Hawks of the sun: Mapuche morality and its ritual attributes

University of Pittsburgh PressPittsburgh • Published In 1964 • Pages:

By: Faron, Louis C..

In this document the author examines certain Mapuche expressions of morality in order to indicate as precisely as possible to what degree and extent these beliefs and practices form an integral part of their cultural and social system. Drawing upon both historical evidence and data from observations of ceremonies and descriptions of religious ideas and values in Araucanian reservation communities, Faron attempts to illustrate how their system of ethcs and morality, cosmology and cosmogony, deity complex, rituals and ceremonials all operate as interdependent elements of a functioning socio-religious complex that stabilizes and integrates Araucanian social structure. To fully expand upon and illustrate the concepts of Mapuche moral system mentioned above, the author has divided the source into seven chapters, the first of which deals basically with the social structure of the Mapuche, and the moral implications of certain economic, political, residential, marital and unilineal arrangements in the society. The information in this chapter essentially duplicates that of the author's earlier work on Mapuch social structure (see 11: Faron, this file). In chapter two, the most important supernatural beliefs are defined and arranged in a manner which lends significant order to the supernatural ambience. Here, too, may be found data on incidences of, and individual reactions to, various supernatural forces. Chapter three is a well-rounded account of Mapuche ritual, which the author feels is essential for an understanding of the moral order, for, he says …'without this cultural dress, the bare bones of social relationships appear somewhat inadequate to an understanding of the moral fibre and the relationship between the value structure and the social structure.' Chapter four attempts to integrate all the threads of the moral system presented in previous chapters, with special emphasis on the social grouping operating within the structure of Mapuche morality, their composition and expressed relationships, and other related considerations. The funeral ceremony (awn) and the agricultural fertility rite (ñillatun) are also indexed in this chapter in terms of their structure and function in the society, as well as the status and role of the shaman and priest. Chapter five examines the concepts of sorcery and shamanism, and the continual struggle between the forces of good and evil. This chapter concludes with a consideration of shamanism and sorcery in reference to institutional solidarity at the local level of Mapuche society. The type of inquiry expressed in chapter five is carried out one step further in chapter six for it attempts to examine the extent to which ritual beliefs and activities serve to consolidate the entire reservation-dwelling Mapuche population into an ethnic entity vis-à-vis Chilean society. The main purpose of this chapter, however, seems to be to present a total structural analysis of the system of symbolic values and institutionalized relationships and to point out significant correspondence between the ideological system and salient features of the social structure. Chapter seven, the final chapter, discusses the concepts of constancy and change in a critical, although quite selective analysis of the influence of Western society on the Mapuche. In conclusion the author presents the point of view that the reservation system has not been able to destroy traditional religion and morality, and in fact that the Araucanian religious morality has kept intact societal and cultural equilibrium in a reservation system which has brought about change in many of the traditional institutions. Through various adaptive modifications and accomodations made to the reservation context, the Mapuche have been able to withstand total acculturation or cultural loss. Thus, old religious and moral values and new social forms function together to counteract any substantial changes in the culture and society.
Spirits and gods
Cult of the dead
Burial practices and funerals
Organized ceremonial
Shamans and psychotherapists
HRAF PubDate
South America
Sub Region
Central Andes
Document Type
Gilbert Winer ; John Beierle ; 1968-1970
Coverage Date
Coverage Place
Cautin Province, central Chile
by Louis C. Faron
Includes bibliographical references (p. 211-213)
Mapuche Indians--Social life and customs/Mapuche Indians--Religion