drop of Chinese blood in her mixed blood, which occurs often, since this bloodline never dies, becomes erased, or exuded. Therefore, the saintly man cannot live tranquilly because on the day he least expects it a Confucius is born in his home, with eyes as round as cherries and a great belly. In regard to the daughters of the country, the true Creoles, these most assuredly go to Spain, whether or not their husbands like it, to buy boots and velvet coats, ermine gloves and sleeves; and whether they like it or not, they too return to die in the Philippines. There are very few cases of middle class Creole women who have not toured Spain and sworn that this is their land, that they are perfectly situated here, and that the summum [76] of happiness consists of spending the summer in Paris and the winter in Madrid, yet, perhaps their pretexts of sicknesses or illusory conveniences, which are completely caused by nostalgia, drag their husbands back to the Philippines– this time forever.

Yes, forever, since the Spaniard married to a Philippine woman can assure that she will be buried in Paco (the cemetery for Spaniards). Everything conspires to this end since the wedding day. The sweetness and passivity of his wife makes it a pleasant life over there, accompanied by the languidness of spirit and body, whereas here it angers and irritates him to see other suave, sweet women; here, his children embarrass him, whereas they resemble little angels of God over there; here, his entire family is vulgar, at least, when not the object of admiration or jokes, but in the Philippines, they are oracles and are listened to with open mouths… Admirably exploited, these setbacks for the woman (who feels true love for the country where her crib was rocked, and a quick tiredness of tight boots, of coats that choke more than they warm, of carriages where not even pins are shown off, in baths where one cannot eat, and of food as tough as asparagus) surreptitiously cause the husband to renounce his homeland forever and he begins to imagine a bright future for his children as gobernadorcillos [77] or capitanes pasados [78] Afterward, more outrageous renunciations follow, such as eating morisqueta with the fingers, overeating bibinca [79] and poto, [80] the entire family sleeping together in a round bed, speaking kitchen Castilian when not speaking Tagalog… the list goes on! He who lives at the edge of Pasig per saecula saeculorum [81] becomes accustomed to these and other things.

Who is this weak one here? Who is the strong one? Ecco il problema. [82] But no, this is merely another face of the same problem, the everlasting desperation of mathematicians in love.

I conclude with another preliminary warning, which I doubt I can formulate in an


intelligible manner. Whenever and wherever women’s education is the issue, it must be well understood; in either applause or censure, my points of view regarding this matter are not European, nor can they be in any way. Simple, patriarchal, limitations of the exigencies of that anomalous society will result in what we demand from our women here being considered exaggerated and sterile, or at least of doubtful application in the Philippines, whereas the prosaic and humble teachings of Manila schools offer great practical utility in a land where the 99 hundredths of the population have the same needs as those of the poorest family. Therefore, there is only one relative way to understand what is said about good or bad education, or an applicable system; pardon so much redundancy, so many repetitions and digressions in almost all things and cases.

With the above mentioned, I believe that enough has been said to justify the need to conduct a study with the convenient separation of figures, which fill that confusing image of the pure picturesque and animated, correctly highlighting the borders that separate the Indian woman from the mestiza, and the latter from the Creole woman– lines which are at times imperceptible, and at others, very clear and profound, like those created by nature between the simple and the complex, between the natural and the exotic. It has to do with a country where the second sowing of parsley results in shrubs and the buffalo’s hump appears on the cow, with the country conquered by Legaspi the scribe; [83] we will repeat this one hundred times so that it will not be forgotten. Readers, please maintain a watchful eye so that we can determine whether it is necessary to prepare the canvas, which smears easily, with clarity and lots of light in order to portray these women, who have a diverse wardrobe, diverse languages, and diverse cuisine.


We have given her the first chapter since she is the original, though not the most strange and worthy of study. A true sovereign, whose empire extends through the countryside and the cities, only poetry correctly sees the crown crumbled upon her head and the useless, hollow fennel scepter lying at her feet. Today, her condition has been reduced to that of a wildflower that blossoms with extraordinary precocity and withers away, losing its petals in the same manner after a dark and ignored existence. Yet, in the depths of that darkness, there is much abnegation and so much suffering! She would be a true martyr if she had a more developed sensibility and awareness of her state. Since the time she begins to use her reasoning, which is often quite early, the


Indian woman becomes accustomed to following her mother, holding onto her skirt like a blind dog, tapping out a rhythmic tempo with the sound of her footsteps, in search of her father, who spends almost entire days in the cock fighting ring, and after la soltada, [84] he runs off to play panguingui [85] with a friend, or spends hour after hour sitting with his rooster, hoping to see a shooting star, which the elders tell him will appear. In the meantime, his children and family eat a handful of rice, if there is any in the house, or they fast as if it were a Lenten Friday, which happens more frequently.

When the couple reunites, the poor girl contemplates the scene– of screaming, we were about to say, but Indians do not scream– that scene of cursing, in which the mother is just as correct as the father, the head lowered, the submissive attitude and finally, he, the tame lamb, returns to his pen, unless they found each other at a panguingui game, in which case the mother also begins to play a hand while the poor child’s cries of hunger go unnoticed and neither of them pay her any attention.

When she begins to become a dalaga (maiden) at twelve, since she sleeps under a common mosquito net on the same petate as her mother, father and, if she has any, her siblings, she slowly begins to learn many things that are a revelation for the European woman and they begin to seem natural and simple, marking a period in her life. If fortune has provided her with a good father and a good mother, who accompany her to parties and the catapusan [86] do not allow her to sleep in another petate, or visit friends from bahay [87] to bahay; in general, she retains some essence of the primitive purity of her soul, while her habit of seeing things indifferently acts as her shield. Yet, if her parents are depraved and each one is on their own, the dalaga frequents the cock fighting rings and the buyo stores, like a European urchin, until she crosses paths with the man who will determine her future. In similar cases, love is an accident, which only signifies something for the Indian woman because of its material consequences. Within a race where true communism always has a practical school, where the home is open at all hours for everyone, where the table, which is actually the floor, is always ready for any hungry visitor, who, with a simple, “Good day,” is given the right to crouch around the plate and devour his portion of morisqueta; in a country where this also occurs with the bed, where it is common for the entire family and even a stranger or passer-by, who has stopped by for dinner, to have an equal right to lift the thin lawn fabric that covers the petate and lay out beautifully alongside the wife or the maiden, without even having been asked his name; in a country so organized, within a race where this occurs, it is easy to comprehend that the generality of things always occurs in the same way and these human plants are born, grow, and live as if they were born by chance in a jungle, as if they owe their existence in part to the ray of sun that fertilized them as well as to the wind that snaps them or the savage foot that crushes them.


Poor zeros from that great arithmetic column, which, by the power of God, rise to colossal heights in the tropics, and on the best day, are reduced to two-third parts by the impulses of the land’s laziness on which it is built, by an earthquake, by a floor, by contagion, or by a fire, without anyone to pick up its remains, which the earth devours in a day, like a boa that devours its prey in the blink of an eye! This vulgar Indian woman of whom we speak– who has, by chance, ended up with a husband or lover that is lazy, a cock fighter, and gambler– takes her children with her to look for him, just as they looked for her, held astride on her hip if they are small, tightly holding onto her skirt if they are older. She fasts like them when there is nothing to eat, she plays her hands of pangiungui, whether or not she has money. One night, as the entire family sleeps on the mat they call a petate, the nearby stream (not the man in the bed, but rather a small canal that carries the waters from the closest river) suddenly grows and takes the house with it in the blink of an eye; or a banguio, which is called a typhoon in China, a simoun in Africa, and a hurricane in Europe, at the same time blowing from all sides of the quadrant, lifting that cane and nipa [88] cage held up by four rough sticks like a feather, slamming it into the front wall like an egg; or a fire breaks out on the outskirts of the village that sends the first cane turned-rocket over the sleeping Indians, who find themselves surrounded by flames the moment they wake; or, lastly, cholera or smallpox penetrate that human pigsty, turning the same family petate into a common grave.

Since the social states give each other a helping hand there, this state of intermediate civilization (always relative civilization, of course) presents another type of curiosity amongst the Indian women of the village. The women, due more to savage instincts than love (an inherent instinct in the race), become adventuresses and vagabonds just as easily as men can go from being a tributary, or sácope, to a remontado. [89] It is common knowledge that the Indian is poor, to say the least, because he is hotheaded, because he tires of somewhat-ordered village life, because he cannot pay the barangay [90] chief his taxes, etc., etc. He escapes to the woods to live off roots and fruits, sleep in the trees, to live, in a word, a savage life– a jump backwards on the path toward civilization, which occurs even more often than those in nature since sometimes the latter takes two or three generations to cause mestizos to bear pure Indians once again. This anthropological phenomenon perfectly explains the social and political state of the Philippines, where the development of the mixed race appears to stop, paralyzed in time; and it is because they return to the common physiognomic type in the second and third generations, by luck and in such terms that the Spaniard’s grandson turns out to be just as Indian as Lacandola. [91] This phenomenon, which is not considered as such there, is more frequently confirmed via morality rather than through the physical, since the former is the attraction of the nomadic life and the love inspired by those jungles. There are even examples of Indian priests and Spanish Captains of the merchant marine becoming remontados.


Now then, if the Indian woman follows her husband or lover in these cases, we it would be clear that the Holy Mother Church does not always intervene in these unions of the lower classes. The poor woman is once again found in the primitive condition of her race, a change which she accepts with her usual abnegation, which some call indifference and others call idiocy. Is this true? We have another problem here, which we are determined to propose and will resolve in a more opportune time, that is, when the Creole, the most worthy subject of study in this aspect, crosses our sight.

If the man becomes a burglar, a bandit, or a simple vagabond, which all amount to the same thing, the Mariveles Mountains or the Morong briars offer him protection, and then the woman acquires customs similar to those of the Aetas, [92] the savage tribe closest to Manila, which practices the purest traditions of the aboriginal race; they are considered to be the first to have arrived at the Luzon beaches. Tranquil, imperturbable, she exchanges her ostentatious village parties, processions, pilgrimages, and catapusanes for a monotonous and sad forest life, having to make due with the lugubrious and shrill song, called the inalug, which is the music played during the acubac.[93] This is the popular dance, the party, that that they surrender themselves to when they are unoccupied– which is usually all day for those who do not go to the closest villages to trade honey and wax for fabric or silver. They form a circle around the women, holding onto each other’s waists; then they turn and jump in circles, stopping, perhaps, to stomp the floor loudly, in rhythm with the inalug, which the elders murmur between their teeth, answering the men and women with rhyming monosyllables, which, in our poetry, would be called rhymes.

During the horrific pains of childbirth, she does not miss her village friend, who was as eloquent as she was a liar, with her omens and astrology, her amulets and relics; she does not rub her belly with coconut oil or place a half-blossomed passion flower under her petate. In the wild, she makes her petate by placing warm cenizo leaves upon flat ground, between two trees; these trees, in the guise of a canopy, hold up a type of roof or mosquito net made of palm leaves, which is not always impenetrable by the tropical rain. She covers her newborn in cenizo leaves, too, leaving his head uncovered after both of them have bathed in the closest stream and, from the moment, the mother wakes the following day and carries him, tied to her neck or back, supported by a piece of tree bark held in place by a sling around the nape of her neck.

If her husband flees to the Ilocos Provinces– which is actually very common due to their fear of army troops that restlessly search for tulisanes [94] in the Morong Mountains– or if she is repulsed by the sad company of the Mariveles aetas, who do not always tolerate the intrusion of a stranger, she instantly becomes a Tinguian, the free race in those forests. There, she gives up her ceniza bed and her puerperal convalescence, as well as the memories from her previous life, although


she bathes in the same way right after giving birth and gives her child the name of the first thing that enters her mind or sight, be it an animal, a tree, or a stone. The memory of pompous baptisms in Manila, with their pealing bells, fireworks, and essential and endless inebriation do not evoke a single sigh or tear in her.

If she marries among the Tinguians– since it is not a woman, but a girl whom her parents take to the woods– she just as easily forgets the formalities that she has seen used amongst Christian Indians and she turns to the governadorcillo or the cabeza-matanda (the eldest tribal chief– though the Tinguians do not recognize Spanish dominion, they have accepted, in their own way, our administrative organization, and their villages are governed much like ours). The governadorcillo chooses the wedding date, which is announced at the first break of dawn with the sound of batintin. [95] It is a public celebration in which the entire village takes part. After much eating and drinking, which tends to last from dusk to dawn, the old man, followed by all who stand, guides the couple to their home, where the more or less elaborate nuptial bed is ready, according to the circumstances of the married couple. He orders them to lie down, separated by a moderate distance, so that a six year old child may sleep between them the entire night. This is a primitive symbol, which appears impossible to withstand. Are the newlyweds placed under the protection of innocence? Does the authority wish to control their passions from the first day? Or perhaps, and this is what I lean toward, this custom has developed out of a hygienic institution recommended by the Paraguayan Jesuits, which suggested waking the colonists at dawn so that they would conceive robust and healthy children? The Tinguians are a beautiful and virile race and the only inhabitants of the land; they respect this custom and on their wedding night, they can honestly sing:

Not even the Holy Father of Rome
Would do what I have done, etc.

Divorce, which is very common, is also carried out with similar behavior– that is, rejoicing and inebriation– except for the addition of a five peso fine, paid by the spouse who provoked it in the first place. In regard to the children, the spouse who is right is allowed to take them, a very laudable principle of equity that is not necessary in the codes of civilized nations, except when the children are nursing, in which case, their mother keeps them, as well as if she gives birth to them after a physical separation. With great boldness, she marries again, even if she is a Christian and knows that our law does not allow bigamy– a thing which she cannot truly understand; in homage to the truth we must add


that she most likely forgot this when she went into the wild. She marries one, two, and three times, even if her previous husbands are still alive, and sometimes she remarries these past husbands, since she has seen the Tiguian example of a 50 year old women who has been married 16 times, four of which were with the same man.

This is how the Indian woman of the inferior class lives, like a bird, wandering thoughtlessly from one branch to another, unaware of what it does, until it is time to close its eyes, then it flies back to the land with the same impassivity that it has displayed in all its actions, which could resemble sound judgment and is, at the very least, a product of the ignorant being that cannot distinguish between right and wrong. Many of the women who never run off– not due to a lack of instinct, but rather, because they chanced to marry men with calmer characters– dedicate themselves to minor duties in their villages, such as selling buyo, washing laundry, frying food, selling fruit, etc. Yet, this woman does not acquire some sort of variety or great beauty because of this, since every woman works and toils in order to support the lazy man who calls himself the father of her children.

The rich, well-educated Indian woman is, from a young age, very interesting. We have mentioned several times that childhood in the Philippine Archipelago deserves special observation, because day after day, hour after hour, she begins to present the studious man with symptoms of a great metamorphosis, which that devouring climate produces in the human organism. When, by God’s will, she is borne of the earth, the Indian girl is almost white and blonde; upon growing, however, the sun and the air begin to turn her skin into parchment. Is this why the country’s mediquillos [96] and midwives rub warm coconut oil on newborns, so that atmospheric impressions will have less of an effect on the baby? Resting on the abominable Indian woman’s hips, the baby girls look very beautiful, as well as when they appear in processions as little angels and shepherds, a custom which is no less popular there than it was in Europe up until the last century.

A precise education in the Philippines consists of knowing how to read well (almost everyone, including those who live in the countryside, knows how to read at a mediocre level), speaking broken Castilian (since they are the servants of the Spaniards–the teachers of this art– they often call it kitchen Castilian), memorizing the maximum amount of phrases, and knowing how to play the harp. The latter is the Indians’ favorite instrument, and if we had not imported it in the 16th century, it would have authorized the suspicion of biblical antiquity that could be retraced to David, the great harpist, thereby locating the origins of the Tagalog race to that beautiful region that extends from Earthly Paradise (today’s British India) to the Red Sea. Philippine mothers reasonably give preference to teaching domestic labors to the dalagas, and they, therefore, become excellent at embroidery and sewing; although they are not very creative on their own, they are gifted with the instinct of imitation and, using silks, plaited lace, shells and glass beads, they can easily plagiarize and even produce work superior to the most perfect European items.


These rich, well-educated Indian women are also great musicians, dancers, and even singers from their early years, since, as we have mentioned, youthfulness arrives early there, unless they were educated in a house of lay sisters, in which case they would require their own chapter. They are not very cheerful, shall we say, when strumming, either because of the laziness of their passions or lack of consistence in their attention; they tend to avoid exerting themselves when singing since it is tiring; yet, strangely enough, they have a truly incredible fondness for dancing, even though it is much more tiring. There is always an Indian woman who waltzes all night; if they stopped seeing waltzes as exotic, they would no longer fancy them. And (how odd!) those women who appear to fall apart from pure languidness and, more than anything, appear to drag themselves and float like a lateen sailboat, are light as feathers as they dance, such masters of their bodies, of their equilibrium, of their movements, that it is at times a wonder to watch them toss a slipper into the air without ever letting go of their dancing partner, without losing their rhythm (and, dear Lord, what a rhythm, if an Indian musician is playing!), then catching it in the air with their toes, without tripping, without the slightest alteration in their body or face. But the Indian woman really transfigures when she dances an Indian dance, the famous cundiman that blinds the Spaniards with passion. This is how a traveler described it in October 1860:

“…the musician tunes his vihuela [97] and begins to pluck the cundiman; the dancer ties a handkerchief around her shoulders with the corners falling over her chest; she tightens her tapis, [98] which fits gracefully and tightly around her body, revealing her svelte figure; she gracefully places the sonorous baticulin [99] castanets on her polished hands; her eyes alight, her countenance glows with pleasure, her charms multiply: her motions and looks indicate the simplicity of her heart: she stands on one foot, then the other, or she blushes, as if she would like to start, but is still shy. Now it seems that having stood in the middle is beginning to weigh heavily upon her; her friends, perhaps out of jealously, laugh. Her father scolds her. Her mother encourages her. She becomes merry, it grabs her, and it is then that the continuous drum rolls of the noisy baticulin marks the beat. She sings along with the cundiman, uniting her voice to the sound of the guitar, and her interweaving feet hardly touch the ground. The variety of her steps, the elegance of her movements, and, especially the languidness of her postures and her swoons are what capture the character of the cundiman, an entirely Philippine dance. There are no words to describe the flexibility of her body, which resembles a cane in a gentle breeze. Her arms– whether she lifts them up or sweetly stretches them out as if inviting an embrace, or if she drops them with an amorous limpness so that her elbow lands softly in her delightful lap at the sound of the hollow baticulin castanets– are the most vivid expressions of this country’s customs. As soon as she finds herself as inebriated with joy and pleasure as she is oppressed with pain, she turns her head as if offering her smooth cheek to someone, as she retires with embarrassment… After a thousand agile rehearsals, the chorus arrives:

Oh, cundiman! Oh cundañgan!


“Her melodious voice stops, she tilts her head to the side like a withered flower, and the sound of her castanets slows; but the jelenan cundiman [100] arrives, slowly she regains her vigor, she jumps, skips, weaves in and out, turns, and rolls the sonorous baticulin castanets, and concludes by spinning on her feet, like a top, for over five minutes. The cundiman music, composed of sighs and swoons, of languidness and lively starts, of painful groans and cries of joy, offers a singular mixture of happiness and harmonious sadness.”

The Indian woman’s picturesque way of dressing increases her attractiveness. It consists of a skirt, usually made of silk, with large, brightly colored stripes, a tapis or short apron, generally black that covers the hips and stomach like a girdle, a loose jusi [101] or nipis blouse that only reaches the waist, hinting at the abundant, round, and provocative outline of her breasts, a rosary hanging from her neck with a jet black cross with silver or sandalwood decades, her ears and head decorated with small jewels and somewhat elegant hoops that allow the notably classic knotted pusod hairstyle. [102] When she is at home, she wears her hair down, like all the country’s women, in order to prevent the bath’s humidity from rotting it; she has beautiful black hair that reaches her skirt, like Artemis’ veil. When she goes out, she tends to wear her hair in a pineapple fabric [103] or nipis handkerchief, which she coquettishly ties under her chin. A compliment to this manner of dress is a bare foot in a Moorish sandal, which leaves the heel uncovered, increasing her languid and swaying manner of walking, which is, at first disagreeable, but with time, begins to appear attractive and aristocratic. It is, at the very least, original and expressive.

Since the Indian women bathe daily, the peculiar musky aroma that they exude, like all the aromas of the extreme Orient, is mixed with the perfumes they use, mainly Arabian jasmine and the voluptuous ylang-ylang, which is pleasing to the European. There are those who, in this way, become accustomed to them and to everything in this country to such an extreme that they go native; they like to watch them chew buyo, which fortifies their teeth and heals their gums (thanks to the lime in its composition), producing an acrid odor and a nauseating, reddish saliva that they are careful to spit it out discreetly when they are amongst Spaniards. In effect, the planks that form the floor in all the houses contain an abundant amount of holes on the balconies, through which the Indian women, with a rare aim perfected by custom, expel their saliva like an arrow shot through the air.

Changes in fortune are so frequent in the Philippines that Indians and mestizos can go from rich to poor in a single day, mainly because they lose their wealth in games, either because they squandered it away on the celebration of some saint’s feast day by preparing a banquet for the entire village of fifteen or twenty thousand people; or because a perfidious wave lifts and rapidly drops their capital city, founded on maritime commerce; or, finally, because, they lack sense and are prone to luxury and excess and spend more than they have. Another thing that occurs frequently is that girls– who are pampered


and spoiled with gifts, allowed to be the shepherdesses in all the processions, performers in every concert, that have strong feet from many dances– take mechanical or industrial positions that are almost servile. Amongst the former, they prefer embroidery and sewing, because, ever since they were children, they have been rich with an indifference that some people call stupidity and others call philosophy. In the same way, they bid farewell to the Philippine woman’s major illusion of marrying a European, principally a Castilian, an illusion that always fuels the rich Indian woman; yet, it really only provides aristocracy, since here, the daughters of bankers marry bankrupt nobles. Once the illusion is lost, they begin to overcome the repugnance they feel toward the Indian man and accept his gallantry like a current coin that will cost them dearly, since she knows the difference between one gentleman and the other. They, with their delicate feminine instincts, know how to appreciate the fragrant blossoms of the amorous Castilian language, which even the most educated Indians do not speak, except for true gibberish. Tagalog is sweet and harmonious, but not very energetic, and the female of all latitudes, like a good steed, is subjected to both praise and the spur, for a time. Thus, the poor Indian women, who have fallen off the wheel of fortune with the products of the country, must be happy in this subject of love, since they are nothing more than very poor caricature parodies. They can only accept the courting, the flirtatious remarks, the serenades, the pampering, the arguments, and the reconciliations from the Indian man when there is no other, since necessity knows no law.

Even so, it is a real honor and triumph for their beau to give them an emprentada, [104] a small word that will leave the readers astonished and thinking that it is a Guttenberg [105] work of art, or, at the very least, that it smells of printed ink. What linguist, what philosopher, what Cardinal Mezoffanti [106] could guess the mysterious impulse that the Filipino Indian man would obey when he translated certain Castilian words in those first years of conquest? They are gallants and fall in love just as easily as we do, while they copied us in so many ways, they should have and did imitate our serenades, the most expressive of amorous manifestations, though they renamed them emprentada, since the man stood in front of [107] his sweetheart’s house, casting his daring thoughts into the air to the rhythm of a vihuela; and since they cannot pronounce the “f” sound, which they pronounce as the letter “p,” it was immortalized as emprentada, an incomprehensible word for those who have not seen one take place or do not know its etymology.

When an Indian woman slightly opens the windows of her balcony and convinces herself that the emprentada is for her, when she recognizes her sweetheart and his friends who stand in the moonlight, strumming, as best they could, the strings of their instruments that were brought by a vessel from Acapulco on its last voyage, which the heat has now turned into a carrack, she believes that the Castilian women of her neighborhood will envy her– which is her fantasy’s fondest and most pleasant ideal. In a certain article regarding customs, published in Manila a few years ago, I read some emprentada couplets; I cannot resist transcribing them here, so that the reader may form a more exact judgment


in regard to the music, ballads, and troubadours. They are usually sung at the tempo of Jaleo de Jerez or Chactas y Atala, since it is all the same to them; everything is the same music, except the Miserere and the Royal March.

Titay seems to have
Already forgotten her Nanoy
Because I need to fix
Many new things with you.
If you want to be with another
Why don’t you speak clearly?
Let us not do anymore bad things,
Declares the heart.
I ask out loud for some buyo,
She says she doesn’t want to chew
And if he asks for her handkerchief
She responds that it is not pressed.
That night in Quiapo
She did not want to eat pansit [108]
Later in a pansiteria [109]
I saw her with another.
One night at her house,
Music was being played
Not even for a moment did
She did glance out of her window.
Ñora Tinan, the buyera,
Says that one night she saw
One Castilian and two Tagalogs
Were betting with you.

In effect, writers of Philippine customs tend to say that almost always, while the troubadour shouts himself hoarse on the street, the lady of his thoughts is being entertained inside the house; but I believe this mischief is inspired by writers’ eagerness to create picaresque and even risqué novels– the characteristics of a thick brush used to paint the Indian woman’s coquettishness who is actually a sister and could even be a mother to our European women. Once the clues of these roguish tricks are found, these satirical writers say more: that they cannot be too innocent because they occur in cane and nipa houses in the late hours of the night; they say that if the lover who is indoors is suspicious and acts as if he were bitten by a snake because it is not the first time that a certain voice has been heard singing in the neighborhood, the Indian woman proceeds to display an incredible ability to invent stories about her neighbor, Cucan, or her friend, Pipan, and swears on a cross that she is scandalized by these flirtations. I will not deny, so help me God, that in many cases the Indian woman is like this; there is a reason that land is so close to Paradise,


where Eve wrote the first chapter of female fragilities. There is a reason I have pointed out, and will point out a thousand times, that there is no other place with a practical

school of thought that embodies the translated Communist theories that German intellectuals wish to give to Spain so that our civilization can go back to wearing loincloths. However, since that is not the Indian woman I set out to portray and because all rules have their exceptions, I continue to believe that there could be an Indian who is actually delighted by the emprentada…brought to her by her beau…her only beau and that they maintain a chaste romance.

What does deserve consideration is the fact that these romantic, zealous couplets conclude with a philosophical tercet, as if the poor Indians did not have them all with him, strongly recommending that the dalagas escape the Castilians to whom they are attracted, in effect, like moths to a flame. How the unfortunate ladies fade away when they are able to attract the glances of a defense lieutenant, of an appraiser, or of a cabanista!... (when they were around, although this type would never disappear from the administrative sphere while there are sentimental or irresponsible ministers, who inundate the Archipelago’s offices with employees who, opposite to them, are not worth a caban of palay).[110] What talent they display in fascinating them! And how quickly and well they tend to achieve it! ... But it is at her expense!

If the Indian woman is not rich, if she has lost her village house, her sweet cane field, or her trading boats, she finds it difficult to bring her beau in front of the priest, unless he, due to circumstances of conscience and religion, takes over the negotiation, or the Spaniard is found in articulo mortis. [111] The most common outcome is that the embroidering or sewing Indian, as we have previously mentioned, has free access to her beau’s house, to where her own parents take her in the morning, where they join the servants in eating morisqueta, enjoy the young gentleman’s cigarettes, and everything that is at hand, including money, which they ask for in advance for their daughter’s work. In the meantime, she chooses the bedroom’s balcony as her workspace, so that she can make the Castilian try on his shirts, and who will find himself stocked up on embroidered dickies, ruffled handkerchiefs, and a thousand other knick-knacks after three or four years; but then the time arrives for him to return to Spain and he therefore transfers his furniture and servants, including the seamstress, to his successor.

In order to conclude and to escape the slippery terrain of malicious writers, let us assume that the good troubadour from the emprentada did not have reasonable motives for accusing his sweetheart of infidelity, and that love, following its ordinary processes, leads them to the church and St. Peter’s letter. The Indian woman in a matrimonial state is not happier than the one living in the woods, which we have previously described, and her mission does not elevate one over the other. Thus, just as the banana tree grows shoots, which dry up after bearing its first fruit (one can say that its children kill it), the Indian woman too becomes socially insignificant after she gives birth. How much they silently envy the delightful life of European mothers, for whom society knits a double crown and the family envelopes in a constant atmosphere of love and happiness! Sometimes,


her simplicity astounds her as she ponders if a mother can be loved by her husband in the same way a dalaga could be loved. Beneath this admiration, savage passions and brutal disabuses– which, once satisfied, use the poor instruments of pleasure as payment– seem so naked!

It is true that maternity destroys their women just as much as it beautifies ours. Although we have already mentioned several indications, the reader could never give credit to the atrocities of which these poor women are victim to at the hands of mediquillos and midwives. One single fact will prove it– eloquence. Before dedicating themselves to the salvation of souls, all Spanish friars studied some obstetrics in order to save the poor women abandoned by midwives, mediquillos, and even their own families; they hang them by the shoulders, sit on their stomachs, and other similar remedies that result in a child and its mother. In Embryology books, which comprise one of the richest branches of hispano-philippine literature, one can read about hair-raising cases and only they can only be accepted as historical after practically understanding the country.

Consequently, the Indian women remain disfigured and sickly and their weak condition predisposes them to a multitude of grave ailments. The brain is most likely weakened– it is observed that the preoccupations and obsessions are more pronounced in adult Indian women as opposed to younger girls. From the age of 30, at which the Philippine woman’s physical and moral decadence precipitates like an avalanche, she lives in a species of limbo whose innocent shadows are worthy of particular study. History is full of events– in a large part grotesque– and preoccupations with the provoked Indies. I, myself, witnessed one of the most notable and curious in Manila in 1867, which justifies a long series of them published by Don Sinibaldo de Mas in Estado de Filipinas en 1842, [112] a report that received many well-deserved critiques for its implausibility.

It struck some undoubtedly wild woman to dream that, as a punishment for luxuries and vanities, the Virgin had transformed the necklace worn by a certain rich Indian woman from Pampanga into a snake, in such a way that no one could untwist it from around her neck and for a few moments, it choked her. The news ran vaguely for two or three days across cane and nipa fields, through kitchen corners, and one morning all the Manila Indians awoke in a state of nervous distress, saying that the snake woman had been brought to the Archbishopric Palace so that the Prelate could perform an exorcism on her. In half an hour, the outlying districts, the tobacco factories, and even the Spaniards’ houses (since the servants who were not allowed to see the snake resigned) were empty. Ever-growing waves of fifteen to twenty women filled the Archbishop’s street– some sat, some stood, staring at the Palace’s windows and balconies with piercing eyes. Like tame sheep, some husbands listened with open mouths, as the women murmured the strangest absurdities


in the soft, barely audible tone that Indians use when speaking of mysterious things. Such a complete, terrifying silence reigned that one could hear flies in the air, a common circumstance amongst masses of Indian women, whose fault it is when celebrations become sad; only to Obando, as they say, does one both come and go singing and dancing and that is because it is the feast day of Saint Pascual Baylon, the village’s patron saint.

It so happened that at that time, three suffragans, who accidentally found themselves in the capital, went to visit the Archipelago’s superior Prelate. It became impossible, then, to remove the idea from the Indian women’s heads that the Archbishop had impetrated the help of his colleagues because the snake, scorning his continuous conjurations, resisted untwisting itself. There were moments in which a grave conflict of public order was feared. Finally, at night, the fatigue and proved sterility of that innocent congregation achieved what neither advice nor reflections could obtain. The mass dissolved so that they could tranquilly go to bed.

In the vicinity of China, where the woman is not very respected, where parents drown two thirds or more of the baby girls that are born, I attribute this contempt to the fact that the Indian woman is seen as useless when the passage of time sterilizes and ages her. In contrast, the elders (matandas), who are seen as real oracles, are venerated and respected, an indubitable reflection of what primitive tribes professed to their patriarchs; they drag the old Indian women into a wretched and miserable existence, which buries them deeper and deeper into vices that they are instinctively inclined to. Gambling generally consumes her last hours, and the day of her death is somewhat of a family celebration.



Since God, in all his works, is laudable, he placed the mestiza in the middle of that languid and mute nature, beside taciturn and melancholic beings, as if her own magnitude would overwhelm her; she is a jovial and loud creature who only thinks about living life blithely. The contrast with the Indian woman is strange, though they seem to reach out their hands to each other, like two daughters of the same mother. She is lazy like her, worrisome and whimsical like her; yet, she is more aristocratic than her and also sees women’s work as not only a burdensome task, but also at times as an intolerable dishonor. But this job is merely physical, we understand well; the work that enslaves, that exhausts, and brings sweat to the brow, weariness to the


limbs and roughness to the skin; her condition adapts to the others, such as commerce, industry, and, above all, usury, she no longer accepts them, but rather yearns for them and chases after them avidly, persistently, tirelessly.

We must give another warning: the buts and reservations, which the Introduction advised would be abundant in this work will not be in vain. The mestiza is only afraid of her own while she is a maiden and young, while her servants and assistants know how to marvelously exploit her, even during that happy period in which they think of nothing but having fun and increasing and showing off her attractive features. She has many attractive features, as long as she does not have a drop of Chinese blood (as was previously noted); in such a case, her features vary completely, and although she is not disagreeable from afar, she does tend to be so at first glance. Round eyes, prominent cheekbones, straight, coarse hair, boney hands, a somewhat flat facial angle, and finally, colorful language that is slow and nasal; her ñ is very accented and the r turns into l, and diminutives, which are often used Overseas, end in ico or ica, like in the Murcia orchards. These things mark a distinction between the Chinese, Spanish, or European mestiza, whose facial structures are purer, air is finer, language is almost correct, a more natural elegance, and a more refined behavior, manners, and customs. Another nuance that contributes to the ability to differentiate between them is that the Chinese mestiza hates physical labor less than the European, and there is also her greater coarseness and her uncouth character. Though she hides it well, she bears the constant weight upon her shoulders of the rascal who led her father through the streets of Manila with a basket of charcoal or a bundle of canvas, while the Spanish mestiza transcends leagues of what, in our modern language, we call

, either civil or military.

Even their wardrobes differentiate them, displaying how they differ in taste and origin. The mestizas from the Celestial Empire prefer bright colors, ostentatious accessories, over elaborated embroidery, in a word, blinding flashiness. The Spanish mestizas, on the other hand, are more delicate and strict, they correctly combine bright colors and although they are also attractive and ostentatious, they are not as drawn to bright colors as they are to elegant solids. Much contributes to the refinement of instincts, other than their antithetical beauty; the conditions in which they live are very diverse. The Chinese mestiza tends to be unpleasant toward all races, from the Spaniard to the pure Indian, and can only impose on them through the superiority of her intelligence, which almost always makes her rich and domineering. Our European mestiza– sublimated by the law that protects her and bound to the two principal races that claim her as their own– imposes her superiority from the first moment with her distinguished aspect, the commonness of her features, her beautiful, penetrating eyes, and most particularly, the relative whiteness of her fine, matt, ivory, and transparent complexion, by her round and refined hands, in which one can see the circulation of active, bluish blood, and by the smallness of her feet, which are truly tiny and are only rivaled in Andalucía and Extremadura.


The mestizas’ manner of dress– identical in both races– is also distinguished by the differences in color and artistic taste that we have insinuated. Petticoats, which were originally identical to the ones used by the Indian and that, today, obediently serve the whims of capricious fashions, are usually wide and long, so long that they cover the front of the feet and fall behind like an abominable tail, covering one of her most charming features. Her blouse is made of pineapple or jusi [113] fabric and tied at the waist; it has wide, airy sleeves, allowing her round arm to delight in anarchic liberty and permits her to display two or three bracelets. She wears a handkerchief across her chest, but it does not cover her chokers and necklaces, or, most importantly, the soft channel that initiates the most important and most beautiful singularities of women’s figures. She wears a European hairstyle with the indispensable ornament of a vividly colored flower, which tends to be a hibiscus or a wild pomegranate flower and, on her feet, embroidered slippers, barefoot and playful…this is the picturesque dress of the Asian mestiza. We shall add one very important observation for our European readers, who would find this ridiculous due to sheer vulgarity. She does not use a tapis. This article distinguished the Indian race from the mixed one, who sees it as truly horrifying. The mestiza would never wear the Indian’s distinctive article, not even by accident or as a joke, while the latter never forgoes it, not even by accident, since a mysterious instinct makes them see it with secret vainglory as a symbol of their pure, untainted blood. No one knows what law or primitive custom transformed this tapis into the artificial border between the two races; we have been unable to find out, but its own name, a humble memento of the humblest of loincloths, offers us an etymologic poem full of candid poetry and innocent significance.

A mestiza’s life, until she marries, does not have much to tell (as opposed to Juan Soldado), unless speaking of those adventuresses, who are so far from this type of woman, but we must dedicate some incidental paragraph to them. Early in the morning, she goes from church to church to see and been seen; she prays with her mother, she prays with an old friend; she is a curious variety that is worthy of mestizo studies. Afterward, she bathes and goes to the table, where she is waited on according to her pleasure, because she has a privileged stomach. A writer of customs noted, in regard to this subject, that she is very respectful toward her parents, whose hands she kisses after finishing her meal, in the same way as when one sees a priest on the street; but this is a characteristic trait of all Philippine women educated in the way of old Spain, that is, in holy fear of God and respectful toward people who are older, wiser, and higher in rank than them, according to the Christian doctrine. Here is the reason that they are so docile and inclined to do good, when they are not delivered to the impulses of their savage nature.

The abominable manner of tutear [114]– a custom that we have accepted as simple and incapable of transcendence, though it provokes incredible depravities in our society as its basis is the undermining of authority, which is the root and source of everything, except God, from which, nevertheless, comes a loyal and pure reflection– between parents and children has not yet become common in the Philippines. A country born in the arms of the Catholic Church


and cradled by her as it grew into what it is today– the pearl of Oceania, as it is called in all of the Orient– could not help but present instinctive and tenacious resistance toward certain innovative invasions whose own futility makes them more terrible instruments of corruption. Familiarity is not a good friend of respect, despite what modern pedagogues claim. What harm can good citizens do, when they begin by making bad children? If there is some example of this pernicious corruption, it is born of the urge to imitate, to produce a copy of contemptible models that our society sends them. Thus, as the Archipelago becomes modernized, the ties to our homeland are loosened and the political situation becomes more dangerous through the difficult and laborious task of planting ideas of rebellion against the principal authority and doubts regarding the village’s moral beliefs in the hearts and minds of the people. In 1808, our myopic leaders began to take rights that conflicted with obligations, ideas that were incompatible with religious sentiments that, strictly speaking, were and are the social and moral good, without taking into account the sad lessons of our American history, through which we can clearly see the noose that chokes us, which we made with our own hands.

Fortunately, Spain’s blind errors have not yet been able to completely wrench the religious spirit from the Philippines because they are incessantly fueled by the unique Monastic Orders, which understand the Indian’s character, necessities, and tendencies very well, and view them with parental pleasure. The day that they do achieve it, it is almost guaranteed that only the mixed races will transform our love into hate, as has occurred in America. Yet, our victors must be wary of the day in which blood’s strength recognized, since they do not know it now. Be cautious; do not let your scorn and cruelty remind the Indians of the Castilian fathers and their bland and caring domination, because he may see both his triumph and his punishment at the same hour, even if the country is surrendered to major barbarity. This sad day will never come if we establish a system of intelligent and capable education to modify the wicked instincts of the mixed races– principally those of the women, who are the most dangerous and skillful in the art of concealing and, consequently, conspiracy regarding the subject at hand. Her religious tendencies are our only guarantee, since until now they have been under the direction of the friars, and our insistence on taking them away is like taking away our own weapon and shield.

Wherever there is a church procession or celebration, near or far for her home, the mestiza will infallibly be there with her court of admirers, which is generally large and includes many passionate Natives and Europeans. If she owns a carriage, she fills it with sweets, since the child is fonder of candy than is known, and if she goes on foot, she makes frequent stops at all the pansiterías and analogous shops along the way. In a very natural contrast, she likes sour things just as much, because the humid Philippine heat is concentrated on the epidermis,


leaving the stomach in such a languid and decadent state that they only crave strange things.

Love is the mestiza’s habitual occupation– deep down, a vehement and voluptuous love, but glacial and even repulsive on the surface– that transforms the Latin maxim, suaviter in modo, fortiter in ré [115] into an adagio. She manifests a stronger dedicated preference to Europeans than any of the country’s other women and she does not display inclinations toward the mestizo men until she has lost all hope of marrying a Spaniard. The Spaniard who, fighting the inconveniences that we outlined in the introduction, closes his eyes and takes her to the parish church knows two things for certain: that he will become rich very quickly and that no matter how many positions he holds they will be absolutely lucrative. Here, the Law of the Indies undoubtedly comes into play (currently enforced, though always violated by our superior Leaders’ complaisance and weaknesses): it prohibits men married to Natives of the country to hold magistrate positions in the Indies; this is a law which should be extended to all the civil servants, since it would be equally convenient in all cases. And it is not that such wives can be accused of bribery, selling favors or justice in the terms in which we tend to understand it, no, it is that foreign and vicious behaviors, although natural and common in the country, degrade the dignity of public destinies and jeopardize those who carry them out.

In the same way that one can easily tell, upon arriving in a village, if a Parish Priest is a Spanish friar or an Indian priest by the state of the church, his cleanliness, and good composure, one can also tell if the Mayoress (Governor’s wife) is a mestiza by the prison’s cantina (which she most likely runs); if she is an administrator of Public Treasury by the grocery store; and if she is married to an appraiser or a Carabineer Lieutenant by the abundance of Igorrote tobacco. In many cases, Luis’ line in El Hombre de mundo [116] can be applied the husband,

All of Madrid knew,
All of Madrid… except him

other times…but, what can a poor husband do if, perhaps, he discovers the existence of an anonymous relationship between his wife and the Chinese amphion (opium) merchant?

Although he does not eat or drink it, we could say that they forcibly bring 400 or 500 pesos into his home. Or they privately monopolize the village’s buyo market, which produces a miserable half a real daily for each, a cool 300 or 400, like Madrid’s chestnuts in December. What can he do other than keep as silent as a saint, thanking God for having given him such a talented consort, who goes as unnoticed as the incessant goings and comings of an ant, who fills his pantry and his pocket in preparation for the fatal hour in which dismissal tolls, the only fixed hour for the Spaniard’s


employees? And even more difficult than discovering the business, itself, is discovering the methods his wife uses to make him wealthy. Since she has the upper hand, she does not allow competition and abuses power in a way that would make the Royal Household tremble. Unfortunate is the Indian who dares to open a store without paying her for a license! Unfortunate is the person who deals in anything that could be detrimental to her! She will not face consequences, nor will she, incidentally, compromise herself; but in truth, all her employees identify themselves as independent to the Philippine Authorities because, being pure and mestizo Indians– from the richest scribe to the more ragged mayoral assistant– they understand their fellow countrywoman wonderfully well. And they can even serve her every whim without the Castilian suspecting anything. If, due to special circumstances, scribes and mayoral assistants cannot help the ant carry the grain home, she can always turn to another bystander, whom they call the Mayors’ personero, [117] because he has carried out this job for all the previous ones and he will continue to do so for all who brandish the staff until God challenges him with his own. Personero, in unique Castilian, means empowered, representative of somewhat uncatholic interests, and in our own (the language spoken by those born from Coruña to Cádiz), he is called a testaferro, [118] an explanation that will open our readers’ eyes much more than if we wrote an entire folio volume.

The personero….this is a very new breed: this post has only existed for 30 years. Since mayors were prohibited to do business and receive tributes in kind, the poor things had to find a way, and they did, although truthfully, later, a large, plausible development in administrative conscience, due to the mystery of criminal causes and one or another prison sentences, has made cases that were common in that period very rare today. Emboldened by the Mayor’s protection, the personero buys fruit at low prices from the farmers; he pays them in advance with tremendous interest rates and with the stipulation that they can not enter into contracts with any other speculators; and if the province grows tobacco, he enters into agreement with a weak appraiser who declares many of the bundles to be garbage, which he then purchases at an unjust price, and are then declared to be of superior quality by the Mayor’s recommendation. In a word, he inhibits the Indians, humiliates them, and ruins them much more than the Mayor did when he was able to conduct business. Now, calculate how much the mestiza abuses her personeros and how much the latter must abuse others in the mestiza’s shadow, transformed into judge and jury. Deus ex machine, [119] the opportunistic Mayoress is invisible in everything and present in everything.

We have seen a gentlemanly official of an aristocratic body obligated to leave the country because he discovered that his wife loaned small, half peso to one peso consignments to soldiers of his own company, so that the sergeants would act as her runners. Horrific speculation! The mestiza captain would collect her small earnings punctually (with the punctuality of a War Comissioner) at the end of the month, and if anyone tried to cheat her, the sergeants administered a bejuco [120] hand caning. All of Manila understood that the husband, a fine or intelligent Spanish official, was unconnected to such operations; but would the rude indigenous soldiers interpret it in the same way?


He who turns a blind eye toward conjugal agencies, as we have said before, is certain to become a rich man. In a few years, his wife is able to raise some considerable capital and, although she spends a large part on jewels and unnecessary frills, it is not lost money in this case, but rather, money placed at a very high interest, since sooner or later, they also earn her money, as she exchanges her jewels or sells them. Nothing is more frequent than hearing dialogues of this type in the most presumptuous social gatherings:

“What beautiful earrings you have on, Pipan!”
“Chichirico [121] things, you know?” says the mestiza.
“Do you like them?”
“Why yes, I do like them!”
“200 pesos, they cost me.”

And she earns close to half that, because the next day, whether she wants them or not, the Spanish woman receives them with a small note that says that there is no reason to rush with the payment.

Other times, she keeps a storage of them in one of her house’s rooms, with the pretext that they are what remains of a previous business or that it is a favor she is doing for a helpless friend– a storage that never runs out, like the false liquidations in Madrid stores due to demolition, to change of venue, to factory bankruptcy, etc., etc. She knows, for example, which lady needs a certain fabric; she secretly takes it there from another warehouse, and she advisers her that by chance, she has found a piece amongst her scraps, making herself both lucrative and the guest of honor. Other times, using that mercantile instinct God has given to mestizos, she foresees a scarcity of a commercial article, buys all the existing ones, and she, herself, provokes the rise in price; and when this happens, she reaps her harvest. Carriages, horses, dresses, jewels– she sells them all and earns some interest, killing two birds with one stone, which fills her purse and allows her to always wear new things. There is such an exaggerated mercantile atmosphere in the intertropical regions that it is very difficult to resist contagion; it invades men and women, young and old, like an epidemic. I will not say whether it is good or bad, though I incline more toward the former and not the latter, but I limit myself to record one fact: European men find this abominable in the fairer sex, even though we have already started keeping our dames de comptoir [122] and our bookkeepers, in attempt to have it all.

