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Julian H. Steward, Editor- 

Volume 1 

Prepared in Cooperation With the United States Department of State as a Project of 
the Interdepartmental Committee on Cultiu-al and Scientific Cooperation 




For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U. S. Government Printing Office, Washinston 25. D. C. 

Price $2.75 


Smithsonian Institution, 
Bureau of American Ethnology, 

Washington, D. C, April 1, 1944- 

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith a manuscript entitled 
"Handbook of South American Indians. Volume 1. The Marginal 
Tribes," edited by Julian H. Steward, and to recommend that it be 
published as a bulletin of the Bureau of American Ethnology. 
Very respectfully yours, 

Frank H. H. Roberts, Jr., Acting Chief. 
Dr. C. G. Abbot, 

Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. 



Foreward xix 

Introduction, by Julian H. Steward, Editor 1 

Presentation of materials 5 

Acknowledgments . 8 

Contributors to Volume 1 11 

Part 1. Indians of southern South America 13 

The Southern Hunters: An introduction, by John M. Cooper 13 

The archeology of Patagonia, by Junius Bird 17 

Introduction 17 

History of investigations 18 

Culture sequence at the Strait of Magellan 19 

Culture sequence at Beagle Channel 20 

Antiquity 21 

Patagonian cultures 22 

Chilo6 Island 23 

Research problems 23 

Bibliography 24 

The archeology of the Greater Pampa, by Gordon R. Willey 25 

Geography and environment 25 

Sources 26 

The basic culture of the Greater Pampa 26 

Limits of the Greater Pampa archeological area 30 

Subdivisions of the Greater Pampa 31 

Conclusions and problems 45 

Bibliography 46 

The Chono, by John M. Cooper 47 

Natural environment 47 

Territory 47 

Names and divisions 48 

History of investigation 48 

Language 48 

Population 49 

Culture 50 

Subsistence activities 50 

Houses 51 

Dress and ornaments 51 

Transportation 51 

Manufactures 52 

Sociopolitical culture 52 

Life cycle 53 

Esthetic and recreational activities 53 

Religion 53 

The Alacaluf, by Junius Bird 55 

Habitat and history 55 

Sources 58 

Culture 58 

Subsistence activities 58 



Part 1. Indians of southern South America — Continued. 
The Alacaluf , by Junius Bird — Continued. 

Culture — Continued. page 

Domesticated animals 63 

Houses 64 

Dress and ornaments 66 

Transportation and communication 66 

Manufactures 68 

Exchange and distribution of goods 70 

Social and political organization 71 

Warfare 71 

Life cycle 71 

Esthetic and recreational activities 77 

Shamanism and curing 78 

Religion 78 

Bibliography 79 

The Yahgan, by John M. Cooper 81 

Introduction 81 

Culture 83 

Subsistence activities 83 

Camps and shelters 84 

Dress and ornaments 86 

Transportation 88 

Manufactures 89 

Social and political life 91 

Economic life 95 

Etiquette 97 

Warfare and cannibalism 97 

Life cycle 97 

Esthetic and recreational activities 100 

Religion 103 

Mythology 105 

Lore and learning 105 

Bibliography 106 

The Ona, by John M. Cooper 107 

Natural environment 107 

Territory 107 

Tribal divisions 108 

Language 108 

Population 108 

History of investigation 109 

Culture 109 

Subsistence activities 109 

Shelters 110 

Dress and ornaments 111 

Transportation 112 

Manufactures 112 

Social and political life 115 

Economic life 118 

Life cycle 119 

Esthetic and recreational activities 122 

Religion 122 

Mythology 124 

Lore and learning 125 

Bibliography 125 


Part 1. Indians of southern South America— Continued. page 

The Patagonian and Pampean Hunters, by John M. Cooper 127 

Natural environment 127 

The Patagonian and Pampean tribes 128 

History of investigation 138 

Culture 140 

Tehuelche culture 141 

Subsistence activities 142 

Camps and shelters 143 

Dress and ornaments 144 

Transportation 146 

Manufactures 146 

Social life 149 

Political life 150 

Warfare 152 

Economic culture 153 

Life cycle 153 

Warfare and cannibalism 156 

Esthetic and recreational activities 156 

Religion 157 

Shamanism 159 

Mythology 159 

Lore and learning 159 

Poya culture 160 

Puelche culture 161 

Subsistence activities 162 

Shelters 162 

Dress and ornaments 162 

Transportation 163 

Manufactures 163 

Social life 163 

Political life 164 

Economic culture 164 

Life cycle 165 

Esthetic and recreational activities 167 

Religion 167 

Shamanism 168 

Mythology 168 

Lore and learning 168 

Bibliography 168 

The Huarpe, by Salvador Canals Frau 169 

Tribal divisions and history 169 

Culture 1 170 

Subsistence activities 170 

Houses 171 

Dress and ornaments 171 

Transportation 171 

Manufactures 172 

Social and political organization 173 

Esthetic and recreational activities 175 

Religion 175 

Bibliography 175 

Indians of the Parand Delta and La Plata Littoral, by S. K. Lothrop- 177 

Introduction 177 

Tribal divisions and history 177 


Part 1. Indians of southern South America — Continued. 

