Of a new manner of offensive weapon used by a certain people from the Paranaguazu River, called by others the Río de la Plata, and who are known as the Guaraní.
Translated by Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert
I hold it as impossible to come to know or comprehend all the forms of military arts held and used by peoples in their wars, as much to defend themselves from their enemies as to attack them; and just as strange nations are unknown to us, so are their customs in war and peace hidden from us. I will place here a note or deposit until we reach the Río de la Plata, and that which I write here is new to me and I believe it will also be new to many others who have seen and heard more than I have. I have learned from many eyewitnesses that certain Indians from the Río de la Plata who are called Guaraní use a certain weapon, and not all Indians are skilled in its use, just the ones I have named; and it is not known if the name Guaraní is that of the people or of the weapon itself, which they use in hunting to kill deer and which they also used to kill Spaniards, and it is like this. They take a round ball, a clean stone about the size of a fist, and they tie that stone to an agave rope about the length of fifty steps more or less, and the other end of the rope is tied to the wrist of the right arm, around which they loop the rest of the rope loosely, except for five of six hand spans of it, with which they swing the stone around, as the fundibularios or soldiers who fight with slingshots do. And just as the one who shoots from a sling wraps it once or twice around the arm before releasing the stone, the Guaraní swing the end of the rope bearing the stone in the air ten or twelve times to add to the ferocity and strength of the ball; and at the very instant the Indian releases the ball he extends his arm so the rope is released freely without impediment. And they shoot as accurately as a skilled crossbowman and they can hit they target from fifty steps more or less, about the length of the rope; and when they shoot, the stone is guided with such art that as it wounds the man or horse it wraps the rope around them, and it coils itself around the man or beast it has hit in such a way that with a short pull from the rope the man or horse comes down; and thus they kill the one they bring down, with the hunter or soldier who uses the weapon remaining at a safe distance. They have told me of this as a thing witnessed and experienced, and among the more than two-thousand men who went to this land with Captain-General Don Pedro de Mendoza, among whom they were many resolute and skillful men, none of them could be found who could throw these stones, according to the Indians, although many Spaniards attempted it countless times; nor have any of them succeeded in doing it, as I will write in more detail in Book XXIII, Chapter VI, in which this and other matters related to this southern land will be written.