This does not mean that the mestizas are not obsequious and generous at times when a Spaniard falls in disgrace, when a Spanish woman becomes a miserable widow, in matters of covering the costs of a civil or religious celebration, etc., etc. There are so many orphans in the Philippine Archipelago that they all would have starved to death without the mestizas’ unfailing charity! There are so many Spaniards that owe them their salvation in critical moments! I believe that the cruelty they are accused of– and which I, in all conscience, can only speak of through hearsay,– is completely saved for the Indian, who is their béte noir, [123] their other half. Servants tell horrible stories about them and of their management


of the bejuco, in which it appears that they excel; and–what a strange thing!– in exchange, they have incomprehensible complacency with their servants.

As soon as the husband delays his return home by half an hour, if he is Spanish, she escapes to eat with her servants in a remote room, on a somewhat clean (which is not very important to her) petate, around a dish of morisqueta and six or eight small plates with Chinese sausages and the country’s sour foods; here, you can see the lady of the house crouching on the ground, surrounded by her Indian servants, eating with her hands, roaring with laughter at their candidness, and as content and as happy as a woman-cat upon seeing a mouse.

The greatest variety of this type is the Chinese mestiza, who generally marries another mestizo, which is fortunate for the Metropolis, since their children are almost Indian; husband and wife dissipate their wealth in few years and that dangerous element, which they are uniting between the two of the them each more effective than the other, disappears like smoke. The Chinese mestiza conducts wholesale and retail business, or, en groso y miudo, as the Portuguese say; this way, she can sell 25 pounds of firewood as well as 100 sacks of palay (rice). She can be seen in the port, helping unload the boat which her husband captains or racing down the roads in a carriage to hire an English merchant for a London tour.

The Spanish mestiza usually follows a straighter line in her speculations and she does not tend to deign to physical labor.

Since the beauty of both withers rapidly, I cannot concede the continuous amorous admirers that she supposedly keeps, which are said to arrive at the critical moment when they begin to wane and become senile. As youths, if single or already married, singular incidents can be expected, not lacking someone who supposes that those that have Spanish husbands find great benevolence and even more complicity in their Minotaur (according to Balzac’s happy expression) than those who are married to mestizo men. A phenomenal circumstance should also be observed, but it should be elevated to the category of consummated and irrevocable fact. Eager to know the love of a mestiza at practically any cost, a love which is so often contemplated in verses and novels, many candid, unworldly Spaniards travel to the Philippines in search of an old maid mestiza or a mestiza advanced in her years as their mediators, a position for which they have special dispositions. They thereby weave dangerous nets motu proprio [124] from the very first day and by the time they turn on their agreements, they are already trapped, to the point of obeying the direct commands of the women from whom they only wished to receive modest arbitration for pure pleasure and to wet one’s whistle, as the say.

My brush would not be able to find colors to paint an image of the old mestiza (who seems to have been born between Alcalá and Huete) without recalling La Celestina, [125] a dense and eternal trunk, whose branches turn green again in all zones. Obsequious, extreme, insinuating– since the moment you meet one, she can read your mind, an easy task, in truth, when it involves a European man who hunts grouse in those forests where a closed season is


almost prohibited. Do you need a seamstress to put into practice that profound sentence from Trapisondas por bondad: [126] “since the seamstress has such lovely feet, do I need to make my shirts myself?” Well, the next day you would be sent two or three from which to choose the most skillful, the smartest, and to see how each attaches a button or mends a shirt’s cuff in more or less a day; but they are so ugly, so hideous, that you have to turn your face when they are completing the task. Do you need a coachman, a cook, a young servant, someone to cut the grass for horse feed, a Chinese servant to fill the pantry every month (as witnesses, we even guarantee that he will not stop genuflecting and calling you señolía)? [127] You only need to open your mouth and she will send the most able spies that have ever entered your house. But you must go to her house to thank her and give her your assignments in person. You must enter the Armida forest, where you must proclaim her Fame with such incessant trumpeting that one has to tighten their breastplate and put on spurs with more care than when among moors.

There, you will be received in a room that is warmly lit by a colored balloon, with an atmosphere filled with intoxicating perfumes– above the center candle sits a china plate with a pile of hibiscus and she and the friends that accompany her wear the same flowers around their necks. It resembles a perfume shop. Stretched out (if not because of the material, then because of their soft configuration) in white rocking chairs, each movement of the voluptuous chair exposes their bare feet to you, and something else, beneath their floating jusi skirts. Does the heat suffocate you? Well, the one closest to you fans you with her paypay,[128] as if she were fanning herself– perhaps without noticing, you begin to move your armchair closer to her to better refresh yourself. The smoking hour is announced and they persistently offer you some rosemary tobacco, which is even more intoxicating than ylang-ylang. At fifteen past the hour, the atmosphere would be too thick to breathe if it weren’t for the windows and doors that are mysteriously ajar.

The conversation flows languidly, lazily, discordantly, a bit green, like a locust that has been stepped on, dragging itself through the grass. A glass of sherry and a cake complete your vertigo. If you have just arrived, you do not like those ladies; that spectacle almost repulses you; but you cannot deny that they are very affectionate, sweet, playful, complacent, and they have offered to make the monotonous life of the country more agreeable for you– an offer that they surely know how to fulfill, judging from that short time. As for the old lady, oh! the old lady comes undone. She is everywhere, she foresees it all, and she can read everything that enters your mind– your desires, your caprices, and even your thoughts. You leave there with an appointment set for Sunday, when you will all go to bathe in a country house, where you will pass the day in revelry. Since you are learning the delights of the Philippine baths through experience, and the entire world tells you that bathing with mestizas is a bocatto di cardinali[129] the royal fun that the Acapulco ship travelers dreamt of since departing from Cape Hope– the days remaining before the festivities seem to last for centuries. You arrive before the chosen hour. In the light of day, the women look even less beautiful than they did before; their dresses appear less


vaporous and picturesque than when seen under artificial light. Lastly, the old lady looks like a lizard that sings while half falling off the roof; but you wait until the bath indemnifies you, and it will indemnify you; it is certain.

You go to these parties on a banca, which is a rowboat with a mat canopy– quite a poetic boat when it is clean and well-kept. There are some truly lovely ones with fringe, cords, and multicolored silk drapes that hang over the white Singapore mat, like Venetian gondolas; only the face and half the torso of its passengers can be seen, undines (the comparison is fitting) who swim just under the surface of the water. During the trip, one of them plays the vihuela to pass the time, making the European feel like he has been transported to this pearl of the Adriatic. Since the house is on the river’s edge and has its own dock, they quickly find themselves in an amphibian dinning room, with a table in the water.

Although they do not share Europe’s prudery (dressing and undressing is not a Roman event there) the middle or higher class mestizas purposely enter the water with a suit, like our Bilbao and Sardinero bathers. The first thing everyone does is go for a swim and enjoy the river’s water with the delight of a fish that has escaped the net, because the sweet water of the tropics produces as much pleasure as unpleasantness and even repulsion produced by the sea. A thing that seems incredible! The Great Ocean is always warm in those latitudes and the small currents are fresh and pleasant. This phenomenon is somewhat similar to the impression the bath produces in the mestizas, as well as other natives of the country– it drives them wild with joy; but if this occurs to the young ones at a ten on a scale, it happens to the old woman at a twenty. The sexagenarian hops and jumps, she splashes and leaps, as if she were no more and no less than 20 years old.

If the European does not know how to swim, they all quarrel over the honor of giving him lessons; what a sight it is to see their playful gymnastics, picturesque groups, and more or less silly attitudes. Amongst the classic Roman cameos, when the woman of the world has Emperors that were husbands of all the wives and wives of all of the husbands, there is one that brings to the mind similar images, which are works of the Greek brush. It depicts the milk bath Nero used to take with his nymphs, rendering tribute to Asian customs; we should say that in the country of loincloths, the artist does not tend to study the nude in person as much as in Rome, the country of long robes.

All those who learn to swim are scared; all those who are scared hold on tightly, all those who hold on, hold on to what they can…and this is the best part of the gymnastic natatory lessons. The teachers are fragile, the floor is not secure, the perfidious element….one falls here, another stands up there, shaking her long hair, while further away, blinded by the water, one reaches out her arms and grabs hold of…the disciple, who allows himself to be held…to avoid drowning. Survival instinct! An instinct which is incredibly aroused because, between the jokes and the truth, they submerge him and


they lift him up, though more than once he has gathered shells with his teeth. The old mestiza is the one who embraces him the most.

Naturally, swimming wakes the appetite and lunch paga el pato. [130] And it is here that the phrase similia similubus [131] becomes a literal truth because ducks are the fellow dining guests that surround the table inside the water and devour the fruit that is almost exclusively composes the lunch. [132] If mangoes are in season, they disappear by the dozen, since the Filipinos incorrectly believe that any excess consumption of that excellent fruit remains unpunished; and, in effect, since it tends to have more meat than an orange, some gorge themselves on 50 or 60 in the bath, without ever blinking. This is another reminder of sybaritic and voluptuous Rome, though the Romans generally ate more solid aliments in the water.

This is the occasion of which the old naiad takes advantage, since she is tired of playing and perhaps not very free in disagreeing, to show off her knowledge of history and philosophy, humbly sitting at the edge of the river, while the neophyte and the others remain around the table, gorging themselves on fruits and playing under the water to their heart’s content. In her times (oh what times those were!), the Spaniards on the Acapulco ship were not as fussy or pusillanimous. Upon reaching land, as soon as the Archbishop finished singing Te deum laudamus [133] on the dock, they fled like souls possessed by demons through the streets in search of lodging…since back then there were no inns or boarding houses, all the houses were open to the Castilians. Like idiots, they preferred– what else would they prefer? – the mestizas’ homes, where they were never denied anything, where everything they asked for was answered amiably with: whatever you wish…sometimes they didn’t even bother to ask for things. Those were true Castilians! As opposed to these, who only think about mail, spoil systems, and about whether there is a Republic or King in Madrid… (here, if the mestiza returns to her nature, which is not uncommon, she introduces a small paragraph of criticism that is a model of common sense as well as a fulminate accusation against our Governments, which, due only to God’s mercy, have not yet lost the ultramarine provinces. She speaks of the employees that arrive full of tricks, of those that lie down on the streets with their trunks, of those that eat morisqueta out of misery rather than love for the country, of those that provoke scandals in the plazas, of those who find work with the Chinese to make Chinese items, of the unemployed that beg for money, or renounce Spain and the mother that birthed them, etc., etc. She also tends to drop some hint about the Generals and, if there is very little money in the Royal Treasury–everything is royal over there and it will remain so for years and years– and if the Cagayan tobacco isn’t paid for, and if the Mayor is near-sighted and the Governor has sticky fingers, and if between some and others the country is nearly failing, because faults grow and diminish good decisions.).

Let us return to the topic of mestizas, who only think about pleasure, as the old Castilian praises repeat, and the first thing any of them did was each choose their own mestiza because they are the creatures made by God expressly for love, and in good love and company, life is made less bitter. She tells of how many would


take them to the provinces of Mayoresses, where they would win the lottery’s grand prize, or to Madrid del Rey, where they had them made up like ladies so that everyone in Prado would point them out. Her friend Pipan became a Countess of Sinamay, her sister-in-law, Cucan, the Baroness of Pus-pus, and even a Chinese mestiza from Rosario Street, princess of Tinola, because they all married Castilians back in the day.

Here we have the mestiza’s last occupation, which alternates with the lay sister’s home, visits to Priests, recommendations to employees (with which they tend to make their earnings), and the novenas to Our Lady of Antípolo or the Holy Child of Cebú. And don’t believe for a second that I am referring to old maids, to those that have neither house nor home, neither an occupation nor profits, no, of course not. They are usually women that are relatively well-off and the young ladies to whom they provide the innocent pleasures of bathing…their daughters or their relatives. Incapable now of love, however, they conserve interests and rhythm.


The origin of this type of person is almost always disgrace, and through an anomaly that is very rare in this world, it is running out just as disgrace is abundant, a circumstance that is principally due to the very low number of Spaniards who have traveled to the Philippines. For this same reason, there are very few real Creoles found outside of the capital, where Europeans tend to settle until at the end of the last century, when the Philippine Company initiated exploration of the other islands in the Archipelago, no less important and fertile that the Luzon group. This is another reason the Creole race here is so different from Cuba’s, where the different colonization system and climatologic influence has contributed so much. We will state this in the shortest way possible: religious Orders– which impede the destruction of the Indians and the considerable backward jumps of European races– perfectly explain the scarcity of Filipino Creoles, while in the Americas– where the indigenous race has been completely eradicated– the European race has easily acclimated. Families in which father and mother fall wounded by an epidemic, fathers who abandon their children, fruits of illicit loves that are raised in the countryside or in Maternity hospitals: these are their reduced origins. There are also some families that settled there when Mexico won its independence in 1823, and a few others that did so because they were political exiles, but


they all have more than a forth of a century of residency, they have crossed paths with mixed races, enough reason for not conserving anything but the privileges and pretensions of the Spanish women.

Recently, some employees’ families, surprised by the disastrous spoil system, have become naturalized in the Archipelago, and some foreigners– interested in the large houses of commerce of the principal cities– are bearing children that are Spanish in nationality and tongue, although not so much in instincts and customs.

I will start with this exceptional type of woman, who is, undoubtedly the most beautiful (it is sad to admit it!) because they receive a precise education, almost always in Europe. Daughters of English and Germans who came to the Philippines as lads (which is what we call the youths in the stores or in the workforce) have achieved, after twenty or thirty years, the founding of an establishment and a family, perseverance, and economy in such a long period of acclimation, and although their mothers are not Spanish– which happens sometimes– their daughters love the homeland with that warm love inspired by the soil that created us and the sky we first fixed our eyes on. Upon returning as youths from the European colleges, they constitute a species of aristocracy, a separate world in Philippine society. Although they speak various languages, their Spanish is correct and grammatical and is the predominant language amongst themselves. Their houses, models of cleanliness and good taste, are only on par with a temple of art or science, since they have elevated intellectual interests, a rara avis [134] in that land. Some love music, others painting, this one gathers herbs, the other collects shells and shellfish, not lacking one who worships muses, albeit in secret because all inspiration appears cold and all meters inharmonic in a place where nature is giant and overwhelming.

Although these houses are always open to good society, it is common for strangers to frequent them and, consequently, the youths of the family marry strangers. It is through this manner that the hispano-philippine is truly perfected with English or German blood. They are generally beautiful, however, they lack innate grace, the indescribable elegance of true Spanish women; their education impedes their acquisition of the latter’s customs, and even their secretly professed Protestant faith separates them like a bronze wall. The Creole type is constituted of a colorless variety, undoubtedly charming under the aesthetic or intellectual aspect, but she does not offer the original caprices and the enchanting chiaroscuro of the perfect Creole woman. They seem bleak and even cold-hearted, but there are always famous exceptions, and, based on certain examples, there will be no shortage of them in the future. It is equally possible that they give assiduous concern to scandalous chronicles.

The Creole woman’s education is very poor; it does not exceed the previously described Indian woman’s education by much. She usually receives it at the home run by lay sisters or in the Saint Isabel school, a pious institution founded in the 17th century to accommodate


Spanish orphans. Through the course of time, it has significantly degenerated. It appears that its history is full of tooth and nail fights and love affairs; but what collection of Spanish women has not provided the dramatic poet with affairs, their beaus with anger, and valor with occasions to show itself? It is precisely because of this that they are so beautiful and so loved– that is, due to their effort to maintain their mother, Eve’s, traditions pure. Today, it is possible that fighting tooth and nail does not occur, though I do not guarantee it, but I believe that love does happen, since the majority of Creole women, who increase the Philippine population, leave there and go directly to the altar.

From the sad genesis that I traced at the beginning, a history, no less sad, is deduced. The poor Creole child’s first years are spent almost entirely in the darkness of orphanage or in the abyss of abandonment. Her true existence begins when a 1,500 or 2,000 peso employee takes her out of the Saint Isabel college to make her his wife. At this point, the schoolgirl is transformed and can even become the exclusive topic of all conversations for many days. Why do we find it odd that the first ray of sun blinds and flusters her? In addition, her education predisposes her to all types of nonsense. She is constantly adulated, in a thousand different ways, the most fantastic being: “You are the queen of this country. Your parents found it at the bottom of the sea and your priests pulled it out of the bottomless ocean of barbarity. Your brothers govern it today and they will govern for many centuries, unless they insist otherwise. Nature is beautiful, perfumes are so penetrating, and the land is so rich because of and for you. You are a white woman with six million olive-skinned slaves.” The poor child truly believes that if she marries a Spaniard… all these dreams will come true. In her mind, the volatile wage of 2,000 pesos equals more than all the combined incomes of Lacondola’s (the last indigenous king) ancestors, placed at his feet by right of conquest. Since everything is a novelty, she flings herself at it all with total frenzy. It is the eager dove that sees the fable’s painted well. [135]

If the prudent and well-prepared husband takes her to Europe on their honeymoon to calm her blood’s ardor, upon returning, she has actually acquired a more exact notion of her state and social duties. She talks less, thinks more, and no longer believes that her quality as a Spaniard is a safe-conduct for all her extravagances and caprices. She has seen herself in a country where her Castilian face and accent are completely useless, they do not provide distinction or even the right to be greeted on the street. She has seen that these famous 2,000 pesos can belong to any rogue that, as if by magic, knows how to seize the chair of the Minister of Ultramar without having to conquer an inch of land or even know the definition of a conquistador. She has seen that a carriage in Madrid’s Prado is worth more and costs more than an entire carriage repair shop in Escolta. She has seen women who spend 2,000 pesos a year, which she thought symbolized her right of conquest, on whitewash and vermillion;


in short, the poor Creole woman has seen such stupendous things that her stretched imagination stops like a horse that has been shot in the chest.

She is now the embryo of a woman. The form depends on the artist. Her husband continues to be prudent and she will perfect herself; in these matrimonies, unfortunately, the stronger one tends to be the first to use their errors to authorize those of the weaker half. Once again, her natural instincts regain their empire, friendship its privilege, habit, customs, indifference between good and bad, and it results in the Creole woman becoming a true mestiza during her last years, in the sense that our readers have given to this word, remembering the images we have already depicted.

Religious-pedagogical institutions, lay sisters’ houses, children of the ardent charity of the first Philippine settlers, are colleges that subject its pupils to cloistral rule. Like all useful institutions that resist the devastating vertigo of the modern era, the Monastic Orders founded and protected them and today, they live exclusively off of them. The first one to be established was Saint Dominic in 1696, dedicated to Saint Catherine of Siena, with a Spanish Creole as its directress. The second one was Saint Sebastian, created in 1719 by four maiden Indians, not long afterwards, the Recollect Priests placed it under their protection. Saint Rose dates to 1736 and was founded by a Catalan nun in the same way that the Jesuits created Saint Ignatius or the Company, which is currently under the vigilance of the Archbishop’s Vicar-General. The last, most modern one is located in Pasig, near Manila, and is only for Indians.

Through a moderate tutelage– so moderate that it is very poor in some of these lay sisters’ houses– they educate the women, not so much for society as for the family. (We will remind the reader, nonetheless– so as not to accept unnecessary responsibilities– that we touched upon this subject in the Introduction.) Clausure is observed in almost all of them, although in truth, it is not very strict, thereby permitting Indian canonic constitutions, and they tend to go out for strolls in groups during the holidays. During this time, they use a special outfit: a black dress skirt, a purple shawl that covers the top half of the body, and a white veil, which is not as tight around the face as the ones worn by the nuns, but rather drapes over like a hood. The Spanish Creoles distinguish themselves by their use of the old Castilian veils, the poetic and traditional veil, which they wear with elegant carelessness, indubitably conserving the famous half-covered eye, which in Calderon’s and Lope’s comedies have so much to do with handsome young men and justice. Under the instruction of a Prioress, they learn feminine labors, such as reading and writing, as well as some music– a recently introduced innovation. Handiwork and housework, chapel, and lessons alternately consume her hours from dawn until eight or nine at night, when they retire to rest for the night. Some develop such an attachment to the house that, if they do not find a husband on the earth, they die there of old age and others, who become childless widows, lock themselves within these walls that remind them so much of their childhood. The fact that mysterious figures constantly wander around the houses’ gardens


should not surprise any who remember that this institution pertains to the era in which strange courtiers of nuns existed in Spain. Who uproots a spontaneous plant from a society like ours that identifies with the substance and qualities of the land?

In some rare cases, they offer the hands in marriage of Creole women who were not raised in Saint Isabel, in the lay sisters’ house, or in any recently established college, such as Constance, directed by the sisters of Charity. They are the daughters of Spaniards dedicated to commerce or industry or of high ranking military officials that retreat there to continue enjoying an inexpensive and spoiled life. Finally some are born to old families that emigrated from Mexico and these invented, like a nickname for the Creoles who have suddenly fallen on them, the vulgar appellative composed of the word palay and another, somewhat foul and very sickening word. Although the lines are imperceptible and separate, there is nothing easier than distinguishing between the different origins; from the first glance at that society, one discovers a mixed group of castes united after a titanic and centuries-old struggle in two admirable seals: the Catholic religion and the Indian woman’s potent nature.

This last type of woman is often confused with the pure Spaniard due more to her customs than her sentiments. Honorable wives, excellent mothers of families, serious in their speech and judgment, demure in behavior, they would not be distinguished from the Spanish women if they did not have a vehement love for the country, an irresistible tendency to influence public matters, and certain evil guiles of the customs, which we should call abuse of this influence instead. Once the time for love has passed (which as a dominant and exclusive passion, does not tend to last very long in them), one can say that they devote their existence to the exploitation of resources placed in their hands by the law of races and of the Indies. Almost all of them are connected to Spaniards, therefore, close to the Authorities, which represent the lively strengths of the country for them, they form the largest nucleus of good Philippine society; they set the tone, direct events, and conveniently counterbalance the influence of the mixed races, which, lacking patriotic memories, are elements that become more worthy of attention each day, according to a political point of view.

We regret that we cannot disregard some observations, which will sadly close this work, but they cannot escape the impartial and

conscientious observer who is more attentive to the essence rather than the form of things. In this study of social character and critique, if we had not stopped reflecting with the exactitude that our poor intelligence permits to the present state of the Archipelago, the great anthropological problems of constant turmoil, and mutual understanding of all races contained in every colonial country, perhaps we would create a curious, beautifully literary work; but we would not fulfill the important duty that all authors with elevated spirits have of telling the truth when their country encounters supreme crisis. Hence, upon penetrating beyond the surface of Philippine society, upon studying its predominant element as


a summary and synthesis of the other elements, force is for us the appreciation of the direction in which it moves and the fatal results that can occur through its temporal and spatial development.

The Creole shakes hands with the mestizo and the pure Indian, without inciting hate in the latter or the contempt that the former incites, but rather, inspiring the instinctive respect that the Spaniard inspires in him. Due to their natural love for the land, Creoles even make the effort to speak to the Indians in their dialects, something that compliments them and unites them more and more. A truly minute society, in both ancient and current times (well, even today it would be difficult to find 100 families in the entire Archipelago), their principal occupation is to discuss public matters, in which they are completely entangled, and to discuss them, not only with us, but also with the Indians, which is much more serious. Speaking of purity in reference to women– who are the most dangerous because they preserve sagacious intellectual faculties that are diminished and debilitated in the Creole until they appear to be a crepuscule of Spanish intelligence– the women pass their lives, I say, in constant gossip regarding things and people. When communication difficulties and the tranquil state of Spain enclosed this discussion within local limits, passions were often poisoned, hate and quarrels were engendered, and even grave conflicts amongst governmental elements emerged, but they died where they were born in an appropriate manner; in general, they did not harm local interests and much less those of the Metropolis. Today, things have changed considerably. Administrative abuses, scandals, violations, foolish sermons, and before all and above all, the contemplations of contemptible representatives who, in those last years have sent Spain to its beautiful Philippine Islands, have almost completely destroyed our moral prestige and are giving the Creole race some of the character traits that have made it so fearsome in America.

Do not forget, then, that they are lazy, very lazy; blood ties are so distant and nationality is merely a vain name, especially if that blood and that nationality attract our compassion instead of respect and the people’s scorn instead of esteem. Do not forget that it is our fault that Creoles participate in all revolutionary deliriums and that they are not enlightened enough to appreciate the difficulties of their application in that country. Do not forget, by God, that they were the ones to rouse the indigenous races in all the colonies, the ones who ripped off the veils of mystery that poeticized the conquistadors in the eyes of the Indians, and the ones who, in the mirror of their own weaknesses, are constantly making ours look exaggerated and darker. They are almost the only ones who still treat their workers cruelly; almost the only ones who do business with their necessities and miseries; almost the only ones, in sum, who maintain the bad tradition of antiquated, abusive conduct, at the same time, it is the Creoles, who encourage administrative corruption, so as to present it to the Indian as an organic cancer that is inseparable from our domination. They are the ones who inspire the Generals and the Mayors to commit the errors that defame our


prestige, as well as the first ones to censure them, and they are the ones who constantly babble passion, concupiscence, foolishness into ears at every hour: “Macbeth, you will be king,” then turn to the people and say, in the same voice: “He has blasphemed. He deserves to die.

The solution to all these dangers is the Creole woman, who is so noble, so intelligent, such a good patrician, to such an extent that a talented administration could make a Roman matron out of her; but what was a dream it is to not have to wait for it today!

Madrid, March 1874.





Sunt mihi bis septem præstanti corpore Nymphæ.


The subject at hand has always been treated delicately in the periods in which gallantry bore the sanction of a public institution. Yet, there are degrees of such gentlemanly respect toward the fairer sex of our species.

I prefer a happy medium for my observations. It is necessary for me to be strengthened by it in order to avoid abysses and the fate suffered by Ulysses’ shipmates who were too sensitive to the sirens’ seductive song. These precautions are even more necessary since I have crossed the equinoctial line.

Argentine women are neither a unique nor exceptional type. Yet, this is precisely the problem that arises when trying to study them, apart from the sanctuaries whose approach is imprudent.

The first matter presented is that of race. We are descendants of those Andalusians who not only accompanied Solís [137] on his first discovery expeditions on the east coast of America, but also of those who arrived successively on the caravels of other navigators and founders of settlements in these vast regions. The conquests of their valiant arms and love, whose boundaries of courtesy were sometimes overstepped around subjugated people, became the garden of a lineage, which, even today, has managed to maintain the marks of its origin for over three centuries.

But, this is an ancient chronicle. Let us speak now of the porteña [138] This daughter of


Buenos Aires, the ancient metropolis of an immense viceroyalty that serves today as the provisional capital of a confederated republic, deserves and has obtained the honors of history, poetry, and art. Its characteristic feature is grace. It would be arduous to analyze the essence or the tinges of such an envied privilege. It is suffice to feel it and admire it.

Ever since the stream of immigration has brought pilgrims of all nationalities to these beaches, the primitive being has experimented alteration. The mixture of European blood with American blood is noticed in the new generations, beautified with the pale roses of the North or with the golden threads of the forgotten Apollo.

Woman, since her Christian regeneration, has advantageously substituted herself for the ancient pagans’ domestic deities. She has the power of her home’s numens and we can say that she wields celestial providence.

Argentine sociability can be compared to modern, advanced cities, even though it has not reached the maturity and the perfection to which we aspire.

Wives, mothers, and sisters fulfill the mission of peace and sacrifice that nature has reserved for them. Endowed with the exalted sensitivity that is inherent in Latin people, they fulfill their duties not with the tenacity of routine, but rather with the rapture of enthusiasm or with exquisite perception. If they commit errors, they are easily forgiven because of their tears and sometimes with the frankness of their confessions. If education has not prepared them for jobs of a higher understanding, this does not impede them from becoming a societal ornament due to their aptitude of assimilating the impressions and dominant ideas of the class to which they pertain.

The porteña is inclined toward devotion and she submits herself (to a good degree) to the fascinating influx of religious pomp. Nevertheless, neither superstition nor fanaticism shall prevail among the River Plate’s daughters.

On the contrary, the frequency of mixed marriages produces a result that is not very praiseworthy; some of the country’s young women have abandoned their own beliefs in order to adopt those of their husbands, while others have fallen into an indifference that can turn out to be fatal for both their children and themselves.


The society’s general tone is a combination of the persistent bad habits of outdated simplicity and ultramarine etiquette and manners. Yet, in a country


where the aristocracy does not exist, distinctions between manners, clothing, and behavior are never well-defined.

Noble blood and genealogical markers have been outcast like ancient simulacrum, which nobody invokes to serve as a title for others’ consideration. Ideas in this country have flipped more rapidly than in any other section of the American Continent. Different beliefs have been established each day by wealth, whose continuous sways change the aspects that define family and the expansive life that money almost always invites.

The gradations that determine diverse occupations and tastes, according to position and capital, hardly exist. Here, much is sacrificed to a vain ostentation, although penuries and anguish lay hidden under the most delicate fabrics.


This is the opportunity to indicate that the artifacts and all the luxury items that Europe invents or elaborates with inexhaustible variety, find a vast consumer demand in the Plate markets, especially in Buenos Aires. All the seasonal products for personal ornamentation in vogue in France, England, Germany, and the United States, are purchased here, where they are prodigiously transformed in the hands of designers who, as arbitrators of elegance, decide the quality of a color, the novelty of a ribbon, and the size of feathers than should wave atop a hat. The invitation comes from Paris (the eternal focus of all types of irradiations), which relies on the fascination of its gentile propaganda with its battalion of female laborers, who are spread across the rest of the world, and on the credulity of thousands of parishioners.

Of course, bills cannot wait and the reach of its figures is dissimulated by a barbaric terminology that, pronounced still more barbarically and admitted in the dressing ritual, will cause the perpetual desperation of the Real Academia Española.[139]

Manual industries, as well as the arts on the other side of the Atlantic, enrich the collection in which vanity or the spirit of blind imitation is entranced.

We do not believe that superior discernment presides over the use of such costly trivialities, which are most likely reserved for solemn occasions. But silks, blond lace, and velvets are lavished upon them. They wear them to shows, on strolls, to the theater, and on the street, where she jumps with that immense apparatus to preserve it from the mud.

Many conservatives have remained loyal to the Spanish mantilla and in truth they have no reason to regret it. They prefer it during Holy Week.

They also tend to prefer the ostentatious over the useful and some precious jewels do not compensate


for the essential lack of other resources that, though less visible, are nonetheless indispensable for what positive England calls comfort at home.

The inconveniences of superfluous expenses are diminished with riches and with the splendid advantage of patronizing artists and the manufacturers. Yet, here, all the classes compete in this battle of lace and fabric. There is no estimate for any of them.


Factories and workshops for women do not exist in the proper Republic (there are rare exceptions).

Dressmaking occupies thousands of hands to service specialty shops or by State orders; but these labors are executed in the domicile.

Rural industry only occupies a scarce minority of the population. The manufacturing of cheeses and butter, shearing, the preparation of figs and raisins, the cultivation or sale of flowers in country houses, the knitting of vicuna blankets and ponchos, the care of poultry corrals, oven-baked confections, and the provision of guest lodgings, are the usual options for people that have no other genre of options. Domestic service– which is not distinguished by punctuality, honor, or cleanliness, and which battles against the preference awarded to foreigners– is among these.



The Argentine woman, because of her qualities and even her defects, has exercised incontestable influx in the country’s luck since the Revolution of 1810.

The intuition of higher truths that were proclaimed by the political order, the fascination with new theories, the revitalizing air of liberty, the fever that possessed the multitudes in the great crises of their histories– everything agitated and elevated the spirit of my countrywomen.

Their patriotic exaltation reached the height of heroism. Valor in the face of adversity, fortitude when confronting dangers to themselves or their loved ones, these are testaments to the ardor that has unfolded all the way to Mars. There, the blue and white flag has been seen waving in tribute to the heroines who, like Tasso’s, [140] inspired or demanded the sweetest sentiments so as to give their patriotism a more romantic tinge.

Ever since the illustrious Minister Rivadavia [141] instilled a society composed of the cream of the crop of our women; instruction and public charity have counted on the important educational establishments created under his patronage. Throughout the passage of many years, the Government and the country have congratulated themselves regarding the praise-worthy results of these institutions, which have been imitated with less success in the Confederation’s other provinces.



Nothing in Buenos Aires recalls the Rambouillet’s Hotel, or salons in which an elegant frivolity tends to dispute the distinction of ingenuity and knowledge. Yet, they do not lack crowds to which they can show off their gifts or charming talents.

Love of reading is generally limited to people of comfortable circumstances. The insufficiency of knowledge, however, does not impede the discussion of all topics, even in mediocre circles, not excluding political debates, which repeat the errors or dislikes of the house’s owner.

The most useful and pleasant garment is hospitality. Not long ago, a simple foreign recommendation was a title to be admired.

The immense influx of immigrants after the fall of Governor Rosas [142] in 1852 has cooled down the pleasant confidence.

The openness of lodging a traveler today is more notable in the interior of the Republic. The traveler asks to be lodged in a mansion, a farmhouse, or a poor ranch; although he will be delayed or stay longer, the joviality with which he is greeting each morning, served mate, [143] or honored with a roast are no less agreeable.

Under other aspects, Buenos Aires lacks the originality which embellishes the most common episodes.

The Club del Progreso [144] dances, the invitation-only soirees, and the not always ingenious masks of the indescribable Carnival have substituted the impromptu social gatherings in which the neighborhood young ladies invited each other and the gentlemen invited themselves or were acquaintances of the nephew of the woman who lived across the street. Luxury is banned from these innocent reunions; back then, inexpensive jasmines were pinned to their jet black hair or on their virginal breast in the place of jewels.

Even during the summer countryside seasons, clothes are tighter and more painstakingly adorned. The boudoir, complete with perfumes and dressing provisions, has come to be the same in both the metropolis and small villages, where such a bothersome nuisance does not allow country excursions, caprices, or fun with the same joy experienced in the past.


It is more difficult to describe customs when they transform or are modified in a short amount of time, which tends to occur in new communities. Here, that influence


manages to invade even the huts in the desert, and primitive peoples will soon be romantic legends of the past.

However, some significant customs are preserved beneath a few rustic roofs. There is always a guitar player– the instrument that has already abdicated its empire, ceding it to others which are recommended more often because of their novelty or harmonic combinations. That musician, whom the god Pan would not have repudiated as a student, plays and sings Cielito, [145] a Creole dance that imitates some Spanish dances in which Andalucía salt is sprinkled and a type of combat between modesty and impudence is enacted.

As in all southern climates, music and song inspire a fantastic pleasure in all Argentineans. The melodies of the best operas and the pure voice of some girl inspired by the favor of the muses are often heard through window grates or discreet blinds that face the street at odd hours of the night.

The love for theater is general– especially when it comes to lyrical theater– and it is a field that takes advantage of the girls’ ability to throw flowers and handkerchiefs at the proscenium. Therefore, it is not strange that commentary regarding the performance, and even the off-stage peripetia, makes up a large part of female theater-goers’ conversation in the “women’s gallery”– that Olympus inaccessible to the profane, where the fan is their scepter and where they rule over inferior regions with a look or even scorn.

Not long ago, matrimony– Eden for some, an arid pitfall for others, a walk in the park for few– was the usual result of spoiled or thwarted love. At times, the lovers (as refined as Teruel’s) were unable to pay the ecclesiastical charges without the benignancy of a godfather. Their dowries were not as extensive as those of princesses, but their passion allowed them to see their present penuries through rose-colored glasses and they imagined an even happier future. Youth covered the background of the painting with its veil of light and they had to capitulate with the caprices and madness of love.

During this current year of grace, things have changed in appearance. Trivial yet imperious necessities of a house that will be established are calculated much more coolly; we determine whether the lady of our thoughts is, by any chance, her uncle’s heiress. A veil is cast over a bride’s age if she is lucky enough to appear as a proprietress in the registry of direct contribution or in the Bank as a depositor. Apart from that, none of this is strange: here, as in other places, progress’ courses are obeyed and mathematics has banished idylls.

It is fair to remember, in the middle of such mundane miseries, that the married woman is almost always consecrated with holy abnegation to the care of her husband and children. She does not entrust their care to a wet nurse who lives far away, and day and night she tenderly watches over her infant’s crib. If filial gratitude is a duty in the entire country, here, it is a profound necessity ardently engraved in the heart, where nature has recorded its instincts.



The physical and moral divergences between the daughters of this distinguished group of communities, which form the Republic of Argentina, are not very accented.

The native type is more genuinely preserved in the country’s interior than in Buenos Aires. The hair and skin are darker. Indigenous blood clearly circulates through the veins of that plentiful class, which they call china, which is used as a synonym for Indians. The black and mestizo races give new tinges to the panorama. They are almost completely reduced to servile conditions though it is not odd to see some of these people, who do not pertain to an honorable, generous lineage, amongst military ranks, working jobs, and climbing the steps of fortune.

In the coastal Provinces, we see the daughters of Santa Fe who have the same likes and habits as those of their Buenos Aires sisters. Yet, each day, that region loses its origins due to the founding of agricultural colonies by foreigners.

The women from Corrientes– among which one can see many with blue eyes and rosy complexions– speak Guaraní, a language which is becoming extinct. They sing songs in Guaraní under the dense branches or under the clear moon, leaving a profound impression on the listener, like the echo of that which will never return. – The climate’s heat invites baths. Perhaps those playful naiads who know how to swim, as well as row or dare to approach the rough, crystalline currents, abuse these baths. – If he discreetly passes through the second patio at certain hours, the painter, who over-dedicates himself to such anatomic contemplation and uses brave brush strokes to reproduce semi-dressed images with the pretext of studying human forms, can find models worthy of not only the canvas, but also of marble and alabaster, in the markets, plazas, and small and coastal villages.

In the countryside of Entre-Ríos, strong women abound, though they are too tanned from the sun and the elements. The peasant girls (the gaucho’s daughters or wives) often merit the verses written by a poet for the famous Doña Marina, who accompanied Cortés on his Mexican adventures, because these traits are similar:

“Virile and very beautiful Amazon.” [146]

The traveler will also remember from time to time, while in one of those mansions or estates of the region bathed by the Paraná River and the Uruguay River, or on the ranches, Cervantes’ eulogy to an unrivaled heroine:

"She, whose full features may be here descried,
High-bosomed, with a bearing of disdain,
Is Dulcinea, she for whom in vain
[The great Don Quixote of La Mancha sighed.]”[147]


In effect, just watch one of those graceful Entre-Ríos women fearlessly mount wild horses, chase or heard livestock, and enter mountainous regions where she not only comes across wild animals but bandits as well.

In the Providence of Santiago, the people are poor and their customs cannot be refined in the middle of a continuous penury, within a climate that incites fatigue and under a political situation that has frustrated the entire solid organization. There, the women work harder than the men.

The Tucumán Indians are celebrated for their beauty and affability. There, the brides do not have to order their orange blossom garlands from merchants since they can personally weave them with flowers from the most delightful orange groves that grow in the valleys and hillsides.

The Tucuman daughters distinguished themselves through their patriotic enthusiasm in the epopee of our independence.

We do not believe that there are any significant differences between the Jujuy, Salta, Catamarca, and Rioja– cities destined for development that could signify a lavish future for the latter two due to the mineral richness that they contain. This would thereby produce profound changes in their culture and customs.

Those born in Mendoza, San Luis, and San Juan form the better adornment of a region enriched by the gifts of Pomona and Bacchus but jolted by the subterranean fires that threatened Herculanum and Pompeii with catastrophe.

The women of Córdova are extremely devout, which does not impede the delicacy of their manners. Their way of speaking sounds like a song. The melancholic mysticism of certain contemplative souls contrasts with the courtly brilliance that is occasionally displayed in the city of Córdova, the old Salamanca of South America.

We do not need to multiply these sketches and we repeat that the social nuances perceived when going from one territory to another in the Argentine Confederation are not as pronounced as its geographical accidents.


The previous observations display the uniformity of a type of woman and the simultaneous alteration that is noticed in the personalities of the inhabitants of a vast region of Southern America open to all invasions of other races’ tempers.

During the colonial period, domestic customs were similar to those of the Spanish Provinces, still uncontaminated by the fury of innovations.

Wake early, drink mate, devoutly attend Mass, exercise the labors of a simple house, eat at two or three in the afternoon, keep an extra dove for Sundays, take a nap during the summer, go for a stroll at sunset, drink more mate, pray the Rosary, receive intimate visitors, and finally, eat dinner: this was the daily schedule observed by our grandfathers before political emancipation


interrupted the peacefulness of existence and opened other horizons to fantasy and pride.

Since then, that envied silence disappeared, especially as twilight approached us.

Even the best in viability have dissipated picturesque customs. Today, people travel on trains or tramways. Before, when traveling to the country, people preferred to ride ox-pulled carts, which slowly transported not just people, but also the family’s belongings when they planned on spending the fruit season in San Fernando, or visit the San Isidro baths, or go fishing in Las Conchas, or breathe the comforting air in San José de Flores. – Horseback riding, now rare, was also a planned activity in which novice Amazons gracefully took the reins of a steed, a son of the Pampa. The male riders went along, proud of their female companions and inscribed these excursions in the golden pages of their life story.

Some of the memories of my youth offer an extremely imperfect plan for an always pleasantly-observed, familiar method.

At the age of 14, my father sent me on a vacation to a friend’s farm, so as to fortify my health. He was a married gentleman and had eight or nine children– the eldest was merely a year older than me. That essentially Argentine house was a haven of the purist joy. The head of the family attempted to reestablish the rest of his fortune, which had been plentiful, through his assiduous dedication. I have compared the lady of the house to the strong woman mentioned in the Scripture. It is impossible to find a more similar personality or a more serene face. Not once did I see her outwardly upset. The boys obeyed her sweet voice as if it were a mysterious talisman. She, who had, at another time, lived a life of opulence, carried out the various household chores without the help of a servant. I rudely abandoned the care of my clothes and my bed; and I still remember that, accompanying her in the carriage, she handled the horses’ reins while I allowed myself to roll along.

The poor people of those surrounding areas would come by to consult with her about their ailments and she attended to the most inopportune people with a charming patience.

I still remember her candid manners and her smile. After a day of useful work, she entertained herself by taking walks, accompanied by one of her children, and she would often stop suddenly to admire the sunset, which signaled for her the end of a work day consecrated to maternal piety and virtue.

Now, from that modest but comfortable refuge, I will transport the reader to a different, manorial house, which both I and a guest visited.

We arrived at 2:00 on a very hot day at a house with spacious corridors, situated very close to the Paraná shores, which is famous for its savage majesty and the salubriousness of its waters.

We entered a cool living room with antique furniture where


order and cleanliness reigned. A woman with an agreeable and dignified aspect, dressed in mourning, welcomed us in with the gracious courtesy of a princess in her feudal castle. I knew she was a widow and that, although she had been one for many years, she had decided to no longer wear anything other than black. This proprietress lived there with her two brothers who, at that moment, distilled fruits, which were profusely harvested at the hacienda.

I separated myself from the others to contemplate the river and venture deep into the shady forest, whose fruits, at that time, flaunted garnet and golden colors. My business there was not very intellectual: it was reduced to eating as many peaches as I could, having to reject with the disdain of one who is full the most delicious peaches of Christianity.

When I returned step by step from my exploratory excursion, I found the table set: the cleanliness of the tablecloths stimulated appetite for the food, whose abundance recalled that found by D.Don Quixote in the “Knight of the Green Riding-coat.”

Yet, all this paled in comparison to the impression caused by a young woman, whose light eyes reflected candor, with pomegranate lips and rosy cheeks.

During the meal, the conversation was somewhere between grave and delightful. Everyone spoke except for the girl, who did nothing but stare at the lady of the house and smile at my story regarding my fill of peaches, which I related without any embarrassment and without hiding their quality or quantity.


We have already mentioned the talents bestowed upon the body and spirit of those women who, without poetic strain, can be called the “Nymphs of the River Plate.”

A severe impartiality will lead us to trace the opposite side of this coin. Yet, we believe that such a task will neither reveal anything new nor interest strangers.

Civilization’s refinements produce vices to which a great number of women who, not having relied upon any material advantages or morals to improve their condition or elevate the sentiment of their dignity, become bound.

Those eternal types, traced by the expert hand of poets and authors, also have a high-relief. Here, as in the five parts of the world, there are hypocritical devout women, intriguing loose women, girls quick to allow themselves to be robbed, unscrupulous wives, easily-consoled widows, mother-in-laws with ferocious tempers, feigned aunts, and maids, to which the verses of an ancient comedy could be applied:

“You go about with little shame,
Very restless Cristina,
And with discreet points,
You drop a thousand hints of madness.” [148]


We are persuaded that these shadows will soften under education’s atmosphere, which is actively disseminated. In addition, it eagerly attempts to multiply the facilities for an honest subsistence, uniting the press, Government, and community in this generous purpose.

It appears that, in order to reach more practical goals, it would be convenient to better adapt the instruction of the proletariat class to the role of subaltern, which is condemned to exist everywhere. The place of refinement for secure or brilliant positions prefers the rudiments that prepare them for the struggle of those who must earn their daily bread. An assiduous and economical woman is more useful to most husbands than one who embroiders cushions in the drawing-room or writes the sweetest poetry.


And you, kind compatriots, do not be over solicitous in asking pilgrims for inventions or luxurious extravagances– the charms that nature lavished on you. Men of the most distant nations on the globe have come to pay you tribute with their ardent admiration, and those who have remained forever imprisoned in sweet chains are innumerable. Your climate communicates dangerous electricity for your selves, more dangerous, still, for those that have contemplated you. You will find slaves of our victorious tyranny everywhere. The “pampero[149] communicates his serene happiness to you, the air’s flower is his perfume. Our thoughts wander in the deserts’ immensities or confuse themselves with the blue sky.

Wedding garlands, banquet laughter, airy dances, and juvenile frenzies are all like the breezes that animate the Homeric games played in the summits of Mount Erymanthos by Greek maidens, the muses’ rivals.

But you, oh Argentine women! You are called to nobler fates. Instead, you remember Israel’s examples. Their virgins, beautiful and intelligent like Rachael and Esther, would unite under the palm trees to study the law, sing praises to Jehovah and remember the innocence of white lambs destined for holocaust. The thoughts of those Eastern daughters were no less sublime when, while captive in Babylon, they suspended their harps from the river’s willows and lifted up harmonious prayers for their homeland’s liberty.