Indians of the Parang Delta and La Plata Littoral, by S. K. Lothrop — Con. page 

Sources 178 

Cultural summary 178 

The GuaranI 179 

Subsistence activities 179 

Houses and villages 179 

Dress and ornaments 180 

Transportation 180 

Weapons 180 

Social culture 180 

The Querandf 180 

History 180 

Physical type 181 

Language 181 

Subsistence activities 182 

Houses 182 

Dress and ornaments 182 

Weapons 182 

Warfare 183 

Social culture 183 

The Minuan6 or Guenoa 183 

History 183 

Culture 184 

The Yar6 184 

History 184 

Culture 184 

The Bohan6 185 

The Chand 185 

History 185 

Culture 186 

The Chand-Mbegud 186 

The Chand-Timbu 186 

The Mbegud 187 

The Timbii 187 

History 187 

Physical appearance 187 

Culture 187 

The Carcarand 190 

The Corondd, Quiloazd, and Colastin6 190 

Bibliography 190 

The Charrua, by Antonio Serrano 191 

Tribal divisions and history 191 

Physical characteristics 192 

Language 192 

Culture 192 

Subsistence activities 192 

Houses 192 

Dress and ornaments 193 

Transportation 193 

Manufactures 194 

Social and political organization 194 

Warfare - 194 

Life cycle 195 


Part 1. Indians of southern South America — Continued. 
The Charrua, by Antonio Serrano — Continued. 

