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Religious Practices of the Diegueño Indians, by T.T. Waterman, [1910], at


The writer observed the Horloi or "War dance" a number of times in the fall of 1907. It always occurred after nightfall. A large fire was kindled in the evening on the northern side of the dance-circle and soon after sundown a number of women seated themselves in a group near it. As fresh wood was thrown on, the old men who expected to dance began taking off their shoes. Each one put on either an owl-feather headband, tsekwirp, (pl. 22, fig. 4), or else tied a handkerchief about his forehead. Those who had headplumes of split owl-feathers, talo, (pl. 22, fig. 1, 2, 3),

p. 321

thrust them upright in this headband. An old man then stood up and made a short speech, very loud and emphatic. The other old men grunted three times deep in their chests. The old man then said a few words, and the others grunted once. The substance of the speech was said to be that the dance had come down from their fathers, and that they were going to do it as they had always done it. Then the leader of the dance, without his rattle, took a position close in front of the women, and leaning over, began to mutter the words of a War-dance song. The women listened in silence. The old man varied his muttering by stamping with his right foot and grunting. This continued until the occurrence of one of the ceremonial rests. A second old man then joined the first, and the two sang in a guttural whisper, at times clapping their hands softly as if to urge the women on. After some time the women began to sing, so faintly at first that the sound was barely audible. The singing was interrupted by occasional pauses or rests. The leader seemed to call for these by clapping his hands sharply once with a deep grunt. During these pauses or rests the men left the dance-circle, but the women remained seated, without movement. The leader gave the signal for more dancing by entering the circle and beginning the words of the next song.

After some time the singing grew more distinct. More of the men joined in at every pause, and the grunting also grew louder and more labored. The dancers marked time to the music by stamping with the right foot. Soon they began to hitch themselves forward in little jumps after each stamp. The singing grew rapidly louder and shriller. By the time the seventh or eighth song was taken up the music was a full-toned chant, of which the words were plainly audible. The dust by this time rose steadily from the feet of the old men as they shuffled backwards and forwards.

There seemed to be no rule governing the number of times the words of each song were repeated. The men joined in certain parts of every song, singing in a very jerky and energetic fashion. In fact, they exclaimed rather than sang. When they were not singing, they grunted in unison in time to the music.

p. 322

During the eighth or ninth song, the men faced to the left, that is toward the west, and began to dance in a large circle. The dancing step consisted of two jumps, followed by a stride. After completing the circle they always formed a stationary group in front of the women, stamping hard and grunting. At places in every song during the latter half of the Horloi dance, marked by a sudden rise in the pitch of the music, the men all raised and shook first their right hands and then their left, their fists being closed. 109a This was done three times. The old man who led the singing always touched the right side of his neck, in this gesture, with his left fist, fingers out, after he had shaken his fist toward the west. No definite information concerning the significance of the gesture was obtained. The movement in a circle was explained as representing the movement of the cultus eastward from the islands. "The dance came from the west, so we dance from the west," is the way in which one informant put the statement.

The close of each song was marked by a quick, explosive grunt on the part of the men. This was always accompanied by striking the open hands together once.

After the dance had been in progress several hours, the men just previous to each pause formed in line and danced backward. In this movement the hands were clasped together in front, the dancers assuming a stooping posture. The singing and dancing always stopped at the time of the ceremonial pause with surprising suddenness, the leaders breaking into a satisfied chuckle as the final explosive word of the song found them stricken motionless.

Several times in the course of this ceremony a man who seemed to have no other duty raised a saucer full of tobacco in his two hands. As he did so he pronounced "mwau" in what resembled a tone of surprise or astonishment. The dancers always responded with an upward gesture and an expulsion of the breath. This was repeated three times, the third repetition consisting of two expulsions. Between times this man sat motionless near the women. He was said to be called the "Tatahuila," in Diegueño.

p. 323

kaponail110 The tobacco thus held aloft was afterwards smoked by the old men.

As the closing song of the Horloi the Diegueño always sang the following:

povitem yara
tavoyaki natavo

This song, in contradistinction to those which immediately preceded it, was sung very slowly and very softly. Each dancer removed his headplume and held it in his hand. As the song progressed, they gradually shuffled into a line before the women and stood facing them "Indian file." Holding the plumes in their right hands, they made long vertical strokes in time to the music. From one side the gesture gave the impression of being directed at the women. At every third repetition of the song the dancers waved their plumes skyward with an expulsion of the breath. At the twelfth repetition the leader cried out "tea." The dancers in response gave three quick expulsions of the breath, followed after an instant by a fourth. The leader then cried: "Paropum, paropum!" (throw it away!) The dancers then repeated the last gesture.