Buenos Aires, January 1877.






My dear, esteemed friend,

I have read your much-appreciated letter, dated February 20, which related D.Don Miguel Guijarro’s interest in having me write one of the chapters that would appear in his “Gallery of Spanish and American Women,” whose prologue was written by the profound orator, Cánovas del Castillo, and the principal collaborators include your brilliant father and my dead friend, D.Don Eugenio de Ochoa, D.Don Emilio Castelar, and other literary eminencies of the same caliber.

This single circumstance would be sufficient to frighten any person who, like myself, is not qualified to stand alongside such justly-developed reputations; I am sure you know, dear friend, that I have not frequented the delightful field of literature given that I am barely a recruit in the ardent battles of journalism, exclusively consecrated to a political life, always expressing my thoughts with more rudeness than elegance.

Yet, since you are the person Mr. Guijarro chose to present me with the honor of the inclusion of both myself and my country with the goal of having the description of the women of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay figure into a work destined to create a contact zone for the Hispanic American race, I will make a supreme effort to overcome my natural and prudent fear, since knowing how to defeat fear is valiant, as Ercilla [150] once said, at least so as to dispel more than one concern that is deeply-rooted in many Old World erudite minds regarding the manners and customs of the lands that were previously Spanish colonies.

Now that this has been established, the first question that arises is this:

Does the woman from the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, by any chance, constitute a diverse type of woman, such as that found in Europe?

This question, which I only now have begun to contemplate and which has obligated me to


describe a creature who offers some novelty to the readers of this Gallery (especially the female readers who are more inclined toward primitive sin, according to biblical legend), can be negatively resolved.

The Uruguayan woman’s physique is seen in Andalucía, Biscay, Cataluña, Valencia, and Castile; we can find her body type in France, Italy, and soon, we will find it in England and Germany.

The same occurs in small variants regarding morals.

In order to understand my assertions, one merely needs to look at a map. The Oriental Republic of Uruguay is located on the eastern limits of the River Plate and the Uruguay River (from which it gets its name) and has access to the best ports on the mouth of the former and on the complete extension of the latter. Montevideo is the principal city, as the River Plate cannot be reached without passing through the capital of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay; during the colonial period, military or commercial expeditions to the Viceroyalty of Buenos Aires could not be carried out without using Montevideo as the precise port of arrival, which, due to its relative security, has always been the chosen squadron station since the Conquest.

It is here that the most contact with the foreigner occurs, it is where ties between families of all social classes stem; this occurs in such a way that if some remainders of the primitive races Solis found upon discovering the territory (which today composes the Oriental Republic of Uruguay) have endured, they would be so adulterated that a profound physiological study would be required to find their particular physiognomy.

On the other hand, the territory comprising the Oriental Republic of Uruguay (also due to its topographical position) has become the battleground for boundary disputes between the Spanish and Portuguese in that part of the American Continent. Consequently, the Payagua and Charrua Indian tribes ventured into the Argentine Pampas and the Gran Chaco soon after the Conquest and disappeared.

The extensive zone that, today, forms the Republic (which was alternatively occupied by the Spanish and their derivatives or by the Portuguese and the Brazilians), is populated by two generations that no longer recognize the primitive type that populated the hillsides at the time of the discovery, despite everything claimed by the geography and history teacher, Mr. Bouillett. [151] 24


In corroboration with what I have described, I merely need to call your attention to a creature that forms the charm of the Hispano-American Circle of salons in Paris, born in the city that inspired an Argentine poet, upon seeing it for the first time, to exclaim:

“Coquettish city, you smile
Upon seeing the flags
Of powerful nations
Flutter atop rich vessels” [152]

This creature defied the most refined men from every famous country for the production of celestial women who disdain this eastern pearl, which you are acquainted with and whose moral and physical qualities are similar. I am sure that everyone would like to vindicate this woman for themselves– or rather, for their nationality– if it were not contrary to the commandments of Christian doctrine, which prohibit us from coveting our neighbor’s property.

Yet, I notice that your letter is accompanied by a plan we must comply with when describing the types of women. According to this plan, it is necessary to describe the woman’s mannerisms in her home, in the countryside, in the cities, at church, at festivities, at workshops, and in salons, as well as her character, typical dress, manners, customs, religious beliefs, beauty, defects, concerns, and qualities.

In the domestic sphere, the woman of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay begins as an effusive daughter because, just as the daughters of our Spanish ancestors, her parents spoil her: – she is a loving wife because, thank God, our embryonic societies still do not practice transactions in virtue, in which a woman goes from loving parental arms to the arms of a man whose heart is a mystery for her and, consequently, she does not give him hers. Sacrosanct worship is still paid to passion, which simultaneously involves great displeasures and nobly agitates the soul’s fibers that vibrate because of the delicate sentiments transmitted by women of our race, like Saint Teresa of Jesus and Doña Inés de Castro, whose memory has been perpetuated in poetic splendor through the verses engraved on her tombstone of the fountain of the Coimbra Lovers by the finest Lusitanian poet. I cannot resist the temptation to recall:

“The nymphs of Mondego long remembered
That dark death with mourning,
And their tears were transformed
To a fountain in eternal memory;
Its name, ‘the Loves of Inês,’
Who wandered there, still endures.
Fortunate the flowers that bloom above
Such waters, such tears, telling of Love!” [153]


sentiments that predispose the sublime abnegation used to survive misfortune.

The nature or character of our women is sweet, like the warmth of home, since Fénelon’s [154] and Aimée Martin’s doctrines are still practiced there and daughters are not set away in order to provide them with a literary education– though this is very lucid from the point of view of an intellectual, it almost always destroys or reduces the sweet, heartfelt affections by relaxing family ties. That sweetness develops and grows as she takes her first steps in the world, in which, perhaps, she enters too early because in America, a true veneration is paid to the woman; there, modesty and innocence do not have courtesans as rivals who elevate vice to stunning proportions, flaunting themselves in Madrid’s Prado, in Paris’ Bois of Boulogne, or in London’s Hyde Park, startling virgin hearts, who frequently see the object of their love compromised by these easy conquests. They transition from childhood to adolescence without any more troubles than those that agitate the heart in honest passions.

The gentleness of our customs, along with the shortage of other distractions that abound in Europe, contribute to the popularity of the family gathering as the principle pastime for youths to such a degree that our girls find themselves surrounded by delicate attentions and, able to give unlimited expansion to the sweet affections of the soul, they become accustomed at an early age to use their charms to manipulate, making their entire power consist of love without the adornments imposed by the refinement of customs.

And since she who is a good daughter is normally a good wife, and since (with very rare exceptions) the American woman unites her future to the future of the man chosen by her heart, to whom she ties herself after a long and meditated courtship– the touchstone for souls in communication– she takes a wealth of affection to her husband’s home; in rare occasions, this diminishes to a level that, unfortunately, increases the voluminous catalogue of divorces in the Old World, or of the matrimonies that, when not tumultuous or agitated, drag along a course of indifference under the same roof.

And since the laws of harmony are subject to inflexible logic, the woman who was always caressed as a child, who, in the arms of a pure, holy, and selfless love, engenders offspring, must necessarily reflect the tender image of the impassioned mother in whose lap she was rocked from infancy until she opened her eyes to the light of intelligence.

As for me, I admit that I still see mine enveloped in that vaporous cloud that separates us from infinity, like the guardian angel of my childhood, always softening the severity imposed by the duties of the most honored of fathers, accustoming me to praise everything, including his severity.

During the prolonged siege suffered by Montevideo in its resistance against the tyranny that threatened to impose a sanguine dictator who has stained the pages


of Argentina’s history, [155] the eastern woman had the opportunity to manifest her outstanding moral qualities in all their splendor.

The Defense Government, [156] having exhausted all its resources, found it necessary to appeal to its inhabitants’ patriotism. All the families rivaled for the sacrifice of abnegation that would result in the indelible dignity of their generation. Cookware and wrought silver were sent to be minted into currency and even the jewels from our ladies’ dressing tables found their way to the homeland’s altar.

Since the Hospital de Caridad [157] could not assist all who were maimed by enemy bullets, they created improvised frontline hospitals and people who required indispensable aid were not the only ones sent there, but rather, the eastern ladies established themselves as sisters of Charity, competing for the glory of watching over patients from dusk till dawn.

Meanwhile, domestic service was scarce because all the men were soldiers and their wives had become sutlers; as a result, our ladies substituted for them, fulfilling the necessities of the home with enchanting elegance.

At night, the women who were not in the hospital received visits from friends and family, and spent time making dressings and bandages for wounds with the same complacency as when they all danced; the young women took turns serving mate 25 and it is said that this situation lasted a cool nine years.

No surrounded plaza presented a more amusing aspect, as the marine officials in the foreign squadrons, who were anchored in that port, can corroborate.

In the midst of the penuries of an overly tyrannical and strict situation, at night, when the thunder of the cannon had ceased, impromptu gatherings were held, with our women attending, wearing the most modest homemade dresses, without losing, but rather increasing, their natural charms and seductive countenance through simplicity; because, in my opinion, and please pardon my compatriots, false beauties do not stand out in the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, instead, enchantresses abound because of their grace and elegance and the delicacy of their figures.

I seem to be able to discern a somewhat malicious smile on the lips of a female reader, calling us hyperbolic, telling herself with disdainful air that our land is an Eden of perfection.

Allow me to explain.

In our land, as in other places, the perversion of the human heart is the exception to the rule: for human dignity, notions of good, justice, and beauty originate from innate emotions, while bad instincts arise from artificial causes that disfigure the perfect work produced by the Divine Architect of the universe.

This is why such causes are not as reasonable in countries where the


social scale does not establish the shocking inequalities that divide the people of the Old World, feeding the odiousness of the disinherited because misery in all of its deformity is unknown there since, instead, they experience general wellbeing and an ability to easily satisfy the primary necessities of life. Happiness reigns in the home; and in hearts where happiness reigns there is no room for sinister intentions. All the rest, including envy, jealousy, love of luxury, and all the evil passions that tend to torment women’s hearts, have produced and produce feminine monsters in America, just as they have produced, produce, and will continue to produce them across the globe; yet, due to the reasons mentioned, such freaks of nature are much rarer here.

Regarding religious beliefs, it has been said that the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church predominate, without concerns or sanctimoniousness, undoubtedly as an effect of what has already been announced regarding cosmopolitan societies, and also because ever since the Oriental Republic of Uruguay became a nation, one of the problems that still agitates many people in the Old World was resolved in its fundamental Constitution, which consecrated the freedom of religion.

Regarding the typical dress, manners, and customs, and knowing that Europe is in communication with a major part of the American Continent– to the point of sending five steamboats per month down the River Plate alone– and also noting that the number of voluntary immigrants that come from the principal centers of civilization increases daily, it is easy to comprehend why the same traditional dress, manners, and customs of the Spanish, French, Italians, and Germans prevail here, as these immigrants attempt to surround themselves with everything they considered comfortable in their respective countries.

Cosmopolitanism has penetrated these regions in this way, such that the Spanish peasant, who would never have abandoned his elders’ traditional garbs, relinquishes his traditional short undergarment, his pantaloons, his cloak, and his canvas sandals in exchange for trousers and a morning coat only a few days after having arrived in this country.

The program asks that we describe the woman’s defects, a subject which, just as that of age, requires that we approach it in the same gentle manner needed to walk across hot coals.

We should also describe their manners while in church and during festivities; in order to do so, it is suffice for me to direct the reader to any of the churches and theaters in Madrid, Seville, Barcelona, or Cadiz; because, as daughters of Spaniards, they have honorably conserved those traditions.

If we continue from the cities to the countryside, we will also find a loss of the particular gaucho physiognomy described by Sarmiento, [158] depicted in a group of paintings representing the Plate Republics, which millions of visitors came to see at the Paris Exposition of 1867.


Concerned with the thought of nourishing the novelty-loving spirit of bored societies, the three commissioners of those republics (who were all foreigners) had the strange idea of dressing two ugly wax figures in chiripá gaucho pants, undergarments, jackets, belts, and straw hats, then mounting each on badly-embalmed, saddled horses, with Indian women sitting on the haunches of each one, wearing cotton dresses and silk handkerchiefs on their heads. Those useless men did this in such a way that they left thinking that there was a nation where such dress was still used, believing, as usually happens with superficial spirits, the exception to be the rule.

There is no doubt that female gauchas are encountered in the interior of the Republic of Uruguay, but they share the same sentiments and manners with city women.

The women of our ranches have but one concern for which they live in solitude: love in all its manifestations. Yet, it is a love without romance, according to the American woman that was as beautiful as she was intelligent, who professed Alfred de Musset’s theory:

“After one has loved,
one loves forevermore.”[159]

She claimed that love is madness for the rational person and the only lucid moment for madmen in love.

Bound to a man, she consecrates herself to him, and it is for him and their children that she lives in the immense solitude of our fields, beneath thickets, with few distractions, beside a murmuring stream and whispering leaves, always in contemplation of the splendors of virginal nature; and for music, she listens to the chirping of the birds while her partner tends his livestock in the fields.

There is a tinge of pleasing melancholy that is undoubtedly due to this contemplative life; it predominates in the physiognomy of our country women– worthy daughters of the famous Maldonado, who, in order to maintain her sworn faith, fell victim to a brutal man’s pursuit.

I judge the opportunity to refer to the history of this American forest heroine because she reveals the emotional treasures that lie buried within the human heart, and how sweetness and love dominate even the most ferocious animals.

According to the legend, Maldonado was a beautiful village woman whose beauty and love affair with a native Indian provoked the concupiscence of one of the provision officers. In order to escape the tenacious pursuit of this man– who also murdered her lover– she hastily fled the city and wandered aimlessly through the countryside, harassed by hunger; as night fell, she entered a cave that would lead her to her destiny.

As soon as she had taken her first step, she discovered a formidable lioness. The beast was suffering the pains of a difficult labor; dominated by the suffering that silenced its ferocious instincts,


the lioness approached the being that had unexpectedly appeared in the cave, begging for help through groans.

Maldonado, through the innate instinct of her sex, understood the lioness’ trance despite the darkness, and began to caress her, massaging her abdomen, and aided nature in this way until the birth took place.

From that moment, the lioness did not leave the poor woman’s side, who, for several weeks shared the prey that served as nourishment for the cubs.

Alas! this situation only lasted until the cubs had the strength necessary to hunt their own prey, at which point the bonds of this peculiar family were broken. Finding herself abandoned, Maldonado had to leave this hiding place, but was captured by a group of Indians who still traveled through the territory known as Solis’ tomb.

I am aware that these characteristics of sublime abnegation are not the patrimony of those latitudes.

At the same time that Maldonado chose death over a love that her heart loathed, Lucia de Miranda– a native Spaniard who followed her husband, the courageous Sebastian Hurtado, a retinue Official for the Governor of the Santi Espiritu, [160] (a fortress founded at the mouth of the Carcarañá River leading to the West Paraná River under Gaboto’s orders) – provoked the slaughter of all the Spaniards who defended her for not ceding to the demands of the Cacique Mangora, chief of the Timbú tribe, who seized control of that area by way of treason.

If I could make myself an accomplice to those who hide history’s truths for the sake of producing an effect, I could simply describe a fantastic woman, dressed in feathers, with the charm of Madrid women, a speaker as elegant as those from Triana, mounted atop the contrabandists that can still be found in the Sierra Morena, bearing slight differences to the Chiripá Indians, wearing undergarments and riding boots instead of the short wool pant, dancing in a semi-circle to the sound of the guitar and improvising folk songs such as this:

“Tell me, dear friend,
Whom I want to ask,
How did the Virgin, upon giving birth,
Regain her maidenhead?”
To which this good friend responded:
“Toss a stone into the water,
It has to open and close;
Well, thus, the Virgin gave birth
And regained her maidenhead.”


There are still troubadours with the spark and cheerful wit that liven up gatherings that are held under lamplight on the outskirts of our rural communities.

Yet, dealing with a serious book, such as the one Mr. Guijarro wishes to publish, I do not find it appropriate to distort the spirit and tendencies of our new civilization in such a coarse manner. This new civilization germinates within the earth’s womb, which, for our mother Spain, seized the immortal Genovese traveler from time’s mysteries; it is a civilization destined to one day regenerate humanity.

Paris, April 1872.



(The Water Carrier)


In order to describe this woman with the care and accuracy required in this case, I must first engage in the description of the land of her birth, since her customs are necessarily related to the conditions to which she was submitted in that country over many years. During the thirties, which preceded the circumstances of 1840, no one knew what was occurring in Paraguay. Its physical location in the heart of the New World made access difficult; yet, this obstacle was not the product of nature or situation.

Instead, it was an extraordinary man who governed their destinies, a wall which separated it from the other countries of the globe. Encouraged by greed, the merchant was excited by the uncommon wealth that Providence had scattered there; cherishing the scientific treasures hidden in those expansive jungles, the naturalist dared to step on that land. Both were detained and a sterile repentance increased the sorrow of their long captivity.

It is astonishing to ponder how the dictator, Francia, [161] was able to establish such a perfect and complete system of isolation in Paraguay– including its neighboring States. I visited this country fifteen years after that unequalled man passed away, after the Paraguayan nation had reestablished relations with Europe and America. Consequently, I found Paraguay resentful of its previous dictatorship and the disastrous vestiges of that powerful authority had not yet disappeared. I have made my way up the wide River Plate’s mild currents to the Paraná River. One of the most beautiful panoramas that I have ever laid eyes on


during all my visits through America was the one I saw in there: the succession of rivers, which, one by one, enter the grand Paraná River after having crossed vast regions.

It is very majestic when it floods immense territories with the overflowing waters of its tributaries! They gently extend across vast plains, holding islands populated with thick forests in its heart. The river’s waters frequently and rapidly run between the islands, forming surprising landscapes. Long streets of giant trees can be seen, towering above a pavement of brilliant silver, like beautiful gardens that sway over the gentleness of the current. A dying afternoon falls over the distant trees, mixing with a soft vapor, which rises from the waters until it touches the light clouds that surround twilight. Wounded by the sun’s light, it forms capricious figures of temples, castles, and palaces, surrounded by pleasant jungles and delightful gardens. Paraná’s islands (most of them deserted) have no other inhabitants besides jaguars and leopards. Some are covered in such dense jungles that it would be very difficult to open paths for the men who wish to enter them.

On Paraguay’s east border, there is a vast territory named the Gran Charco; the Spaniards and Portuguese knew little more about it than what was communicated to them by the missionaries. I do not understand how three centuries have passed without that fertile, rich region having felt the noble and generous act of governments determined to civilize it. Some Europeans have visited it at different times, but they were merely humble priests, who proposed to catechize its savage inhabitants; some perished by assassination, others because of necessity; very few settled in that country to subdue a small number of men through knowledge of God and faith.

The regions of the Gran Charco outlined by the Paraguay River are inhabited by the Guaycurú and Payaguá tribes. They do not have permanent domiciles, so they move their camp according to their whims or necessities. They have no authority to govern over them or laws other than those of nature. They have no knowledge other than their survival instincts; the only world they know is the desert, whose full expanse they do not know. They only science they are familiar with occurs in nature, which they study through the jungle trees; they are unaware of any beings other than the humans in familiar tribes and the wild animals that occasionally attack their camps and devour their children.

The Guaycurú and Payaguá tribes loathe each other and they wage war against each other with any trifle pretext; yet, even though they are sworn enemies, they do not have dissimilar customs. Both the Guaycurú and Payaguá Indian women submissively regard their husband’s rule; they are honest, patient, and modest. Polygamy, very common in other tribes, does not exist in these. She saves the purity of her virginity with extreme strictness for her husband; she is united, not to the man she feels attracted to, but to the one designated by her father after a private counseling session with the priest, who is a doctor and a patriarch, and to whom the tribe entrusts with respectable and sacred duties.


They have no marriage ritual or ceremony, other than the parents’ advance approval and the priest’s designation of the couple’s consortium date. The bride’s dowry consists of nothing more than the cowhide or tiger hide she sleeps on and the white, cotton tunic she often wears, called a tipoy. Before entering her husband’s camp or hut, she kneels in front of the door, crosses her arms over her chest, inclines her head in the dirt, and, in this position, listens to the priest’s salutation, which praises the duty of humbling herself before her husband, recognizing his superiority, and authorizing him to punish her if she infringes any of his precepts. With this, the nuptials end.

From this moment, the Indian woman is her husband’s inseparable partner. Together, they search for sustenance. If the couple pertains to the Payaguá tribe (a gentle and hardworking tribe), they enter the city and conduct business with civilized people. Together, husband and wife cut bamboo cane, pasture for animals, hunt parrots, cure tiger hides, and then embark in the canoe with these necessary items. They dock their canoe at the port on the opposite shore and sell their merchandise. With the earnings of their modest trading, they buy fruits, fabric for clothing, and other ornaments and trinkets– objects to which they are always attracted. One of the last things they buy is brandy; they return to their camp with it, and the two of them taste the liquor with delight and make sure that the Christians are neither witnesses to nor mockers of their inebriety.

A much-respected doctrine amongst this tribe– which they never forget– limits the woman’s drinking. This commandment mandates that, even when she is allowed to drink with her husband, the woman cannot exceed her limits. This doctrine’s purpose is to make sure that she maintains complete control of her reasoning, so that she can assist and repair any damages which could be committed as a result of her husband’s drunkenness. Many times, however, a wife finds it difficult to resist the temptation of imitating her partner and the next day, her relatives accuse her and her spouse severely punishes her because of her disregard for this warning. The women are only allowed to drink as much as their husbands during special occasions of solemnity, festivity, or anniversary, but these are the only exceptions.

A horrible custom exists amongst the Payaguá tribe; I have been unable to determine if it is perpetuated by tradition or some religious precept. The Payaguán Indian woman cannot have more than two children, whether they are male or female; those born after the two are sacrificed as soon as they appear outside the mother’s womb. When this unfortunate woman begins to feel the precursory pangs of labor, she communicates this to her husband, who then gives her permission to search for a married female relative, friend, or companion to assist in such a terrible event. Secluded in the forest’s vegetation, the child succumbs to death upon appearing, choked by the hands of the cruel matron who immediately occupies herself with the burial. Usually, the patient finds herself completely able to participate in any type of exertion the following day, without being warned about any disastrous consequences, which could result due to the dangers of that delicate condition; I am not sure if


the benign climate or that race’s (usually more robust than beautiful) special acclimation contributes to this ability.

The Payaguán Indian woman has a nice figure and her skin tone is coppery. Her forehead has a disagreeable prominence, her eyes are small and somewhat slanted like an Asian’s, her nose is wide and flat, her cheeks are plump and round, her mouth is large, and her chin is a rather pointy. The deformity of this physiognomy–which is not very seductive– is increased by the repugnant adornments and accessories with which they presume to beautify themselves. They wear their hair loose; it is not very long, though it is very thick and lustrous due to their use of a type of polish, which they make with the resin of certain trees. They paint their face with vermillion and poke small, carved tubes through their ears.

Since it is my purpose to describe the Paraguayan woman, it will not be off topic to point something out regarding the Guaraní tribes from which they come from. The Province of Corrientes, the Mission territories, the Paraguay River, and the Paraná Rivers were occupied by numerous tribes at the time of the Conquest; almost all of them were of Guaraní origin. Some were farming tribes, others were hunting and fishing tribes; they all fought– and the remainders continue to fight– using bows and arrows and maces (heavy instruments, which they call macanas). This Indian population decreased during the 16th and 17th centuries; one part mixed with the Spaniards, another part constituted the reservations entrusted to the Franciscans close to Asunción, and the rest were organized by the Jesuits to establish their famous Misiones Province, west of Paraguay, between the Tebicuary River on the north, the Miriñay and Ibicuy on the south, the Tope mountain range, and the virgin jungles of Pepiri on the east, and the Iberá lagoon, and the great Nembucú marsh (swamp) on the west.

These peoples, who lack a history, who have never formed a nation, without any ties to unite them, and without traditions, carry traces of a common origin in their faces, skin tone, and instincts, though they are ignored; another fact to note is that they all speak the same language. This phenomenon is even more extraordinary upon realizing that in the middle of these tribes exist other nations reduced to a small number of individuals who speak another language and I have come to find out that the number of known dialects spoken by South American Indians surpasses 1,200. I’d like to note that these dialects are so poor that they do not encompass more than a reduced number of ideas.

Endowed with a certain native docility, after a rather vigorous resistance at first, they surrendered to the Spanish and Portuguese and allowed themselves to become the former’s property and the latter’s slaves. Conquistadores of both nationalities took women from this nation and in doing so the large mestizo race was formed. At the same time, Guaraní became the most popular language in these regions; as a result, the people (especially the woman) who live in the Brazilian province of São Pablo, in Paraguay, and in the Province of Corrientes, do not speak any language other than Guaraní. Although it is greatly adulterated with


Spanish and Portuguese words, it remains the general language spoken in these regions today.

This is also the language spoken by the Jesuit missions, which are composed almost exclusively of Guaraní Indians of different tribes, but easily brought together by the founders of these famous settlements. The Jesuits have created rules of grammar, a dictionary, and some impressive works in this language.

A tribe named the Matacos lives within the Misiones province; their women are similar to the rest of the Paraguayan people. They are as dirty as the men (whose hair stands on end, giving them a repugnant appearance). Nonetheless, while they are still young (that is, until they are 20), they maintain an agreeable physiognomy; their skin tone is tan, they have large, black eyes, their teeth are white, and their feet and hands are notably small; cleanliness would make them much more charming. When they marry, unfortunately, the responsibility of motherhood and the fatigues of domestic services contribute to the disappearance of this ephemeral beauty. The old women are the most repugnant women ever seen or imagined.

The Mataco is industrious and fond of work; for this reason, he leaves his Indian camp and enters the villages to work as a peon (day laborer). The female Mataca Indian employs herself in the gathering of cane, carrying it to carts, and driving it to the windmill, and in the transportation of light-weight objects. These Indians receive their pay in money, fabrics or tobacco, and sustenance, which consists of meat, corn, and some legumes. On Saturday night, they are given an abundant ration of guarapo, or fermented sugar cane, a drink they seem to be very attracted to, and that same night they become very inebriated. They dedicate Sunday to resting.

The Matacos set up their camp or movable village near their place of work and large families live together in huts (though their huts are often very small). They reside in the camp and spend most of their time in other people’s plantations where they work for pay; they are completely free because their caciques only hold nominal and transitory authority over them, such as, in the case of war or to judge some crime committed within the tribe.

There is a nation called the Chiriguamos. The Chiriguana woman is the most pleasant of all the Guaraní Indians and her exquisite hygiene makes the beauty and elegance of her figure more noticeable. She bathes at least twice a day and carefully combs her long, black hair, which floats over her shoulders. A blue, cotton tunic (which they, themselves knit and dye) envelops her like a roman toga and is cinched at the waist by a wide, crimson girdle. Children of both sexes remain completely nude until they reach the age of ten or twelve.

The Paraguayan woman descends from this and other analogous races. The peasant woman is the best example, since there are Paraguayans who are descendents of purely European lineages. The Paraguayan mestiza is born in the countryside just as the Indian and remains nude until she reaches the age of ten; at this age, she is dressed in a pretty tipoy, which is a kind of


cotton tunic that is wrapped around the waist with a wool girdle, which they call a chumbé. This tunic leaves her throat and almost her entire chest exposed, as well as her robust legs from the knee down. The Paraguayan mestiza has bronze-colored skin with a transparent rosy tint that polishes her skin in a pleasant manner. She delicately combs her black hair, she has large, black eyes, and the rest of her features are similar to those of a Southern Spanish woman. She has a graceful gait, she swings her hips with malicious intentions, she gazes at men sweetly, and when she speaks to one she likes, she verifies it with a waning pause, creating a charming composition through the contrast of her melancholic accent and the gracefulness of her natural smile. Generally, she conforms to the European’s amorous cult with more devotion than that paid to her countryman; this inclination implies that she enjoys the refined luxury of the foreigner much more than the insubstantial conversation of her compatriot.

The Paraguayan woman is extremely simple and is usually savagely innocent; in addition to her parents’ indulgences, everything we consider immoral and worthy of lawful punishment is insignificant to them. Remember– and please do not forget it, dear readers– that I am referring to the peasant woman. An example will better illustrate the point I wish my readers to fully comprehend.

While recovering from an illness, I resided in a country farmhouse (chacra) thirty leagues from Asunción, the capital of Paraguay; and one afternoon I felt the urge to go horseback riding through the delightful countryside. Half a league from my country residence, I crossed paths with an English traveler, a salesclerk at a store in Asunción, who, mounted on a horse and accompanied by a peon (servant), followed a tortuous path that led to a village called Villarcia. We greeted each other and began a conversation. I enjoyed conversing with him and, from what he told me, I knew that he was on his way to that village to meet with some tobacco pickers regarding a promise of transferring his future harvest in exchange for products and some cash. We were speaking about this when, to our right, we saw an old Paraguayan man who was occupied with ridding his field of weeds. Upon lifting his head and seeing the Englishman, he exclaimed:

“Don Enrique!”
“Hello, Mr. Mauricio!” replied the Englishman.
“You ungrateful man! It has been a year and a half since we met and you have not visited.”
“I’ve been in Buenos Aires, my friend.”
“Well, during your absence we have experienced a change at the chacra,” added Mauricio.
“What change?” asked D.Don Enrique.
“Well! My daughter Isabel has given birth to a child.”
“So, did she get married?” asked the Englishman.
“No sir,” answered the Paraguayan, “Because the baby is yours! The last night that you spent at my chacra, you got my little one pregnant…And the child she bore


is so beautiful that everyone is happy. He is as blond as you are, as light skinned as you are, as graceful as you are, and he has your blue eyes. You and your friend should dismount and come to the chacra, pull out a cigarette, and I will give you a light so that you can smoke.

So, we went to the chacra, we dismounted, and smoked; we saw Isabel, D.Don Enrique’s baby, and the joy of a grandfather contemplating his grandson with his mouth wide open. Isabel did not have a mother. What the Englishman did with the child upon learning about and meeting his son is of no importance here.

The frank innocence with which the Paraguayan peasant woman pay tribute to the cult of love does not exist in the Republic’s capital or in other cities. In the city, single women are proud of their modesty, married women of their loyalty to their husbands, and widows of the integrity of the man they lost.

The same does not occur with the lower class women of this city. Contact with foreigners, as well as the example they set, and the fact that troops are quartered in the local garrison, are all causes for the village woman’s modesty to disappear until interest in and appetite for luxury drives her toward the practice of a life that is rarely quiet, yet never scandalous.

Yet, before addressing the trifles and particulars in respect to these village women, I am going to say something about the upper class Paraguayan woman. I have already mentioned that she has virtues and now I must add that her noble lineage makes her vain. An enormous horror is felt in the heart of the distinguished Paraguayan family in relation to the words slave, mulatto, or Indian. When convinced of the clear and clean legitimacy of their origin, the Paraguayans– who proudly call themselves republicans and are ardently devoted to democracy– would rather perish than concede to the adulteration of their lineage via the introduction of a person of dubious bloodline. I encountered one family such as this in Asunción, precisely during the critical moments in which they were experiencing this grave anguish.

Don Julián Falcón, a Paraguayan of Spanish bloodlines, was married to Doña Mercedes Ugarte, of white bloodlines, and had three children– two boys and one girl. The latter fell in love with a young man, the son of wealthy parents; yet, for many years it was well-known that one of the ancestors of this poor boy had been a mulatto and, furthermore, a slave. When D.Don Julián Falcón discovered their relationship and convinced himself that his daughter’s inclinations would end in matrimony, he became so agitated that he threatened his daughter with death, rather than consent to a consortium that he considered so reprehensible. The girl was passionately in love with Fernando Trigo, which was the name of this unfortunate boy; and the more her parents mortified her in hopes of distancing her from this inclination, the more her eagerness to love him increased.

Don Julián and his grief-stricken wife searched for confidants of all classes to advise Encarnación, in hopes that she would distance herself from what they deemed as criminal deviation. Seeing that she was very devout, her parents searched for


various priests to intervene; the President’s wife intervened, I intervened (although I did so reluctantly) and it turned out that, without knowing what I said, my lecture, according to her parents, had actually served to strengthen her purpose, rather than divert her from reckless determination. Desperate, the father sought out her beau and offered him a substantial amount of money with the condition that he leave the capital and forget his daughter, but the young man, having wealthy parents, disdained the gift and manifested his persistence mostly in an effort to seek revenge for the insult inflicted on him by being classified as a mulatto, rather than purely for his love of the girl. Encarnación’s father and the beau’s father met and, if they had not been separated, they would have beaten each other to death. In his desperation,D.Don Julián even revealed his attempts to bribe one of the beau’s servants to poison him.

This domestic disorder came to the attention of the President of the Republic and, making use of the absolute power bestowed upon him, he cut the Gordian knot by suddenly making the boy a soldier and sending him to Humaitá, a fortress located on the shore of the Paraguay River, seven leagues away from Asunción.

Even when Encarnación was at the point of losing her life due to the weight of her sorrow, her parents did not make an effort to hide their joy and they would have preferred to see their daughter die than see her married to the man she had chosen to be her life companion.

Yet, time began to extinguish this passion through the simple fact that she was unable to see the object of her delirium. A white, blond, Portuguese ship cook came by the house one day and began to court Encarnación, who returned his affections. Very satisfied,D.Don Julián happily gave his daughter away to the Portuguese cook, to whom he became a patron, supplying him with an inventory of resources so that he could engage in commerce.

Yet, now that I have mentioned Asunción, the capital of the Republic, whose inhabitants I have to analyze by class and category, I will postpone the description of the great Paraguayan lady until after having described those who do not pertain to such a high status in the Hierarchy.

To begin, I will present the mulatilla, [162] daughter of some slave or free woman who, until reaching an appropriate age for exercising major labors in the domestic service, is a type of puppet for her mistress. She must wash the mistress’ hair, carry the carpet when she goes to church, and deliver messages. This last task is the one that the girl executes with the most accuracy and precision. Those of her class transmit their mistress’ note by heart, without periods or commas, without breaks in the narration, despite its length, until they finish. I have received a message brought by a mulatilla, expressed in this manner: “Good day my mistress says how are you she sends this little flower for your wife Doña Pura that you give me the dirty clothes because tomorrow the girls are going to the stream did you think the cake she sent yesterday tasted good and regards to all.”

The female cooks are generally black, of African origin, and slaves.


The Paraguayan servant, besides being familiar with domestic service, must also know how to knead and make candy.

The lower-class Paraguayan women work in different professions. There is the saleswoman (placera) with a decisive character, jovial around her clients, and skilled at increasing the quality and price of the objects she sells. At the market, she sets up her store, which consists of a small table with very short legs, where she lays out her products: legumes, fruits, nuts, tobacco, and sweet bread. Bread is not sold in the market because it is made in the individual houses, then taken to the homes; men sell meat in large portions and bacon is not eaten in Paraguay because pork (chancho) is considered to be harmful and unhealthy meat in that region.

After the placera, we have the cigar girl, who is not as free or bold as the latter because she is employed in a particular house for the production of this item, therefore, she is neither as free nor has as much contact with other people as the saleswoman.

Yet, the type that stands out the most amongst lower-class women is the water carrier (aguatera), who, for a monthly fee, supplies a sufficient amount of water, which she extracts not from springs that do not exist in Paraguay, but from open wells in the countryside and different waterfalls near the capital.

This woman is worth seeing; she is as robust as she is svelte, she walks through the city streets with a jug on her head, whose position is more graceful when it is empty. Cloaked in her white veil, without any ornament on her body except for the tight tipoy, which barely reaches her knees, she walks with a cigar in her mouth, displaying her naked, small, white foot, and her graceful gait. Though generally brunette and tanned, she has pretty features, a graceful look, and has poor conversation skills.

In order to describe the Paraguayan lady, it is important to recall what I mentioned at the beginning of this work with respect to the isolation in which this poor country found itself during Dr. Francia’s dictatorship. This cruel man found pleasure in humbling the upper class, which distinguished itself through wealth or talent; in this sense, he worked so that the richest men with the most splendid minds and the ladies that shone due to their carefully selected education were forced to move to the country, a great distance from the capital, and accept the customs of the most humble people in order to avoid persecution and depressive acts ordered by the dictator. Through time, what began by necessity became habit and when that monster passed away and the doors to Paraguay opened to foreigners, these immigrants found themselves surrounded by such strange customs, which seemed to approximate primitive times much more than they did modern times and many years had to pass before that brutish, almost savage society would change.

During the same year (1855), I visited the President’s wife at her vacation home. I found her sitting in the middle of the patio, surrounded by her two daughters,


wearing the villagers’ tipoy, a cigar in her hand. She was handing watermelon slices to her daughters and I was also received with this kindness. When they stood up, I realized that they were barefooted.

I conversed with these ladies for a long time and I noticed that their speech was in harmony with their dress. In the same vein, they were all illustrious ladies from Asunción, until President D.Don Francisco Solano López’s eldest son returned from Europe and established foreign reforms on his family, which were soon imitated by Paraguay’s high society. The adoption of European fashion was very much influenced by the residence of a French mathematics teacher’s wife in Asunción. By cutting patterns, showing fashion sketches, and altering suits to Parisian styles, she simultaneously received a profitable gain– she propagated the rules of good taste in the country.

An Englishwoman, who arrived from France not long after General López, managed to modify Paraguayan social mannerisms by hosting frequent balls and adopting the tradition of social gathering. I myself was amazed to see the woman I had seen earlier that morning kneading bread and making cigarettes, barefooted and almost naked, now elegantly dressed in the finest Parisian style.

The great Paraguayan lady does not renounce domestic chores due to their nature and, even if she does not know how to read or write, she has a very keen mind. She can perfectly imitate foreign customs and easily and naturally exercises them during solemn moments. She is religious, but not a hypocrite; she is a good wife, and does not believe that she is vilified by working like her husband. Flirting is unknown in that society. Maternal love is so strong that it borders on delirium and to prove this, I will provide an example.

I had a Paraguayan friend named D.Don Vicente Urdapilleta, married to an illustrious lady of established lineage with whom he had one son, who was the couple’s joy and solace. The mother painstakingly educated him; she enjoyed seeing him look as elegant and handsome as the most gentlemanly foreigner. In truth, I must admit that the young man distinguished himself from his countrymen by his refined behavior and the elegance of his manners.

It had been many days since I had spoken to D.Don Vicente and one afternoon I found him at the river’s edge, sitting on a giant rock looking very pensive. I greeted him and he responded sadly. Knowing that he was engrossed in thought, I asked him the motive behind his pain. Urdapilleta sighed and said, “My poor Agustina has gone crazy!” and he burst into tears. Surprised by this news, I asked him for details in this sudden and unfortunate case and he said, “My poor Agustina is crazy because they have taken her son away.” After a brief pause, he recounted the following story: “My son fondly loved Panchita Garmendia, an orphan of Spanish parents who was raised by an aunt. They had become engaged, but


Colonel D.Don Venancio López, the President’s youngest son, felt the urge to court the orphan with dishonorable intentions. The girl respondent negatively, though very politely, adding that she was engaged to my son, whom the young Colonel had always harbored resentment toward due to the preference and favor shown to him by the young women in Asunción. D.Don Venancio insisted on this wish, but Panchita was persistent in her refusal. He then swore to avenge this unexpected insult– an insult which he had never encountered during his extensive experience with women. The girl trembled; upon hearing about it, my son trembled; and when we heard about it, my wife and I trembled. ‘What shall he do?’ we asked ourselves. Four days later, a sergeant, followed by four soldiers, entered my house and spoke these sinister words: ‘By order of his Excellency, the President of the Republic, you will surrender your son, Valentín to me so that he can be transported to the war steamboat, Tacuari, where he will become a sailor.’ Valentín was in the living room, translating a Parisian newspaper serial that he was reading to his mother. I entered and communicated his Excellency’s order. Agustina fell to the floor troubled; Valentín dropped the newspaper and, taking his straw hat, without a single word, he kissed his mother, squeezed my hand, and followed the sergeant who had come for him by a superior order. The troubled woman awoke from her lethargic state and mourned her dear son’s absence. One day, however, she decided she wanted to see her poor child. We took a canoe and, with the previous approval of its Commander, boarded the steamboat. There we saw our beloved son, the most elegant lad in Asunción, wearing striped linen pants, a simple shirt, barefooted, washing the boat’s deck alongside other sailors; he was so pale and haggard that neither his mother nor I could repress our tears.

“We returned home, burdened by a pain that corresponded to the circumstances; my poor wife could not rip that spectacle from her mind and the memory of the incident upset her so much that she became maniacal and has become a raving lunatic, suffering fits of rage. Her insults and abusive language against the President were so violent and captivating that the entire neighborhood overheard the aggressive words she hurled at those who caused her son’s misfortune; consequently, I have had to take her to the country and lock her up in my country house, in order to avoid any new abuses.”

In Paraguay, the affection a wife shows her husband can border on heroism. During Doctor Francia’s dictatorship, the number of political prisoners that mourned many years in custody were innumerable and some of the wives of these wretches, braver than their men, attempted to save their husbands. None were able to achieve their heroic purpose and they anonymously succumbed in their supplication, never regretting their failed attempt.

They do not lack courage in extreme circumstances. Very frequently in this country, a man was ordered shot for the most insignificant offense against the State or representative. After the execution, the executioners and the firing squad


retreated and the corpse remained abandoned so that the victim’s family could come forth and claim it, with only a cowhide on which to carry the remains. After the execution was completed, the Paraguayan woman arrives at the site of the execution, albeit drowning in her own tears, but brave, and she alone drags the hide, according to a mandate, up to a designated distance and, afterwards, holding him in her arms, pays her respects with the most devout funeral rites.

In a country where a dictatorship has abused power, man has blindly obeyed his oppressor’s orders and remained fearfully silent; the woman, on the contrary, criticizes the Government. It is she who curses it and almost always puts her husband’s life in jeopardy. The man tends to be a hypocrite and reserved, while the woman is frank and arrogant.

She is very hardworking and modest in her home; she is happy and lively at country dinners or celebrations, but does not break any rules of decorum because of it.

The single Paraguayan woman, even when she is constant and loyal to the man she has chosen to be her life partner, is not very expressive in her chaste pursuit, if this man is Paraguayan. I have seen an engaged couple observe the following conduct over the span of three years: the beau was a salesclerk at a store. At nightfall, he would close the store, eat dinner, bid his supervisor farewell, and head toward his beloved’s house, where she would be expecting him. The fiancé would enter and greet the young lady’s parents. She would sit in one chair and he in another by the house’s door, under an orange tree. They would lean against the wall; each would take out a cigarette, smoke, finish, and light another– all without much dialogue. As the clock struck nine, the beau would stand up and return to the store to rest. The same would then be repeated the following night.

They finally married and were very happy.

In order to describe the Paraguayan woman, it was necessary to present her in action because it would have been very difficult for me to analyze this type of American, whose customs and manners are currently experiencing a rapid transformation. They have gone from an almost savage life to something approximating civilization thanks to contact with foreigners, who come to this territory to reside here for varying periods of time.

The Paraguayan woman, distinguished by her lineage, was once satisfied and pleased if the modest furnishings of her house were limited to a cedar table, a large chest with four legs to store her clothes and money, a dozen chairs with leather seats, and a silver candlestick, which she often placed on the floor at night with its corresponding tallow candle to illuminate the room. In a place where the hammock is very popular, the bed was unknown. Today, the Paraguayan woman is fond of swinging in the hammock and enjoys it through her continuous balance, though one cannot say that she is lazy; yet, she does surrender to moments of rest, not due to custom, but rather to the influence of a hot climate that occasionally forces us to abandon European activity.


Today’s Paraguayan woman delights herself in adorning the rooms of her house with furniture of our era, imported by greedy foreign dealers.

Due to this and other reasons, the distinguished Paraguayan woman cannot yet approximate all the grace and elegance of the Buenos Aires porteña, [163] because the latter was born enveloped in the charms of civilization and the cares of a pain-staking education. Yet, even so, I do not wish to divest the Paraguay woman of her gifts, which are commendable for more than one reason.

These last years, a disastrous war has obstructed the path, which they marched down to complete the education they aspired to, but the war has ended: the Brazilian exerts a great influence on South America and, as the victor and protector of that Republic, it will activate its progress and will finish engraining the customs of the civilized world on these peoples.



(Young lady wearing an informal dress.)


Chilean lady dressed for Mass.


Chile, fertile province, famous
In the vast Antarctic region,
Known to far-flung mighty nations
For her queenly grace and courage,
Has produced a race so noble,
Dauntless, bellicose, and haughty,
That by king it ne’er was humbled
Nor to foreign sway submitted.
(Araucana, Canto I..)


Few ancient and modern philosophers have dedicated themselves to the physiological study of the woman, while many poets have consecrated their efforts to the celebration of the beauties or charms that exalt her.

This is not enough.

It is crucial that someone record her history, following her in all the phases and peripetia of life.

The narrow limits of this article do not allow us to amply adduce the considerations with which we could support ourselves in signifying the point to which that precious half of the human race merits study, paying the tribute nature itself gave to her, giving her more participation in all social acts, and procuring her true emancipation.

When our people arrive at a higher level of civilization, when the eternal principal of public rights are inviolably practiced, when liberty ceases to be a myth and dissipates the problems accumulated by fanaticism, pride, and ignorance by showering light upon them, the woman’s vindication will be fulfilled.

Now that we have laid out these preliminary thoughts, which summarily indicate our opinion regarding


women’s just entitlement to a well-deserved reparation, we will attempt to describe her exactly as she is found in the remote regions of South America.


Under the beautiful sky of the country exalted by the sublime Ercilla, of a vivid blue that is rarely veiled by the clouds, in the heat of the sun that brings stalks to life in fertile fields, in the beneficent gust of the gentle breeze that rocks the flowers and leaves of fruitful and giant trees, developing with fine beauty, the Chilean woman is born. She is tall and robust, has a svelte figure and very white skin that contrasts with her shiny, black hair, eyes that shoot fire, and an incomparable grace; she seduces and fascinates the observer, who gradually begins to feel a yearning to study the physical conditions and morals of this beautiful model, so similar to the most perfect of Greek statuary.

Let us consider the Chilean woman in her distinctive qualities and multiple duties prescribed by the laws of society.

