About Deer Hunting

Deer Dance

Deer hunting dance.

Deer Hunting History

The Mesoamerican cultures were basically agricultural civilizations. There were not any animals to domesticate, except from the turkey and the dog. Deer and rabbit hunting were the only sources of meat therefore the deer became sacred animals for most of the region cultures and in some cases its importance was compared to corn.

For Nahuatl people from Guerrero agricultural and hunting resources have to be received in a particular way to ensure a successful sharing between men and nature. Hunters have to follow carefully this ritual:

Before the hunting season begins the hunters fast and practice sexual abstention; a ceromony with prayers and copal burning is offered to the hills, telling how many animals they want to hunt and promising to give back the prey's bones to ensure the animal breeding.

Deer Hunting

Deer hunting depicted in a Baja California cave painting.

After the hunting the deer is brought to the home of the hunter and received with a garland of flowers, its feet are washed with water by the hunter's wife and she feeds it tortilla dough.

The flesh is separated from the bones and only the people who live in the hunter's house can eat it. The only animal in the household allowed to eat the deer's meat is the dog because it helped hunt it.

The bones of the animal are then buried in a special place on the hills were the initial offering was made. Omission to this ritual can cause the hunter to be beaten by an animal and died or to become an animal, thus loose his mind.

The whole ritual has been compared by scholars to matrimony between the hunter and the animal:
The offering is the commitment to the bride's father; the hunting represents the wedding; eating the meat is the consummation and the return of the bones to the soil represents the reproduction.

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