During a Horloi dance which took place at Mesa Grande in September, 1907, the following songs were sung in the order given. They were said to be in the Luiseño language, but are more probably in the related dialect of San Gabriel.


awi kwaitomya


awi yompo yuwiyom


atsatsa tcunga


wipiyom tonya anoti


saher riki ranito


waiyoti toroteher


monaha monaha (probably incomplete)


tomom mari nipam


tomom mari nipam




tomom, etc. p. 324


tsoxa xita tsoxa


xita tsaxoxa hiyaiya


hotom hita


monini atoxa


mani sapame


pamivat pane


hinne hixo awiwi


yaare haima


tomo miki


kwinneya yainga mora


akavira waiyoti


miyaim vitaya


yikau waiyoti




yekino yekino yekino


saho nitomya


miya homa nita


saxo haitonya


hayuki hayuki


hahai cahovit


honi maiyeno


mini nompeno mini nokirowi


hwemini yo hwemini


yomtero (word or words missing)


pawa xapa


wami nopawe


yumpeni kete


hawe yumbri


hana maipo ampur


vitamtero wamki hawe yumbri


hetciyom hanita


yonitsa pehamtsur


komya yonitsa




haita ponikwa


... manikwa (fragmentary)


tsera tomyac


rera tomyac


gina pera


mini tomyac


kokeni gino


wipiri (fragmentary)


gai nita (fragmentary)


awe awini awe awini


kwaiye komnipa


mommai yomtera


mommai toroyote komya


nehyo pama ...


okami peyo ...




tamki kiyi


yaiyu vita


metsair waipeno




The final song was sung very softly:


kaipovi paima


povitem yara


tavomai yeki natavo



The following series of songs were sung at a Horloi held at Santa Ysabel in September, 1907. Like the former series they are said to be Luiseño.


The first song was inaudible.


kadjuo wamki


sia waipo


tcawaiko mero


muni ... (incomplete)


tama huna wipeni ... (incomplete)


haowa haiwano




tolema tolema


xapo nika


xapo wiki mini


tekmai huni a hwemini 111


cukai tekmai huni


howa tekmai


ata xatopra 112


awiwi umtero


awi ata p. 325


mina nomri mowiki


mina nomriwi


ota nita ota nita


omni partemui


tserau ahawi


mane nipeni tsiro


mane nipeni


terera tomyaxa terera tomyaxa 113


gina pera mini tomyaxa


tokeni gino


ge nita 114




awi wiromni


yoni yoni




kwate koni take


ana xanoko






awe awini awe wini


kwaiye komnipa


karampa pawe


wimpeki yoiyo


nekema yato nika


kenonat yatoma


yato nika kenonat


hayo tipeno 115


waiyoti moya


wira wira wira wira


awiwi haiyom hoka


tarampa hoka


tarampa heron


awiwi yomkeri 115




mona naka mona 116




hana maimaka


koram koram koram


hotcepe niturti turti


awewe hyombri 116


wihyombri ataku


kaipovi paima 117


322:109a The hostility suggested by this gesture, which occurs frequently, is said by some to be the reason why the ceremony is called the "War" dance. The name may however be derived from the whites.

323:110 See above under Boys' Adolescence Ceremony. "Tatahuila" is a very familiar term in the mouths of both the Luiseño and Diegueño. It is said by both to be a Spanish word. It suggests, however, the Luiseño root taw-i, to sit at one side, tatawi, to sit customarily at one side, plus the noun-ending -la. On the other hand the regular suffix denoting the action of a verb is -c, and the accent should not leave the stem syllable, so that the Luiseño form to be expected would be tata´wic rather than tatawī´la, in Spanish orthography tatahuila. The tempting etymology is therefore at least doubtful.

324:111 Compare the twelfth song of the preceding series.

324:112 Compare the twelfth song of the preceding series.

325:113 Evidently the same song as the seventeenth of the preceding series.

325:114 Evidently the same song as the nineteenth of the preceding series.

325:115 Compare songs 19, 21, 22, and 24 of this series with 9, 24, 10, and 14 of the preceding. With 19 compare also 2 of the preceding series.

325:116 See footnote 115.

325:117 The same as the final song of the preceding series.

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