Endowed with an extremely vivid imagination, she is easily educated, thereby acquiring a smattering of indispensable education or the compliment of knowledge possessed by women of the upper class; the Christian religion– a true comfort or refuge in resisting passion’s sudden attacks– serves as her foundation. With such precedents, the Chilean woman attracts much attention due to her refined manners and the combination of noble sentiments produced by charity, love, pity, and patriotism. These women are divided into two classes with tendencies that are only differentiated by the consequences of the more or less well-off state in which they live, yet they boast the same characteristic mark regarding enthusiasm for the homeland’s progress.

We shall begin with a brief description of tendencies, manners, customs, and qualities of the village woman.


Amongst the boisterous din of a family banquet, to the rhythm of the indispensable guitar, hearing the silly verses inspired by pleasure, the seductive Chilean woman dances the popular cueca, [165] fluttering a fine handkerchief between her hands with inimitable grace. In that moment she is irresistible and dominates the soul of those who contemplate her: the men praise her and woo her, intoxicated by enthusiasm; however, she serves the chicha 26


The gypsy dance continues. Happiness spreads among all those present. Libations multiply, their vapors, upon reaching the brain, stimulate the desire to pay homage to the goddess who dominates that scene. In this state of being, she carefully listens to the declarations of love, and she favors the man who possesses charms of loquacity or of well-known gallantry, and whom she assumes is honest and loyal in his intentions. This is how she spends her time– absorbed in overflowing compliments, without proposing to do anything other than please the one whom she thinks is destined to share her fate through the union of conjugal bonds.

There are many events sprinkled with a sense of comedy, which are motivated by the originality of dances, or remoliendas,[166] that are extremely popular in Chile; these are the true origin of the diverse passions that a capricious Cupid tends to foment.

Let us examine our woman’s type in an opposite sense.


The picture card that accompanies this article depicts the Chilean woman as she goes to the Christian temple. She wears her mantle with marked coquettishness, she wears her best dress, and over her arm she carried the carpet to kneel on during the divine service. She then surrenders herself to the contemplation of the universal Creator with all the fervor of her religious beliefs; she remains absorbed in her meditations, she fixes her gaze on the sacred images and her facial expressions manifest signs of pious concentration.

After the completion of this unavoidable duty, she returns home, content with herself; on her way, she distributes some alms to the poor, she greets the friends she sees, and never turns down an opportunity to tell a joke, as comes naturally due to her playful disposition.


The curious observer who visits the Chilean countryside is often surprised by the sight of so many women riding horses running with vertiginous speed, jumping fences, crossing streams, and disappearing into the infinite horizon. Those women are always children of the people; with virile spirit they return in pursuit of those they love to stretch them out in their arms as they return from battles fought to defend the homeland’s laws, or to pray over the graves of those who passed away heroically.

The scene has changed. The loving Chilean woman, pious and elegant, turns into a furious lion if she loses her husband or beloved son in a fratricidal strife: her hate is terrible; she is thirsty for revenge, which can only be satisfied by the extermination of the authors of her misfortune. She screams, tears out her hair, and her painful


groans echo in the most remote confines of the mountains. Such a cruel state ends with the resignation instilled by Christian maxims, a true balsam that heals the soul’s profound wounds.

If, on the other hand, the beings she deeply cares for return crowned with laurels, she surrenders herself to the transport of a delirious joy of love and patriotism, returning to domestic life to hear the congratulations offered by her countrymen.


We are going to narrate a sad legend in which the Chilean working class woman shines because of her virtues.

Toward the end of 1640, José Quiapu, a native of Copiapó, undertook a journey to the Atacama deserts in search of precious metal mines. After a few days of work and hardships, he was unable to find any favorable results. He returned to his country sorrowful and peevish, crossing desert regions fraught with obstacles. Not knowing which way to go, he allowed chance to guide his mule’s steps; he saw himself obligated to descend a dark, narrow ravine through which a stream ran. Night caught him there and he spent it wrapped in his poncho with his mule firmly tied to an arbuscle.

In the morning, he noticed that the arbuscle had been uprooted and that several shiny stones had adhered themselves to its roots. He dug into the soil with the help of his knife and found many more, somewhat large stones of the same type. Suspecting at once that they could be of great value, he gathered as many as could fit in his saddlebag and pockets.

He carefully covered the evidence of this discovery, left a mark, mounted his mule, and returned home, bursting with pride.


The moment Quiapu arrived in Copiapó, he called a humble silversmith, who was his trusted friend, and showed him the small stones. The artisan proceeded to assay them and finally declared that they were gold of the highest quality, worth 21 karats.

Overjoyed, Quiapu did not hesitate long to recount his happy adventure, promising that the two would go explore the prodigious wealth that indubitably existed in that promised land.

The two comrades swore to keep this secret, afraid that the fame of such


an incalculable treasure would incite greed among the speculators, therefore causing them to share a fortune that they considered to be exclusively theirs.

Equipped with the necessities, and taking four mules with them, they embarked on their golden expedition.


After having overcome the difficulties of their journey through the desert, the two friends were finally able to camp in the desired ravine.

For three days, they busied themselves excavating different areas, always finding the desired gold at a shallow depth, in extraordinary quantities. When they had gathered an amount they believed sufficient for the mules to carry, they decided to return to Copiapó and erased all the vestiges of their exploratory work.


Not long afterward, the splendor in which those two fortunate men, who discovered such a positive secret for the cultivation of human happiness, lived in attracted the attention of the inhabitants of Copiapó.

Actually, José Quiapu bought a magnificent palace and the silversmith left his trade to become the owner of a vast area of farming land. Both flaunted their great wealth, which surprised all who tried to inquire about its origin. Some believed that only the fabrication of counterfeit money could cause this outrageous transformation, and others believed that the discovery of some buried treasure provided them with that sudden opulence.

Public opinion was lost in a complete tangle of conjectures, consequently, the authorities diligently kept watch over the conduct of the two improvised millionaires.

It was noticed that they met with a Genovese Jew named Samuel, a former neighbor from the city, famed to be very rich, extremely miserly, and a usurer. The discovery that this Jew deposited millions in the Bank of London at the order and arrangement of the two friends caused a great deal of surprise.

Meanwhile, Quiapu and the silversmith conferred many favors on all social classes, distributing alms to the poor and providing growing sums for the fomentation of agriculture, commerce, and mineralogy.


The sudden disappearance of the Jew prompted the legal authorities to investigate the case. After a proper investigation, he was found dead in his house, stretched out on his bed,


with infallible signs of having been strangled, his trunks were broken, some coins lay scattered on the floor, and all the evident signs of a crime having occurred with the aggravating character of premeditation.

Once the news of that attack had spread, many comments were made, accusing Quiapu and the silversmith as the perpetrators who were imprisoned, criminally processed, and condemned to death; the tribunal based their decision on the evidence of their having been seen leaving the Jew’s house two nights before his disappearance, the incomprehensible fortune they possessed with no legal justification for its acquisition, and, finally, in their refusal to acknowledge whether or not they were tied to the victim in important business matters. From these facts they assumed an incontestable culpability, since it was known that the Jew managed a large quantity of money, which had disappeared with his death only to fall, most probably, in the hands of these delinquents.


The accused listened to the sentence calmly; they requested permission to speak in secret and there were no objections to allowing it, since they believed that they could achieve a complete confession of the crime.

The indispensable precautions being taken, the condemned wretches were placed together in the same cell and, staring at each other, they burst into bitter tears.

“José!” said the silversmith, “Is it possible that they believe we are capable of…You see, I didn’t want to mention anything in reference to our new treasure…”

“I have observed the same conduct, comrade,” replied José, “we have both loyally maintained the oath to which we were obligated, and now…we will be executed, with the defaming mark of assassins.”

“Look, comrade,” responded the silversmith, “you are the only one who can help me break this oath… If you allow me, I will ask them to hear us and I will tell the truth…Perhaps that way we can prove our innocence…”

“Dear friend! You can do as you wish,” replied José, “but they will not believe you! You can tell them where our gold came from, everything you wish…and…you think that because of that, they will stop accusing us murder?”

“My God! It’s true!” exclaimed the silversmith. “Samuel’s strange death…his business linked to our own…the world has turned against us! With no proof to credit our innocence, we cannot escape the gallows!”

There was a moment of agonizing silence. Those two men were wounded in the depths of their souls.

José was the first to resume the interrupted dialogue.


“Comrade,” he said bitterly, “we were born to die…Let us resign ourselves to our sad fate…but if we have to suffer such a dishonor…that serious weight…then let them never know where our fortune lies!”

“Yes, my life-long friend. Let our secret follow us to the grave!” the silversmith murmured with rage.

This being said, they hugged each other effusively, mutually motivating themselves to die with Christian strength and resignation.

A few minutes later, they were separated and prepared for their execution.


Three days later, José Quiapu and Pedro Laya (the silversmith) were executed in Copiapó’s Main Plaza for robbery and murder. They suffered this last sentence with the valor of the innocent, leaving all who attended such a horrible spectacle profoundly affected.

Once the bodies of those misfortunate men were claimed by the Sons of Charity, they were taken to the cemetery to be buried in a grave intended for criminals.

After the completion of this pious duty, after the assistants had withdrawn from such a sad act, just as the gravedigger was about to close the entrance gate to the place of the dead, a ten or eleven year-old girl impeded him from doing so by throwing herself at his feet and begging him with gentle sobs to be permitted to pray over the graves of those poor men who had just died at the hands of the hangman.

The gravedigger condoled with her and agreed to the child’s request; her affliction and beauty made her interesting.

The girl knelt for a long time, her tears dampening the ground that covered the two executed bodies. Then she took out a small wooden cross that hung at her heart and carefully placed it there; she bid farewell to the gravedigger, giving him a silver coin and the most expressive display of gratitude and slowly walked away. Once in a while she turned her beautiful eyes back to the site, which was now glorified with the ensign of the Son of God.


A few months after the unfortunate deaths of Quiapu and Laya, an infamous murderer, pursued for his outrageous crimes, fell into the hands of the law. He fully confessed that he and his gang had robbed and murdered Samuel, the Jew.


The innocence of those martyrs was completely proved; as a result, their memories were restored and their property, which had been confiscated in accordance to an executive order, was returned to their heirs.

The Copiapó inhabitants were left speechless from fright upon learning that human justice had erred.

Many false relatives attempted to claim the opulent inheritance, and when the person considered to be the most entitled to this wealth was about to appropriate it, a venerable priest arrived, eagerly asking to be granted an audience with the Province Subdelegate Governor with the purpose of revealing some very important information regarding the unfortunate men who fell victim to an irreparable judicial error.


The audience was granted and the priest declared that, having aided in the spiritual assistance of the unfortunate Quiapu and Laya, he was fulfilling the obligation that they imposed upon him to secretly keep a sealed document and to present it to the public dominion if the truth regarding the Jew’s murder ever came to light, and that the opening and examination of the document should be approached solemnly, with the help of the city’s most distinguished people.

The Subdelegate Governor immediately ordered all the civil servants to gather in the main palace hall and conceded to opening this meeting to the public.

A multitude composed of every social class completely filled the room. The primary authority briefly summarized the motives behind such an unusual reunion, telling his secretary to rip open the envelope of the long-awaited sealed document and read its contents, which were as follows:

“In the name of God All Mighty and in the moments of pity in your presence, we declare that we are innocent of the crime we have been accused of and, lacking sufficient evidence to condemn us, we will march to the gallows with the resignation of martyrs.

“It is our express wish that this document be read in public on the day that it is discovered that human justice has acted cruelly in robbing us of our lives in the name of the law, so that all will know that in attempt to avenge a crime, society has committed an even greater one.

“Under the advice of the virtuous priest who has consoled us during our final moments, and wishing to fulfill what our consciences order of us, we reveal that our fabulous fortune originated from an abundant gold vein found in Quebrada Negra, 40 miles north of the outskirts of Copiapó, toward the Atacama Desert; we discovered it and secretly explored it,


afraid that this property, which we considered to be exclusively ours, would be seized.

“The relationship we maintained with the Jew was simply the exchange of gold for currency and the deposit of values in the London Bank, though that unfortunate man never knew where we extracted that precious metal.

“As a reward for our loyal declaration, of great use and importance for public enrichment, we ask, as a just reparation, that our goods– consisting of many well-known properties– be respected and that the gold we buried in the basement of the house we shared be divided into three portions and distributed equally amongst the poor, the foundation of a hospital, and Maria Cruz, as a legitimate prize for her filial love, consecrated by the consolation and assistance she bestowed upon her sick mother for over four years and as a tribute of recognition of the gentleness and sensible interest which she manifested toward us while we were in prison– even in the most terrible moments of our torment– which was that angel’s manner of repaying us for the charitable cares we extended toward her mother during our happier times.

“We forgive the judges who have condemned us, trusting that through this medium, God has granted us his grace.

“Copiapó Prison, April 12, 1641, – José Quiapu. – Pedro Laya.”

It would be difficult to describe the surprising effect produced by the reading of that singular document. The decision to distribute the property was applauded and all were happy to see the child, Maria Cruz (whom we saw weeping without console over the sepulcher of the condemned), rewarded. Those present at these proceedings asked that the child, a model of virtue, be summoned so as to pay her homage in the form of respect and admiration, according to the custom established by the city’s inhabitants, who are always willing to reward noble actions. Once the corresponding permissions were granted by the authorities, a commission composed of distinguished persons was sent out in search of our heroine; they did not take long to return, she was guided in triumphantly, crowned with flowers, looking as beautiful as an angel, and demonstrating the purity of her soul through her facial expression.

Everyone insisted on approaching the child in order to touch her and praise her with the most distinguished epithets; they sat her on a sumptuous chair situated at a certain dominant height and it was there that she was given the title of the Favorite and beloved daughter of the people.

That ovation, awarded to the protégé of those who wrongfully succumbed to the ignominious gallows, symbolized the reparation conceded by the public opinion to their memory.

The names Quiapu and Laya were spoken with religious respect; then the child, Maria, stood and, in a candid tone, said:

“I hear praises in favor of my poor patrons, and that somewhat consoles


the great sorrow I feel for having lost them… Without them, my mother would have died for lack of bread, a coat, and the medication she needed. Is there anything extraordinary in my display of gratitude?”

Here, this admirable girl was interrupted with new applause for her beautiful sentiments, enhanced by her simple and natural eloquence.

Maria, having been returned to her home with all the pomp of a legitimately attained triumph, continued to be the idol of her fellow citizens for a long time.

Once the general sensation produced by the results and incidents of the principal negotiators who played a part in the discovery of gold in the Quebrada Negra, many industries dedicated themselves to the benefit and mining of the world’s most coveted metal.

That discovery produced immense wealth.

As the Treasury’s books, which corresponded to that time period’s Administration of Income, were registered, it appeared that the miners paid Spain’s King the enormous sum of eight hundred million pesos fuertes [167] as the denominated one-fifth duty, which weighed heavily upon the mining industry. It is easy to calculate the total product based on the quantity required as tax.

Six years after the previously-mentioned events, Maria’s mother passed away and, no longer having anyone in that country to lavish her vigilance on, she became a nun and shared her considerable riches with the poor.

Legend has it that Sister Maria passed away at the age of 50, mourned by all who knew her and surrounded by the respect inspired by merit and virtue.

A respectable Copiapó family owns her portrait and a manuscript from that era, which we have examined in order to organize the notes above.

We have found it convenient to record this legend in our article because of the eminent role of the people’s daughter.


To summarize the principal conditions and habits of the Chilean woman, we can say that she is happy, eloquent, inclined toward pleasure, and captivated when it comes to love. She dresses simply, but always with grace and sometimes luxury. She enjoys music and dance, loves her homeland madly, is hard working, and likes to travel. She professes the Christian faith without fanaticism, is a good wife, and a loving mother.

Such is the group that we will describe: her demeanor and conduct are the result of the relative education she has received, influenced by national and other circumstances that agitate her existence. In Chile there is one type of education within the reach of


every social hierarchy, both singular and particular, but always on the path toward enlightenment of the popular masses, without which it is difficult for the poor person to conform to his station, or to understand the methods available for elevation.

Let us now turn to the woman of great distinction, the eminent lady.


It is necessary to confess that culture and morals have solidified progress in the country emancipated and normalized by the O’Higgins [168] and Carreras. [169] We feel great admiration after having thoroughly studied the Chilean Republic’s political system, which constitutes order united to liberty, under the protectorate of an unbreakable administration of justice. We have traveled across its fertile territory, seeing that the canals, bridges, and railways cross all the industrial and agricultural focuses from South to North; we have visited its universities and ecstatically contemplated the founding of schools, hospitals, and many other establishments dedicated to education, recreation, comfort, decoration, or relief for those in pain.

How does this metamorphosis– produced in a country that was reduced to the difficult conditions of colonialism just yesterday and that today, almost without enough time to have become organized, lifts up its head, now illuminated by reason, right, and justice– come about? It springs from its children, who are endowed by the great force of determination, willing to cultivate happiness from the land of their birth; it is because those men are filled with patriotism, honesty, bravery, the cultivation of the sciences, and the deepest love of liberty. With such powerful elements, Chile has been able to elevate itself in a few years to a fabulous height, boasting its political administrative system to the world– a system through which it has been able to earn the respect and affections of the more advanced nations. The comprehensiveness of its laws and international treaties facilitates general well-being, inviting foreigners so that they may establish capital and useful industries in this model republic, which can justifiably be called the Pacific’s Sovereign.

Social harmony springs from this group and, as a result, so does the brilliance of all classes, notably evident in the woman, who forms the most essential and constitutive part of the general well-being.

Now that the previous summary of the prosperous state of that country has been made clear, we shall proceed straight to the subject we proposed to undertake.


The lady of distinction belongs to the upper class, which I will describe; she has the same instincts, without distinction between the single and married women or girls and adults. Generally gifted


with a strange beauty and careful education, she makes use of these powerful means to captivate all who surround her.

Let us study her in the distinct cases in which her interesting figure appears on the social scene.

The elegant lady of the Chilean upper class is a woman par excellence because she consecrates her entire life to the practice of her inclination to dominate through art, love, luxury, and virtue. Thus, some days she is languid, vaporous, sentimental, happy, and lively. She dresses carefully, wearing tasteful accessories and expensive jewels; we can definitely say that she cedes nothing to the fashionable English women and even less to the graceful French women.

Let us enter one of the surprising palaces that the talented and moneyed aristocracy has accumulated in the very beautiful city of Santiago.


We find ourselves in a sumptuous home, which reflects the person who lives in it; we breathe in a perfumed air; the bridal or maiden’s bed is covered with velvet and silk, which hangs artfully by magnetic needles; an engraved Benvenuto Cellini style lamp diffuses a soft glow, and we can contemplate the deity that inhabits this temple, covered by a rich dressing gown. Submerged in sweet meditations, her rosy cheek leans against her snow-white hand as she reads the grandiose pages of Victor Hugo or Castelar; [170] she studies until, at last, she chastely and modestly gives in to sleep’s embrace.

Let us continue to the Chilean woman’s dressing room. There, she spends long hours trying on her numerous and luxurious outfits, choosing those that enhance her indisputable beauty in such a contrast of tastes, lost in a labyrinth of fondness for fashionable objects. She spends part of her day happy, her ambitions fulfilled, without violent passions, surrounded by pleasant sensations.

The poetry that surrounds her and the marvelous art employed in even the minute details of her toilette are the true elements that impulse her fascinating and irresistible strength.


Yet, the Chilean lady shines with great success in high society, adopting manners that are extremely distinguished and putting her physical charms into play, aided by her education. She speaks English and French correctly, she is


well-versed in the subject of literature, she comprehends the fine arts, plays the piano, magisterially interpreting Beethoven or Bellini’s best melodies, and when she has invited guests du grand mond [171] to her house for a soiree or a solemn occasion, she exquisitely and amiability looks after them.

This type of woman makes use of all the immense resources she has available to her during dances. She lavishes her best smiles; she participates in the aristocratic quadrille or languidly relinquishes herself in the arms of her partner as they hurl themselves into a fast waltz, which she concludes by letting herself fall, exhausted and fatigued, into a sofa. Then, she either listens attentively to that dashing young man’s improvised declaration of love, in which he swears and assures that he loves her forevermore, or the singing of a sentimental romanza absorbs her attention.

This character disposition to submit to the fulfillment of society’s precepts is truly admirable, yet is only understood as the result of a careful education.


The cultured Chilean lady brings true religious sentiment to the charms we previously enumerated. She frequents temples without hypocrisy and she kneels to adore the Christian God. Enraptured in divine contemplation, she prays piously, pleading fervently for the happiness of her family or her homeland as she listens to the sacred chants accompanied by the organ and the impulses of the evangelic word.

The theater is another place where she builds her throne. Situated in a box seat, she gracefully manages her whims; she fascinates all those present when they see her elegantly adorned with ornaments and her beauty more brilliant under the artificial lights that are projected onto her classic, irreproachable face, which would make even Phidias bite her lips in envy, if she could see her. The theater also offers a few occasions that are favorable to this woman’s splendor: if the drama is sad or the opera is sentimental, she manifests her natural sensitivity; she is bewitching when her eyes well up with tears!

If the show is cheerful, she reveals two seductive rows of lovely teeth when she laughs: if a crude joke incites the crowd’s laughter, she blushes, thereby revealing her purity; if there is a horrific scene, she turns her head, manifesting expressions of repugnance or compassion.

We now find it necessary to follow her in the practice of the two most culminating conditions of her existence that reflect her soul’s genuine expressions. We will attempt to describe them with a pleasure caused by all that is grand and beautiful.



A needy family lacks the essentials of sustenance and clothes to cover their nudity; sickness augments their sad fate. Submerged in the worst desperation, these beings experience a limitless pain prolonged by the distressed tortures that result from such a deplorable state: when the last lamentations are heard from those neglected and agonizing beings, a redeeming angel appears and comes to the aid of her peers, distributing the benefits of charity. It is the Chilean woman of the opulent class who, in the midst of banquets and abundance, remembers to include those who moan helplessly and are overwhelmed by misery– which degrades, stultifies, and kills– as participants in her joy. It is her, always her, who remembers to follow her sensitive impulses, imitating the conduct most certainly observed by the World’s Redeemer!

If national sentiment is intensified by the consequences of sacred national love, the Chilean woman is impassioned; she visits public places, she is visible, makes speeches, she induces and promotes everything capable of exalting the duty her fellow citizens have to promote the nation’s aggrandizement or to defend it from foreign aggression.

As a result of our humble study, we can attest that the Chilean woman of the elevated sphere holds deep within her the grandiose qualities that exalt those of her sex pertaining to more advanced regions. Beautiful but unpretentious, adapted to the manners of the most refined elegance, she is beneficent, adept, a loyal wife, a gentle mother, and a lover of her country’s glory.


We would have liked to have had more room to extend our descriptive narration of the more miniscule incidents in the life of the women born in the land of the heroic Caupolican [172] and the prudent Colocolo, [173] certain that we would always find motives for praise and admiration.

Let us entrust this arduous undertaking to the ingenious, who possess a convenient aptitude; we confess that if this article does not correspond to the magnitude of the affair, it is because we do not possess the faculties of those distinguished poets whose admirable productions bear the seal of sublimity.

We conclude by declaring that the gratitude which we owe Chilean society for the time we lived in its heart as youths, surrounded by attention and loyal hospitality, remains alive in our hearts. We shall never forget the obliging treatment we received when we were in the service of a


free country, which honored us with an official mission close to the Government, which symbolized public rights through the expressive motto, By reason or by force.

Cheers to the homeland of Portales and Molina, the nation that took giant leaps to reach its height! Although political tempests have distanced me from Pacific beaches, I have not lost hope– man’s only comfort– that I will once again be able to admire your enchanting women and live under the shelter of your laws, which were inspired by Holy Liberty.

Madrid, March 1878



(Young lady from the Capital.)


REPUBLIC OF PERU- Lady from Lima.



The vast extension of territory that comprises the Republic of Peru encompasses an infinite number of panoramas, which present man’s imagination with a beautiful and surprising diversity.

The inhabitants of this enchanting country reveal much intelligence– a circumstance which further enhances this nature-privileged region. This place, where the radiant and life-giving sun strongly influences the human species, is the home of the Peruvian woman, who delights all who contemplate her and is the motivation for this profound study.

Peruvian women are divided into two pure racial classes: the whites of Spanish origin and the Indians of the Quechua family.

We will begin by making a quick sketch of the native woman; in order to do so, it is important that we review certain historical reminiscences first.


Tradition and the historian Garcilaso [174] say that before Peru was conquered by Pizarro, [175] it was an independent empire, despotically governed by an Inca. 27 His will was never questioned; he was the Supreme Pontiff regarding religious matters; he dispensed divine and human favors; he claimed to be the offspring of the Sun, a god adored by the people; and he obligated his subjects to collectively cultivate the lands by sowing the grains they


grew. During a certain period this harvest would be divided into four parts, destined for the nourishment of the Sovereign, the Nobility, the Clergy, and the people.

Vestal virgins were consecrated to the cult of the Brilliant star.

Crimes of regicide, treason, homicide, religious disrespect, adultery, or legal disobedience were punishable by death. Public offices were fulfilled without complaint and were seen as a duty prescribed by God for religion fomentation and the Crown’s splendor.

The believed in the eternal pleasure of a better life, which they would be called to one day; they carefully embalmed bodies and placed them in sepulchers called chullpas. These strange mummies rival Egyptian mummies in age and have been found in perfectly-conserved conditions, surrounded by domestic objects, small idols, corn, and jugs of chicha.

The nation of Peru, inhabited by the Quechuas, was more civilized than that of the Aztecs in regard to their knowledge of a Supreme Being and his professed horror toward human sacrifices.

Under that arbitrary form of government, a certain tendency toward the protection of the people predominated, but they were able to ensure that the social state in which they lived was not altered.

A similar order, which has existed for a very long time, would have exerted a great influence over the feminine sex, which plays an important role in the concepts regarding every stage of human life.

The Indian woman’s attachment to her ancient customs and her lack of compliance in molding herself to modern habits stem from this.

Now, let us examine the conditions of this type of woman that motivate these lines of thought and other circumstances that contribute to her special indolence.


In Peru, the Quechua women usually live in the regions around the Andes; they are laconic, they eat toasted corn, chuño, 28 and sun-dried meats. They work excessively, helping the men in the roughest of tasks. They tend to walk about barefooted, sloven, and wear coarse clothes. Their traditional outfit consists of a thick, wool skirt and a shawl of the same fabric, which they fasten with a thick gold or silver pin. In general, they are tall and robust, their skin is coppery, and their physiognomy is similar to that of the Mongolian race; they have an abundant amount of thick, black hair. They make their dresses with alpaca 29 wool. They are knowledgeable about


agriculture and manifest a certain skill in the comprehension and use of medicinal plants. The Indian women seem very modest; they resign themselves to the harsh treatment imposed upon them by whites, their oppressors. One can note a great sadness in them, which is attributed to the memory of their ancestors, to their loss of liberty, and, as a consequence of the cruel persecutions that their race has suffered for over three and a half centuries. They deliriously love drunkenness and completely resign themselves to it on certain days of the year designated as special holidays. They absolutely love music and sing the same melancholic, original yaravies [176] as their ancestors, whose “ays” are a painful protest of the unfortunate condition to which they have been reduced.

The following legend faithfully captures the Peruvian Indian woman’s virile fortitude, which can only be compared to the heroic examples passed down to us by antiquity.


“During a certain era in Peru, which corresponds to 1312 in our era, the Inca Yupanqui resided in his court established in Cuzco, the capital of his immense States. During a judicial hearing, the chasqui 30 arrived and the quipo 31 sent by the cacique Andahuailas was placed in the Sovereign’s hands. It related the news that Prince Vilcanota, who had been locked up in the Marcata castle, had rebelled with the help of some ambitious and discontent men.

“Outranged, the Inca ordered that the people of war unite immediately and he marched in search of those rebels with the firm resolution of making a terrible example of them.

“Yupanqui had barely set up camp at the foot of the Marcata walls when he understood that only hunger could defeat the insurgents, who held an impregnable position.

“After four months of siege and harsh combat, Vilcanota was reduced to his last recourses, he no longer had elements of resistance and he and his men were close to perishing from necessity.

“He sent messages to the irritated Monarch, offering to submit under the conditions he thought were necessary to protect his life as well as the lives of the other rebels.

“Yupanqui was far from agreeing to the disloyal prince’s propositions and neither pleas nor tears were enough to satisfy him.

“Finally, Vicanota, unable to prolong his resistance any longer, surrendered at his own discretion and obtained a pardon for all the women, impeding them from becoming victims of the soldiers’ licentiousness and also allowing them to leave the besieged grounds with everything they were able to carry.


“The Incan Yupanqui was content with the ability to vent his anger on the guilty men and was not interested in being cruel to the women.

“Upon hearing the terms of capitulation, the besieged men resigned themselves to suffer the sad fate that awaited them at the hands of the victor. Yet, the women were not in agreement, considering that, though they would be allowed to escape with their lives, they would forever lose those whom they passionately loved, leaving them to a fate of barbaric decapitation. Confusion arose from this, which ended with the most terrible shrieks; they refused to leave alone and firmly stated that they would never permit such a horrible sacrifice.

“Then a young woman named Yucaba, straining her voice, said: ‘Listen. During these terribly trying times I have lifted my spirit to invoke the Father of Light so that he might illuminate our minds. God has heard my pleas and we can all save ourselves. Follow me and do as I say.’

“That afflicted crowd resigned and obeyed Yucaba’s command; this inspired sibyl ordered that everyone, without exception, present themselves before the angry Monarch.

“At the head of his troops, the powerful Incan Tupanqui awaited the exit of the vanquished, willing to keep his promise that the women would suffer no harm.

“The doors of Marcata castle opened to the sound of lugubrious instruments and its defenders walked out grouped in the form and strange manner that we are about to describe.

“Yucaba stood at the front, carrying the unfortunate Vilcanota on her shoulders; the rest of the women followed her, carrying their fathers, husbands, or sons, and when they were near the Monarch, the young Yucaba was the first to speak. In a tender voice, she said:

“‘Dear Viracocha: 32 The women, to whom you granted life and permission to take with them what they wished, come before you, convinced that your regal promise shall be kept. Look at us, then, carrying our most beloved treasures on our weak shoulders; have mercy on the misfortune that oppresses us and on the shame caused by having incurred your wrath; have pity on our tears and pardon those who are humbly repentant, since your triumph will be greater if you allow yourself to be taken by the impulses of clemency.’

“Yopanqui listened and was touched by that singular young woman and replied, saying:

“‘Vassal: I have heard your sensible demand, realizing what woman is capable of to save the people who touch her soul. I admire so much love, so much heroism, and I cannot deny what you ask. You are all pardoned.’

“Great exclamations of joy resonated throughout that picturesque valley.


“Yopanqui returned to his court and was greeted in triumph with popular songs that praised his virtues.

“A large part of the obelisk erected in Huánuco in honor of this historic event still stands; it contains several bas-reliefs that represent such a sublime act of abnegation that emanated from the women of the Manco-Capac village.”

We have highlighted some of the characteristics of the Peruvian Indigenous women; now we will turn to another type of female who lives in this privileged country, whose relevant qualities stimulate the studious man to vehemently inquire the causes that contribute to this brilliant group.


Influenced by a delightful climate, on the shores of the picturesque Rimac River, and surrounded by perfumed gardens, sits the coquettish and very beautiful city of Lima, founded in 1535 by the conquistador, Pizarro. Its straight and spacious streets, its avenues adorned with a rare diversity of flowers and lush trees, its elegant palaces, magnificent shops, grandiose monuments, and prodigious opulence captivate and seduce in such a way that it is impossible for a man to choose another abode that unites a larger accumulation of delights to enjoy as he makes his way through this transitory and fragile life. It is because of these powerful charms that this opulent capital nurtures a multitude of races in its heart, which invigorate, vary, and beautify the human species; one in particular stands out with arrogant beauty, she is from the Cid’s [177] homeland.

It is to this noble race that the Lima woman pertains and we will preferably occupy ourselves with her description.


The woman from Lima– a charm and admiration of the human species– has an expressive and animated physiognomy; her eyes are full of vivacity, her voice is sonorous, her grace is inimitable. She ties a sweet knot that cannot be escaped from easily by he who is not familiar with her many spells. We do not need to ask for light at dawn, or a pale glow from the moon, or color from flowers, or charms from spring– our type of woman possesses them all and creates others that are unknown to us with the magic of her irresistible power; it is given that she lives in a beautiful country that can only be compared to the golden Elysian Fields, frequently pondered by the fervid inspiration of immortal poets. Let us move on to her description.


In 1850, the Lima woman still wore the picturesque outfit called the saya and manto, [178] which originated during the times of Felipe IV. The saya was a dark-colored silk or damask skirt


that fell down to the ankle in numerous folds. The manto, which tied at the waist, was made from a piece of black crépe meant to cover the head. A tapada [179] would pull it across her face so that only the right eye and the left arm could be seen. White satin shoes and silk stockings completed the outfit.

Dressed in such a manner, the Lima woman invaded everything; she assisted in processions, parades, theaters, bullfights, and many other festivities or solemn events that attract public curiosity; she always occupied the preferred spots, without any obstacles, which she achieved through her prestigious beauty.

That perpetual disguise was perfectly suited for gallant intrigues, and jealous husbands looked angrily upon the praise of a fashion that was so harmful to domestic peace.

The Lima woman was very enthusiastic about the almost-Oriental customs that her Andalusian ancestors established in the ancient city of de los Reyes and, with a rare ease, she adopted idioms and specific habits that were noted in the villages that had lived subjugated by the arrogant Cordova Monarchs. For this reason, she was compared to the voluptuous and provocative odalisques as she danced the moza mala, [180] a dance which originated in her country. Under the prestige of a gracious figure and two jet-black eyes, she animated the timid, calmed the brave, and brought happiness to the sorrowful. The variations of her pleasant movements, her rosy cheeks, her angelic smile, the agitation of her contoured breast, her tiny foot, and, in short, her entire being full of beauty, poetry, and love, could only be compared to the sublime houris that Mohammad promised to the followers of the Koran’s doctrines.

During family celebrations, excursions to the country, and in all the cases essential for life relaxation and amusement, the Lima woman was always seen taking initiative in any way to help promote general animation and happiness. She improvised verses that revealed her ingenuity and satirical tendencies, doing justice to that which merits it or mercilessly ridiculing anything she judged as miserable or appalling. She handed out gifts to those who surrounded her. She was lively, tireless, eloquent, passionate, generous, and an enthusiast of the memorable events that consign her country’s history. Those multiple and varied qualities were accompanied by a refined elegance in manner of dress, like a complement to her fascinating power.

Such was the Lima woman of yesterday.


Human progress has deeply rooted itself in the empire that Pizarro’s arrogance tied to Spain’s fate.

After having suffered the harsh conditions of colonialism, Peru was finally able to proclaim its independence, adopting the republican system and philosophical ideas propagated at the end of the 18th century by the immortal French Revolution.


After the oppression came liberty.
With liberty, reason and justice.
With justice, human protection.

Once these true bases of social structure were put into place, they were soon followed by public education, academic freedom, religious tolerance, fraternization with other civilized countries, and the inviolability of man’s life.

Now established, the theory of rights proceeded to fulfill its duty, which resulted in mutual respect.

Such elevated principles promoted woman’s education (intimately linked to society’s fate) and, as a logical result, her rehabilitation regarding the consideration deserved by so many titles. Today’s Lima woman enjoys all these benefits, whose gifts shine brightly, given the circumstances of her same nature, which is so fruitful in noble results.


If we observe the woman born in Peru’s capital, we will always see her exquisitely dressed, demonstrating her zeal for adorning her unquestionable beauty with fashion’s capricious clothing. In salons, on the delightful Acho avenue, walking through the streets, in the theater, in Catholic temples, and in all the city’s expansive centers, we can contemplate her demonstrating her passion for music, her skills, and infinite grace as she mounts a pure-blooded Arabian colt, or manifesting her majestic manners in those scenes of social life in which her interesting figure is vital.

The transformation is complete.

Yesterday’s Lima woman, who conserved all her independence and the simple education she received from her grandparents, has, today, turned into an elegant Parisian lady. She has the most distinguished manners, cultivates her intelligence, and is held captive by the precepts of good taste, which she enthusiastically adopts.

We will provide a brief description of her varied sentiments and the customs which are identified entirely with this century’s progress.


Emilia is passionately in love with Ricardo, from whom she has received a letter with a Paris postmark, announcing his return to the homeland. Her beau returns licensed as a medical doctor, a degree which he obtained by dedicating six years of service to humanity.


Emilia is immensely pleased; her desire to be united with the love of her life shall be fulfilled. She is extremely happy! Ricardo shall help his peers; he will free those who lay suffering on pain’s bed from death’s grip, and he shall receive praise from his fellow citizens. Emilia, delirious with love, dreams of her beau’s triumphs, ennobled by science.

Adela possesses a vast erudition, acquired through her constant determination to learn. She regards society’s laws with disdain in relation to the limited participation conceded to women in the most important aspects of life. She spends hours absorbed in the muse’s cultivation and reading books that she obtained through her marked predilection. She is enraptured when she recites Dante’s verses, she admires the philosophical concepts of her compatriot, Olavide, [181] she studies Rousseau’s beauties, and acquires literary knowledge by consulting Manzoni, [182] Balzac, [183] or Cervantes. [184].

Julia is the most pronounced example of those who have produced the feminine exaltation of patriotism. She attends congressional sessions on days when certain controversial subjects are debated and ardently applauds the orator who impugns the Executive Power’s procedures.

She avidly reads newspapers, identifying herself with the ideas described in the wise, profound article that reveals the most obstinate opposition. Timón, or, El libro de los oradores[185] are her inseparable companions. Mirabeau, [186] Danton, [187] Washington, [188] Salaverry, [189] and Garibaldi [190] are her idols.

Eloisa lives surrounded by all the caprices and delights that constitute happiness. She combines outfits with accessories, which she uses to give higher importance to her beauty; she is skeptical of love, but eager to please men, perhaps by intuition or perhaps it is a seed that was born with her, elevating her to an artistic sphere. Her soul savors the pleasure of the triumphs acquired through this accumulation of adorers, who pursue her without rest or respite; she calmly listens to the most passionate accents; she disdains gold and imperturbably follows this system so contrary to the different affects that agitate woman’s soul.

Does she wish to avenge men’s tyranny through this method, or, perhaps, she fears losing her dignity and free will by silencing the instincts of her nature?

The historic legend that follows will finish revealing what the Lima woman is capable of when she feels inspired by the most elevated sentiments.


“It is the evening of October 18, 1839. Lima is threatened by the Bolivian army camped around its walls. The Protector D.Don Andres Santa Cruz directs the convenient operations for the occupation of this capital, the only bastion left to resist the foreigners who completely defeated the valiant men led by the brave Captain Salaverry in the Socabaya fields.


“Commander Eduardo Castro, heading a thousand resolute citizens, has exited through the Gate of Marvels, to determine the enemy’s position. Two brave Amazons followed him on horseback: one is the wife and the other the niece of the famous Colonel Luis de Montoya. On their saddles, they carry elegantly engraved pistols; in their white hands, each carries a sword, covered in precious designs. Suddenly, two Bolivian cavalry squadrons charged at the explorers, obligating them to precipitately enter the city. Unfortunately, as some were cut off in their retreat, they arrived too late at the Gate of Marvels, which was already closed, and the drawbridge had been lifted, clearly revealing a wide, water-filled moat. There, some Lima citizens were made prisoners; others were able to escape the camp, protected by the dark night. Enrique Pérez, the son of the Colonel who headed the artillery in the plaza, and the two previously mentioned young ladies, named Rosa and Clara de Urismendi, were included in this group. That night, the two Amazons were threatened by all types of dangers upon traversing the besieging army’s camp– an army that killed all who fell in their hands.

“Rosa, Montoya’s wife, was 32 at the time. Surprised by Eduardo Castro’s exit proposition, which both she and her niece had accepted with the fantastic temerity that women of that period often manifested, she had not wanted to make the Head of their expedition wait and left dressed as she was, that is to say, in a wide silk saya fastened by a velvet bodice. That lady’s face was of marvelous distinction and nobility: a pure, white forehead cut through with admirable lines, a sweet gaze from her almond-shaped eyes of a brilliant black, an enchanting mouth which opened slightly as she smiled, like a rose touched by the dew. On that noble head was a crown of beautiful, flittering ebony hair.

“Clara de Urismendi, who accompanied her, was merely 20. It would be incredible to think that at this age, a youth would dare to face the dangers of war if one did not know that in that turbulent time period, it was a continuous part of life.

“Clara de Urismendi, dressed like her aunt, could have passed as her sister. She had blond hair, which spilled in rich abundance over her temples and back; beautiful blue eyes, an admirable color mixed with white and pink, in sum, an unequaled grace.

“Enrique Pérez was a 24 year-old young man, tall, and fit, famous in Lima for his amiability and generous manners. The two Amazons and the young Official who served as their guide continued galloping for some time in their original direction; yet, they soon found the ground so cut through by gullies and holes that their horses were not only useless, but also troublesome since their neighing or footsteps could reveal them. The three fugitives dismounted, abandoned their horses in a corn field, and continued on their path without uttering a single word,


since they could clearly hear the sounds of the soldiers’ weapons and songs, announced the enemy’s proximity. In short, the two ladies, always following their guide through unknown paths, walked away from the city and after a long and difficult march they arrived at a sandy beach near Callao, where there were three fishermen’s houses. Quickly glancing about, Enrique, breathing with liberty, said,

“‘Now I give you permission to speak, ladies; we have arrived at a safe spot.’

‘”Speaking for myself,’ exclaimed Rosa, giggling, ‘I will never forgive the Lieutenant for forcing me to keep my mouth shut for two mortal hours.’

“‘Mother of God!’ said Clara, ‘What country is this? Are we on land or sea?’

‘”Calm down, Miss; I am very familiar with these regions.’

“‘You are familiar with this desert, Enrique?’

“‘Yes, ma’am, and, like me, you will orientate yourself soon because the moon is coming out from behind the clouds to watch you pass. Look, ma’am– I know that house on the right as well as my own because I have come here a thousand times with Mr. Noguéras, a good friend of mine.’

“‘And what did you do here?’ asked Rosa in a mocking tone, while Clara nervously stared at the youth.

“Enrique comprehended that look and, smiling, responded to both women, ‘We came here to do a very simple task, ladies. We came to see the pesca con fuego. [191] That house belongs to Mr. Noguéras, who is unaware that he is going to provide us with shelter tonight.’

“‘And what if the door is closed?’ asked Rosa.

“‘We will force it open,’ responded Enrique.

“‘Oh!” murmured Clara, to whom this method of taking possession of something seemed rather odd, despite the critical trance in which they found themselves.

“‘Dear Virgin, please help us!’ said Rosa, ‘I believe I see a sinister light there.’ And she pointed to the horizon with the tip of her sword, which she had not yet sheathed.

“All eyes turned to that point and they were silent.

“‘Psst!’ said Rosa, shuttering.

“‘What is it?’ asked Enrique, instinctively placing himself in front of the young woman.

“‘I hear something,’ replied Rosa.

“‘Where?’ asked Enrique, speaking softer with each question.

“‘Over there, close to us, in the bushes,’ replied Rosa.

“‘It is either the ocean or the wind,’ replied the young man, remaining bent over for some time.

“‘Look there, in front of us,’ said Rosa, grabbing Enrique’s arm.

“Enrique turned toward the spot they indicated and, indeed, saw a black figure that stood up from behind the bushes and began to walk toward the shore.


“‘Silence!’ said Enrique.

“He allowed the figure to walk forward; when it was merely a few paces from him, Enrique ran out to meet him, sword in hand, while the ladies readied themselves to help him if necessary.

“‘Who are you? What do you want?’ the youth asked, placing the point of his steel on the suddenly-appeared man’s chest who, rather than defend himself, humbly fell to his knees.

“‘Oh, Sir, dear master!’ responded the good man.

“‘Ah! Ah!’ said Enrique, “It appears that this is no enemy, but it does not matter: in these times when there is any encounter in such places and at such hours, it is necessary to know each other. Who are you? What are you looking for, I ask once more?’

‘I am the zambo, Tomás, master Noguéras’ fisherman and I am on my way to retrieve the nets.’

“‘Good heavens, it’s true!’ said Enrique, “Ladies,’ he added, addressing the women who had distanced themselves, ‘do not fear; we are in friendly country.’

“‘Wait! You’re Mr. Enrique!’ said the zambo, Tomás, ‘And I did not recognize you! Good evening, dear master.’

“‘Good evening, friend.’

“‘My word! I am astonished to see you here– I thought that you would be behind the Lima city walls. It’s an expedition like…’

“‘Shush!’ said Enrique, who did not like the direction the conversation was taking.

“‘Aren’t you fishing?’

“‘Oh! Yes, sir; I am going to fish,’ responded Tomás, sighing.

“‘But, why do you sigh? In other times this occupation was like a party for you.’

“‘Oh! Yes, my master, when I fished for…when you would come with her…’

“‘Well, for whom do you fish now?’

“‘For whom do I fish? Mother of God! For those Bolivians, who eat my fish and pay me with beatings.’

“‘What? The Bolivians come here?’ exclaimed Enrique.

“‘Do they come? They never miss a night; they will be here soon.’

“‘Alright, you have said enough,’ replied Enrique. ‘Well, Tomás, there are two ladies here who need some rest. Do you have a good bed of dry leaves in your hut?’

“‘Oh! My hut will be bad for these ladies; it is only good for women like the ones who…’

“‘Fine! But then,’ interrupted Enrique, ‘where will they spend the night?’

“‘If the ocean were not so choppy, I would tell you that Chorrillos would be the best place.’

“‘Very well!’ said Rosa, ‘That sounds fine to me. Let us embark; you already know that we are not afraid.’

“‘Oh! No ma’am, no. That would be to tempt God.’

“‘But the ocean is not very agitated right now,’ murmured Clara.

“‘Not here, but the ocean, dear lady, though it is a bad comparison,


is like a woman– it should not be judged by what is seen on the surface. It is very tranquil here, very calm, but look down there, behind that rock, and you will see… No, no, Mr. Enrique, believe me, it is better to wait.’

“‘But where will we wait, since you say that we will not be safe in your house?’

