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Earth of fire

Actualité volcanique, Articles de fond sur étude de volcan, tectonique, récits et photos de voyage

Publié le par Bernard Duyck
Publié dans : #news

Many primitive civilizations have "suicideed" young people by hurling them into the crater of volcanoes.
During the pre-Columbian period, Masaya Volcano was revered by indigenous peoples. Believing that his anger corresponded to that of the gods, they offered human sacrifices, precipitating into the crater young children.
The Spaniards baptized him for that reason "the mouth of hell", and drew a cross to exorcise the demon and put an end to these practices, the "Cruz de Bombadilla".

Masaya - Santiago crater (west and south shore) and Cruz de Bombadilla - photo © Bernard Duyck 2008

Masaya - Santiago crater (west and south shore) and Cruz de Bombadilla - photo © Bernard Duyck 2008

The legend tells that Empedocles, a Greek philosopher, engineer, and physician, would have thrown themselve in Mount Etna crater in the 5th century BC. This legend has been taken up by various playwrights and writers; Bachelard, in his works on fire, speaks of the "complex of Empedocles," an unconscious desire to be consumed by the flames.

The Fuji-Yama and the Sanctuary Arakura Sangen - photo GEO

The Fuji-Yama and the Sanctuary Arakura Sangen - photo GEO

The Japanese are not outdone. Despite their destructive power, they have respected for centuries the beauty of the volcanic buildings, especially that of Mount Fuji, perfectly symmetrical.

Mount Mihara Crater - photo wikimedia commons

Mount Mihara Crater - photo wikimedia commons

But the Unzen and Mihara Mountains have a different reputation. Between the 17th and the 19th centuries, Japan, extremely isolationist, refused the entry of foreigners, especially Christians, into the archipelago. Once they had been discovered, they had to abjure their faith. If they refused, they were tortured and then thrown into a hot spring of Unzen volcano. This practice ended informally in 1805, and the persecution of Christians was officially abolished in 1856.


Mount Mihara is the only volcano that has kept this terrifying heritage. Located on the small island of Izu Oshima, it was 250 years ago a "hot spot of suicide" ... people threw themselves from the steep walls of the crater in sulfur vapors. Things got worse in the 1930s : according to an account of the time, between 1936 and 1937, there were 2,000 suicides, and even group immolations. The authorities finally placed a high fence around the crater, and set up patrols. The number of suicides has decreased sharply, but the memory of the disappeared remains in the minds of the inhabitants of the country.


Source: Forbes - Executions And Suicides: The Terrifying Tale Of Two Deadly Japanese Volcanoes

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