“‘Follow me,’ replied Tomás, ‘I will open master Noguéras’ house for you. If the Bolivians come, climb up a floor as they are climbing up until you find a ladder and a trapdoor. Then, go out onto the roof, remove the ladder, and if you have the misfortune of being followed up to that point, you always have the option of throwing yourselves off the roof’s edge to avoid falling into enemy hands.’

“The ladies squeezed each other’s hands.

“‘Let’s go, then,’ said Enrique.

“Tomás led the way and the three fugitives followed him in silence: moments afterward, they climbed up the steps of a small porch and the zambo pushed on a door, which ceded and opened easily.

“‘What the devil?’ said Enrique. ‘This door doesn’t close.’

“‘We will block it from the inside,’ replied Rosa. ‘Besides, I don’t think the Bolivians will come.’

“‘They might and they might not…’ answered Tomás. ‘But I cannot assure it because those wretches are as unpredictable as a weather vane. In any case, if they come, I will try to feed them a good dinner at my house to detain them as long as possible.’

“‘Here, to compensate you for the dinner you are going to serve them,’ said Enrique, placing two gold coins in Tomás’ hands.

“‘Ah! That is not necessary; I am honored to serve you…However, I do not want to refuse your gift and risk being impolite.’

“‘Come on, put that away and take your post as sentry.’

“‘Then, good night,’ said Tomás.

“And he walked out in a hurry.

“Having been left alone, Enrique and his two companions tried to recognize the place in which they found themselves through touch because any light would have easily revealed them: they forced their senses so that their hands could serve as their eyes. As they did this, the silence was so profound that Enrique could hear his companions’ hearts pounding in fear and when he finally found the stairs, he exclaimed, ‘Ladies, over here!’

“The women walked toward his voice; Enrique extended his arm and grabbed a trembling hand, which had undoubtedly been outstretched in fear, but Enrique did not need to ask whose hand it was.

“‘Follow us, ma’am,’ he said, turning to the spot where he assumed Rosa was, ‘We are at the foot of the stairs.’

“‘Then climb up,’ said Rosa, ‘I am holding on to Clara’s skirt.’


“‘What are you looking for, Aunt?’ asked the young lady.

“‘Nothing, I dropped my handkerchief.’

“‘I will climb down in a moment and look for it,’ said Enrique.

“The three then climbed up the dark, narrow stairs that led to the superior floors. In the dark, they searched for the door to a room; they stepped into the first one they found, determined to wait there for the ocean to calm down.

“The ladies could not tell if the furniture was decent enough, since the room was completely dark, but they were overjoyed to find a bed that was made.

“‘Enrique,’ said Rosa, ‘if you want to leave, we will rest a moment.’

“‘And you will keep watch for us, right?’ added Clara.

“‘Oh! Confide in me,’ responded Enrique. ‘I assure you that no sentry has ever been as vigilant in his post as I will be.’

“‘And look for my handkerchief, since they may discover us because of it.’

“‘That is what I am going to do,’ answered Enrique.

“Moments afterward, they heard him descending the stairs.

“The young man looked for the handkerchief for a long time, but was unable to find it.

“The two women decided to rest from so many emotions, but they were prevented from doing so by a soft murmur that appeared to be coming from outside the house in which they had sought refuge.

“Clara was the first to look out the window.

“‘Aunt,’ she said, backing up, ‘I think I…’

“‘What?’ asked Rosa.

“‘See some men coming this way on the same path we took. I can hear them, aunt.’

“‘Bah!’ said Rosa. ‘It is the wind.’

“‘No, aunt, look at them; there they are; there are five…six…seven…’

“Rosa moved away from the bed she was about to lie down on, approached the window and, placing her hands on Clara’s shoulders, stood on her tiptoes and looked over her head.

“‘Do you see them?’ said Clara, holding her breath.

“‘Yes, I see them…’

“‘Oh! Dear God, dear God, we are done for!’ said Clara, putting her hands together.

“At that same moment, three soft knocks on the door made both ladies shudder; then they heard a voice say, ‘It’s me, don’t be afraid, it’s Enrique Pérez.’

“Rosa ran to the door and opened it.

“‘What is going on?’ he asked.

“‘They are coming this way.’

“‘The enemy?’


“‘I’m scared.’

“‘What will we do?’

“‘Follow Tomás’ advice; go up the rest of the floors, look for a place to hide, and do not worry about me. Although it may look as if I am far from you, I will keep you in my sight, and I will come to your rescue, if necessary.’

“And without waiting for their reply, he disappeared into the darkness.

“‘Clara!’ said Rosa.

“‘I am here, aunt.’

“‘Come and…’

“At this, she grabbed her hand and led her out of the room.

“They went up to the second floor and lay there in wait, with their ears focused on the stairs.

“Meanwhile, two men, who appeared to be Bolivian leaders, were speaking loudly on the porch, so loudly that they could be heard clearly in the silence of the night.

“‘I tell you, Lucas,’ said one of them, ‘that I have seen them pass like shadows and I have measured their footprints in the sand: they are no longer than my finger or thicker than my tongue. Besides, what do you have to say about that fringe we found a few feet away from here? Lucas, I think that we will make a good catch here!’

“‘I’m beginning to think that you are right,’ said Lucas. ‘You see, we have lost their trail very close to these houses, which means these goddesses are either bathing in the ocean or they are behind that door. But, can you explain to me why our General is so determined to follow them?’

“‘I have express orders to do so,’ responded Pablo. ‘It is a matter of capturing two women who pose a large threat to our cause. They are extremely audacious and have already given us much to do at the camp.’

“‘For that reason,’ said Lucas, ‘we must make sure that we catch them.’

“‘And if that were to happen,’ continued Pablo, ‘we would be promoted immediately. That was His Excellency’s offer.’

“‘By Jove! If, by chance they are hiding in that house, we cannot let them escape,’ said Lucas. ‘With your permission, I will take the necessary measures.’

“‘Where is my assistant? Hey, Hipólito, come here, quickly! What the devil are you doing, you good-for-nothing? Are you counting the stars? Listen, go through that arch and guard the house on the other side to cut off any retreat. For the love of St. Peter, do not let those pretty women escape!’

“‘What’s that?’ continued Lucas, picking up the handkerchief that Rosa thought she had dropped in the vestibule, but had actually dropped at the foot of the porch stairs.

“‘Look what we have here, comrade!’ said Pablo, taking the handkerchief from his companion’s hands. ‘It is covered in embroidery and perfumed with jasmine,


it does not appear to have fallen out of a fisherman’s pocket: fish are not caught with nets such as these.’

“‘Let’s go up Pablo, let’s go up. And you, comrades, come here.’

“The rest of the troop came closer.

“‘Picana! Picana! … Here. Stay here as a sentry at the foot of the stairs. These are your orders: shoot anyone who tries to escape. Do you understand Picana?’

“‘Yes,’ responded the sentry.

“Then Pablo pushed the door.

“‘I can’t see very well. Do you have your flint, Lucas?’

“‘Do I ever go anywhere without it?’ responded Lucas.

“At that instant, sparks flew off the flint; the tinder caught on fire to light a weak match with which Pablo was able to see a lantern placed in the corner of the vestibule.

“‘This is what we needed. Come on. Come on.’

“One of the soldiers picked up the lantern which, after being lit, illuminated the entire space, but the explorers could see nothing more than the various nets piled up against the wall.

“‘These are the nets of our dispensatory father,’ said Lucas, ‘we must respect them because we live off of them. Where are the women?’

“‘I believe we will find them on the first floor,’ responded Pablo.

“‘Well, let’s go up then,’ said Lucas.

“The men who accompanied him entered the room the ladies had just abandoned.

“‘Oh! Oh!’ exclaimed Pablo. ‘The cocoons remain, but the butterflies have flown. Two women’s dresses! And, my goodness, how luxurious!’

“‘Attention, comrades. Here is a purse full of…gold!’

“‘Distribute it amongst the soldiers,’ said Lucas.

“‘Good idea,’ said Pablo, ‘they get the booty and we get the satisfaction of presenting the Protector with the women he is determined to capture. Look, Lucas, this bed is not unmade. The goddesses have not lain down.’

“‘Find them! Find them!’ yelled Lucas. ‘We will find them even if the devil himself tries to stop us.’

“At this, they began to climb up the stairs.

“Rosa and Clara had not missed a single word of this scene. Upon hearing that they were planning on going upstairs, they both began to tremble convulsively and their hair stood on end. Yet, since there was no time to lose, they made their way toward the corner where the wooden ladder, which led to the roof’s trapdoor, stood. They climbed onto the roof, removed the ladder, and closed the trapdoor.

“A few minutes latter, a great din of voices that came from beneath their feet warned them that the men had reached the room leading to the roof,


and that that was the decisive moment. The two ladies understood each other without speaking; their lips met in a tender farewell and, having placed their hope in God, they rushed toward the roof’s edge. They fixed their eyes on the trapdoor and waited for it to open for several moments; in this case, they had already decided to let themselves fall from the roof onto the paved vestibule. This agony was long and painful. The roof crunched beneath their feet and, because of the impulses of their nervous convulsions, they felt themselves impelled more than once toward the edge by an invisible hand. Suspended and immobile on their tomb, they looked like the statues of Modesty and Despair, erected over the ruins of a pillaged city.

“Meanwhile, the sound of voices began to diminish and footsteps were heard descending the steps. A ray of hope shone in their faces and they turned their gaze toward the heavens with expressions of infinite gratefulness. Rosa then carefully lifted the trapdoor and heard the distant lamentations of their pursuers, accompanied by the clatter made by the door closing. A few moments later, they felt some light steps ascending the stairs and they heard a timid voice marked by a despairing accent, which increased at times; it called through all the doors. It was Enrique Pérez’s voice.

“The trapdoor opened again and the ladder was put into place. Enrique gave a happy yell and placed his foot on the first step.

“‘We’re here, Enrique,’ said Rosa half-quietly.

“‘Well, come quickly,’ responded Enrique, ‘a minute delay means death.’

“The women descended the ladder with admirable agility, but when they arrived at the vestibule, they heard the soldiers, whom they thought were very far, having a heated discussion. Enrique guided the two women behind the nets hanging on the wall, and he hid with them, carefully listening to everything that happened, since an incorrectly-interpreted sound could mean the death of all three.

“‘Captain,’ said Picana, ‘our visit has been useless.’

“‘Yes,’ replied Pablo sadly.

“‘Did you look carefully everywhere?’

“‘We left no stone unturned. Did you see anything?’


“‘Descend. You are relieved of your post.’

“‘Thank you,’ said Picana, ‘I’m not sorry, because this post is not the best.’

“‘What are you trying to say?’

“‘I mean, Captain, that when you want to walk around on roofs, remember the sentry standing beneath the gutters.’


“‘Because when it rains roof tiles and one does not have an umbrella, the rain is quite dangerous.’

“‘What? You say a tile fell on you?’


“‘One? More than ten fell on me; but I stayed firmly at my post– if the entire roof had fallen on me, I would not have moved.’

“‘Friends!’ exclaimed Pablo. ‘They’re on the roof. Look, Picana, if you are telling the truth, I will give you an ounce of gold.’

“‘To the roof! To the roof!’ they all screamed at once.

“And the men, full of ardor, crossed the vestibule and began to climb the stairs.

“‘Now,’ said Enrique, ‘we have no time to waste. Courage, and we will save ourselves. Come, come fast!’

“The first abandoned his hiding place at that moment and, taking the women by the hand, he left the house with the Bolivians standing on the roof.

“‘Captain! Captain!’ yelled Picana. ‘Look, they’re escaping. Look! Look! There, there…Careful. Damn the…’

“A loud scream, a terrible scream, one of those deadly screams that cuts through the air when a soul feels that it is about to be violently ripped from the body, followed Picana’s swearing. The three fugitives stopped, terrified. They saw something fall from the roof and heard the sound of a body smashing onto the pavement.

“‘It’s the Captain,’ said Enrique, shuddering with horror, ‘who must have come too close to the edge and the roof collapsed under his weight.’

“‘Captain!’ yelled many voices.

“But nothing was heard, no scream, no moan…

“‘He’s dead,’ said Enrique. ‘God have mercy on his soul. Now, we must think of ourselves.’

“‘Stop! Surrender!’ yelled some men almost at once.

“‘Never!’ exclaimed Enrique.

“Then they heard the sound of several rifle shots.

“Enrique was surrounded by the advancement of enemy troops, who had responded to the screams produced by the Captain’s death.

“The expeditionaries who occupied the house opened fire, assuming that they were being attacked by the city troops. Amidst the confusion, Enrique fought desperately; an Official and two soldiers charged at that brave youth, prepared to kill him.

“At that moment, four shots were heard and Enrique’s pursuers fell dead.

“Clara and Rosa, amid this brutal attack, shot those who were about to sacrifice him.

“At that instant, Enrique and the two women hurried toward the beach.

“A boat was at the shore and the fugitives neared it. Although the night was dark, the storm had ceased and the weather was calm.


“‘Let’s push this boat into the water,’ said Enrique. ‘God has not saved us so miraculously in order to abandon us in the last second.’

“‘Is that you, dear master?’ said a voice from inside the boat, while a nervous head lifted itself barely above the edge.

“‘We are safe,’ said Enrique, ‘it is the good Tomás.

“‘And the ocean?’ asked Rosa.

“‘As calm as a pond,’ replied Tomás. ‘And there is just enough wind so that we do not have to make noise with the oars. Come aboard! Come aboard!’

“‘Go on, ladies, go on,’ said Enrique.

“As soon as the ladies got in, Tomás pushed the boat and jumped in behind the fugitives. Enrique was already holding the oars.

“‘No oars, no oars,’ said Tomás. ‘The oars make noise: let’s set sail to the wind and may God guide us. Where should we go?’

“‘To Chorrillos,’ said Enrique.

“‘Good, good,’ said Tomás. ‘Take the helm. When I say starboard, bear toward the left, and when I say port, bear toward the right. Understand?’


“‘Well, full sail ahead!’

“And as if the little boat was only waiting for its owner’s permission, it began to glide smoothly through the water. The patron had told the truth: the breeze favored them and the small sail, black and invisible like the waves, began to swell and push the boat. After an hour, this legend’s protagonists arrived at Chorillos and announced their presence to a Chilean war frigate anchored in that port.

“The Commander of the Esmeralda,[192] which was the name of the boat, nobly welcomed the fugitives, who were finally able to return to Lima, having manifested their gratitude to the honorable Commander for showing them such noble hospitality.

“Not long afterward, great joy reigned in Lima. The Protector saw himself obligated to abandon camp, afraid of being surrounded by the united Peruvian and Chilean army, who were marching at full speed to come to the aid of the people who groaned under the yoke of the so-called Confederation.

“The Battle of Yungay determined Peru’s fate, which was able to free itself from the tyranny established by Santa Cruz. [193]

“Fifteen days after the last events narrated, Enrique Pérez and Clara Urismendi celebrated their marriage at Rosa’s house.

“Tomás the zambo joyfully attended the wedding and remained in the service of the newlyweds. In regard to the proprietary Noguérgas, he swore that he would never again touch a single stone in that old house, bequeathing it to his children with its roof, vestibule, and other accessories, exactly as it was, elevated above the ocean shores, like a prodigious shelter that saved two heroic women.”



We would need to write an entire volume to completely describe the Lima woman’s multitude of grandiose and noble qualities. As a complement to the previous notes, we shall add that she generally combines her complete education with the most profound sentiment of morality. Everything in her provides signs of marked distinction: she has a svelte and attractive figure, an airy gait, and a face with fine skin, which is either very white or a blushing tan. Her extremely perfect features contribute to this collection of beauty. The harmony of her silvery voice, the eloquence of her speech, and her carefully-chosen words, clearly reveal the eagerness employed in cultivating her spirit. Her elegant wardrobe obeys the caprices of fashion, manifesting, through her figure, adornments, and dress accessories, a certain novelty which she proves, at the very least, her refined taste.

Finally, it is impossible to see her, contemplate her, without experiencing the bewilderment inspired by her charms; it is the appearance of these women that excites the fantasy, moves the heart and provokes the desire to eternally adore her.

Madrid, May 1878.



(Central America)


Central America is divided into five independent Republics, they are: Guatemala, San Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. Its borders are: on the Northeast– Mexic; on the Northeast and East– the Antilles Sea; [194] on the Southeast– the United States of Colombia; and on the West and South– the Great Pacific Ocean. Its population will soon total three million inhabitants.

The most important of these Republics, in regard to population, is Guatemala, which has one million five hundred inhabitants alone. Nicaragua has the largest surface area; according to official data, it spans 150,755 square kilometers. San Salvador distinguishes itself from the others by its well-cultivated fields, the importance of its commerce and its industry, especially when taking into account that its territory is the smallest of the five States that comprise Central America. The wealth of Honduras’ gold, silver, opal, and copper mines, as well as its lush forests and fertile fields, attracts a considerable amount of attention. The inhabitants of Costa Rica are famous for being the most hospitable, for having the sweetest characters, and being the hardest workers in all of Central America.

There is a very strong similarity between the manners, customs, and nature of the inhabitants of these five small Republics, which become more civilized each day, not only because of the diversity of relations constantly maintained with Europe and the other States in North and South America, but also due to love of progress, manifested through its inhabitants, in both the upper, educated class, as well as in society’s lowermost class.


Well-to-do families send their sons to Europe, mainly Paris and London, so that they may continue their university education in these two grand centers of human knowledge.

These youths then return to their respective countries after six or seven years of serious study in Europe’s principal capitals and, as a result, these Republics are slowly filled with excellent doctors, learned lawyers, good architects, engineers, artists, soldiers… But let us put a full stop to the subject of the stronger sex, since we are meant to speak of the women, or, the beautiful half of Adam and Eve’s lineage.

Pens more talented than mine have already described the women of the different Provinces of Spain, the Havanan and the Puerto Rican, the woman from Buenos Aires, Uruguay, and Paraguay; I will describe, according to my loyal knowledge and understanding, the woman of Central America for you.

The Central American women are generally worthy of the epithet of their being pretty, rather than beautiful. More often short than tall, they are generally svelte and well proportioned.

In their faces of regular and delicate features, amid a paleness that is in no way sickly (though in some elevated regions their skin has a nice tint), beneath the arch of well-formed eyebrows, there are two large black eyes with febrile levity, and an expression that has no rival. Her hands and feet have all the perfection desired. They continue a tradition of attentiveness to their feet that previously reached the level of idolatry. Nature almost gave that extremity a somewhat exaggerated size; a woman does not hesitate to sacrifice form for size and she subjects herself, like the Chinese, to a torment of footwear that tortures her.

The ladies of high society deserve to be celebrated for their elegance and their rich, flexible imagination, so inexhaustible in sarcasms for the persons or things that they wish to hurt, as well as ingenious preoccupations for the things she esteems. They are generally very well educated and are good wives and excellent mothers.

In their homes and on the street, they wear European fashions. Parisian fashions have grown wings to traverse the Atlantic. The hat has been introduced slowly, though they tend to prefer the shawl, which is generally made of silk and made in China and purchased at a fabulous price. These ladies stroll down the streets with the shawl covering their shoulders.

The outfit worn by the common women is distinguished by the rashest opposition of colors. They wear a low-cut shirt, generally made of a very thin fabric, with sleeves that do not go past the elbow, held tight against the waist with a silk girdle of dazzling colors, around which they tie two, three, or four underskirts called fuslanes; over this they wear chintz petticoats made of wool or silk, then stockings and shoes or ankle boots– if they are not barefoot– and, over a flexible and graceful body, they wear a wrap– a type of shawl of cotton, wool, or silk that covers their head;


their black hair is braided in two floating braids and tied with wide ribbons. They are love jewels and they all wear earrings on their ears, a necklace on their chest, and rings on their fingers.

As in all Spanish countries, music and dance are the arts found in Central America that women are most adept at: their natural disposition combines with the most exquisite sentiment to compensate for the lack of teachers. They commonly know how to play the piano, more or less well. They know the musical scores of many schools, but they prefer Italian music. The diverse opera companies that have visited the country and sung in the theaters of Guatemala, San Salvador, and San Jose in Costa Rica, have developed the affinity for melodies by Rossini, Bellini, Verdi, and the great Italian composers. Fresh, limpid voices are not rare, and it is common to hear pieces of the most difficult, well-known operas sung well.

Regarding choreography, the old zapateado dances (which are only practiced among the lower classes), the jarabe, and others have disappeared to make way for the quadrille, waltz, polka, mazurka, schottische, and other dances popular in Europe.

Central American women are very fond of flowers. There are hardly any rooms in the elegant world of the great cities that do not contain a vase or other container full of flowers cut from patios; a house without a garden is very poor, indeed.

The peculiar sobriety habits of the Spanish race conciliate marvelously in Central America with the affinity for ostentation and luxury. Comforts have barely penetrated some houses, and necessities, sacrificed to the superfluous, only exist in narrow limits.

Generally, the only two main dishes cooked during the day are composed of two or three courses and they only drink water. Yet, they are beginning to drink beer, since the beer produced in the country is very good. Wine is only consumed in certain celebrations and in public festivities. Broth, boiled soup, classic Spanish food, and a stew or two– one being pork, for which there is a great fondness– constitute the main dishes on the tables of the well-to-do classes. The lower classes eat fried beans and national stews, in which red peppers and spices play a large role.

During Mass, especially on Sundays and days of obligation, the churches take on a curious aspect. The lack of seats obligates the woman, tired of kneeling, to sit on the floor: certain postures and graceful attitudes that appear natural stem from this, since devotion is free of coquetry in Central America. Upon seeing them quiet, still, leaning against the wall or a column, with their eyelids lowered or their gaze lost in the temple vaults, they could be mistaken for statues of meditation. The sign of the cross, which they quickly trace across their face with their fingers, is the only movement that reveals


their vitality. No strange noise in the sanctuary disturbs the harmony of divine sacrifice. The incense and the organ’s accents rise along with prayer toward the heavens.

Central American religious processions also offer more than one type of interest. Truthfully, these solemnities no longer bear the magnificence that once impressed the commoners. Yet, despite everything they have lost through the process of enlightenment and a faith free of superstitions, they have not abandoned the processions of conserving an original character, through things such as carnival dragons, giant automata, and Dances of Moors and Christians, as well as other demonstrations; the avid attendance of the people, especially the women, reveals that the ostentatious manifestations of the Catholic religion will conserve its prestige for a very long time.

Due to one of the anomalies that are commonplace amongst certain New World democratic states, strong demarcations between society’s races exist in Central America, despite the equalitarian institutions. The white race’s disdain for the Indian and the latter’s hatred for the blue-blooded man, are the Conquest’s fundamental tradition. Much later, the fusion of these two races produced a third caste, called mulattos, [195] which has become animated against the other two with a vehement antipathy, although it is more notable amongst the men than in the fairer sex.

These two categories fall under the denomination of second rate citizens. Do we want to depict her character under this most graphic aspect? We must follow her in her festivities. Their habitual apathy cannot resist the strongly-seasoned stews, the Indians’ fermented beverages or the mulattos’ spirits. Under the empire of these diverse stimulants, their sad, resigned physiognomy takes on an almost savage expression in both sexes.

If white society has maintained its Spanish customs in Central America, then the Indian and mulatto customs are very original. Nature seems to have treated the first as its stepchild; but the mixing has favored the second, especially the women. Just as amongst the Indians, straight hair, flat nose, thick lips, copper skin color, and short stature attest to their origin; among the mulattos, the skin color gradually whitens, they are more robust than the Indians, and beauty, especially amongst the fairer sex, is very common. From the point of view of morality, the sum of their virtues balances out their vices. Though inclined toward idleness because they hate work, they are not cruel or generally vengeful, and those who live in the cities, under the watchful eye of the whites, are affable, honorable, and faithful.

The mulatta women are very skilled at domestic tasks. Since they are young, they are educated in the families where her parents serve; they are taught how to run errands, care for children, and serve food at the table, or help in the kitchen; when they are older, they clean inside the house or take the clothes to the river, iron, sew, and carry out


all types of manual labor. They are also taught to comb their mistress’ hair and some show great skill at fastening the ornamental comb or the ribbons and flowers that the ladies tend to wear in their hair. They are generally very faithful and form an attachment to the people who take an interest in them. Happily, sordid interest has not invaded those simple women’s souls.

Such is the portrait that can be made of the women of different social classes in Central America, of their character, typical dress, manners, customs, religious beliefs, beauty, defects, preoccupations, and qualities.



«Les femmes sont, si j'ose le dire, une
»seconde ame de notre être, qui, sous une
»autre enveloppe, correspond intimement à
»toutes nos pensées qu'elles éveillent, à
»tous nos désirs qu' elles font naitre et partagent, à nos faiblesses qu' elles peuvent
»plaindre, sans en être atteintes.»
— (Lesfemmes, leur condition et leur influencedans l'ordre social, t.[tome] I.)



We are on the shores of the great Lake Titicaca, surrounded by the ramifications of an endless mountain range that extends from Cape Horn to the furthest confines of America. The Desaguadero River is born from Titicaca, which, following a considerable course, widens near Lake Poopó and continues its rapid descent southward before becoming lost underground, near the sandy Pacific beaches that form the beginning of the immense and unexplored Atacama Desert.

We are incredibly amazed upon contemplating the Illampu and Illimani mountains, which stand out, sublime and impressive, within a splendid panorama, holding up their proud heads, perpetually covered in snow.

Various geological phenomena come to our attention here, at the highest point in the Andes.

In the distance, we can distinguish a long line of elevated peaks, uncommonly diverse in shape. There are indisputable traces of volcanic convulsions or powerful water erosion everywhere. Which element dominated


our globe during primitive times? Can the supporters of the Plutonian system affirm their theory? Should the opinion of those who support the Neptunian principle prevail?

This prodigious scene exists in the territory of former Upper Peru, which, today, is the Republic of Bolivia.

Let us continue our excursion.


We have entered the famous Tiahuanaco, founded by the Aymara [197] Indians. Their ruins are worthy of a profound study.

A large part of the palace of the sovereign descendants of Manco-Capac is still standing. It strongly resembles a temple dedicated to Brahma because of the similarities between its architectural style and those used in the East Indies.

No one knows how they were able to cut the granite stones to such perfection or what types of mechanical methods were used by those simple Indians, who did not share the somewhat-advanced knowledge of other peoples, to undertake such gigantic tasks.

In Tiahuanaco, there are many archeological facts for the study of that race of men whose origin continues to be ignored.

The singular identity of the Indians of both Americas and the majority of the inhabitants of Asia suggests their origin. By examining the universal geographic map, one can hypothesize that in remote times, Asia and America were not separated by the ocean and that a single, extraordinary disaster occurred on our planet, producing, among other phenomena, what is known today as the Bering Strait. This, in turn, caused the complete disappearance of immense expanses of land, the only traces of which exist in the form of elevated mountains that compose the multitude of Pacific islands. This separated many peoples who have since lost the etymological perception of race through the passage of time.

These are our convictions, based on the multiple observations relative to the manners and customs of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Those from Peru and Bolivia maintain a strong resemblance to the Asian races through their physique and historical backgrounds. The symbolic nature of many of the hieroglyphs found in the grandiose ruins of Huánuco, Cuzco, Pachacamac, Caxamarca [198], and Tiahuanaco [199], are very similar to those previously used by the inhabitants of India, Egypt, and China. More recently, we have been amazed to find that the Chinese who arrive in Peru can read those pages of rock with strange ease.



We have crossed the Mauri River, whose course marks the southern territorial boundaries of Peru and Bolivia; and we now find ourselves traveling through the endless pampas 33 situated between Oruro and La Paz.

We are burdened by a tremendous storm. The thunder booms like multiple artillery detonations, accompanied by a flood of water.

The ground we walk across sinks deeper at each step.

Completely drenched, without shelter, and overcoming the dangers posed by the tagaretes, 34 we are approaching the modest village of Sepulturas, the only objective that we have proposed to save ourselves; but the inundation of those vast fields has erased all traces of the path, a circumstance that reduces us to a distressing and difficult situation.

Assuming that we will overcome all the obstacles, and being close to finding the refuge we yearn for, a frightful electric shock has almost left us unconscious.


The Sepulturas parish priest, informed of our distressing state, has come to generously supply us with all types of aid, asking us to head toward his hospital home.

The assiduous care we received from our noble protector, who was very knowledgeable in medicine, has successfully achieved our recovery.

During our stay in Sepulturas, we have acquired some important facts regarding Aymara history.


The origin of the Aymaras is lost in the darkness of time; only Garcilaso (El Inca) says that they composed an independent tribe, with idolatrous beliefs, governed by a Cacique or a Sovereign Chief. Their language is very different from that of the Quechuas.

The Inca Atahuallpa, who exerted absolute power in Peru long before the irruption of Pizarro’s army, carried out the conquest of this tribe. Legend has it that this Monarch, heading the large army, had to fight extraordinarily


in order to defeat the indomitable Aymaras, whom he forced to conform to the same religious and legislative unity that governed his vast empire.

Today they live subjected to the dominion of the white race, which originated in Spain.

Their physique is the same as that of the Quechas; they have the same customs.

A great sublimation occurred during the rein of Charles III, provoked by the natives in Upper and Lower Peru, which pertained to Spain at that time, in which the Aymaras attracted public attention for their acts of savage valor.

Gabriel Tupac-Amaru, boasting that he had Incan blood, gave the war cry that resounded from Cuzco to Tucuman. Thousands of Aymara Indians joined the Quechas in a common cause to fight against the dominators, taking no prisoners.

Narrations of that time, which describe the terrible acts committed by that race, who thought the moment of the reestablishment of their independence had arrived, inspire fear. People still remember the battles, fires, and assaults that occurred in Cuzco, Puno, La Paz, Chayanta, and Tapacarí.

In view of such a grave state, the Viceroy ordered the organization of numerous militias, which, once on the field, combated relentlessly against the rebels without resting. Despite the efforts made by the King’s troops, the reestablishment of order was not possible and no one knows to what lengths he would have gone to stop that dangerous uprising if the intoxication and anarchy, which dominate the Indians, had not been two powerful aids for the termination of that horrid drama.

Once the rebels in Cuzco and La Paz were partially defeated, Tupac-Amaru and the principle leaders were captured; they were summarily tried, condemned to death, and immediately executed.

The previous notes briefly indicate the limited historical information on the Ayamaras, which was only recently acquired.

Having made that indispensable exposition on that race, we will now fulfill the mission at hand to write an article on the Bolivian woman, a type easy to confuse with other of the same or similar nature that figure into American society, which we plan to describe so that she can appear with all the incidents that graphically characterize her. Grant us the pleasure of this task, which will thereby provide us with the favorable occasion to pay a just homage to the eminent qualities of the woman born in this land, made grandiose by its riches and noble historic events.

The Bolivian woman can be divided into two classes:

The one who belongs to the white race.

And the Indian, whom we will describe first.



The Ayamara Indian woman tends to be very beautiful. She is of medium height, has thick limbs, conical breasts, a wide face, a rather large mouth, and an arched upper lip, her nose is slightly flat, her eyes open halfway and their external angle is a bit elevated; her hair is black and straight, her skin is coppery and sometimes yellowish.

Her traditional outfit is invariable: it basically consists of a black piece of thick, woolen cloth spun and knitted by hand, cinched at the waist, an embroidered dickey that ties at the neck, and a thick shawl fastened across the chest with a large gold or copper pin, that covers her shoulders. She braids her hair, which is rolled and pinned with certain metal ornaments similar to the ones used by Roman women. She is almost always barefooted and she dedicates herself to the most difficult tasks. She often carries her children on her back, secured by a mantle tied to her body; she carries this precious load as she walks many leagues on foot. She lives on lake shores, on the rugged mountains, and in extremely cold regions. Her small abode is so simply constructed that it is difficult to imagine how it can contain a numerous family and all the necessary household goods, and how its fragile material resists the raging storms that often blow through the places she inhabits. She is dominated by her husband’s despotic will, which she obeys, quietly trembling.

With her duties multiplied, the fatigues that weigh upon that unfortunate creature recall the ignominious treatment to which a large part of women from Africa and the East Indies are condemned.

She professes Catholicism, but lacks the understanding of the sublime morals that it entails due to not having received the education relative to requirements of her condition.

She spends almost the entire year devoted to the cruelest subservience in resigned hope that one day the hour of her true emancipation will arrive.

Such is the Aymara Indian woman. She is similar to the Quechas in every way; we cannot add anything in reference to her typical habits, which maintain a complete analogy to the majority of women who pertain to the peoples once governed by the Incas.

We will now move on to the description of the qualities and conditions of the white woman.


Bolivia is located in an almost-central region of South America, whose vast territory is dominated by diverse, very favorable atmospheric conditions. Here, nature presents itself one moment as cheerful or majestic and the next as severe or beautified with the lushness of the most exuberant vegetation; as a result of such an extremely harmonious


combination, its inhabitants are gifted with qualities that highlight the most distinguished members of the human race.

With this background, we will begin to sketch the Bolivian woman of the Spanish race.


Juanita was born in the sumptuous city of La Paz. She enjoys the great wealth she inherited from her parents; she is independent and lives surrounded by all the pleasures she can desire. She is passionate about dances; she listens ecstatically to declarations of love by four or five young men, who compete for the goddess’ preference.

Juanita would like to choose a husband, but she is afraid of losing her freedom. Furthermore, she is still too young to fall into the hands of a jealous man, of a domestic tyrant; she prefers to maintain the independence of her honest state. She never misses out on strolls; she is delirious about the abtapis; 35 she dresses luxuriously; she despises money; she is as proud as a sultan when she feels her dignity has been injured, and she expresses humility toward the poor, whom she helps generously.

Andrea, a native of Oruro, is an orphan and earns her livelihood working in a primary school; she lives with her elderly mother and provides her with the tenderest care. Her carefully-cultivated superior intelligence, her filial love, her dedication to the fulfillment of responsibilities that she has undertaken, her public and private virtues– all constitute the most refined model of this country’s women.

Maria is a ten year-old girl who first saw the light of this world in the fertile fields of Cochabamba; she is as beautiful as an angel and possesses the most notable sentiments.

She studies eagerly and acquires her necessary education at a tender age.

She distributes the few things she has to her classmates, destined to satisfy childish caprices; she loves her parents with all the purity of her soul, and everything makes her imagine the most pleasing hopes: but…oh! How ephemeral is human existence! That beautiful flower would be blown down by a furious gale upon opening her calyx of vivifying fragrance. Maria read a great deal; she has a febrile anxiety for study, and… her bewitching eyes became inflamed. Unfortunately, a brutal empiricist applied certain topical applications that caused gangrenous Erysipelas, which, consequently, led to her death. The angelic voice of that girl during her fatal agony still echoes in our ears. She bid farewell to all who surrounded her and expired consoling her poor parents. Her spirit abandoned her body, soaring to the immortal empyrean.

Mercedes was born in the erudite Chuquisaca; her fluent language, interesting figure, and refined elegance place her at the level of the most perfect woman.


She is aware of the notable literary classics; she has consulted all the universal scientific celebrities; and she has a marked predilection for good taste in the fine arts diffused by leading Italian and Spanish artists. Educated without pedantry, she amazes all who listen to the concepts that emanate from her grandiose intelligence. Dedicated to the cultivation of all human knowledge, she represents the image of the goddess Reason, condemning man’s doctrines, almost always obstinate regarding the participation of women in all aspects of social constitution.

An original manuscript that fell in our hands by chance and published below, can serve as the conclusion of this essay describing the Bolivian woman consigned to this article.


“During the time Pizarro and his soldiers invaded the Peruvian coasts, that extensive empire was governed by Huascar-Inca, an omnipotent lord, whose voice was obeyed with idolatry by all his subjects. That Monarch was appalled to learn that some extraordinary men traveled across part of the coastlines of his State, taking possession of everything they wanted, and that his troops were not sufficient in number to contain the arrogance of those beings who– because of their type, customs, and terrible weapons– seemed to be completely supernatural.

“Huascar-Inca, alarmed by the progress of these invaders and eager to discover for himself the motive of such disorder, decided to agree to the demand continuously made by Pizarro to grant an audience, in which he would explain his conduct and the mission he was to fulfill in Peru.

“Huascar-Inca left Cuzco, his regular residence and, surrounded by a great number of soldiers, marched in search of the audacious adventurer.

“A few days later, they caught sight of two armies in front of the historical and monumental Caxamarca.

“Huascar-Inca had his army stop near Pizarro’s camp and sent an embassy composed of six nobles from his court to meet with the Spanish leader, with the principal objective of inquiring the origin of those people of war and the cause that motivated such an unjust invasion of his territory.

“Once the ambassadors had fulfilled their mission, Pizarro replied that he desired to speak with the Monarch, to whom he only needed to explain the lofty duty with which his God and King had entrusted him.

“Resolved to put an end to such a dubious situation, Huascar-Inca headed toward the Spanish camp.

“Pizarro awaited him with 534 soldiers, ready for the order of war. The archers stood in the center; the cavalry, divided into two groups,


covered the flanks, and the artillery was located at the rearguard. It seemed impossible that such an exiguous army would attempt to fight against the Inca’s large army.

“Shouting indistinctly and making a display of their numeric superiority, the Indians formed large groups without art or order, all armed with cold steel and projectile weapons.

“The hoarse sounds of many savage instruments announced the approximation of Huascar-Inca, who finally presented himself, carried by some of his subjects, seated atop a throne of gold, dazzling with precious stones, surrounded by the principal magnates of his court.

“Pizarro approached him with the intention of stretching out his hand, but the Inca leaped lightly to the ground and indicated through signs that such a familiar act was never permitted.

“With the help of an interpreter, Pizarro informed him that his King, the world’s most powerful, had sent him to inform him that he must submit to his mandates and distance himself from his false religion forever, accepting the Christian faith.

“Huascar-Inca was astounded after listening to such audacious speech. He answered that he did not recognize any kingship superior to his own and did not allow him the dignity of continuing to listen to such ravings; in regard to his religion, he would forever live cultivating that which his people professed, without varying or admitting any other. A friar named Valverde, of Pizarro’s retinue, intervened in the debate, gesticulating and extravagantly screaming that the Holy Gospels advised the irrecusable obligation of adoring the one and only true God, who came to the world incarnate to redeem men from sin. This being said, he took out a book in Latin and began to read with emphatic intonation.

“When he finished reading a few paragraphs, he demanded that the Monarch convert that very moment and adore the sacred texts.

“Once the interpreter had informed Huascar-Inca of all that this man had said, he asked that they let him examine the book in question; once it was placed in his hands, he began to turn the pages slowly. He then pressed it against his ear as if to hear some revelation, but observing that nothing extraordinary or capable of persuading him to abandon his beliefs influenced his understanding, he let it drop, saying that it was useless for his convincing.

“Then Friar Valverde screamed angrily, which was the signal to begin the hostilities. The Indians, seeing their Monarch irritated, released horrifying screams and a great number of arrows.

“The archers immediately shot again and the artillery followed.

“Fear and death reined in the Inca’s camp.

“The Spanish cavalry completed the defeat of the other army.

“Huascar-Inca, alone and abandoned by his people– who had fled without fighting– was captured by Pizarro, taken to Caxamarca, and locked in a room that would serve as his sad prison.


“After a few days, the prisoner was notified of the Council’s resolution to condemn him to death as a punishment for his disloyalty and the unmotivated aggression of his troops in the moments of negotiating the foundations of a peaceful convention.

“The Inca heard this fatal news without becoming perturbed. He then lifted his right hand and made a sign on the wall, indicating that he would fill the prison with gold and silver up to the level of his head if they granted him his life.

“His proposal was accepted and he remained imprisoned until the fulfillment of his offer. In order for this to be carried out, he was permitted communication with some of his vassals to whom he ordered to spread the word through his dominions of the dangerous state to which he found himself reduced and that, without wasting time, all the treasure offered for his rescue be accumulated and brought in.

“Fifteen days later, many Indians carrying gold and silver arrived at Caxamarca.

“Once the amount the prisoner promised was received, Pizarro and his companions became intoxicated with the joy of possession and distribution of a treasure they believed to be inexhaustible.

“Yet, the majority of those men initiated a grave tumult, asking Pizarro to demand more treasure from the Inca, since that was the only way of obtaining compensation for their hard work and hardships.

“Pizarro had to turn to this means of demanding more treasure from the unfortunate Huascar-Inca, who, once again placed in communication with his vassals, ordered that they hide the treasures, which existed across his empire, in a secure and unknown place, in the hopes of preventing them from falling into the hands of those foreigners, so that they could never investigate where they had deposited it.

“This being said, he bid farewell to his loyal servants, convinced that he would soon lose his life.

“History relates the tragic death of that Monarch.

“Two centuries after the previously described events, a very old Indian died in San Pedro de Chatanta, who had adopted a white girl whom he found a few years earlier at his door.

“That girl was named Angela.

“The few resources that the Indian bequeathed to the child he protected were enough to procure her shelter in a house of education. Angela never forgot the last words spoken by her protector in his final moments, ‘Study a great deal and with time, you will find the key to your happiness in this hut.’

“When Angela reached the age of 20, she shone extraordinarily because of her virtues and education. She was very familiar with the Quechua language, which she spoke with rare facility and concentrated her education in it; this was a result of the affection she professed in memory for that Indian who was her true father.

“One day, inspired by a happy feeling, she asked the house Directress in charge of the shelter where she lived for permission to visit her unforgettable benefactor’s hut, and was granted permission.


“Angela stayed a long time in the mansion that served as her childhood refuge. Everything was intact: her adoptive father’s domestic tools and farming instruments and some maize and wheat grains piled in a corner.

“She decided to gather those provisions, depositing them in a mantle to help the poor, and when she cleaned the area they previously occupied, a plaque adhered to the pavement caught her attention. It contained some symbolic figures frequently used during the age of Incan rule. The young woman examined the figures, which were sculpted in bas-relief, and saw that one of them was represented with the attributes of royal majesty, heading toward a building in the form of a temple in the background, and followed by various Indians carrying what appeared to be sacks full of coins. Such a strange scene must have undoubtedly referred to a certain notable event in the history of the Incas and such an idea subsisted in the mind of this legend’s heroine. After having carefully meditated, she deciphered the meaning of those figures and read the words Inca, colque, huasi, Pachacamac, deducing in Spanish that the Incan treasure still existed in the house of God.

“Dominated by the content of those phrases, Angela understood (because of her education) that perhaps that Huascar-Inca’s famous treasure, hidden after his death, could exist in the subterranean vaults of the Temple of the Sun, whose solid ruins still stand in Cuzco.

“Without pausing for a single second, she carefully closed the door and returned to the shelter.

“She busied herself by recording the impressions of her discovery, which she finally finished and whose content was the following:

“‘The unfortunate monarch Huascar died after advising his people to hide the immense metallic riches that existed in their States from the conquistadors. The dominators have eagerly searched for this hiding place in vain.

“‘The indigenous race has religiously maintained their elders’ secret, imposed by the man who represented their secular traditions.

“‘An Indian served as my father, saving me from my orphanhood. I wish to repay that immense debt of gratitude by communicating the fortuitous result of my investigations to the eldest Cuaraca 36 of San Pedro de Chayanta.

“‘Huascar-Inca’s famous treasure is undoubtedly buried in the basements of the ancient Temple of the Sun. You should take the appropriate measures without any delay to prevent anyone from stealing that treasure, which the Quechua people are obligated to one day return to the legitimate Monarch who can rebuild the Manco-Capac Empire.


“‘I renounce the happiness proportioned by gold. I do not wish to possess anything that belongs to that poor race, to which my generous protector pertained.’

“The indicated Curaca received Angela’s manuscript.

“That young woman died of a cerebral congestion, without ever having revealed her discovery, proving what a woman is capable of when she finds herself dominated by the noble sentiment of gratitude.

“Shortly after the episode we just narrated, a large excavation in Cuzco garnered much public attention. It was centered at the base of one of the Saint Dominick convent’s lateral walls, which had been built on top of the ruins of the ancient Temple of the Sun. Beneath the wall, stone staircase led down toward the interior of a spacious subterraneous vault, where they found gold scattered on the floor. The floor was excessively wet and still conserved the footprints of various men. Would they find the famous Incan treasure there? Was it, by chance, transferred to another, safer place?”


We have recorded the various principal qualities that grace the white Bolivian woman, and the only things we have left to say, summarily correspond to the majority of the others of her sex who live in the most advanced societies of South America.

The Bolivian woman manifests great aptitude for social life. She is a good wife, a gentle mother, pious, educated, and very enthusiastic about her country.

We have completed our task feeling that we do not possess the elevated skills required to detail the very distinguished type of woman who lives in the country that sustains the famous Potosí; but if we lack the convenient proficiency, we have more than enough desire to fulfill the unavoidable duty of the strictest justice.

Madrid, July 1878.



“Qu'est-ce qu'une femme? Question aussi
complexe qu'importante; car de la réponse,
c'est-á-dire, de cette définition, dépend
la solution de ce probléme: Quelle place
la femme doit-elle occuper dans notre siécle?”
-(Histoire morale des femmes.)


The Republic of Ecuador, located in the most central part of South America, contains very fertile territory for the cultivation of the most-prized fruits. Its many forests are filled with oak, cedar, banana, laurel, and mangrove trees and many other types of wood suitable for construction and carpentry. Valued cereals are harvested in abundance and large quantities of cacao, rice, cotton, tobacco, and exquisite fruits are gathered. Such excellent products compose an active commerce with the principal nations of the world.

The atmospheric conditions of this country vary notably. From December to April, the temperature is extremely hot and humid; during this season, the rivers flood and form extensive swamps teeming with a multitude of poisonous animals, popularly known as scorpions, snakes, and vipers, which, upon entering man’s dwellings, are inconvenient and sometimes dangerous. From May to December, breezes cool the heat and rain is very rare during this last season.


Guayaquil is the Republic’s principal port; its important population was founded on the banks of the Guayas River, five leagues from the Pacific Ocean. It is divided into two parts that are connected by a wooden bridge. Its village is very nice and it has some pretty buildings; but its unclean streets present a constant threat of poisoning by insects.


Quito, located at the foot of the colossal Pichincha in the highest inhabitable regions of the Andes, is the capital of Ecuador and, as a result, the notable center of agricultural products and population. [201] The houses tend to be badly constructed and their interiors are very simple– only the main room, reserved for entertaining visitors, is decorated; its walls are generally decorated with paper and terrible paintings. Some lamps placed in the corners and a chandelier hanging from the ceiling serve as scant lighting.

The floor is covered in rough carpets that are manufactured in the country. The principal furniture pieces include: a few tables, sofas with silk cushions, and a bed in its respective room, which is profusely decorated in golden colors.

A vestibule is located at the entrance of each house and their patios are spacious. The majority of these homes have a private sitting room called a workroom where the women spend hours carrying out certain domestic chores.

Quito, imprisoned by a mountain chain and unable to obtain European merchandise at anything other than a very high price, has been obligated to create many types of crude, though strong and solid products in high demand in Antioquia, Choro, Timana, Barbacoas, and Guayaquil. The latter city pays in cacao and the others with the gold from their mines and other very important products.

Lacking in schools, art, and industry, they exist in infancy. Sculpture, the main adornment in the Quito temples, manifests the most imperfect forms: painting is not subject to any rule and architecture participates in the most detestable churrigueresque taste.


From Quito, the first place encountered is Tumbamba and all the inns along the way have cheese and chicha. Afterward, you travel through the following cities: Machake [202], Saguilisi, Taquaso, Tagnolo, and Macuchimina.


This last city’s land is rich in mines; it is divided by many precipices and rivers, mainly by the Yana, Yacú, and Pilalo rivers, which cannot be crossed except on the shoulders of Indians. The Macuchimina forests have an abundance of quinine.

After leaving Pilalo, you travel to Ambato; the land traversed before arriving is covered in sand produced by the region’s many volcanoes.

Then you arrive at Ambato, which is a pretty village; its streets are straight lines; the houses are clean, and those that are far from the center are surrounded by an enclosure of foliage formed by plum, pear, peach, and many other fruit trees. The isolated cabins hidden behind curtains of vegetation and flowers create a picturesque effect.

Upon leaving Ambato to continue on to Cuenca, you cross a bridge and travel through the village of Querro, the Sabanag Plateau, the small village of Ilapo, and the Tapi plain: upon leaving the latter, you traverse the Riobamba mines. This village was destroyed on February 4, 1797 by a terrible earthquake.

After having crossed a country covered in volcanic traces, you arrive in Guamote, where the two branches that form the mountain range are distinguishable. The Western range is lower. You will note that nature created an extensive aperture here that allows water to flow through, which produces the Guayas’ profound river bed.

It is intensely cold in Guamote; yet, the traveler cannot tire of admiring this amazing location.

Guamotes is surrounded by extremely high mountains and is located on an island bathed by two rivers with prodigiously fertile shores.

This city was the site of the famous rebellion that destroyed the surrounding regions in 1803 [203] The term custom-house, which the people of these mountains do not understand, in combination with the new laws that they were trying to establish, prompted this uprising, which cannot have another cause, since it contains none of the characteristics that have marked other countries’ revolutions.

Remembering the attempts made to construct the monopoly on tobacco and brandy in this part of the Quito province, the Indians thought that taxes were being imposed on them. This extremely imprudent agitation caused grave conflicts. The Indians’ badly-repressed hatred against the whites exploded with angry fury, resulting in a horrendous bloodbath.

That vast rebellion, channeled toward the extermination of the whites, was incorrectly directed and prematurely initiated by the inhabitants of Guamote. The other committed villages hesitated, unable to decide whether or not to cooperate with the rebels; for this reason, the Government was able to easily repress the disorder that would have grown.

Terrible executions followed the Indians’ defeat and Guamote was set on fire.



Continuing down the path to Cuenca, you arrive in Puma Chaca, where the elevation begins to drop.

Next, you arrive in Alausi, with a population of 500 inhabitants, almost all Indians. Alausi marks the beginning of lush jungles that extend all the way to the Great Ocean.

Puma Chaca is located at an elevation just as considerably high as Quito. From there, one enters into Azuay, whose plateau is composed of rocks. The most elevated regions overlap with the boundaries of this vegetation.

After leaving Puma Chaca, you continue climbing upward until reaching Sabanag, an expansive plain that stops at Des-Piches, dominated by an extremely glacial temperature. The climb is easy, but it is quite a long distance from Litan, where the Asnay [204] plateau begins. When the wind blows from the East, it drags so much snow and hail that the sky becomes dark and the traveler, stricken by a cold, with water up to his knees, feels his limbs tightened, he becomes numb, and he will be very happy if he is able to escape death.

Atop the Asnay plateau is a pond that most likely measures 60 meters in length. [205] The Puyal plain– which is dangerous because of the deep lagoons that surround it– is nearby. The ruins of an Incan castle, built from rock without mortar, sit at the Puyal border. The Indians manifested very unusual taste in choosing this location to construct such a home destined for life’s comforts, since it rained and hailed here eight months out of the year.

Once traversing the Alto de la Virgen, [206] you enter Dalek,[207] a countryside populated by Indians, where the country takes on a more cheerful aspect, the roads are better, the population is larger, and everything announces the proximity of a considerably large city. And the traveler should not be mistaken: shortly afterward, he finds himself in Cuenca, situated on a plain, whose elevation is 1,279 toise [208] above sea level.

The temperature in Cuenca is quite pleasant.

Sometimes the sky is cloudy; but it rains less frequently than in Quito.

The Cuenca countryside is a sandy arid plain. Most of the straight, wide streets are paved.

Cuenca society is divided into three classes: the nobility, who spend their life doing nothing; the middle class, who dedicate themselves to commerce, and the common people, who perform the roughest labor.

Cuenca receives cotton from Peru; cacao from Guayaquil; rice, wine, oil, and pottery from Europe; and, lastly, unfinished fabrics from Quito; in exchange, Cuenca provides many grains and products from the surrounding mountains.


The Pante Valley [209] relies on Cuenca; it is located seven leagues northeast of this city. Mercury mines have been discovered there. The immediate mountains produce a great amount of quinine and rise 400 meters above Quito.

San Cristóbal, located above Supay, Vecú, and Qualaceo are part of the Pante jurisdiction. Cochineal and sugar are collected from the surrounding regions and are exploited in the same way as the gold mines.

Guagal-Suma [210] is a hill famous in the country because the Indians supposedly sacrificed children there to their Incan manes. [211]

These are essentially the facts that we felt were necessary for understanding the country that sustains the type of females that we propose to describe.

Now that this background has been laid out, we shall begin our task.


The origin of the Ecuadorian Indian woman is the same as that of the Peruvian and Bolivian Indian. The territory that composes the Republic today formed an integral part of the Incan empire and we cannot add anything to what has already been said regarding the habits and customs of the Indigenous women who live between the colossal Chimborazo, Pichincha, and Tunguragua volcanoes, since they share the exact same habits, customs, and history with the Quechua people.

However, the ones who live at the river banks or on the hot ocean beaches reveal a more cultivated intelligence, more beauty in their physique, and certain habits that indicate their immediate contact with the white race.


The Ecuadorian woman of Spanish origin shares the same qualities that exalt the women from Lima, Chile, or Bolivia, differing only in certain habits acquired under the influence of climate and in the results of the education received in her country.

In general, the Ecuadorian women tend to be endowed with notorious beauty. The women from Guayaquil are gracious, well educated, and stand out because of their elegance. The women from Quito attract attention because of their courteous facial expressions, elegant figure, and noble demeanor.

Let us examine the sketch of these two types of women who stand out from the image that we have proposed to exhibit for public curiosity.

It is often believed that the hotter the country, the darker the women’s hair, and that in colder regions, blonds are the most common. This


opinion is not valid in the Republic of Ecuador, since there are many blond women in hot regions and there are brunettes in the more elevated regions that are subjected to excessively cold temperatures. The blonds or brunettes tend to have some sort of grace and physically stand out because of the brightness of their eyes, pretty hands, and extremely small feet.

The Ecuadorian woman from the Andes is very similar to the Northern European women; the only difference is that the former reveal neither the English women’s melancholy nor the German woman’s languidness, instead, she has a kind, sweet face, which is the genuine expression of her humanitarian character.

The woman who inhabits the slopes of the giant Pichincha wears a very original outfit. She wears a black, silk petticoat, which covers her figure, and a piece of cloth on her head, which descends over her waist in a triangle. On top of this mantilla-type cloth, she wears a hat that does not completely fit; this hat looks very much like those worn by sailors.

The women from the coast slowly renounce the traditional Andalusian dress to adopt that of the English. Their education is extremely advanced, since almost all of them are well-versed in the knowledge that is necessary to distinguish oneself in society. They sing and play the piano gracefully; they have a vivid disposition, which allows them to easily learn all that is useful for the cultivation of intelligence; and there are some who are truly erudite. The poetry written by some Ecuadorian women is well-known since their literary work has attracted much attention.

The women from the mountains and the plains do not have the same kind of beauty, but this group is pleasing due to their special characteristics.

There is a great difference between their customs and character– antipathy reigns amongst them. Rivalries between class, wealth, origins, and castes spread a hateful spirit through society, which is not easily seen amid the caresses that suffocate them and the manifestation of the art that the fairer sex often employs to conceal it. Yet, when two friends (if any exist) share their secrets, they satirize their neighbor without mercy– this is a genre of conversation that is quite natural amongst women who rarely leave their home and who spend their days leafing through books, which boredom makes them drop to the floor– or they entertain themselves by braiding their hair or, better yet, lying in bed smoking cigarettes.

The women from the coast call the women from the Andes hinudas and the latter give the former the nickname calentanas. National hatred has no other origin than that of the rivalries and chimeras of the female sex and the continuous revolutions that have agitated the State of Ecuador could have been prompted by the disastrous results of similar puerility.

Amid the accumulation of these opposing conditions, it is important to admit that the Ecuadorian woman is not less worthy than the others who form


South American society. If there is a difference between the former and the latter, it consists of the lack of customs to mold oneself to the progress of more advanced peoples– a consequence of the effort demonstrated by certain governing leaders to shut off the bright ideas emitted by reason and liberty.

Now that the diversity noted between the women from Guayaquil and Quito has been established, we will describe their special characteristics.


The woman from Guayaquil loves pleasures and she surrenders herself to Italian dolce far niente[212] as a consequence of either her nature’s predisposition or the hot climate in which she lives. Incessantly reclining in a hammock and dressed in a thin dressing gown that allows glimpses of her beautiful figure, she inhales the ocean breeze and spends hours rocking lazily in that suspended bed. Nothing is sufficient to change these particular habits and she entertains all who visit her without moving from this voluptuous position; she considers any type of etiquette-based ceremony, which forces her to change her oriental customs as something useless and inconvenient.

She sings love songs with an enviable accent, and when the sun’s scorching rays have hidden, she languidly abandons her aerial bed to surrender herself to dance, in which she employs the incentives of her inimitable grace. Sometimes she takes her genteel beauty to the shores of the poetic Guayas and, beneath the pale moonlight that reflects off her figure, dressed in the finest white fabric, she looks like a fairy on the verge of invoking some immortal genie.

Such is her custom; this is how she spends her hours, days, and years, without any other variation on this lifestyle produced by love’s stimulus. Her eyes sparkle surprisingly, her bosom stirs, she is restless, and manifests signs of being possessed by a fervent affection or a cruel torment emanating from the heavens. Considering herself in complete control of her soul mate, she then wants to be very spoiled; she demonstrates a certain dominant pride and is content in the triumphs achieved by her singular beauty.

These are the Guayaquil woman’s principle characteristics.


The Quito woman is not very emotional when it comes to love– this is undoubtedly due to the frozen summits she inhabits– but she has the most natural instincts of sincere affection when it comes to uniting her life in matrimony. One could say that she awakes from a long lethargy; she focuses all her attention on the man to


whom she will be united. She overcomes the largest obstacles; she will go to great lengths to achieve her desires, and believes that by placing her future under the aegis of the mortal whose honored conduct cannot be doubted, she has reached the height of her happiness.

The Quito woman’s principal task is to provide the care required by her home to assure its stability. She establishes the most perfect order in all the details of her life; she is economical, serious, judicious, and committed to the most austere devotion.

She frequents churches and does not miss the numerous processions celebrated in her country– a true testament to her pure Catholicism.

Her main amusements consist of excursions to the countryside and the cultivation of music. Dancing is also a pleasure for the Quito woman, but she is always careful not to commit the grave error of the improper discomposure of honesty.

The Quito woman’s greatest satisfaction consists of giving gifts, such as aromatic chocolates or homemade candies, to all who visit her home. If she hosts a gathering honoring some family solemnity, she seems to multiply herself in order to attend to the needs of all the guests at such a classic event. She gives gifts to everyone without distinction, distributes the best dishes, and proposes toasts, which are accepted without any hesitation by those present; they then obligate her to respond to the toast of pompous praise that her amiability won. So, she, with a timid tone, utters a few phrases, which are regularly interrupted by thunderous applause.


We will conclude this task by reviewing the reasons that prevent the perfection of the woman who inspired this article.

The Republic of Ecuador has the basis for positive wealth, but it is difficult to exploit due to the lack of roads needed to transport a multitude of products– which constitute a grandiose future for commerce and industry– to the Pacific coasts.

If we add the lack of public administration, religious intolerance, and the disastrous political waves produced by degenerate ambitions to this vital cause, we can logically prove the relative backwardness of a country that should be at the same level as Chile and Peru, to whom it does not cede in elements of grandiose importance for the consumption and utility of the human family.

Apart from the previous conditions, the public education system has been neglected, whether due to political turbulence or to the lack of a completely free plan of study,


or, consequently, to the systematic cleric propaganda that always contradicts innovations, which are considered a threat to its existence and whose doctrines, refractory to progress, unfortunately influence the ignorant popular masses.

Thus, due to egoism, ambition, and fanaticism, woman cannot receive the benefits of a solid education or, much less, escape the yoke that imprisons her, of which, perhaps, she is not even aware.

Resigned, we await the hour when the country of the famous poet, Olmedo, [213] shall be aggrandized, fulfilling the interesting Ecuadorian woman’s relative emancipation.




At the time the Spaniards discovered and conquered South America, ferocious savages with indomitable courage lived in the marvelous Cumaná plains and at the banks of the overflowing Apuré and Orinoco Rivers.

Always wandering on inexpugnable retreats, they survived off fruits or the products of their hunting. During the summer, the ground served as their bed, while during the rainy season, they sought refuge inside the holes of enormous trees. They went about almost naked; the most distinguished ornaments used by this tribe with singular customs included strange paintings that decorated their bodies, certain animal teeth or bones worn through holes in their ears, and large, gold rings that hung from their noses. They commonly wore the feathers of strange birds on their heads and covered certain parts of their bodies with the hides of the most ferocious animals.

Ambition prevailed amid great misery and those who aspired to exert dominion over the multitude constantly yearned for supreme power. This eminent position was awarded at the expense of the most painful tests, and the slightest moan, the smallest indication of weakness, or any other analogous reason, was enough to prompt complete expulsion.

Did those barbaric societies require the superiority of a Chief? Was the judgment of those who governed them necessary to resolve all possible conflicts?


This Indian race that inhabited the mountains did not manifest much ferocity in their customs; those living in the fertile region named Antioquia, however, conserved some sanguine habits. On the other hand, the Mosca [214] Indian nation, situated on the plain that is dominated today by the populous city of Santa Fe, was well organized and had certain laws that reveal the state of civilization they had been able to achieve.

They maintained communication with the neighboring tribes and considered the dedication to field labor very honorable; property was respected, they had very comfortable dwellings, and they dressed with notable decency. The Cundinamarca Chief’s court did not lack certain pomp and although it did not equal the majesty of Tenochtitlan and Cuzco, it was adorned with all the prestige that accentuates the importance of the Sovereign.

Religion was well respected and practiced with great ostentation in the temples, which included sacrifices to their venerated gods, the Sun and the Moon.

Such was the somewhat savage state of the tribes that lived in the country conquered in 1536 by the famous Spaniard, Quesada, [215] and named New Granada– undoubtedly because of its surprising fertility or because of a certain similarity to the country dominated for many centuries by those famous Moors, whose King cried upon abandoning the poetic, fertile plain irrigated by the Genil River.


Anyone who likes savage disorder will find the natural features of almost all the regions of the Republic of New Granada beautiful. Notably tall and vigorously-growing, large trees cover the majority of the country; their shade would be delightful if it were not exposed to the dangerous consequences of the land’s humidity, poisonous insect bites, or attacks by ferocious beasts.

Man has planted much in those vast territories. The fields sown with cotton, corn, indigo, wheat, tobacco, and cacao form a prodigious wealth.

That country, so varied in its different temperatures, produces all the raw materials for industry as well as a great abundance of sugar, wool, gold, silver, and copper.

To summarize, the New Granada territory is so beautiful, so fertile, and so rich that we do not hesitate to predict a future of immense grandeur paired with the most powerful influence over many of the world’s cities.


Now that we have finished with the historic notes of the savage tribes that lived at the banks of the Orinoco and other adjacent regions, we will proceed to the description of the


woman who currently inhabits such a beautiful country, detailing her manners and customs; and since she who reveals a completely indigenous origin deserves primacy, we will giver her the preferential spot.

The Indian woman of New Granada’s hot regions is very diligent.

The houses they occupy are made of reeds or bamboo and are usually built within the thickest forests.

She lives in those solitary retreats, surrounded by a fecund nature that lavishes her with her best gifts.

She dresses poorly and walks barefooted; her outfit is composed of one piece of lightweight fabric that covers the interesting parts of her body.

Her house is usually surrounded by a small garden full of vegetables, which she attempts to protect from flooding with a fence. A dozen chickens, a cow, and a pig, all in a corral, complete the Indian’s property, which she carefully looks after while her husband hunts in the woods in pursuit of the rich products generously provided by that land’s fertility.

The Indian woman usually owns a roller to make guarapo, 37 a piece of fabric to knit a mat, and turtle shells for plates; the care she takes to always keep some pieces of salted meat and various baskets full of corn in her humble pantry demonstrates her forethought.

Apparently, the New Granada Indian woman’s life regarding her necessities is very active; she attends to everything and doesn’t wait for any help from society. For this reason, she can be seen chasing a jaguar or casting nets into the river in search of fish to feed her family, and when the overflowing waters flood her home, she is eager to help her own to save them, seeking for refuge in the paths used only by deer.

She incorrectly professes Christian maxims because she was not suitably instructed in its virtues; and, either as a consequence of her jungle life or the racial instincts she conserves, she is accustomed to surrendering herself to the sensual pleasures that her nature compels. The Indian woman’s features are similar to all those of her kind who live in South America; and though there is a notable difference in the lines that mark her face, she has the same physical features: coppery skin tone, medium height, robust limbs, prominent cheekbones, large mouth, arched superior lip, somewhat flat nose, slightly opened eyes, and abundant black, straight hair.

We will conclude this description of the neo-granadian Indian woman by mentioning the sentiments that are exalted by the spirit of vengeance or love of her home, which she defends like a wild animal if it is attacked. The memories of


heroic and terrible acts that consumed the Indians in the first years of their struggle for independence in which those women played a large part– thereby revealing their strong affection for the principles conceded by a wide liberty– have not been forgotten.


After a difficult navigation through the rapid Magdalena River [216] and crossing many lands, we can see Bogota in the distance, the capital of the Republic of New Granada, which is very beautiful and proud, surrounded by very high mountains and under the influence of a climate similar to the mildest European temperatures. Here, one does not have to fear certain ferocious animals or the poisonous insects that devastate the banks of the rivers that run through the lowlands; and man, free of many dangers, finds himself transported to elevated temperatures. Some poplar trees grow in these plains, alternating with a few small apple trees and though large vegetation does not develop to the same extent as it does in other climates, the most valued cereals multiply with surprising abundance.

The expansive Beauce plain is a grandiose spectacle– it is as tall as the highest Pirineo peaks, yet, it is covered in abundant cornfields! It is important to note that, because of its expansive area and fertility, this view surpasses the most beautiful image imaginable by man.


Leaving Bogota aside to visit it more carefully later, we continue our excursion through an almost-flooded plain surrounded by scrublands and rugged hills, whose highlands look like islands in the middle of a great lake.

Suddenly, we cross through land covered in lush trees that create a pleasant impression.

The black, lugubrious rocks that surrounded Bogota have disappeared from our sight and, instead, we see ravines, fertile countryside, and picturesque houses surrounded by banana trees that stand out from the forests’ shadowy foliage.

Despite the joy this sight brings us, we cannot help but notice that the mountain peaks hide within clouds that quickly descend, turning into rain and storms.

We enter the jungles that give shade to the famous Tequendama Falls, which is finally in our sight.


This imposing waterfall produces a huge impression on us and our amazement is so great that we cannot realize the admiration that possesses us as we watch the waters of the Bogota River crash with roaring ostentation, like a terrible avalanche that rolls from the Chimborazo hillside. We have had to lie face down on the wall that forms the precipice’s wall, which is also where we stood to contemplate such a sublime panorama.

Our sights are fixed on the abyss, distinguishing the huge torrent of water that produces so much foam absorbed in an ocean of vapor.

Such an extraordinary view is interrupted by the profound darkness that envelops us. As the river waters fall from the frozen heights of the mountain range to the embracing abysses dug at its feet, they form a fog, which, lifted by the sun, inundates us from all sides.


Our excursion to Tequendama has inspired a yearning to visit all the country’s remarkable sites. We fueled our desire to see the Pandi bridge and, therefore, headed toward that place, traveling through Fusugasuga [217] first. We passed Chocho on our right, a small village named after a tree that is very common in these parts.

Fatigued after climbing the Alto de Honda, we arrive in Mercadillo after two days.

Continuing along our route, we arrive at the natural Pandi bridge, formed by a 20 foot wide rock.

By standing on the aperture that separated the two large mountains, we could see, at the depth of 370 feet, the current of water, which, from a distance, looked like a stream.

The inhabitants of the country thought these tenebrous abysses formed the entrance to hell. And, in effect, the continuous night that reigned there, the nocturnal birds whose cries echo in the caverns where they retreat to during the day, the black waters that fill the profoundness of this precipice, the extensive tree foliage that partially conceal its mystery, the crash of the water, and the rocks that can be used to cross the river like the mythological Persian bridge, perfectly embody death’s dominion. The illusion is augmented by the fact that a large part of living beings have abandoned these jungles: man has abandoned his abode here and all the animals fear the area’s loud noise. Therefore, it is a pleasure to leave those ancient jungles that may have been bathed in the blood of human victims by the Indian priests of the fierce Panchos tribe.



Upon returning once more to the elevations that dominate Mercadillos, from where we can see the Limon plains that extend all the way to the Magdalena River; we soon traverse virgin forests full of bears, jaguars, and cougars (the American lion) and arrive in Fusugasuga by nightfall. After having distanced ourselves from the embracing Mercadillo valley, we found a more beautiful and vigorous species of man.

After having traveled through thick forests, we climbed up to a spot where we could enjoy a magnificent view that extended across the Mariquita province, whose mountains do not appear very high. From there, we could see the houses in Honda– completely white, with solid walls bathed by the Magdalena River. Its green river banks singularly beautify the panorama we are contemplating.

As we begin to climb again, we can only look at the steep mountain with fright, which we are climbing for the first time; but our fears diminish as we notice the intelligence of the mule that directs our mortality. It is truly interesting to observe the poor animal’s discernment in choosing the rocks on which it can best walk on.


We have just crossed the Seco River, pausing for a few moments to rest, and successively crossing the infinite streams that cut through the path in every direction; finally, we reach Venta Grande, where we plan to spend the night. In the morning, we continue on our way, climbing the Sargento scrublands, and we find ourselves enveloped in a cold, humid fog so thick that we cannot even distinguish the men who march in our company.

The fog dissipates and after some hours we find a rock on which the elevation is written. We are at 870 toise above sea level and there are 18 leagues left to travel before we reach Santa Fe.

The roads are better now and little time was necessary to reach the mountain summit from which we could see the beautiful village of Guadúas.

As we descend, we see an enchanting green meadow crossed in all directions by streams, over which are narrow, but safe, bridges.

To the right and the left, houses are surrounded by cultivated fields and many willows; we experience pleasant warmth, as in Lima. We have arrived at a height where man can enjoy the most complete joy under the influences of a pure sky and a delightful climate.



We are in Guadúas, a very clean city; some of its streets are paved and have sidewalks; the plaza where the church and other buildings are located is decorated with a fountain, and the white exterior of the houses is singularly delightful. It is very difficult for the traveler crossing the granite mountains that separate Guadúas from the Magdalena, not to experience a sort of exhilaration when he suddenly finds himself in a valley with a mild climate, sprinkled with clean streams, and rich in all the gifts of nature.

The white population living in these enchanting places surprises the European, since he cannot help but admire, above all, the women’s grace and the artfulness with which they dress.

In reality, the majority of the American countryside women acquire a distinguished and pleasing air; generally, their delicate, round limbs never thicken and do not become disfigured by work. Fortunate enough to live in such a beautiful climate, the Guadúas inhabitants are very courteous toward foreigners, which we saw proof of during our arrival, since it appears that they experience great satisfaction in providing hospitality.

The Guadúas region is composed of seven places, whose population most likely reaches 20 thousand people. This country’s products consist of rice, bananas, coffee, oranges, and sugar.


Continuing on our way, we reached Palma in a few hours; this city has many gold, iron, and emerald mines.

After spending the night in Palma, the following day we continued on our way to Billeta, which we could see from very far away.

We felt an immense heat that could only be cooled by taking shelter beneath the leafy trees frequently found along the way.

The view of Billeta is enchanting.

There is a wooden cross on this path, which is a sign that indicates the existence of a small inn located behind a small hill, 980 toise above sea level.

Despite our desire to reach Bogota as soon as possible, we find ourselves obligated to spend the night in Facatativá to allow the mules to rest and to procure our necessary nourishment.



Rising early for many days and after a four hour long trip, we finally find ourselves in Bogota, the famous plateau.

We do not want to forget to recount how we suffered from the dust blown by the wind in the areas surrounding Facatativa, which darkens the skin of its inhabitants; having freed ourselves from that plague and now that the bad experiences that once bothered us are gone, we can completely surrender ourselves to the pleasure combined with admiration that we experience by observing the farmers cutting large furrows in the ground with plows pulled by robust oxen and shepherds watching over their sheep, covered in thick wool.

In the middle of this attention-grabbing spectacle, long lines of mules can be seen carrying grain, coal, and other Guadúas products. The men who guide them have a savage air that contrasts with the European physiognomy noticed in this country; as we contemplated those almost naked Indians, whose figures were very similar to the inhabitants of Oriental Asia, we even felt as if we had been transported to Tartaria.


We have about eight leagues left before we reach Bogota and we travel through a plain surrounded by tall mountains that offer an almost completely unified surface.

The Moscas, before being subjected to a single master, inhabited the entire extension of this land.

The elders, interrogated by the Spaniards who conquered the country, told them that, in very remote times, the Bogota River completely covered the plain and that the scared inhabitants sought refuge in the mountains, where they found safe asylum. During this horrendous disorder, a divine man named Zué, or Boquica, appeared and split open the hardest mountain by hitting it with his walking stick; it opened and the waters rushed out through that miraculous opening, forming the famous Tequendama Falls. This traditional legend recalls the period when the waters covered that vast area.


We find ourselves in the beautiful and erudite city of Bogota. Its straight streets and magnificent buildings manifest the grade of civilization boasted by this emporium of illustrious men, the honor of the American family.


We will leave the task of describing the grandeur of the city founded by the audacious Quesada entrusted to competent writers, and since we do not possess the qualities required for such a difficult undertaking, lingering on the corresponding details of the type of woman who inspired the present article is the only thing that fulfills our purpose.

Entering the most distinguished circles of Bogota’s society, we always see the white woman shine due to her charms and perfect education. The curious traveler believes himself to be transported to the best Parisian salons when he pleasantly notices the refinement of these ladies, as well as their proper speech and infinite grace. If we add a careful education and the noblest sentiments to said qualities, we have a perfect model. The combination of elevated conditions in the lady of high society is completely analogous to some of those enumerated in this work’s articles concerning the feminine eminences of Chile and Peru. The Governments that have ruled over New Granada’s destiny have not neglected the education of the precious half of the human species and through the help of advanced institutions they have harvested the plentiful fruits that can be proudly boasted by those who, today, are daughters, wives, or mothers.

We will now go on to describe the various incidents that exist in the life of the middle class woman, whose tendencies and manners should be examined, given the original character she manifests and the simple poetry that surrounds her.


The common woman is very fond of family gatherings and though they are not as appealing as true pleasure, they fuel the distinct passions that stir in her heart, regarding love, jealousy, and other misfortunes of human life.

Our type makes use of all the precise influences to exert a certain power over the public; this is why she is graceful and dresses luxuriously for her strolls, trips to the countryside, and in all the animated entertainment designed for licit relaxation.

The common woman notably shines during religious functions, which the Church tends to mount with grand pomp. Corpus, [218] which is celebrated with splendor, appears to be destined for the amplification of the common woman’s importance.

The eve is announced with fireworks. Four richly-adorned altars are constructed in Bogota’s principal plaza while a singular mix of holy and profane is erected everywhere in the form of cucañas, [219] marionettes, and an infinite number of cages with strange and odd animals; the merriment ceases when the bells signal the approximation of the procession. Then, everyone


takes off their hat and kneels in the streets; the clergy advances slowly in the middle of the faithful multitude who fill the plaza; the city’s prettiest young women march between the two lines of clerics, some holding the chest, others the showbread, others the incense, others baskets of flowers, and they are then followed by many Indians who perform whimsical dances to the rhythm of a flute and drum. Such is the common woman’s custom of contributing her beauty and religious sentiments to the splendor of the festivities celebrated by Christianity.


At the mercy of her beauty, at the whims of men or fortune, many times her humble position tends to change completely, becoming a lady of high society, but, because of a strange preoccupation and an inexplicable shame, she is never subtle in her transformation. First, the idea is prepared through a strange habit, which most likely mimics that of some cleric, but coquettishness takes control of the new outfit to adorn it with all the caprices of fashion. According to her, the objective of such a resolution is to attain the cure of a sick mother or some depressed relative through this pious medium; this most laudable conduct obtains general approval and tends to highly distinguish the woman who manifests such abnegation, especially if she is endowed with beauty, in which case, there is no lack of opulent men to ask for her hand in marriage.

During dances, she employs the full force of her charms, swinging vaporously one minute, provoking all with her seductive smile the next, or putting into play the grace with which she is endowed by bountiful nature.


During their excursions to the country, she jumps fences on horseback with incomparable skill and gallops quickly, revealing how little she fears dangers and her eagerness to stand out in equestrianism.

Accompanied by the essential guitar, she sings the most popular folk songs or songs that express the emotions of a lost love, infinitely affecting herself when she sings about a historic event worthy of admiration.

She vehemently loves the man who must be her licit companion and she tends to surrender to a rage of envy if she is convinced that another woman is trying to dispute possession of the object of her ardent desire, in which case she surrenders to the excesses of madness.

Criticism prevails in her heart as a result of feminine jealousy, always


ready to become quarrel over the greater luxury of certain friends, the unmerited attentions paid to Juana or Pepa, and finally, the system of censorship so particular in women– she is never satisfied in her aspirations and attacks all that she judges to be superior to her own state or that which is capable of irritating her badly repressed ambition.


Despite her manners and customs, which are the negative traces of an outdated education, she manifests great willingness to mold herself to erudite ideas demarcated by the century; if this reform has still not occurred, it is because there is a resistance of the upper classes, who still maintain the pride that emanates from distinguished birth, always in opposition to the common people and fearful of losing their high prestige. Vain fears that can only stem from inconceivable egoism! The education of the people establishes happiness, civilization, and social respect.

Upon concluding our article, we only have to add that the neo-granadian woman of the Spanish race generally has the most noble instincts, is charitable, well-educated, and is a good daughter and loving wife.

In general, these are the characteristics of the interesting woman who lives and breathes in the same country as the distinguished man of letters, Torres Caicedo and the late poet, Julio Arboleda.



(Caracas Confectioner)



One day, the Hispanic American people broke free from the motherland, obeying the imperious law of the majority. An ocean of precious blood flowed through the New Continent in a heroic battle for this separation– American blood and Spanish blood, finally dried by the gentle breeze of peace; and they honored the mourning of mutual friendship.

While the enemy lived in one or another village, passion disfigured everything, including the historic truth and the feeling of justice. Yet, calm fell over this zeal and a reign of impartiality began, presided over by History. Spain celebrated our heroism, recognized our rights, and once again, we called her “mother.” Gratitude was revived in the Americans, the memory of parental benefits followed, and today we can proudly say that Spain gave us two treasures that compete for universal veneration, namely: Religion and family.

Religion and family; in other words, the robust columns that support the social edifice. Spain introduced us to God with the sublime simplicity of an immutable truth; she formed our hearts in his love, revealed to us the mysteries of his infinite grandeur and mercy, and eternally engraved his immortal name in our conscience. The family, formed atop a similar base, should be a fertile source of virtue and grandiose actions, and the woman stands out at its heart as the center of purity, a chaste symbol of celestial grace showered over the earth. – Thus, the woman of these


countries, the woman of our society, is the glory we inherited from our ancestors; an always-intact treasure that generations, which are now dust, confided to the immutability of perfection.


The Venezuelan woman is the same as yesterday and will be the same in the future. Her model, the Christian woman, is eternal; she is the daughter of beliefs, of the customs that they mold, of the habits that they produce.

Will our beliefs change one day? Will our customs suffer change? Modern civilization provides us with philosophical questions and its crafty strength crashes against the granitic strength of our faith; it hurls its moral reforms at us and the absurdity on which it is based falls unraveled before the unbreakable virtue of our doctrines. We appropriate what is true, what is good, and we dispose of everything pernicious and false. We advance through science, which is advancement through truth and God; but we cling to ancestors’ path when we are ordered to function in accordance with erroneous religious ideas and immoral ideas regarding family.


The Venezuelan woman completely belongs to the home. From her house’s lintel outward, she has no jurisdiction whatsoever; but from the threshold inward, she is sovereign. That is her reign of love, where the first subject, her husband, creates altars to her like a god. Since the consortium of interests that supplant affection in other places is unknown to us, a woman never visits a man’s house unless affection leads her by the hand. She moves in and on the morning following the nuptials, a sun of happiness and hope appears in that home; its rays illuminate everything, from her husband’s heart to the severe fatigue of the last domestic servant.


Our woman is not educated in classrooms; she attends school as a child, where she learns the principal rudiments of human knowledge: she reads and writes, counts and knows the countries of the world, listens to moral and religious lectures, draws a little, studies


music, and that is it; everything else pertains to a training in abilities that will later represent the family economy. She then continues the completion of her education exclusively at her mother’s side; through sublime dialogues, her mother teaches her a course of wholesome doctrine, exquisite courtesy, social tact, intimate life, and the secret virtue of ordering while obeying.


Thusly prepared, the woman is an incomparable wife and when the heavens reward her with the tender gift of motherhood, it is only to continue to elevate that mystery of nature, whose principal charm and greatest strength is sacrifice. What enrapturing affection and fascination with her beloved child! So much pride in her maternal soul! So many hopes in a wife’s heart! The child is completely hers; it is the unbreakable link in the chain of love that unites its parents; it is a daily and inexhaustible affair to dream together of enduring happiness; it is a delight for the present, support for tomorrow, and an image that remains ever present for the soul with which she shares an attractive life.


Our mothers have nourished us at their breasts, from which no human power that could have separated us; they have taught us to look for God among the innumerable stars in the sky, making us simultaneously understand both infinity and its Creator; they have placed our first book in our hands, and they have helped us stammer our first prayer. They have, in sum, surrounded our crib with angels that protected our innocent sleep and later, placed the image of Jesus in his martyrdom at the head of our adult be; they have made us understand the mercy of God in all its magnitude, and they have accustomed us to turn to him as a guide, for support, and as our hope in the vicissitude of chance and during spiritual storms.


The Venezuelan woman, despite her way of being, is neither hypocritical nor shy. Eminently Christian, she fulfills religious obligations in a sensible manner; eminently domestic, she fulfills social obligations as soon as they are required. She does not stay out late for outings, dances, or great salon ostentations;


but she does dance, appearing distinguished and elegant; if she speaks at a gathering, she is smart and discreet, she spreads grace and attracts affection and respect everywhere she goes. If the conversation revolves around ardent affairs that she has not studied or that are beyond the reach of her intelligence, she fills the silence with spirited flourishes, opportune sayings, and happy interruptions, thereby saving herself from the two embarrassments that often encumber the woman of society: gross ignorance or petulant erudition.


In spite of her purely domestic condition, she influences all that spans our existence. Society has no foundations other than those formed by her; religion does not have a base more solid than that paid by her ardent worship; the manner in which the family is constituted today– as a nest of souls that intimately embrace, like an association for fortune and adversity–is exclusively her doing. Even politics– which only receives her tears and pleas, and reciprocates by giving her nothing but anguish and indefinable pain– experiences her influence through healthy modifications relating to fraternity and tolerance.


In the country’s most supreme moments, the Venezuelan woman has faced dangers, defied torment, and even occupied the gallows with Spartan serenity.

Extremely compassionate, sublimely charitable, there is no pain that she does not make her own, there is no misery with which she will not share her bread; and she is always found at the head of every patient, thus making the hospital, which hardly exists here, useless.


Finally, the Venezuelan woman claims a very distinguished place on the level of Latin beauty. Others may have more perfect lines, but none have more grace and elegance. She possesses the originality of our nature, all the splendor of our sky, and there are no hierarchies of our race’s beauty because it is truly and profusely distributed among the entire sex.



This is a brief sketch of the Venezuelan woman. Her life exists between love and sacrifice, and with one or the other, she works to maintain her happiness and that of others. Extremely passionate, selfless, and heroic in the defense of the happiness she has worked to achieve in her home through sublime consecration, she is an admirable being.

Others look for the rights and progress of the woman of their respective nations; we only ask for altars worthy of deities. Others want the woman of the century; we are satisfied with the Christian woman.


[Figure] BRAZIL.

(Woman from Bahia)


“L'esprit fémenin est étouffé, mais il
n'est pas mort: il vit. Il éclate sourdement
de toutes parts.
La femme, ainsi que l'homme, a une
âme immortelle. Comme lui, elle possède
les dons de l'intelligence, du corps et du
cœur.”—(Histoire morale des femmes.)
[Translator's Note: Legouvé, Histoire morale. “The feminine spirit is stifled, but it is not dead: it is alive. Muffled, it rings out everywhere. Woman, just as man, has an immortal soul. Like him, she is endowed with the gifts of intelligence, body, and heart.”]


Legend has it that once the Portuguese captain, Salema, had made the preparations regarding the conquest of the country discovered by Amerigo Vespucci, he was able to form a small army, composed of 500 men, with which he undertook the march toward the interior of the vast territory that he yearned to submit to Portuguese dominion.

He ordered two interpreters accompanied by three veteran soldiers to explore the territory that lay ahead of the troop in order to evaluate the peoples whom they were attempting to combat, as well as to carefully gather all the possible resources for the maintenance of their troop.

During the first days, Salema was able to take advantage of a convenient Indian-made path that traversed an immense plain toward the South and ended at the base of the mountains, which indicated the proximity of the territory occupied by the Tupinambas; yet, he quickly encountered almost-insurmountable obstacles that impeded the progress of his rash undertaking.

Profound ravines, narrow paths frequented by ferocious beasts, plentiful rivers whose waters formed imposing waterfalls upon plunging down the scrubland slopes; never-ending jungles full of impenetrable undergrowth and, finally, large


deserts without the smallest trace of vegetation, frequently stopped that audacious leader and his brave army. The sun, which is extremely bright in the atmosphere of those equatorial regions, caused many soldiers to go blind; and hunger– the inseparable companion of all human calamities– increased the expedition members’ suffering and harassed them in such a way that they were reduced to sustaining themselves with their horses’ cadavers in order to escape an inevitable death.

Nature imposed all types of suffering on those who so boldly entered its savage core.

After having suffered the miseries and troubles previously described, Salema and his men finally succeeded in finding a cheerful and fertile valley, where they stopped to recuperate their strength.

After some time, an Official left the camp in charge of exploring the country’s interior; the fulfillment of his commission took two months, after which he returned with unfavorable news. His investigations extended 100 leagues toward the south, in the direction of the great Amazon River banks, which he claimed were populated by numerous warring tribes who, because of their simple habits, revealed the most absolute ignorance in relation to the existence and value of precious metals.

With the illusions of Salema’s men gone, they riotously asked to return to Ganabara, which was finally granted. Rather than take the path through the forests and mountains, they preferred to take a coastal route that divided the enormous space that, today, separates Victoria from Rio de Janeiro.

In modern times, it would not be possible for a General to risk taking his soldiers through those dreadful, volcanic deserts, without a single plant, without water, and finally, without any vestige of the precious elements necessary for the sustenance of animal life. Yet, upon crossing into such a lugubrious region the untiring and arrogant Portuguese of the 16th century, undertook titanic missions worthy of being consigned to the memorable pages of History.

After so many incomparable hardships caused by innumerable suffering and an extremely painful march that lasted 70 days, Salema and his companions– reduced to 250 in number– arrived at the delightful Ganabara fields [220].

Half of that diminutive phalanx succumbed to his extraordinary fearlessness.


In 1572, at the head of 400 warriors, the tenacious and courageous Salema invaded Tupinamba territory; this tribe, endowed with noble fierceness, was very sensitive about its independence and unyielding to despotism supported by brute strength.


Campouré, the indomitable chief, understood Captain Salema’s designs and fought at the head of his people with certain Spartan-worthy fortitude, without truce or rest, pushing the foreigners that threatened invasion to the far limits of his nation.

Nevertheless, the Portuguese, conveniently reinforced, continued their obstinate undertaking.

Then, battles took place that resulted in the sublime prowess inscribed in Portugal’s glorious history.

Viriathus’ descendants conquered the Brazilian territory, but were never able to humble the terrible Tupinambas. These people, whose grandiose acts instilled respect and admiration, still maintain their proud sovereignty; they proudly hold their heads up high and live on the eastern Andean slopes, apostrophizing the Indian races that were defeated by the Portuguese soldiers.


Before the historic time period that we have narrated, the Tupinamba tribe basically lived across the entire Brazilian coast, divided in more or less considerably-sized groups and in an amicable fusion with the Taboyaras, the Amoigpiras, and the Carisos.

Now that the origin of the country’s principal races has been explained, we will proceed to describe the feminine type who lives in those fertile regions and has not lost the characteristic stamp of her race.

Nature has endowed the Brazilian Indian woman with a pleasant appearance.

She has a nice figure and is of average height; she has nice skin tones, conic breasts, a somewhat wide back, and small hands and feet. Her face is flat, her lips and nose are prominent, and her head, somewhat pointed at its superior extremity, is covered in black, strong, straight hair. She dresses in the same manner as the poor women from Portugal, whose civilized manners she tries to imitate.

She has a certain inclination to drink strong beverages; she is not lacking in intelligence; she easily understands everything that she is taught; and she is astute and reserved. The house she inhabits is composed of solidly joined, interwoven wood; the roofs are made of coconut palm leaves. The furniture is very simple.

For beds, she uses either cane mats or hammocks made of interwoven cotton rope.

She uses talhas 38 to store fresh water, which she tends to drink from an empty coconut;


her domestic utensils are completed with some earthenware cooking pots for the kitchen (panellas) and other small trifles. Her food consists of manioc, corn, and almost always the products of hunting and fishing.

In addition to the tasks appropriate for her sex, the Indian woman helps her husband with the construction of the hut that will be their home and in harvesting the ripe fruit. She really enjoys the dance known as the Caduccia, to which she surrenders herself with delirious pleasure. During the dance, she stands in all sorts of lascivious poses, she makes noises with her fingers and tongue, and after finishing such a tiring exercise, she rewards herself with Caouy, a beverage prepared with mandioca roots, corn, and potatoes. Her natural ferocity and love of freedom constitute the expressive characteristics of her race.


We have copied the following fragments from an ancient manuscript that we casually acquired. They contain curious notes regarding the customs of the Indians that lived in Brazil during the time of its discovery and conquest.

“Diary written in 1572 by Diego Sousa, a prisoner of the Tupinambas and soldier of the regiment commanded by Captain Salema.

“If my memory serves me well, it has been six years since I escaped death after having suffered the most somber captivity among the Tupinambas. Continuing the notes recorded in my portfolio, I am going to recount an incident that occurred four days ago. I found myself in a hut that these barbarians had designated as my prison, completely engrossed in sad reflections due to my prolonged misfortune. Suddenly, the old man, Milco, one of the tribe’s chiefs, appeared before me, accompanied by a beautiful young woman who appeared to be barely 15 or 16 years old. The old man, speaking to me, expressed himself in the following manner:

“‘Foreigner, we have attempted to obtain your release many times but it has all been in vain. Your people ignore the disgrace that oppresses you and they refuse to exchange you for one of our chiefs held prisoner by the white captain. The interest he once demonstrated in your favor is now useless; all the armed men demand that you be sacrificed to the immortal gods to appease their anger. It has been resolved that you will be sacrificed upon the appearance of the new moon, the Tupinamba deity of protection. If you wish to live, you must choose a woman to be your companion; and if you swear to be faithful to the customs that govern us, you shall be admitted as one of the sons of the great Moulema, father of nature. I bring my granddaughter, Popilca, to you. She is our village’s best and most beautiful virgin and I offer her to you so that you may make her happy.’


“Once this was said, he left, leaving the young woman in my hut.

“Milco’s proposition stunned me and, instantly meditating on the dangers that surrounded me, I could not manage to think of a solution capable of saving me.

“Meanwhile, the youth seemed happy to be alone with me. Uninhibited, she approached the fire at the back of my small room, lit her pipe, and sat by my side, giving me expressive looks and said the following:

“‘White man, I have come to visit you to find out if I can count on your love. Since you have lived amongst us I have not ceased to delightfully gaze upon you; my only desire in the world is to be yours, liberating you thus from the horrible martyrdom that you will soon suffer. If you love me, I will serve you as long as the gods maintain my strength and if I cannot be yours, I have sworn to kill myself by drinking much jimson weed. 39 Afterward, my spirit will protect you everywhere you go, if you do not forget my loving sacrifice.’

“Upon hearing the passionate words spoken by that young savage, I confess that the greatest sentiments of love and gratitude overwhelmed my senses. I found myself inclined to share my future with a being who manifested such eminent qualities that, combined with her alluring figure, completed the model of the most perfect woman. I noticed that her beautiful eyes welled up with tears and that her face expressed a certain anxiety to hear my answer. At that moment, I offered Popilca eternal love– words that brought her great joy: first she knelt at my feet, then she kissed my forehead and hands, and finally, she sang and jumped with all the manifestations of immense satisfaction.

“Three days had passed and the beautiful Popilca remained at my side, lavishing her tender care on me. I relate these details because this manner of getting to know someone is established amongst the Tupinambas when arranging marriages. The young man, who wishes to be united with a young woman of his tribe, has never had any type of intimate relation with her; perhaps he is able to look at her in passing, but it is possible that he has not spoken to her in any other occasion. The union is decided by the elder relatives, and when they communicate their intention to the interested parties, they do so through the methods I express and which I can study today through first-hand experience.

“Popilca continued to keep me company, the circumstances of which caused me much nervousness, since it was not possible to foresee the outcome of such an unusual situation. We spent three nights enveloped by the pleasant hopes inspired by the desire of being able to possess each other soon, and yet, not a single indiscreet word, not one inappropriate gesture perturbed the peace of our souls, which nourished the purest intentions.

“A light bump on my feet woke me at the break of dawn on the fourth day– the day on which my future was to be decided.


“Startled, I opened my eyes and saw an old woman, whose venerable expression shocked me. Straining her voice, she said:

“‘Awake, young man– you will soon be one of us and you will take a wife! Your future friends and relatives are waiting for you to accompany them on a hunt. Go quickly, and do not return until you have killed a beautiful specimen, since you will win much respect from your future companion if you can distinguish yourself among our village’s best hunters. I am Milco’s wife; I come to visit my granddaughter, and I need to speak to her in private. Go, and may the triumph of valor and skill make you shine with distinction.’

“I obeyed that old woman’s orders, meeting some Indians who were waiting for me near my hut. Provided with a bow and 20 arrows, I participated in the hunt, which lasted until the sun set in the west, and having had the fortune of killing a fine antelope, I quickly ran to offer it to my beloved. My efforts were rewarded with an enchanting smile.

“At night, the venerable Milco arrived accompanied by six warriors to inform me that the period of time arranged for the determination of my fate had just expired.

“‘What did you decide?’ he asked.

“Since my confusion impeded a prompt response, Popilca lowered her head in a sign of sadness and burst into bitter tears. Then the old woman, revealing much anger in her facial expression, said to me:

“‘Do you intend to reject my granddaughter, dishonoring her before the eyes of all our people? All that has happened between the two of you has been for your sake; if you had not allowed the virgin offered to you to enter this hut, she would have been free and unmarked by the ignominy that she will now bear as a result of your fickle conduct. Speak, so that we may all know the decision you have made.’

“The severe words spoken by the old woman, my sad state, and, finally, the true love I felt for Popilca defeated the doubts that perturbed my soul. I quickly ran to sit by her side, thereby demonstrating my desire to be hers forever. The young Indian embraced me warmly and from that moment, we were husband and wife.

“Once that act was completed, the tribe’s chiefs considered me a man who was obligated to adopt their savage customs.

“After a short time period, I was freed in a casual and unexpected manner.

“Captain Salema ordered an attack that resulted in the defeat of the Tupinambas, whose camp was occupied by my former companions. A malignant fever impeded my assistance in the battle.

“I became a prisoner of the Portuguese army, and after some trouble, I was able to prove my identity.

“Popilca did not want to abandon me, and she nursed me back to health with her tender care.


“Escaping from the errors of idolatry, my beautiful and loving Popilca has converted to Christianity, and today, she is my legitimate wife, whom everyone knows by the meaningful name Salvadora.” [221]


We have entered Rio de Janeiro, the majestic capital of the Brazilian empire. Located on the edge of an immense bay, it rises up, beautiful and elegant, flaunting its monumental, artistic constructions, surrounded by gardens that flourish with the lusciousness of tropical plants. A considerable number of ships pertaining to the country’s mercantile villages are kept afloat by the gentle waters that bathe the city’s feet; the ships move forward with full sails due to the favorable breeze or use steam to hasten their movement in order to reach the hospitable coasts or to sail out into the profound ocean in search of blind, capricious fortune.


The famous, severe-looking Botafogo castle is located in front of the great city, on the opposite shore, contrasting with the cheerful countryside that surrounds it; in the background of this magical panorama, one can make out a chain of imposing mountains, whose fantastic peaks dot the infinite horizon.

The plant kingdom manifests itself with surprising luxury in all the territories we have visited from Cabo Frio to San Lorenzo. Titanic trees grow vigorously, and mimosas, trumpet flowers, and many other parasitic or climbing plants grow inside them, full of large quantities of cacti, bromelias, epidendrums, and granadillas that become entangled and climb to the highest branches, crowning them with beautiful flowers. The bauhinia stands out among this multitude of plants; its vine trunks form arches of such a regular curvature that they appear to be created by art. Other plant species make themselves noticed by odors that are strong one minute and weak the next and by their long filaments that fall to the floor, where they take root and rise again, forming solid lattices that intercept the traveler’s passage.

Such is, in essence, the description of the inexhaustible flora that– through its admirable development– offers an immense treasure for the learned men consecrated to the study of natural science.


In the denseness of the jungles that surround Rio de Janiero, one breathes an air perfumed by the plants and magnificent flowers. As a whole, the coconut palms, the dense heliconias,


the cippi that grow in a ring around corpulent trunks, the birds’ harmonious songs, the parrots’ hoarse squawks, the monkeys’ screams and constant leaps, the roar of ferocious beasts, and, finally, the crashing of the waters tumbling down a dark abyss, reveal the prodigious power of the Supreme Universal Creator.

Now we will examine the tendencies, qualities, manners, and customs of the Brazilian woman of Portuguese origin.


In general, white women have a collection of physical characteristics that constitute their beauty. They are well-spoken, amiable, lovers of a happy life, and distinguish themselves by their notable ingenuity. They practice the Catholic religion with all the fervor of their essentially pious soul.

The women of this community wear a mantle of black fabric and a handkerchief that covers their head.

Some wear a black hat adorned with feathers and very expensive jewels that match the rich, silk outfits from China, which they frequently adopt to highlight their indisputable beauty.

The Brazilian woman who inhabits the high mountains does not have the grace of the coastal women, but instead, tends to stand out because of the whiteness of her face and the hues of her skin, which the most aristocratic English woman would envy. She is not very impressionable in the matter of love, perhaps because of the effect of her home’s climate, but she professes her loyal affection to the man she must share her life with under the auspices of matrimony.

She is very generous and hospitable.

She takes great pleasure in lavishing attention on those who visit her house, whether by offering delicious handmade candies or appetizing delicacies which cover her bountiful, clean table. It is for this reason that she attends to the guests, distributing the best food and making an effort to make sure everyone is happy.

She is a great fan of countryside excursions.

She is taught music and dance, and the education suitable to her social class and position is not neglected.


The Brazilian woman really enjoys family gatherings, whose various events serve to foment the passions that agitate her vehement soul. She uses all the convenient charms to exert influence over men; she attends excursions and all types of diversions intended for amusement.


During family gatherings, she shows off her marvelous charms– one minute calling everyone’s attention with her seductive smile, the next swinging to the rhythm of alluring music, or even resorting to the irrefutable charms of her melodious voice to captivate all who contemplate her.

Similar to the Chilean woman, she gallops on horseback with surprising ability and vertiginous speed, demonstrating her valor and desires to distinguish herself in the equestrian arts.

She is deeply in love with the man who will be her husband, and sometimes she exhibits a terrible jealousy if she suspects that another woman intends to dispute the object of her profound affection.


It is Good Friday– a day set aside for the remembrance of the martyrdom suffered by the world’s Redeemer– and the Church intends to mount all the pomp required by such a sacred act in a solemn procession. All the roads that lead from small, nearby villages to the pious city of Rio de Janeiro are crowded with the faithful, who hurry to attend the solemn pageant arranged by the clergy.

The capital’s sumptuous basilica maintains its doors open to provide an exit for the many penitents and brothers of different confraternities, who are strangely dressed. The Passion’s mysteries follow and are artistically represented; various priests walk slowly, singing the canticles that correspond to such an honored ceremony. Next comes a long line of women, dressed in amazing richness; they show off their charms and mystical meditation. Some hold the candles necessary for participation in this function in their beautiful hands; others kindle the fire in the censers that burn fragrant incense; and others, making a show of their unbreakable faith, carry enormous rocks on their heads as a sign of penance. This parade of faithful believers comes to a close as a large crowd prays aloud to the rhythm of military music, the harmonies of which tend to get lost in the clamor of innumerable fireworks.

Such is the woman of this community.


In the aristocratic centers of Brazilian society we can admire the careful education and unquestionable beauty that enhances the distinguished type that we propose to exhibit to satisfy public curiosity.

All or the majority of women who pertain to the Portuguese race and live in the extensive territory that constitutes one of the world’s most


powerful empires, consecrate their vigilance to the benefit of humanity and often possess eminent qualities.

Let us begin the narration of various incidents that play a role in this interesting being’s life.


Elena is barely 20 years old; she lives in her city’s richest neighborhood, in a magnificently furnished house; her noble parents passed away, but she was able to console herself after this irreparable loss, thanks to the millions of reis [222] that she inherited, whose benefits she enjoys, accompanied by Doña Joaquina, her very old tutor and very ugly aunt, who forms a singular contrast with the beauty of the odd type outlined in this sketch. Elena enjoys the licit pleasures of life: she rides horses gracefully; she can admirably perform the pieces of the most famous composers on the piano; she attends theaters, strolls, and distinguished societal events; she speaks Milton’s language with rare perfection; and lastly, she calls attention to herself through her elegance and the expensive jewels she wears. Many admirers ask for her hand; among them she concedes preference to a young Official, victor in the famous Paraguayan War. Doña Joaquina, very inclined toward men of importance, advises her niece to choose D.Don Justiniano Pandectas, a 59 year-old, strict Magistrate molded to judicial habits and constantly dedicated to the judgment of litigants’ accusations. Elena, however, does not want to be the wife of an old man who wears a toupee, dresses in a fashion similar to that worn during Pombal’s [223] time, has a purple nose, and spends his time discussing the Civil Code. The young woman’s resistance produces serious altercations at home. Father Mauricio Bulas, the decrepit aunt’s confessor, unsuccessfully intervenes in attempt to reestablish peace; the house servants intervene; Jazmin the lapdog barks incessantly; upon hearing the clamor, the neighbors help; confusion reigns; Doña Joaquina faints and Elena, taking advantage of such propitious moments, resolves to escape in search of her loved one, to whom she recounts all that has happened. The Official and the young lady finally marry. In order to console herself, Doña Joaquina offers her important hand to the hopeless D. Justiniano, who, upon seeing such generosity, happily lends himself to the sacrifice, all in the name of love… and money.


Dolores is 24 years old and is married to a young pilot who departed from Rio de Janeiro aboard the steam boat, Industrial, toward the Chinese seas.

It has been two years since the poor wife has heard any news about the man


who is her love and only refuge. Such a prolonged absence induces her to believe that her husband Jacinto has succumbed to the horrors of a tempest and the only comfort her depressed soul can find is in the contemplation of the portrait of the man whom she may have lost forever.

“Jacinto, my love!” she exclaims, “Why do you not come to wipe away the tears I cry for you? Return, my darling; do not abandon me, leaving me immersed in the most dreadful solitude!”

After uttering these phrases, a man dressed in traditional Asian clothes stands before her and passionately embraces her.

“Merciful God!” says Dolores. “Is it you, my husband? Oh! You have returned at last! ...Yes, yes, you are with me… and it is not a hopeful dream!”

In these moments the poor wife surrenders herself to joyful rapture, affectionately kissing the face of the man she loves.

“Calm down, Dolores, my love,” responds Jacinto, “I am alive and I can reward your adoring tenderness as you deserve. We are happy; I have acquired many riches that we will enjoy together, without ever having to be apart.”

“Oh, yes, my love!” answers Dolores. “But tell me why you took so long. If you could only know how much I suffered!”

The young sailor then recounts how he was shipwrecked on the coasts of the inhospitable island of Taiwan . He was able to save himself by swimming, only to fall into the hands of a savage tribe, whose chief granted him his life in exchange for his service as an admiral on a fleet composed of canoes, on which he combated and defeated many Chinese pirates. Much later, he received large rewards of gold and ivory, and the permission to return to his homeland aboard an English clipper that had just arrived on the island with a cargo of arms.

Dolores is happy with her beloved Jacinto; she lives surrounded by all the comforts that money can provide, and she enjoys public considerations– a just reward conferred upon conjugal virtue.


The very elegant and beautiful Adelia has been widowed at a most florid age, inheriting the title and millions of her good husband, the Barron Ribeiro da Silva Mato-Groso Mindanao y Castello-o-Branco. The palace she inhabits is the center of bliss and distinguished society. Men who study the sciences, the letters, or the arts pay homage to this fairy, placing themselves under her aegis. Adelia smiles like an angel; her glances fascinate; her svelte body sways like a flower caressed by the zephyr; her voice is as harmonious as a nightingale’s song, and the entirety of her grace expresses the magical power that she uses to subjugate all who ecstatically contemplate her.


All these physical qualities are accompanied by an enviable education acquired through the conditions of the aristocratic class to which she pertains and her frequent travels.

In London, she rivaled the aristocratic miss; in Rome, she surpassed the majestic manners of the signoras piu bellas [224]; in Paris, she was la mademoiselle san pareille [225], and in Madrid she competed against that race of women whose incomparable beauty inspired the immortal canvases of Velazquez and Murillo. Our type stands out everywhere and, at the impulses of her elevated sentiments, she exerts truly grand acts. She helps the destitute, founds hospitals, protects industry, helps the needy, remunerates the men consecrated to study and, finally, is the personification of everything that could be conceived of to help her fellow human beings.

Adelia is very pleased to hear the blessings that come from those who were saved, thanks to the philanthropic duties that she has imposed upon herself.


It is difficult to state something absolute regarding the social character of a people, especially if it concerns the female sex, who is destined to exert a great influence over all the various and multiple incidents that stir life. The author must fulfill his mission by truthfully narrating the causes that converge to extol or censure the human being destined to perform the highest functions of daughter, wife, or mother. Today, we believe that we have fulfilled our task by doing justice to the Brazilian woman, who is worthy enough to live among those in cultured Europe. The moral and intellectual progress she exhibits is due to the country’s current extensive institutions that aim to strengthen her aggrandizement.

To conclude the description we have provided regarding the Brazilian women, we only need to add that almost all of them who have Portuguese blood are of average height, lightly-tanned skin, perfect features, elegant figures, small feet, and silky black hair, and combine the most generous sentiments and a superior intellect with these physical qualities.


Upon founding the city of Rio de Janeiro in 1567, the good Portuguese, Mendo de Sá, undoubtedly did not believe that with the passage of time it would become the capital of an opulent empire, which today occupies a high rank among civilized nations. Once Brazil became independent, it established laws based on the representative principles


and doctrines of modern philosophy. Its eminent statesmen refused to adopt excessively democratic forms of government, voting in favor of a constitutional dynasty that assured the legitimate rights of the people and would serve the new political system. This led to the extraordinary apogee, which the nation has reached in everything related to its political, agricultural, and mercantile importance.


In order to conclude this article, we need to copy a page that we have in our portfolio, written under the impressions of a solemn event.

“A session of the Spanish Academy has just been held in honor of a noteworthy character, whose manners, expressions, and classic face reveal the physical signs of human dignity. Poets who had conquered imperishable fame with their ingenuity were in attendance. One read Las cantigas de D.DonAlfonso el Sabio[226], and another, in brief and eloquent words, recited a eulogy relative to the distinguished intellectual faculties of the illustrious man who deigned to attend a conference of the literature studied by the immortal Cervantes.

“That person was named Dom Pedro II, Emperor of Brazil. [227]

“A descendant of 100 kings, the Prince of Portuguese blood– infused by the heroic acts celebrated by Vasco de Gama, [228] Cabral, [229] Vasconcellos, and Camoens [230]– travels incognito through the civilized villages, attends science competitions, visits industrial centers, and studies, compares, and hoards the useful products created by man, in order to bring them to his beloved homeland.”

Such is the Monarch who rules the country that is home to the woman whose physical and moral endowments have motivated these lines.

Madrid, October 1878.



(Common woman)



The sky is transparent and luminous; the night is sweet and peaceful; the ocean sighs from time to time, like a nymph, sleeping among the foaming waves; the rocks– silvery under the brilliance of the moon– have become a bed for auras and birds. I sit on the summit, gazing at the horizon with my head languidly resting on my hand, while God, the Lord of the heavens, blesses the majestic panorama of slumbering nature from his throne of glory.

Everything was grand and solemn before the night’s spectacle: not even an echo of pain existed to remind men of their mission. Jealousy was hushed, calumny was stifled, the evil spirit descended into the abyss, injured by its own impotence and no one– not even the impalpable sibyl’s shadow– dared to raise the sound of their chants above that of the great, mute concert of mystery and solitude.

My thoughts remained in perfect uniformity with the disposition before me. Sometimes mute, other times animated, mostly indecisive and somber, I went from one extreme to another, without course or fortune, until, disabused of its purposes on the road of investigation, it dissipated in space, like soft sea mist upon coming in contact with the sun’s burning rays.

“Oh!” exclaimed my mouth, prisoner of mortal and incomparable anguish, “Here I am, alone, without witnesses, engrossed in that world of deceiving fascinations and false happiness. My spirit extends with the grandeur of an immortal God across infinity and yet, upon detaching itself from its corporal bond and


mutable dominion, it flies, stops, fixes its pace, suspends its rapid course, and falls into the profound abysses of confusion, like a stone hurled violently downward from the mountain peak.”

The past! Who is capable of subjugating it? The future! Who is capable of translating it?

History! Has it ever arrived to rip that insurmountable barrier of time that separates the limits of its dominion from the remote confines where the empire of mythology begins?

Ruins, mummified cadavers from antiquity; an archeological monument, the spirit of scientific conquest over the peoples– can these things reveal the splendorous and immortal image of Hellenic tragedy or the bloody panorama of the ensanguined battles of the Latin gladiators?

Memories and nothing more than memories!

This is why the spirit– faced with the dispossession of former glories– begins to evoke the past through imagination. Those remains bestow the consciousness of living generations with the ardent desire to penetrate the consciousness of past generations, yet they do so with nothing more than memory, a memory subordinated to the severity of the historiographer and without any more elements that the mute proof of those inert masses, which were once the foundations of royal palaces consecrated to the divinities of Paganism.

It is true sometimes, for example, that the immensity and magnificence of indigenous and Egyptian hypogea provide us with the most meticulous details regarding the culture, customs, outfits, and, in one word, inclination of a peoples. Nevertheless, intelligence searches for something more, it desires something deeper and therefore needs to translate its capricious affirmations in fundamental errors of doctrine or offer the most powerful argument in order to formulate a consequent protest against severe criticism.

Such were my opinions and the state of my spirit on that night I have described for you, which was as beautiful as they always are in the hot summer on the shores of the Cantabrian coast of my beloved homeland. In the arms of the poetic god of dreams, I witnessed the spectacle of an immense ocean that silenced the frightful convulsions of its heart, and sat, as I have told you, on the lap of a silvery rock, daydreaming. Do you know why? The digressions of my background must have revealed it. I searched for the secret of political and social organization of the peoples who once resided in the areas that were lit by the conquest of America. Among them was one that particularly drew my attention to the study of its primitive founders. At that time, it was located between 18° and 21° North, all the way to the Atlantic and it was comprised of a reduced strip of land, bordered by the Pacific, that extended from 15° to 19°.

And, just as the distant geographies that compose Mesopotamia all the way to the Persian Gold and the Tigris to the Euphrates, it reveals lavish and civilized peoples


and a sublime poem: the Prophesy. This is why the northern regions of that territory– whose boundaries were considered impossible among ancient geographers– brought to my mind the existence of the grand race, similar in culture to the great Ptolemaic people, identical in civilization to the primitive Hindustan people, and very different in regard to customs, although very much alike in the fundamentals of their written laws to this grand people (whose history is still followed by the political institutions of modern nations). The beginning was the height of their splendor: today, it is the sepulcher of the Caesars’ majesty, where the Mediterranean waves reach, like a tribute of tears that send immortality to the wilted laurels of lost glory.

Rome! Your name has endured through the centuries within the lips’ cheers and the soul’s fervent prayer.

Where are your gods? What have you done with your warriors? Who watches over the eternal slumber of your legislators? Oh! Death! Always that word! The silence. Always that answer!

And you, Mexico, what do you preserve from the primitive civilization of your indigenous founders? Where are the remains of that Northern race, an errant time, a time of slavery, a grand period of majesty and the sublime? What! Do you still conserve, in the baptistery of your nationality, the indomitable, fierce eagle that announces your arrival and sits atop a cactus growing on a rock, as an omen of your future splendor and proximate grandeur? And you, ancient Tenochtitlan, why do you not demand the resurrection of your children from your god, Mexitl, who, like his priests, slumbers in death’s extensive heart?


The sun’s first rays shone on the Ocean waters and the mountain peaks.

I had spent the night beside those rocks– a night that passed like a second on the invariable watch of eternity.

My forehead had dried because of the heat of my bold thoughts; and during my meditation on the past, in the contemplation of its grandeur, sleep did not have the valor to exert control over my eyes, and my soul lacked the vigor to torment me with its unease.

A New World existed beyond those waters, which I contemplated in rapture. The splendor of Spanish forces had arrived there through the enterprising and adventurous spirit of brave soldiers in Hernán Cortes’ fleet. Upon their arrival, the Prudent King’s [231] austere and somber temper would find great and unexpected treasures, which had been conquered by the loyal servants of his father, the Monk of Yuste. [232] The greatest of the Austrians had a luck that appeared to be


a favorable spark from destiny itself, which had previously been denied to the Throne and his grand predecessors. This transition period– beginning with the reign of one King, whose wife fell lovesick after contemplating the body of her dead husband, [233] and ending with the apparition of the somber and melancholy, terrible and small Monarch, the scourge of Lutheranism and passionate friend of the church–[234] was eminently exalted in the pages of History. There are no obstacles for the German Emperor’s court that can prevent triumph and glory. On one hand, there was the conquest of new territory, the expansion of Spanish dominions that would produce a sum of 77 million maravedis [235] in income for the State. On the other hand, there was the expansion of Royal Power over the peoples who fell under the iron yoke of the Invincible[236] and theTercio, [237] as well as a single setback, which was drowned at birth: the first cry of Spanish democracy, ripped by the Flemish from the wool-dressing Segovians in a great period of absolutism. It was a terrible cry, which the miserable and impotent Mayor Ronquillo dared to oppose with all his wickedness! In the 16th century, the brave people of Castile released a profound, heartfelt groan, which rang throughout the regions of the country, where it became suspended, and later flew to the Mediterranean borders during the 19th century! It arrived and penetrated the sanctuary of Spanish laws that had been written in Cadiz, and told the nation’s representatives, “Go to your book of mandates and rip out that dishonorable page stained with the blood of your children, called Feud.” And so it was: despotism in Spain was destroyed forever with the abolition of the feudal service.

During my memory’s excursions to other time periods, I reflected upon the most luminous point that I could choose, so as to expound upon it before the conscience of my readers. America, the land of love and a heaven of dreams, held an attractive supernatural quality for me. Its colorful birds, perfumed flowers, the sweet and reposed environment, the blue, transparent space. The loving accent of its children, the sublime poem of the most enchanting melancholy. That vegetation that falls off the centuries-old trunk or emancipates itself from the charred ground to offer the poor traveler shade and dew, bed and shelter, light and poetry– everything, everything induced my spirit in search of delightful hopes. That is why I stared at the coast’s horizon, because behind that white and blue strip that formed the sky and the ocean mixed together, the waves’ foam and the clouds’ vapors, I saw many peoples, especially those of America. And in America, the north; and in this north, Mexico. How could I not love it; how could I not send it my heartfelt greetings, if my mother’s cradle was rocked among its groves! If they are my brothers, if they speak the language of Cervantes, and tint the paintbrushes of their imagination with the same colors used by Lope, [238] Tirso, [239] and the child of its own land, the immortal Ruiz de Alarcon y Mendoza, [240] to irradiate the world!

Yet, these excursions of my imagination produce an ardent and lively desire.


After the indigenous generations that preceded the Conquest– that is, after the primitive Aztecs, now called Mexicans, whose territory formed a small part of what today occupies the extensive Continental Republic– I saw the poetic Tenochtitlan valley, encircled by its artistic diadem of porphyry city walls, with its American agavis, [241] a planting bed of magueys exploited by the Aztecs.

And there were two races that populated the most prosperous States of Anahuac: Mexico and Tezcuco, 40 whose histories brilliantly unfolded before my eyes.

With them– in search of a civilization that was blooming but vigorous, indigenous but worthy of study– I followed the traces of a peoples whose organization I examined in ascending historical order to synthesize, into one single idea, the entire course of Montezuma’s nation, composed of a single branch of native races, though diverse in composition and customs. I am referring to the Toltecs, whose Aztec name, from Tol lec, signifies architect.

The origin of these indigenous people upon arriving at Tenochtitlan is unknown.

They settled in Anahuac before the 16th century and demonstrated great examples of a civilization’s conquests, perfected in every possible manner. The study of hieroglyphs, knowledge in all of the branches of agriculture, their constant skill and finest work with metals, as well as their understanding of Calculations or the Calendar– a symbolic archeological monument that has gone down in history as one of the first works of ancient art– formed the most valuable treasure and constituted the more fundamental occupation of the primitive Toltecs.

The natives, whom we have just mentioned, had not finished planting their roots in Anahuac when they found themselves forced to abandon that territory, which was already dominated by plague, hunger, and continuous wars that had destroyed all its lands.

After evacuating to Tula, capital of the Toltec region, they headed toward Central America and left those magnificent and solemn ruins of Mitla and Palenque as a historic testament of their passage through the area; these, in turn, cause the traveler’s admiration to grow and move his spirit through the remembrance of the past.

A century afterward, the chichimecas, who came from the northwest, succeeded these previous peoples, settling in the desolate lands of the solitary region. This family of indigenous Mexicans had to undertake few conquests– their passage through the impoverished regions of their predecessors was quick and without accidents.

Yet, if the chichimeca family offers little interest and presents scarce conditions for its study, the same does not occur with the natives that would have followed. These proceeding natives originated from the same land as the Toltecs; they were divided into two diverse branches: the Aztecs or Mexicans [242] and the Acolhua or Texcoco people. These races,


whose gentle customs differed completely from those of their predecessors, were more clearly inclined toward civilization and progress. Their religion was further removed from polytheism because of the rational principles that informed it. Their character undoubtedly lent itself, like no other, to the cultivation of spirit and its moral perfection. Nevertheless, the tepanecas, born out of the heat of constant struggle and frequently interrupted by the roar of war that threatened the good relations of exterritoriality, found themselves attacked by their neighbors, who also inhabited the hot regions of the valley; they were annihilated, their King was dead, and their beautiful, poetic mother, the immortal Texcoco, fell into the victor’s hands.

The founders of Tenochtitlan would have remained in this state for a long time if a majestic and extraordinary figure had not appeared among them.

The legitimate heir to the Throne, Nezahualcoyotl– very young at the time, known afterward as distinguished in the cultivation of letters, as well as famed for his ability to yield weapons– felt his people’s pain in his own heart; aided by this, he flew to the battle, casting off the yoke of the victors and initiated a new era of perfection and culture for the beautiful land of Mexico.

This is a short description of the most important races of ancient natives necessary for our purpose.

Yet, why did we present them to the reader? Surely, it is not to probe its political, judicial, and administrative organization, which would be akin to stealing treasures from the general field of critical history. We do not do it to study the fundaments of Paganism, which their religion consisted of, or to reveal their hieroglyphs, or their weaponry, or their white cotton outfits, or the plumage on their straight hair.

There is another purpose: an idea has surfaced in the author’s mind, near the rock bathed by the Cantabrian, on that night described in the previous pages. I remembered Mexico and my mother, who was born there. Is there anyone better than the Mexican woman for me to devote a heartfelt tribute to? And, among her kind, who is worthier of study than the primitive Aztec woman, who appeared on that land after Hernán Cortes’ conquest, and lastly, the already emancipated woman, specifically, the modern Mexican woman of noble birth, and the poetic leperita? [243] Finally, we will discuss the modern native woman, descendant of those Aztecs I have already mentioned, with her particular sweetness, her own dialect, the melancholy of her almond-shaped, black eyes, and her tan and pale face.

Blessed be the night that brought my soul to the fulfillment of this purpose, with which I descended from the rock, allowing my thoughts to mature far from the Ocean!

Two years have passed since the scene that heads this article.

I have described the Mexican woman, though incorrectly, to the best of my abilities.


Where should we place her portrait, in pencil or photograph, as a miniature or a daguerreotype?

Oh! In no place more fit than in the showcase of very beautiful Spanish, American, and Portuguese woman, opened to the public by the tireless editor, Mr. Guijarro. I run to him; I will describe the Mexican women and I will beg him to place this portrait in the most convenient place, since it is a jewel, not in and of itself, but rather because of the sublime original from which the copy was made.


The primitive Aztec woman’s physiognomy has weakened into the sweet and melancholic physiognomy of a conquered race. That coarse character, formed through the sacrifice and slavery commanded by law, with a spirit inspired by nothing but terror and punishment, has been lost forever in the modern native Mexican.

It appears that the soberness of virtues formed through constant battles and the liturgy of Paganism became mild and sweet after the Cross was planted in the extensive Anahuac territory.

Who cannot still see the ancient Aztec woman sharing in the agricultural operations of sowing corn and agave that will later be used to gird the indestructible waists of the warriors?

Her haughty and indomitable forehead; her sallow and bronzed skin tones; those thick lips, where disdain and arrogance is drawn; straight hair the color of dark ebony; the feathers with which she adorns herself, like white snow at dawn– do they not notably contrast with the physiognomy of the modern Indian woman, who is sweet and melancholic, innocent and expressive, whose face is never tinged by rage or reddened by the shades of anger?

Perhaps it is because the Conquest stamped the seal of domination on an extinguished race. Perhaps it is because the always-heavy and tedious chores of the modern indigenous woman have debilitated her nature and spirit over time. Yet, this generation’s indigenous woman remembers something fundamental of the woman of the 13th century: the contour of features and the purity of customs, because the indigenous Texcoco woman, like the modern indigenous Mexican woman, sacrifices the vehemence of the most ardent passions to the most exaggerated morality.

And yet, a fundamental and historic difference separates them: liberty and the yoke– that is, the particular nature of peoples that live autonomously and the idiosyncratic characteristic of a generation that has lost the origins of their essence and their nationality.

The indigenous woman who preceded the Conquest conserved that indelible stamp that lends a particular physiognomy to the free races.


An idolatress by nature and law, her history is the shadow that gently glides across the most beautiful portraits, like the daughter of superstition and the imperfections of the spirit.

Yes, she is honorable and she is so because of organization; but her soul cannot fly across space or suspend itself from the capricious hopes of poetry and dreams. There is an irresistible force that dominates her: a religiously constant admiration for her husband, the religion of conscience simultaneously prescribes hate of adultery, a wrong that can be committed by the eyes by staring at a strange woman.

In addition, she has her gods and she places her love in them as a tribute that will be compensated at the end of her days with the reward of a better and longer-lasting existence.

Huitzilopochtli and Quetzalcoatl, along with their subaltern deities, take the Aztec woman to the teocallis, [244] sumptuous temples, constructed with clay materials, and great masses of rock in the form of a pyramid. There, the most horrible human sacrifices took place. The god consecrated to the nation, which is the first of the two, received all types of displays of worship and adornments and jewels. Among these was one that is impossible to recall without suffering the most terrible convulsions. It consisted of opening the chest of the victim destined for sacrifice with a flint instrument, called an itztli, and ripping out the martyr’s still-beating heart. With this and the hearts of the other tortured companions, they formed a necklace, which they hung around the neck of the deity they were celebrating.

Other times, an extraordinary change took place and the indifferent woman, who had impassively witnessed the absolute annihilation and most horrible destruction of her peers, took on a different attitude, and she was transformed into a sweet and gentle priestess of some protective deity. Then, with a garland adorning her head, and her lips overflowing with the perfume of adoration canticles, she would begin her procession along the path that led to the divinity’s altars, which were covered with offerings of ripe corn, perfumed sap incense, and animal blood, which replaced man in this sacrifice due to the toltecs and a very distinctive quality of the primitive Indian.

In addition, it was necessary for the race to conserve the crude form and particular character of their religious ceremonies.

The celebration honoring the god Tezcatlipoca– soul of the world– degraded the fairer sex’s condition and placed her feelings and passions in grave danger of exaltation.

Anyone they considered to be a handsome young man with a sculptural body and vigorous complexion, representing the supposed beauty of the hierarchical god through his regal beauty, would be consecrated to the god, through pleasure, after a year. Then, adorned with flowers and magnificent outfits, receiving homage of adoration as the image of the celebrated deity, he would be led to sacrifice, which


would be performed by five priests. It consisted of ripping out the victim’s still-beating heart. What consideration could he be offered by a law that required four of the most beautiful young women to share the honors of the marital bed during the captive’s deification period?

Oh! Who could not see the soul of a woman in love– which has spanned History, unchanged– at the side of the handsome man at the height of his life? At first, she is the imitated idol’s slave and concubine, but as the time preceding the sacrifice passes, she becomes his dearly beloved through the development of affection.

And who knows if, upon ascending the steps of the altar where he would be immolated, the man carried the weariness of pleasure in his soul or silenced his lips from expressing the eternal farewell of a heart full of love for that woman– the supposed pleasure of his sentiments– who had turned into the divine light of his purest emotions?

All these ceremonies harden the Aztec woman into a figure without flexibility, a character without movement.

Her social condition improves her attitude a bit as they are now exposed to what is referred to as religion and education.

If she belongs to the aristocratic class, calmecac, [245] she receives an education that is very distinct from the inferior categories. In the classrooms devoted to the culture of youth, she is educated in the labors appropriate for her rank by the priestesses themselves; this consists of sewing rich fabrics and fine embroidery, which would be offered at the altars of the goddesses. Upon reaching the marital age, cloister saves the woman in the first years and she devotes herself to the multiple ceremonies that precede matrimony.

It is then that she appears in complete perfection: the woman who had witnessed sacrifices and had been a repeated victim in many of them, especially during the celebration of the god Tlaloc, from whom the farmers demanded rain when a terrible drought threatened to devastate their fields.

The home for the Aztecs, just as it did for all ancient peoples, represented the greatest, most sublime idea that can be found in those races: the sanctification of the family. The father must have the absolute dominion over all its elements. The son must be the eternal Isaac of all the indigenous generations. As for the woman, who knows if– within the law’s always-unavoidable precepts and among the movements of the spirit, which are also constantly inflexible– a perpetual battle exists in which strength prevails over rights, necessity over convenience, and customs over the motions that print the future!

As a mother, the Aztec woman is a role model; as a daughter, she is a slave; as a wife, she is a martyr.

From the time her child is baptized through the sprinkling of water, she stays at home and devotes herself to caring for him. Much later, the child shares the execution of priestly functions with the man, not always raising the knife that will tear open the


victim’s chest, but rather, going to the temple where the youths are taught. If the child is a girl, she receives the nourishment of spirit there. She lends herself to it if she belongs to another state and helps if she is outside of it; if hierarchal rank obligates them to live off their work, her tired husband plows the land with his forehead against the ground, where the rays of the burning sun have left indelible phrases written, the features of an indomitable and civilized race that will remembered with all its grand characteristics.

Yet, never– neither in peace nor in war– does the man use his superior status to manipulate the woman into carrying out the more difficult labor or chores originally assigned to him. Those races thrive at the impulse of a nameless, budding civilization; their imperfect and coarse social customs (as a manner of being) should fall into disuse and be abandoned; strangely enough, the Aztecs display notable chivalrous acts toward the fairer sex to the point that, in the agricultural operations, while the man takes charge of the labors that require more physical strength, the woman begins to sow the seed in the land plowed by the potent arms of her husband, who is a laborer at times and a warrior when the homeland demands the help of his courageous heart.

And I say that the wife is like a martyr, because the inflexibility of the laws regarding matrimony presents characteristics identical to almost all ancient peoples.

A tribunal formed for this purpose prejudged the issues between the spouses, and after this evaluation they deduced the right to grant a petition for divorce or completely rejected it. It is important to note that the judicial power, which was the same for both the native Aztecs and the Egyptians, was admirably organized, although extremely severe. They did not prolong the resolution of the issues entrusted to their functions; the processing in diverse instances was unknown during the development of the procedure; the unity in judicial approach, interrogation of the parties, and the pronouncement of the sentence was never interrupted; these events occurred immediately and sometimes, almost always, the verdict was pronounced and personalized through symbolic demonstrations, such as shooting an arrow through an image of the condemned.

Now, if the social consideration of the husband as the only legal personality in the family and the sum of his inherent rights as a citizen of the nation were extraordinary and notably captured the attention of the legislator (who only attended to dignify him), what is left for the woman in the evaluation of those issues submitted to verbal judgment and arbitration of a capricious jurisdiction? Wasn’t it easy for the scales to tip in her husband’s favor without harming justice or its representatives, which only serve the husband’s superiority and the insignificance of the woman? And above all, how could they transcend the power of that written law, with its exact wording and all those events and circumstances that pertain


to the private home life, which can only be appreciated in the home itself? Given the brevity of the trial and woman’s submission, how could such a short exposure on their part correctly pronounce this terrible phrase: divorce, that is, death; union, that is, strength of life?

And what was the woman left with if her most intimate and sacred right– the right to the home– was violated? Scorn, banishment, sacrifice. And what would happen to her if, upon hearing the facts and only heeding customs, the arbitrator of the law did not consider their union strong and believed it was necessary to arrange a separation, if only to save the integrity of the wife’s rights? Oh! Sad woman of ancient times, then, you must wait; then, you must follow the man who took control of your future with the noose that hurts your throat and the sharp dart that breaks your heart. Yes, wait; wait for the light of eternal redemption to reach your eyes and bring hope to your soul, after all, you will be reborn into life, dignified, just as Isabel of Hungary and Teresa of Jesus, in that eternal world of greatness, in that sublime page of incomparable happiness, and in that immortal Zion called Christianity, which has made the miserable slave into an immortal human.

Yet, the Aztec mother is also the model of tenderness, as well as the prototype of wife and daughter. Her physiological organization and the influence of the land, guide her to great sacrifices and the highest duties. When she educates her daughter during the first days of preparation preceding matrimony, she displays her tenderness through her sweet, moral advice, in the conviction through reflection of what can be most useful for her interests, and in those unforgettable maxims of the happy days of youth that numbly run away, never to return, leaving the soul in the wake of pleasure, which dissipates from time to time.

And how could the mother not come from this state, if she does not know if that object of her affection, born in a state where slavery rules, should be surrendered to the creditor, or given like a type of noxa [246] to assure the fulfillment of the contracted obligations! Above all, who can assure this, if the virtuous mother or if the obedient daughter foresees a tempest that begins in her heart when the man called to legally possess her instantly clouds her hopeful skies, and in one moment confuses the brilliance of her dignity in that infertile, uncultivated land where the grandeur of the eastern peoples ends and is called polygamy?

Perhaps yesterday’s banquet, held in honor of the god of war, where pulque, the sap of the ancient maguey plant, is sprinkled during the febrile convulsions of the merry dance; perhaps those artistries in which women form images of the sky and ocean, the cloud that dissipates, and the landscape that fades away with small feathers, those artistic creations stamped in the beautiful leaves of the exuberant American vegetation and later expanded in the brilliant tinplate that will be important for the Spaniards; perhaps, I say, they will die with the poetry


of the woman’s dreams in an instant of her social degeneration, when, under the caprices of ancient laws and the hidden strength of primitive customs, the nuptial bed is divided between deifications proclaimed by the heart upon concentrating the plurality of its affection in the unity of a determined individual, and the concubine, who breaks the soul, if, overpowering the legislator, says, “All those people who are authorized to dispute my right, according to your laws, nevertheless, do no have the authority to reach the privilege of a protest of love according to my orders!”

In our preceding lines we have come to demonstrate that the influences of Paganism on the Aztec woman have made her into an immobile instrument in religious order. Similarly, we mentioned that her physiognomy has been reincarnated in part in the sweet and melancholic modern-day Indian woman.

But we have not discussed the other important cult: the cult of love, to which the Aztec mother devotes herself as a mother, wife, and daughter, and the particular characteristics of a budding race’s physiognomy.

Oh! I see her through History like a colossal figure of ancient American civilization. Under the awnings of foliage and the poetic canopy, where the hummingbird’s wings softly beat to the rhythm the ocean sighing in the breeze, blanketed by a sky of an incomparable vibrant blue and pure harmonies; in that region, perfumed by the orange blossoms and fresh jasmines; next to the ocean, far from it, and reclining on the grass, nursing her child from the vitality of her breast and the tenderness of her soul. I enthusiastically contemplate her and I observe how she raises her beautiful black eyes to the heavens when the American sun suddenly surprises her on the horizon, jealous of her beauty.

Then, upon hearing the war cry that rises from her husband’s lips, I follow her rapid, firm pace; and while he appears before me with his terrible maquahuitl,[247] tuft of feathers, chlamys, his ornaments of gold and gems, and his buskin sandals, she appears in her flowing mantle, white tunic, gold bracelets, luxurious necklaces, and elegant shoes.

Then, her face grows pale and her lips imprint the sacred kiss of a mother on her son’s honest face. She trembles for him and shakes convulsively, looking in all directions. She invokes the gods and prayer surges from her soul, like the sublime hymn deposited by the ancients before the altars of Pallas. Later, she advances and disappears, like a lightning bolt, confused in the vapors of space, to recover the noblest exercises in the sweetness of peace.

That woman’s spirit fights, however, against a secret that she hides in her heart. The fire of her soul lights her passions, always worthy in the order of life. Its vigorous and potent nature makes her capable of handling great sacrifices and great tests. Her savage beauty places her in the immortality of beauty. Her customs, already described, are passed on to modern generations like a


perfect example of the human spirit’s grandeur. The influence of a hot region modifies the plebian state of its organization and shapes it into the eternal, unending sublime. Only a black spot in History: its worship and sacrifice, its law and slavery, its fate and polygamy.

But, oh, a terrible hour has tolled for it on the clock of time. Perhaps their gods and customs have been enslaved by a superior and insurmountable force. What a sad fate for those ancient peoples! Their history unravels through overwhelming accidents and becomes obscured through small accidents.

Presided over by the Extremaduran, Hernán Cortés, a man darkened in history, but illustrious in progeny, a few adventurers were going to dedicate themselves to sailing in order to reach that territory; and around 1519, after the Catholic Queen [248] had left this world to receive the reward for her virtues in heaven, the cry of “To the Indies!” echoed from the confines of Havana through every corner of Spanish territory, and an insignificant squadron dragged a small number of brave men through the waters. Oh, Cortés! I salute you with the greatest enthusiasm of my heart.

And you, too, my beautiful Aztec woman! Do not spill your tears in vain. The men that travel all the way to your lands are good and honorable, just like you. Do not fear that they will superimpose the superiority of their strength over the weakness of woman, because gallantry and courtesy are the mottos that they have forever carried printed on their immortal flags.


Queen she seems from the native zones,
Virile and beautiful Amazon.

It was 1519.

The Spanish fleet, under the command of Extremadura’s son, had left behind the coast: the cape of San Antonio, Cozumel, Tabasco, and other villages. The period of enterprise had begun after multiple sacrifices.

Before even touching land, Hernán Cortés ordered Officer Pedro de Alvaro, a Spaniard of turbulent spirit, to invade the indigenous temples and despoil them of all their fineries. The orders did not sit well with the fleet’s captain, who aspired to destroy the idolatry of the region’s inhabitants through other, more direct and secure methods.

Those images of Pagan deities were to be destroyed so that they would not rise once more to the altar stone. Amid the natives’ cries of desperation, Cortés ordered that they be thrown down the temple stairs at the same time that Father Olmedo [250] celebrated the first Mass in those lands, consecrated before the nation’s protective gods or winds.

But Cortés, whose first aspiration consisted in implanting the Cross in the vast


Anahuacfields, encountered great difficulties. The first was naturally produced by his ignorance of the fundamental Aztec languages. The second arose through the difficult undertaking he faced; because it required an absolute modification of customs, he needed to penetrate the intimate lives of those races, subjugate their inclinations, take control of their consciences, and finally, claim all types of elements, no matter how small or insignificant.

It is true that Alvaro, Cortés’ interpreter, was familiar with those peoples’ dialects; but that was not enough. His knowledge of the provincial or local tongues was insufficient in view of the conquistador’s plans. Therefore, during one of the first meetings between the Spaniards and the Aztecs, upon their arrival in San Juan de Ulúa, they were unable to understand each other or communicate through expressive phrases of gratitude and the infinite tributes, flowers, fruits, and jewels that the natives lavished on them.

It would have gone very wrong for the children of Hispanic roots if a truly grand figure had not crossed their path, a real paragon and spiritual revelation, a genius protector of will and intrepidity.

Marina, Coatzacualco’s daughter– a slave sold to a few traveling merchants by the impiety of a heartless mother, she whom Moratin salutes by calling Queen– would come to be the Spaniards’ soul in those lands; they received her from the Tabasco cacique, as the most valuable gift and most enviable treasure that he could have offered them.

Cortés soon felt the purest love burning in his heart for this daughter of the gods. He gave her a direct manner of participating in his enterprise and initiated her learning of the Spanish language. Through her woman’s soul, as an eminent historian says, she saw this language as the language of love; she had to possess it as soon as possible, gifted as she was with clear talent. This providential figure accompanied the Spaniards in all their battles; she was their safeguard in moments of danger and became the first person of her sex to appear on the grand page of history that heads the period of the Conquest. Oh, prodigy of human nature! The coarse man, the invincible soldier of the most daring undertakings, who went off to renew a religion, a civilization, and a potent race with the sheen of his sword, in his warrior character, was also conquered. By whom? It was certainly not by the hard native arm, but rather, by a softer, though stronger, arm: by the love inspired through the eyes of a woman, who felt the fire of the American sun burning in her breast.

Yet, during the period of the Conquest, the woman suffers the same vicissitudes as the man. War must interrupt their quotidian tasks, religion, and interests. Cortés travels through principal cities, and while he is in Otumba, Tlascala, and other villages, he experiences the difficulties and triumphs of a titanic battle; the brilliance of Spanish arms extends its splendors through the Mexican territory and the women


approach the conquistador to offer him jewels, garlands, and precious flowers, for which those races had such a predilection.

In addition, the Spaniards’ passage through the Aztec cities must have affected family order. And so it was that while, on one hand, the Spanish race appears united to those natives through D.Don Martin Cortés, son of Hernán Cortés and the Indian Marina, on the other hand, the influences of civilization– imported by a religion that was new to them and was very effective in its results– was noticed through the union of Spanish soldiers and the beautiful natives, especially that of the daughter of the tlascalteca, Xicotencatl– an illustrious Princess who had converted to Christianity and was renamed Doña Luisa.

When the Spaniards invaded Mexico, they were extraordinarily surprised by the Aztec women’s manner of dress. Their outfits were composed of a skirt with lavish fringe that hung from it or from a tunic that reached their feet; for the aristocrats, the skirt was made from extremely fine cotton, embroidered with the most elegant designs. Other times, they wore threaded veils made from the maguey or from animal hides, and they all generally left their face exposed; and their braids, as black as ebony, fell down their back, freely undulating and enhancing their face.

The women’s occupation in this period was the same as in previous times. Captain Hernán Cortés wrote his famous letters to the King of Spain; and, in them, he seemed to be enchanted by the contemplation of such admirable tasks carried out by the natives, making use of bird feathers and wax. King D.Don Phillip II and his successor greatly admired them as well. They were admired, above all, by Pope Sixtus V, who was sent an effigy of San Francisco that was so well crafted that amidst his surprise, he enthusiastically exclaimed, “I think that there is no art that this can imitate.”

The skillful embroidery of the Aztec women was supposedly manifested through the ocelot, a standard article worn by Mexican Emperors; the maxtlatl, a sash worn by warriors around their waists; and the tiniatli, a type of white and blue tunic worn by the men, which was fastened with a clasp called a chalchivitl.

During this eternal period of glory, which passes quickly for the purposes of our study, there was not a lack of colossal figures– extraordinary types that rose up during the uproar of battle like majestic evocations of supernatural beings. One example is Marina, the sublime Indian woman who quelled the horrible angry cries of a brave and free people, and whose spirit, after death, has appeared to travelers as a goddess of ancient times. Another example is the Spanish woman, Maria Estrada; during the war, she held the enemy back with her brilliant sword in one hand and her invincible round shield in the other, amid those formidable attacks in the Spanish retreat of Indian territory, where men like Alvarado could realize their extraordinary efforts,


which no pen is capable of describing; they summarize an eternal poem of glory.

Here we have the two poles that limit the Mexican woman’s history during the period of the Conquest. Their customs are gradually changing and are modified in the spirit of regeneration, which is implanted by new beliefs. From a plurality of gods to the union of the Supreme Being– this is the transition of the Aztec woman during this passage of time. But absolute liberty in primitive customs is lost; this woman should retire to the modesty of the home in a semi-contemplative life, which is patriarchal in all aspects, and without being attracted by the luxury or movement of modern peoples. Christianity has produced its results, but the new race no longer conserves the characteristic stamp of the past. It is true that a strange generation has almost established two nationalities in one land: the Hispanic American race, itself, which is understood as the direct descendants of Spaniards; and the modern Indian, who partially remembers the brilliant generation of hieroglyphs and industry.

Today, the woman who lives in the eastern state of Chihuahua, near the Sierra Madre, freely carries out her physiological functions within the heart of nature. After the emancipation of colonial governmental power, the rest of the women somewhat modified their attitudes on their own, but native patriarchy still exists in the home and she turns out to be a good mother, worthy wife, and a daughter who complies with all her ancestor’s mandates.


Three centuries have passed rapidly from the beginning of our previous account.

If we attempted to write a purely historic work, the law of criticism would fall inflexibly over our assertions for having broken from the fundamental formula of what is called the unity of time.

Yet, for our purpose, it has had a very distinct criterion. We only wish to present, at least slightly, a woman’s eulogy, and to do so we must delicately cross the extensive field of History.

Now that the period of the Conquest has been studied, although briefly, it seems fitting to begin with the period in which Mexico achieves independence from the Colonial Power and develops its own life with resources from all the political elements that are in its immediate reach. This event occurs in 1810 and ends with the constitutional act of 1824. At that point, the country achieves independence from other powers and creates the type of government best suited for its aspirations.

That is to say, we find ourselves face to face with a new era: beside the emancipated woman, in other words, the modern woman of that privileged land.


And we are going to examine how today’s Mexican woman thinks, feels, and carries out her activities.

Gentle and serene spirit; clear and splendid imagination; soul capable of feeling the everything from the purest affection to the most intoxicating dreams; heart that erupts lava from volcanoes upon feeling love; lips that open like the oriental lily to perfume the air; eyes of eternal light, veiled by black lashes like eternal shadows; sublime voice, always reposed, harmonious, and full of melancholy, like an andante written by Haydn [251] or a melody by Schubert [252]– this is the modern Mexican woman, who, if at any time lets the tears of a noble soul trickle from her black eyes or rips a cry of intense pain from her ivory chest, appears to spill the dew of liquidambars that look like pearls trickling down the leaves that cared for them, and sends toward the heavens that perpetual and mysterious song that will die in the ocean, the song to which the birds consecrate their nests in the sublime concert of solitude, in the heart of America’s virgin jungles.

And you will always find this in the Mexican woman, despite region or locality.

But here we focus especially on the distinguished lady, that is, she who occupies a social position worthy of her class, due to her lineage and conditions. We will not search for aristocratic blood, because that phrase lacks meaning in Mexico. The upper social categories are achieved through talent, jobs, or wealth; and if, for the objective of our study, the readers wish for us to adopt a conventional phrase that characterizes the woman we are describing, we can call her the woman of the upper class, and with this we will enter into the perfect intelligence of her personality.

Well, the upper class Mexican woman combines all the physical and moral perfections of the European woman and possesses a heart that is singularly and exclusively American. She does not spend much time fluttering through salons, or on quotidian promenades, or subjugating herself to the impressions of fashion designs, or to the very sad disabuses that can be produced by the boudoir; yet, you will always see her beautiful, elegant, with her elevated stature, with the delicacy of her chest, with the jasmine-red of her lips, and the majesty of her noble and proud figure. When it is convenient, she goes out for strolls and visits theaters and salons, perfuming the places she walks through. Then, if your sinful gaze is directed toward the floor crossed by this beautiful and sublime female and you contemplate the print of a microscopic foot, like the wake left by a ship as it moves through the ocean, you will be shocked speechless; and you will begin to imagine that it was engraved by the foot of an archangel or a child, or that it was Nature who pleased itself in making the Mexican woman’s foot so small so that, upon modestly revealing it, it would distinguished as a model of absolute perfection and incomparable beauty among the rest of her sex.


Regarding the woman of the home, it can be assured, without fear, that she is the most perfect and complete model; this is clearly explained if we pay close attention to the fact that the Mexican woman has been unwrapping her personality since the beginning of the Conquest through the exercise of a life with marked, reserved tendencies as well as through the practice of moderated and semi-patriarchal customs. The education of her children and the unselfish care she shows her husband, constitute her fundamental and most important devotion.

The Mexican mother is, like the Spanish mother, a paragon of tenderness, selflessness, and affection. From the moment she conceives a child, she understands and correctly believes that a new god will be erected for her in the altars of maternal love, to which she owes everything from the tribute of her prayers to the rewards of her sacrifices; but if these sacrifices consisted of ripping the mother’s soul from her breast to prevent her dearest child from shedding a single tear, the Mexican mother, just as the Spanish mother, is capable of great displays of heroism, because they have comprehended that the greatest page of women’s history is (initiating her greatest duties) for her to produce sons who will one day become treasures and aggrandize the sacred interests of the homeland.

Since she is a good mother, she is also a worthy and loyal wife. Her mission then turns into a very noble priesthood, in which she unconditionally humbles herself in rank and to the absolute care and love of her husband. If he suffers, she consoles him and offers him the sweetness of reflection. If he is happy, the same joy overcomes that modest and passionate woman’s spirit. She stands before the eyes of History like the summary of all the perfections to which the most demanding moralist can aspire.

I don’t know if we have mentioned that the Mexican woman is tan, but it is a clear and sweet tan that notably contrasts with the extremely vivid expression in her eyes.

Similar to those primitive races, she loves flowers and she adorns her breast and hair with them; and yet, upon contemplating her beautified with jasmine or violets, lilies or roses, camellias or tulips from those poetic gardens, the mind yearns to observe how two flowers from distinct gardens unite in an amorous concert: the one in a flowerpot with its mute and silent poetry and the one that manifests itself in the form of a woman, with lively, enchanting, immortal poetry, full of grace and endowed with the gift of powerful attractiveness.

Watch her walk with her simple and elegant day dress, enveloped like the Nereids in their gauze tunics; it is that country’s traditional article of clothing, the tápalo! A type of mantle or similar thing, the tápalo reveals something about the Mexican woman, just as the long mantle characterizes the woman from Tarifa. A simple gala of merino, canton crepe, or silk is used either for a complete negligee or in a more important dress; the tápalo generally covers the Mexican woman’s head and is, so to speak, the humble veil of modesty next to the sublime vanity of beauty.


The shawl, embroidered with different colors, in its multiple forms also constitutes part of the modern Mexican lady’s wardrobe; but the one called the rebozo is only for intimate uses, and can be considered the most important article for use at home. Wearing it, the daughter of the North appears, at the mercy of the wind that agitates it, enveloped in the foam of space by a sylph; and upon enveloping her body with that strip that undulates vaporously on an enchanting figure, like the ancient flag in the hands of the goddess of war, man wonders if she is a soul who travels across the world to fulfill her destinies in infinity or a supernatural revelation incarnated into the most perfect human body as an example of the beings that inhabit the heavens or the angels that God sends to console men on earth.

The Mexican woman does not distinguish herself, in the rest of her outfit, from the elegant and vaporous European woman.

Regarding her inclinations, she is an artist because of her nature and her interests. She enjoys music and dance. She loves poetry because it is a fundamental part of her being; and she produces dispositions of such high inspiration, like Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, before whose memory I cannot resist the temptation to introduce the patient readers to one of her best sonnets, for the sake of the correct and extraordinary merit that it contains.

The eminent poet writes the following, defending a portrait:

This that you see, the false presentment plannedWith finest art and all the colored shows
  And reasonings of shade, doth but disclose
The poor deceits by earthly senses fanned!
Here where in constant flattery expand
    Excuses for the stains that old age knows,
   Pretexts against the years' advancing snows,
The footprints of old seasons to withstand;
'Tis but vain artifice of scheming minds;'Tis but a flower fading on the winds;
    'Tis but a useless protest against Fate;
'Tis but stupidity without a thought,
  A lifeless shadow, if we meditate;
'Tis death, tis dust, tis shadow, yea, 'tis nought.[253]

Productions of this nature ennoble and crown with glory the country that gave birth to genius and the sex that pertained to such an illustrious and eminent author.

To end this segment, we will say that the Mexican woman is a faithful Catholic. She goes to temple and sends God her prayers with the sincerity of a heart in which


the pure faith of free people prevails and hypocrisy never dares to enter, because the Mexicans hold their heads up high, staring at the sun like a demonstration of their honor and nobility, which remains incorruptible in all the epochs of History.

If you wish to see her and all her charms, with all the perfections that characterize her, imagine her in those pure flower gardens, on those enchanting walks named Bucareli, the Chapultepec forest, and the Zócalo, through which she strolls, revealing her angelic smile and the pure colors of her noble face, sent by sublime and exuberant nature.

I now proceed to briefly describe the woman from the lower classes: that is, the poetic woman of the people.


The lepera and leperita are two figures with which we should begin this study of the Mexican common woman.

However, there is not much that can be said of the former if the sacred laws of morality are to be wholly conserved.

The word lepera, applied to the woman, is a stigma. The diminutive of this phrase is a polite gesture used in reference to the more elegant and distinguished common woman.

And that is precisely because the lepera is abject, shameless, and immoral, whereas the leperita is honest, poetic, and attractive.

The former is referred to with scorn; the latter with affection. One represents the miserable being that has lost all notions of moral sense, while the other represents a happy disposition, jovial and articulate, but rarely brazen, capable of following her lover to the end of the universe, overcoming the biggest difficulties and the greatest dangers.

Thus, it is the leperita to whom we will dedicate our time with the preference she deserves.

That graceful and svelte woman with unequaled elegance, who belongs to a spirited continent, appears with her hair adorned with silk curls that are vulgarly known as commitments; her sentiments are outlined in the contour of her tiny, delicate features, which contrast with the tan color of her pale cheeks and the fire of her beautiful, black eyes, where love is faithfully portrayed.

She wears large gold pendants on her ears and her outfit is worthy of attention.

Her foot is encased in a very small satin shoe with white or blue as the dominant color. She does not wear stockings and she who wears the former of the two colors is often nicknamed, silver foot, by the people. She wears an artistic blouse with a very low neckline and decorates the border with capricious, colorful silk embroidery or similar types of adornments.


A graceful skirt hangs from her waist, sometimes made of colorful, embroidered silk, others of blue wool, also with precise embroidery, and more generally, of gauze.

Under the top skirt, they wear another white, linen skirt, adorned with point lace and openwork embroidery of the best and most desirable taste and merit.

A canton crepe sash encircles her waist, with fringe made of the same fabric; it falls on her left hip, where the end of her luxurious handkerchief rests.

This national object, which we have already mentioned, is called a rebozo and is a piece of fabric that measures approximately two thirds of a vara wide by two vara and half long, and its border is decorated with long and lovely fringe. Saltillo rebozos are the most popular and valued.

Sometimes the leperita wears this shawl over her shoulders to dance, crossing it at her waist and throwing the ends on the left and right sides of her body. Other times she ties a bow on her right hip, which contrasts with the band’s bow.

And now that we have mentioned dances, we should cite those that correspond to the common people of that territory.

In the West, the main dances are the jarabe, the fandango, and the pascola. The first is completely national and is danced all across the country. It has its own characteristics and particular movements, which, although being a bit salacious, never degenerate the vertiginous agitation of the famous French quadrille.

These people tend to excel at other dances, though they are less important than the previous ones; among them are the palomoand the malobra, which vary according to the diverse communities and seem to characterize all the emotions and passions with which the human heart unveils its affections.

The gatherings which these individuals frequently attend are called mariachis and popular songs are often sung, called calonas and justicias, which are very similar in genre to malagueñas [254] and are full of that eternal and sweet melancholy that characterizes the songs of Arabic origin.

The leperita fulfils many positions; but the most fundamental are reduced to the vendor of vegetables, fruits, fresh horchata [255] and chía water, which is made of a dry, black seed deposited in a tablespoon of that liquid for two or three hours, after which that vegetable fluffs up and the water is served with sugar and some drops of lime.

As we have mentioned, the leperita is loyal to her lover and capable of great virtues and great faults, but has tendencies toward morality; she is a good mother and loyal wife, and just as the lepera represents venality and corruption, the leperita manifests herself as an elegant commoner, like a woman of the home, and like the passionate soul that is capable of fulfilling the most grandiose and extraordinary feats on the wings of love.

This is why her personality will always be the model of a people who completely lends itself


to the spirit’s grand modifications. If the sphere of action in which this popular entity moves is limited by the evolutions of two poles of high importance– courage and love– it is clear that the Mexican common woman is a figure that will never decline, because great Historic figures have molded themselves in courage and love and because immortality has initiated the first page of its eternal book on those two limitless and bottomless ideas, where one is represented by the Mother of God, at the foot of the cross, and the other is symbolized by that epopee of blood that the Spanish mother writes on her children’s hearts when she kisses them for the first time, called Sagunto.


We are face to face with the modern native Mexican.

We do not attempt to compare that indomitable and powerful Aztec race with this humble and saddened generation.

Three centuries have passed since then and the influence of foreign domination or the annihilation of that spirit in the struggles that occur throughout History have turned a turbulent and hardened people into a limited and divided acropolis due to causes we need not mention. In addition, neither the colonial Government, nor the independent Government, brought intellectual culture to this race, which was necessary to prevent it from suffering the degradation that befalls all peoples who ignore their history and future.

The modern Indian, who is submissive, sweet, has a simple dialect, and is full of melancholy, is not the same as the one who was extolled in the teocallis as a titan of ancient religions, who would then fly to the battle fields in search of conquests and laurels.

I do not speak of the savage Indian, who can still conserve something of his cult to the Sun and the stars. I need not refer to the savage Indian woman’s nomadic life that carries out her physiological functions in the very heart of nature. My purpose is exclusively bound to the civilized Indian of the female sex who inhabits the outskirts of the city and only enters it to fulfill the most arduous of laws: the law of labor.

Imagine a type that is markedly tanner than the former, with large, black, almond-shaped eyes, thick, prominent features, the collection of her calm and sweet physiognomy, and a phrase mixed with humility and sentiment, and you will have the modern Mexican Indian woman.

Then, examine her outfit and you will see that a small, sleeveless, cotton sack clings to her body. Afterward, observe her skirt and you will discover that she is not wearing the customary article, but rather fabric tied to her body that does not have a full skirt. This type of skirt falls to the ankle, revealing the small foot of the completely barefooted, small Indian woman.


Her abundant, straight hair is either held in beautiful braids or circles her head of hair, which is as black as ebony. She carries objects for commercial transport on her head: among them is the chiquihuite, which is a type of container or basket. She carries her merchandise on her head; this includes articles such as fruits, flowers, and other gifts, and the popular preparation of milk called jocoqui, which has many fans.

Among other things, the Indian woman also sells tamales, that is, corn flour dough that is kneaded into different forms and can be sweet; this food is wrapped in a wide corn leaf.

In her metate, which is a type of stone similar to the one used to ground cacao, she prepares her little corn flour tortillas, whose dough, after having gone through the metate, is put on the comal [256], where it is cooked, and becomes ready for the serving of food.

The Indian woman also dedicates herself to agriculture, not in the capacity of working or renting, but rather, as a proprietress, since her wealth is comprised of that which she cultivates with her hands.

Her house is called a jacal or a jacalito, a type of humble hut with an acute roof; images of saints adorn all the walls with such a fervent religiosity that she becomes confused in the fascinations of near-idolatry and an exaggerated fanaticism.

She takes Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of her land, to the steps of the temple on her feast day, where they venerate such an ancient Image and sell the popular and tiny flat cakes named after the Lady, which are a delight and extraordinary delicacy.

Other times, during Lent, we can see how a flower-filled chalupa [257] that looks like a floating garden, crosses the Santa Anita canal to guide those ornaments, which will decorate the Mexican woman’s breast and hair, to the city where the women await. The small Indian woman rides inside this chalupa, but she is covered by some much verdure that at times, she can hardly be distinguished, or one can only see how she lifts her head among that confusion of roses and jasmines, full of perfume and lushness.

The Indian woman is a loving and passionate mother: she carries her child in an improvised crib formed by fabrics on her own back; as a wife, she is loyal as well as meritorious, since, in all her states of womanhood she manifests the classic morality of her ancestors to a certain point, because she travels to the cities to sell her consumer goods, while the Indian man remains at home.

When a child dies, the Indian woman, like all the other women of the village, sings, launches rockets into the air, distributes flower and drinks mescal wine or Tequila brandy and chinguirito,[258] she distributes drinks made of melon seeds, and fills the infant’s coffin with flowers.

She doesn’t forget the pulque, which pleased the Aztecs very much, and she eats corn tortillas, beans or runner beans, tamales, sopitos, oatmeal, and other analogous things.


The Indians also consume fruits called mangos, papayas, and bananas, and lastly, pipián sauce, which is a condiment prepared with pumpkin seeds; it is also the gift that the Queen of Tonallan presented to the conquistadores upon their arrival in Mexico.

Other things they do not overlook are:

Guayabas, cherimoyas, y mameys.
Over there, a vulgar food, here it’s food for kings.

as our eminent poet, Zorrilla, says.

Yet, oh, the gaze toward the modern native still contains a mixed tinge of compassion and abandon. And I ask: Well, what! Isn’t their personality and exercise sanctified in the greatest of vocations– in the vocation of labor? What difference separates them from the other steps of the social hierarchy? Don’t they fulfill all the moral and political functions just like everyone else? Don’t they have incontestable rights to nationality, to a home, and to a family, and don’t they manifest the most sacred obligations that are inherent in the whole of humankind?

Ah! Color, race! Here are the differences that are considered fundamental in the mind’s concerns and misguidance.

But no: her generation is saved; she will be able to invoke her rights under the law; she is not an object, she is a human being endowed with the same qualities distinguished by the law. She forever saved the integrity of all her faculties and, at the same time that she rose proud before the conscience of History and the dignity of man, an eternal Hosanna was heard, sung by all the people of the earth, proclaimed from the furthest regions, exalting those two admirable currents that move today’s world: liberty and progress.


I have finished my dear readers.

Forgive me, beautiful Mexican women.

It is a very difficult task to narrate from antiquity to the modern era; to paint what you had been and what you are; and to situate your sublime portrait in Spain.

I do not claim to have photographed you, because I lack the brilliant negative onto which your sublime image should be engraved for eternal praise.

Forgive me. If, perhaps, in the course of my prolix description I have omitted some important detail that extols your history, it was an involuntary error.


I am merely a humble Spaniard who admires you, what can I say? I sanctify the most profound and intimate cult of your affection.

It is difficult to separate your personality from remote, mythological times. It is also difficult to describe, in a short amount of space, your physiognomy, which takes on a character suitable and particular to the times. In any case, I see your land as the new, American Venice.

Worlds of legend rush into my imagination and, on one hand, I contemplate you as currently ready to receive the culture of spirit, in the tendency toward intellectual progress that moves contemporary generations; on the other hand, I see you in the heart of your virgin jungles carrying out the great acts and grand conquests of the past.

It is for this reason that the American breezes reach and enter my heart; they purify the soul’s wounds and sweeten existence, which wanders lost through the thorny paths of pain and agony.

Oh, most beautiful Mexican women! I send you the most affectionate greeting and my fondest memories. Goodbye! My tribute of my most profound bond and most fervent admiration for you crosses the Ocean waters.

If at any time you complain about my errors and faults, of my abundance and my monographs, remember that the defect is not in me, but rather in you, because you are heaven on earth, a lucky star, and neither heaven nor stars can be copied correctly, it is not possible for a pen like mine to know how to say that which our eminent poet, Guillermo Prieto, says: “Oh, Mexico!

Your worthy children have noble bravery;
And honor in battle follows their steps;
And you leave the treasures of their tenderness;
For their beauties!”



[Figure] PORTUGAL.

(Woman from Ovar, fish vendor in Lisbon)



In this beautiful Portuguese province, admired by all foreigners, we encounter the generally gracious and humble, enthusiastic and avidly curious woman. She is truly an original type.

The small territory of Algarve is one of the most beautiful and picturesque images of nature; the rest of the Portuguese Provinces envy the rich and lush fertility of its soil and the excellent quality and variety of its products. Its splendid temperature and magnificent geography naturally imprint a happy temper and expansive and elegant character on the Algarve people.

The disposition of a people is in charming, intimate harmony with and in close relation to the aspect of the country in which they grow and live; with the landscape that they contemplate daily, from the break of dawn to the time the sun’s golden head sinks into the Ocean’s blue waves; their natural happiness is dependant on the same physical and climatological conditions that they need: the seed for their complete germination, the plant and the bush for their perfect growth, happy and opulent vegetation. The individual rigidity and austerity of its inhabitants’ character is as dry as nature.

The country, whose women we propose to study, is happy, and in part, still possesses the remains of that primitive and splendid nature, where certain things still exist, like small elevations of terrain that form happy slopes and hills, the murmurs of brooks and an admirable abundance of small streams, plains and happy valleys that form an enchanting garden, beautiful and picturesque, which inspires heartfelt, sweet sentiments


and enlightens the imagination. The liberty felt by those adventurous and bold people is born from these very limited, though pleasant, pure and free environments, which are relatively spacious and elevated; just like a bird that is born on a mountain peak or in age-old tree trunks can always fly the highest.

In addition, Algarve is very mountainous and has dense tree growth. Its inhabitants stand out in this rustic gallery due to their pleasant, jovial air and they way that they open their hearts to generous sentiments, breathing in a pure and healthy air perfumed by fresh Ocean breezes. During the winter, they always experience a mild, sweet, and pleasant temperature– it is a nest warmed by African gusts. In the summer, the sun’s brilliant rays, gilding the mountain peaks and streams, produces fantastic colors in great vibrations of light, which scald the inhabitants’ imaginations.

Algarve is the southernmost Portuguese province, adorned with the resounding title of Kingdom, because, after the national Portuguese constitution, it was taken from the Arabs, who were extending their dominions through their spirit of conquest; as a result, it constituted an important empire during the period of this historic event, the richest under Muslim power, with a truly independent character.

It appears that Nature itself created the barriers of its independence, marking its borders, separating it from Portugal with the Calderon and Monchique mountains and from Andalucía with the Guadiana River. The distance from the equatorial line is 37° North, beneath the temperate zone, and the surface area of its widest part measures 60 leagues, and it has 134,000 inhabitants.

Long ago, due to its wealth, the Phoenicians, Tyrians, Greeks, and Romans, and afterward, the Goths and Arabs, successively came to populate its coasts.

In such magnificent conditions, the Algarvian’s nature cannot be offended by a rude and savage nature, since he has never seen one, rather, has only seen a happy and picturesque landscape; his heart, formed in an isolation of happiness and simple life, is bold, as occurs in maritime ports where the Algarvian, since childhood, spends his time in the ocean, burning with joy and emitting lightning bolts of generosity from his soul. With splendid and enchanting flora and fauna, work is a custom that is part of the ordinary mannerisms of that peoples’ life.

It is an imperious need, which is obligatory to obey, without the fading of spirit in adversity or in battles of the conflicts of nature. No one is as capable of resignation to the point of sacrifice as the Algarvian when he finds himself face to face with misery, when they seize the most urgent necessities from him. It is because the Algarvian generally believes in fate; and from this ideal conception– which makes him superstitious and almost forms a complete religion– comes an absolute confidence in luck; and if he is careless, he frequently becomes a victim of the forces of the providential fate in which he firmly believes. The constant work of a people is the largest indication of their


vitality; with it, they establish their aspirations, beliefs, opinions, and profound convictions; social good is born out of work, and the privileges of the community are accentuated through the dismantling of myths and old traditions. All revolutionary aspirations are born from work; it brings us perseverance and assiduousness– profoundly liberal and democratic– which are engendered in the brain with the facility of spontaneous generations.

The Arabs, who dominated this Province for a long time, founded cities and accumulated riches; they left their habits and customs deeply-rooted there: it does not require much investigation to see the characteristics of that small Kingdom’s ancient settlers in the Algarvian people. Regarding physical nature, the Algarvian suffers the same temperament, he has the same Arabic vigor, and, as we have just mentioned, the same outward characteristics.

The temperate zone provides exuberance and a vivid imagination and a sensual nature. The persistence of the Arab element reveals itself in all its manifestations of ingenuity and art, in their way of life, and in their simplest preoccupations; and is even more persistent in those who live in the plains, because of fatalistic uniformity, but is modified in the coastal Algarve inhabitant, through which the most adventurous spirit is revealed most clearly, and in the mountain man, through his rigid virility. We can particularly employ the general laws of the climate’s actions because the Algarvian finds himself submitted to these notable differences, under the same influences we have already mentioned, though these distinctive characteristics are not outwardly evident and only the Algarve inhabitants’ unity of character is apparent.

In effect, under these conditions, the coastal Algarvian, the Algarvian from the heart of the Province, and the Alagarvian who pertains to one of the most rustic northern communities– such as Monchique, Alferce, and San Marcos de la Sierra–differ greatly among one another, at least in the manner in which they express themselves, feel, and think; in the manifestation of their acts, in practical life, in their manners and customs, more or less preoccupied spirit, more or less perceptive or obtuse. We will interpret the generalities globally.

Since the working class is the most numerous and society’s most active, we cannot avoid looking in it for the type of woman we claim to study. The aristocracy declines visibly from one day to the next, confusing itself with the middle class; and in the Provinces, above all, this is a much more noticeable fact, because their way of living is simple and modest, and completely analogous to the simplicity of its inhabitants. This is so evident that, in passing, the only things that we can observe in the class that calls itself privileged are old, useless titles. The older and nobler, the more deteriorated. In Algarve, the population is essentially made up of laborers, without authority or privileges. Any exceptions that may exist are beyond our scope of observation.

Today, the aristocracy only lives in the large population centers,


according to consuetudinary custom, separated from the people, but without predominance, without any action over it. In Algarve, the contemporary nobility finds itself stripped of authority, without prestige, and the idea never passes through their minds that one day they can possibly exert some influence over the working class, who assign no importance to those outdated honors, traditional privileges, or anything that can be called purely artificial life; they have no consideration or respect for the glories of lineage or anything else that has no reason to exist. The Portuguese people tend to pay a proper amount of homage to their ancestors, who initiated a progressive movement, contributed (though unwittingly) to Portugal’s liberty and civilization, and to those that distinguished themselves through a bright idea. Everything else is outside of our generation’s thoughts. The real, modern aspirations are honor, work, liberty, progress, and civilization.

Globally, we have the largest number, where vital strength, naturalness, and real wealth are found; where we can find love, enthusiasm, and the most probable happiness– even if it is overwhelmingly interrupted in the domestic home, as we will point out later on, and with never-ending resolution we will forever abandon everything that is exceptional, that which damages and confuses us, rather than helping us. We enter this extraordinary gallery with few resources and we will analyze the woman lightly, that is, to the point our investigation, pen, and spirit can reach; we have provided a detailed description of the Province in which she lives so as to comprehend and define her actions.


The Algarvian woman is brought out of that frame with all the simplicity a landscape artist would desire for his copy– a simplicity that his paltry mediums allow. She is naturally sincere, but she does not always enjoy the dream of happiness in the domestic home or the respect owed to her sex. That religious sentiment, which made the woman an ideal being, which extolled her almost to adoration, making her respectable, does not exist in the heart of the man from that small clod of land detached from Africa, called Algarve. Here, the woman is treated more like a slave than as a lady; she has never had any rights of equality before her husband and much less a moral superiority; we think she never will. She is docile and submissive; beating her is sometimes a mere caprice or particular pleasure for her husband. Naturally, serious conflicts arise in the domestic home from such rude behavior, in which she feels upset and full of indignation, though silent, regarding the rudeness and wickedness of the tyrant, or husband; after this come adultery and prostitution, like deplorable consequences of such fatally barbaric customs.

The climate of her beautiful country endows her with a great, vivid, and enthusiastic imagination.


Finding herself without her husband’s affection– who treats her badly, who scorns her– she naturally thinks about something that can soften her domestic martyrdom or abandons the home, pushed by a sentiment of aversion, almost always fearing her husband’s return, who rarely stops finding reasons to mistreat her with crude beatings. This continuous fright, which the married woman constantly lives in, inspires hatred toward her husband: but she cannot stop loving him, because her instincts are naturally good and her sentiments, generous! Obligated to persist (though against her will) by the force of circumstances and unease, by an intimate clamor of offended dignity, and after much suffering, she abandons the house, crazy, but drenched in tears, looking back, with sad memories of her home and husband; and she would return if he were to call, like a dog to its owner– humble, caring, tender, and happy! This humility hurts her, because then the man, proud of his wife’s pacific obedience, provokes, insults, and martyrs her, thinking that she is anchored, and he tries to exert even more control over her. But if she changes her mind later, she flees. Separation is painful for her! If she is unfaithful, what horror, what martyrdom! But, who is guilty? Let him interrogate her conscience and he will see that he is the only cause of her disgrace. The Algarve education is terrible. The children of these miserable marriages, educated in such a school, later do the same. Only bad education, or, better yet, the lack of education, is to blame for the many wrongs in which woman and man live; the disastrous results and saddest consequences, which they call destinies of luck or fate, are suffered by some people.

It is not strange for the woman in these conditions to idealize a disgraceful future of living in a brothel or completely prostituting herself! She is naturally sensual and imaginative; and if she obeys her temperament much quicker, reason lies in not finding the heart of the well-educated man who fulfills, in addition to his duties, those imposed upon him by society. Mistreated for no reason, she considers herself unfortunate, miserable; she prefers a scandalous life over one of torment. She truly feels fortunate when no one beats her. What does public humiliation, contempt, and social and familial ridicule mean to her if she finds a lover who respects her? Finding one, however, is rare; when she feels obligated to leave her domestic home, the abyss of ruin is the end of her life. She works without rest; she is as hard working as Homer’s women, hospitable, compassionate, and generous; she enjoys submission, but not insult; she carries out a pleasant and important role in the care of her children and domestic duties. The Algarvian woman’s only condition is work: this is her domestic life.

She is the same in the fields as she is at home, that is, very hard working.

In this Province, the country woman and the city woman do not truly exist. The female sex, just as the masculine, is both rustic and urban. A special type of woman, thus, does not exist; in the same community, they all share the same rural and delicate occupations.


Rural or urban, the woman lives simply and modestly. The countryside surrounds the cities, towns, and villages; there are cultivated lands everywhere, on which almost everyone owns a piece of the property, which they cultivate with care and attention, it is for this reason that the capital is so divided. From house to fields and fields to house, it is a custom, an ease that powerfully contributes so that everyone can dedicate themselves to the various labors of agriculture, which is the essence of their lives. The Algarvian’s happiness depends on the land’s fertility: good regulation results in good production. The Algarvian does not import any type of food products; instead, he exports them: he is essentially agricultural; nothing more is demanded from him, because he cannot give it. Works of art and industry are very insignificant and are only produced during leisure time, as a distraction.

Algarvian costume jewelry is a product of this entertainment; it has no value and is made in the city and in the country. This is their only delicate occupation, if that is what we can call the production of those objects made of palm and esparto, such as small baskets, large baskets, mats, and other similar objects that do not constitute a branch of favorable industry or commerce in the market. The price of these objects is reasonable and they are considered to be simply handmade knickknacks or, due to their rarity, highly prized outside of the Province in which they are produced. These are the Algarvian woman’s only delicate works. The community lives and works in the country, farm, in the corn fields, vineyards, and harvest. They also occupy themselves at opportune times to the harvesting of fruits– fig, almond, and carob beans– which constitute the Province’s wealth.

The woman always works alongside the man with the same energy and resignation. Warehouses containing figs and almonds, stored in piles, called smokehouses, employ a relatively large number of women, whose job consists of choosing the figs that will be placed in baskets or packaged and splitting the almonds– products which are exported abroad in large quantities, principally to England.

We cannot forget to mention that it is in this badly-paid job that the women generally prostitute themselves due to misery and the connivance with the rich proprietaries, who seduce them with false promises of clothes or marriage. It is not strange to see those poor women, who work day and night, mainly in the flower of their youth, exhaust themselves and lose themselves morally and physically for miserable wages. The woman’s job in the smokehouse is the greatest degradation that could befall her. This state is undoubtedly a nameless debasement. There, she is dirty, ragged, covered in misery, malnourished, pale, polluted by that atmosphere of gossip and intrigue, of demoralization and dishonor, heading unaware toward the abyss of perdition, barely sustained in the cadaverous arms of immortality. That is where the woman generally prostitutes herself while still in the dawn of her youth. These are the poorest women, the ones who have no other way of earning their subsistence, those who must rely on


corporal work. Happy the woman who works in the fields her entire life, though the land is not hers, or alternatively in salting and preparing fish, or occupies herself in domestic chores, in the agave, palm, esparto, bone lace, and other small industries, in which, though they are not as well paid as in the fig and almond warehouses, they can at least enjoy sweet peace and domestic joy. Their body will not tremble upon coming in repugnant contact with the vile insects in that foul puddle. The Señor, who thinks of himself as the owner and very rich, with the security that he will not court them or rape them with the ease of his dominions of vassalage and poverty, presents himself with the airs of a sultan, and she, wretched, is a poor slave! She will not fear that the mud from that disgusting bog will splatter on her cheeks, and if she is single, she can wait in her house for the first man that the heavens have reserved for virtue.

If the Algarvian woman wishes to prostitute herself easily, she needs only to enter the smokehouses, which are the huge schools of vice. How many pure and chaste girls, blushing with modesty, have entered those warehouses and left there without purity or chastity, lost and scorned? After debilitating their physical strength and morally corrupting them, they seduce them and dishonor them, as well as their only treasure, once honor is lost, which virgins call their rich gift, we see them miserable and scorned, and no man with honorable intentions will deign to contemplate them for a moment. It is only in these cases that the Algarvian stops being generous.


There is no festival or salon gathering where we can observe them, except for family reunions at night, a soirée, around the house in the winter, and the traditional wide table in summer, before rural work begins and there is absolutely nothing to do. For the woman of this Province, needlework is always the last of ordinary trials. She dedicates some time to these tasks during the winter; she cuts and makes her dresses; she dresses up with certain grace. Life in Algarve is sober, economical, simple, and dark. There are rare occasions for the women to go out: Sundays and festive days to celebrate some saint and domestic dances– their favorite type of entertainment, which are, let us put it this way, unique, they arrive without an invitation because of familiar intimacy. Everyone who lives there is bonded by friendship; they all know each other, and the fraternity in which they live stems from this friendship; and they frequently visit one another.

These dances are purely rural; the woman generally presents herself dressed in light colors, with bows of blue or red ribbons, never forgetting the rose or carnation on their breast and head. They are fond of white petticoats with ironed frills and of the most beautiful flowers


from the countryside. The Algarvian’s simple outfit enchants and inspires us with a sincere charm. These are her only ornaments.

During these occasions of true celebration, they enjoy cheerful recreation, very amusing expressions; here and there, affectionate conversations or paleias (which is what they call traditional ballads) in the corn husks, or descascas o milho, that represent happiness, joy, and enjoyment of the festivities. The women do not consider the religious festivals over without the dance epilogue. Thus, during those expansive reunions, the woman is adored for her grace and good nature, for the elegance of her ballads, and sometimes she is able to dominate the man who courts her.

The Algarvian woman is very religious, but not fanatical; she has a particular fondness for the Virgin, the Saints, and the Angels of the celestial court, and, above all, for the Guardian Angel, whom she evokes in all her prayers. She is superstitious and believes in fate like a divine entity, in the apparition of the many souls condemned to eternal punishment, and everything that is fantastic; she enthusiastically recounts legends of Moors turned into mermaids on shores or on the pinnacle of a rock, of fairies, witches, and a multitude of supernatural visions, as if they were real and true. Sometimes, under the influence of her ardent imagination, she is afraid of the late hours of the night and is scared of walking through uninhabited and shadowy places; everything that is desolate fills her with grief.

She repeats the name of her Guardian Angel with religious fervor in her prayers when going to sleep and waking up, so that he may protect her from falling into temptation and from her enemies. She generally prays at all hours of eating: breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and at the Morning bells, when she gets up for work, and the Ave Maria prayer bells, when she retires weary, but as happy as a swallow. From dusk till dawn, her work is constant, in whatever form in may take. That is why the metaphysical entities, such as those imaginary ones, are well respected in private lives. To censure them would be a horrible crime, an impiety, a sacrilege. The women are very serious in the temple, enveloped in a certain mystical unction, praying particularly to the Virgin, whom they call the protectress of the forsaken. The best dress, which they call o fatinho de ver a Deos, [261] is reserved for church.

The married woman wears a cape made of fine, shiny black fabric without a fold to cover the face; and the single women wear similar capes that reach the ankle and a silk handkerchief on their head. This is the Sunday outfit for morning or day Mass and for all religious celebrations in which they have to enter the temple. During those festive days on which the birth or death of some beloved saint is commemorated (such as the feast days of Saint John, Saint Peter, Saint Anthony, the most popular, or the parish’s patron saint), the rarest offerings conceived by feminine imagination are piled at the church door: wax arms and legs, chickens, hens and turkeys, bread, loafs, medals, which will then be distributed among the music directors, and even money and jewels.



What can we say about their beauty? They are truly original models. Now that we have seen her spiritual side, which is a moral perfection, we will provide a physical description of her.

The Algarvian woman is almost as tan as the Andalusian; she has jet-black eyes; she wears her braids rolled up on top of her head with grace and naturalness, forming a delightful bow; her gaze is lively and sparkling; her head is small, well-formed, and, mainly on festive occasions, a white or red rose beautifully adorns her slightly curly hair; average height; plump and sensual figure, and her bottom lip is thicker than the top one, the color of pomegranate seeds; this combination of a svelte figure forms a perfect and admirable, suitable live model for an inspired artist. Faithfully reproduced on the canvas by a painter, this copy will be justly admired in a gallery as one of the most perfect feminine creatures by people with good taste and aesthetic sentiments. The fairer sex– naturally fragile– of other countries, would undoubtedly be jealous of such great perfection. Visual arts would greatly benefit from a thorough study of the capriciously-shaped figures of the woman from this beautiful Province.

We cannot forget to expound on a notable exception to this generality, which demonstrates, to an even greater extent, the climate’s action on individuals. It is a very strange fact that is worthy of being recorded.

Monchique is a small village located between the mountains and is indisputably Algarve’s most picturesque location. The woman from this location is a notably type, completely different from the rest of the Province’s women. She is white and blond, like ancient Albion’s daughters; not one presents the graceful, fiery tan that is seen upon abandoning the mountains in the rest of the women of rural towns that extend toward the south.

People tend to think of Monchique as part of the Alentejo province because of the previously-mentioned differences and diverse occupations of the women, whose quotidian work is spinning wool.

In this manner, we feel that, through our weak resources, we have demonstrated and defined the character and temperament of these peoples in general, especially the woman included in this group, although some exceptions do exist, which we consider simple and insignificant, absorbed particularities, hidden and completely unnoticed among the group used as a basis for such a study. We feel that with the outline we have sketched, we have given a more or less perfect idea of the woman of a Portuguese province, who has been relegated to censurable abandon by the Metropolis Government, a powerful force behind the conservation


of an original and primitive die stamp still in use today, which, nonetheless, can be considered an enviable good and happiness.

We offer the following chapter in conclusion.


From our glance across the image that we have attempted to present, we clarified that the woman’s state– besides the natural happiness she enjoys due to the climate’s beauty and mildness– is one of the most wretched in modern times. In this sad condition, the woman, especially if she is married, is very far from breathing liberty and emancipation. She will always live submitted to the rigorous tutelage of marital power.

She does nothing but work. She is never idle, not even for a single moment. She has no aspirations other than matrimony, which, despite all the trouble it causes her, protects her, liberating her– when it does not lose her– from falling into a bog of misery and dishonor; she believes that matrimony is her only resource and the only definitive state that can elevate and respect her in a poorly-educated society. Living in admirable harmony because of her admirable natural instincts and excellent sentiments, how can she, a submissive slave, escape that deplorable situation, cope, instruct herself, be truly happy and provide us with healthy examples of maternity, wife, and woman? Keep in mind that the Algarve woman is very fertile: she marries at a very young age, generally between the ages of twelve and seventeen, and, in short, is surrounded by numerous offspring. Aren’t these premature matrimonies, perhaps, a great societal harm in the current state of things? What future is reserved for such careless marriages? In these circumstances, both women and men are forced, besides their naturally active disposition, to work constantly at a rate beyond that permitted by their strength and development. What we have related is truthfully what we have observed: and because of that we can say, without suspicion or scruples, that the only things this Province’s woman has against her are the societal surroundings in which she lives that harm her, reducing her to the sad submission of a slave, as we have already mentioned. Only through education can she elevate herself to the position that she deserves and exert some influence both in her family and in the society that surrounds her, to the point that she can become adored and respected even by her own husband, and not scorned or merely desired for the satisfaction of physical pleasures. Oh! If only she were educated like the English women, how pleasant her mission in the domestic home would be, surrounded by her children and her husband, who would necessarily love her enthusiastically and madly, trembling at the idea of beating her! She would then be a truly superior being and the man, who would not even be rude, would submissively respect her, yearning for a profound gaze from those eyes– black and tender as a caliginous night– desiring to hear her cool, elegant voice, somewhat merry due to national custom, and living as a family; with certainty, she would provide


the pleasures and delights we all covet, like things that are indispensable for wellbeing, the happiest, without the upsetting experiences that frequently attract infernal discord. We believe that education is as necessary to the woman as nourishment. Whether she is rich or poor, she lacks the spiritual bread that makes her aspire to intelligence, filling her with dignity, respect for herself so that others might respect her, and so that she may influence societal fate more powerfully than men, obligating him to obey her, reverently submitting to her– fragile, delicate, but beautiful and adored, full of attractive qualities and perfumed ideals.

If woman’s mission is to love her husband and children– assuming that a small, careless error of this precept would dishonor her– and if the modern man’s only mission must be work– which is respected and venerated and continues to progress with intellectual development– why is the woman deprived of the education she so lacks for the most delicate of all her maternal occupations, of this divine light that illuminate’s man’s spirit that civilizes and evangelizes and encourages her to continue down the path of adversity until reaching her admirable ideal?

What beautiful results would be obtained with the woman’s education, especially regarding the family! She, who saves her husband from falling into the abyss millions of times! She, who consoles him and caresses him and accompanies him through adversity, who shares the same sorrows and wipes away his tears!

The Algarvian woman’s destiny is completely tied to the man. She lives imprisoned, chained to him: she only does what he wants her to do; none of her actions, even the most innocent, have ever been free. He exerts tutelage and authority over her and generally teaches her to err, thereby reducing her to a state of timidity through the atrophy of the faculties that naturally make her stupid and more submissive and humble. But while we do not see her in that degradation, we admire her in her perfect homeliness and simplicity and respect her for her generous sentiments. She is man’s victim! Amorous and enthusiastic, it is difficult for her to lose the affection she feels toward the man– feelings that not even vulgar insults are able to destroy. Her love for the domestic home and family dominate her and prefer submission to rebellion, which only occurs in extreme cases. During her youth, she is sometimes very fragile, but afterward, sincere repentance and remorse martyr her. And if a passion vehemently intoxicates her soul, then, oh! her death is certain. Let us respect the martyrs of love and misfortune, beautiful sisters of Southern Portugal, so fresh and beautiful like country flowers.

Lisbon. October 1879.



(Woman from the village of Coimbra.)


“Never hit a woman– even if she has committed one hundred mistakes– not even with a flower.” This beautiful Spanish American precept is so gentle that it contrasts sharply with the inferior condition of the women living on the banks of the Ganges and Indus Rivers. What kind of higher reasoning can anyone among us use to ignore this precept if we consider the woman our equal, the one to whom we give the control of our home!

This Spanish American rule came to mind when we were invited to write this general article about the woman from Extremadura, the capital of which is the first city of the Portuguese nation, Lisbon, the new Babylon, as it is called by the revolutionary poets, who search