Culture — Continued. page 

Esthetic and recreational activities 196 

Religion 196 

Bibliography 196 

Part 2. Indians of the Gran Chaco 197 

Ethnography of the Chaco, by Alfred M6traux 197 

Geography 197 

Post-Contact history 199 

Sources ' 205 

Archeology of the Chaco 209 

Cultural influences on the Chaco area 210 

Linguistic and tribal divisions 214 

The Guaicuruan linguistic family 214 

The Mascoian linguistic family 225 

The Lule-Vilelan linguistic family 227 

Tribes of the Bermejo Basin of uncertain linguistic affiliation. 231 

The Matacoan linguistic family 232 

The Tupi-Guaranian linguistic family 238 

The Arawakan linguistic family 238 

The Zamucoan linguistic family 241 

Unidentified Indian tribes on the Upper Paraguay 245 

Culture 246 

Subsistence activities 246 

Domesticated animals 264 

Houses and villages 267 

Furniture 270 

Dress and ornaments 270 

Transportation 284 

Manufactures 285 

Economic institutions 299 

Social and political organization 301 

Etiquette 311 

Warfare 312 

Life cycle _ 317 

Esthetic and recreational activities 334 

Religion 350 

Shamanism 360 

Mythology 365 

Bibliography 370 

The present-day Indians of the Gran Chaco, by Juan BelaieflF 371 

Introduction 371 

Culture 373 

Subsistence activities _ 373 

Dress and ornaments 375 

Manufactures 376 

Trade 376 

Social and political organization 377 

Etiquette 377 

Warfare 378 

Life cycle __ ._ 378 

Religion and folklore 379 



Part 3. The Indians of eastern Brazil 381 

Eastern BrazU: An introduction, by Robert H. Lowie 381 

Introduction 381 

Culture 382 

Subsistence activities 382 

Houses and villages 383 

Dress and ornaments 384 

Transportation 385 

Manufactures 385 

Social and political organization 387 

Warfare 391 

Life cycle 391 

Esthetic and recreational activities 392 

Supernaturalism 394 

Mythology 397 

Lagoa Santa Man, by Anibal Mattos 399 

Bibliography 400 

The sambaquis of the Brazilian coast, by Antonio Serrano 401 

Introduction 401 

Origin of the sambaquis 401 

Morphology 403 

Antiquity of the sambaquis 404 

Cultures and race 404 

Bibliography 407 

The Guat6, by Alfred M^traux 409 

Archeology 409 

History and geographical position 409 

Culture 410 

Subsistence activities 410 

Houses 411 

Dress and ornaments 412 

Transportation 412 

Manufactures 413 

Social and political organization 417 

Warfare 418 

Esthetic and recreational activities 418 

Bibliography 418 

The Bororo, by Robert H. Lowie 419 

Tribal divisions and history 419 

Culture 420 

Subsistence activities 420 

Houses and villages 420 

Dress and ornaments 421 

Transportation 422 

Manufactures 422 

Social and political organization 426 

Warfare 428 

Life cycle 428 

Esthetic and recreational activities 431 

Religion and shamanism 432 

Mythology 433 

Bibliography 434 


Part 3. The Indians of eastern Brazil — Continued. page 

The Guayakf, by Alfred M6traux and Herbert Baldus 435 

History and geographical situation 435 

Culture 436 

Subsistence activities 436 

Camps and houses 438 

Dress and ornaments 438 

Transportation 439 

Manufactures 439 

Social and political organization 441 

Life cycle 442 

Esthetic and recreational activities 443 

Religion 443 

Mythology 444 

Medicine 444 

Bibliography 444 

The Caingang, by Alfred M^traux 445 

Tribal divisions and history 445 

Present situation of the Caingang groups 448 

Culture 450 

Subsistence activities 450 

Houses 453 

Dress and ornaments _ 456 

Transportation 457 

Manufactures 457 

Social organization 461 

Political organization 463 

Life cycle 463 

Warfare 467 

Etiquette 467 

Esthetic and recreational activities 468 

Communication 470 

Religion 470 

Mythology 473 

Bibliography 475 

The Northwestern and Central Ge, by Robert H. Lowie 477 

Tribal divisions 477 

Archeology 479 

History of the Ge 479 

Sources 480 

Culture 480 

Subsistence activities 480 

Houses and villages 482 

Dress and ornaments 484 

Transportation 486 

Manufactures 487 

Political organization 488 

Social organization 490 

Warfare 498 

Life cycle 499 

Esthetic and recreational activities 501 

Supernaturalism 509 

Mythology and literature 515 

Lore and learning 516 

Bibliography 517 


Part 3. The Indians of eastern Brazil — Continued. page 

The Southern Cayap6, by Robert H. Lowie 519 

History 519 

Culture 519 

Bibliography 520 

The Guaitacd, by Alfred M6traux 521 

Culture 522 

Bibliography 522 

The Purl-Coroado linguistic family, by Alfred M^traux 523 

Tribal divisions and history 523 

Culture - 524 

Subsistence activities 524 

Domesticated animals 525 

Houses 525 

Dress and ornaments 525 

Transportation 526 

Manufactures 526 

Social and political organization 527 

Courtesy rites 527 

Warfare and cannibalism 528 

Life cycle 528 

Esthetic and recreational activities 528 

Shamanism and religion •_ 529 

Bibliography 530 

The Botocudo, by Alfred M^traux 531 

Tribal divisions and history 531 

Culture 532 

Subsistence activities 532 

Houses and villages 534 

Dress and ornaments 534 

Transportation 535 

Manufactures 535 

Social organization 536 

Cannibalism 537 

Life cycle 537 

Medicine 537 

Esthetic and recreational activities 538 

Religion 538 

Mythology 540 

Bibliography 540 

The Mashacali, Patash6, and Malall linguistic families, by Alfred 

M^traux and Curt Nimuendajii 541 

Tribal divisions and history 541 

Culture 542 

Subsistence activities 542 

Houses 542 

Dress and ornaments 543 

Manuf act ures 543 

Social and political organization 544 

Life cycle 544 

Esthetic and recreational activities 545 

Religion 545 

Bibliography 545 


Part 3. The Indians of eastern Brazil — Continued. page 
The Camacan linguistic family, by Alfred M^traux and Curt Nimu- 

endajii 547 

Tribal divisions and history 547 

Culture 548 

Subsistence activities 548 

Houses 548 

Dress and ornaments 548 

Manufactures 549 

Life cycle 549 

Esthetic and recreational activities 551 

Mythology and folklore 551 

Bibliography 552 

The "Tapuya," by Robert H. Lowie 553 

Bibliography 556 

The Cariri, by Robert H. Lowie 557 

Tribal divisions and history 557 

Culture 558 

Bibliography 559 

The Pancararu, by Robert H. Lowie 561 

Bibliography 561 

The Tarairiu, by Robert H. Lowie 563 

History 563 

Culture 564 

Bibliography 566 

The Jeico, by Robert H. Lowie 567 

Bibliography 567 

The Guck, by Robert H. Lowie 569 

Bibliography 569 

The Fulnio, by Alfred M^traux 571 

Bibliography 571 

The Terememb^, by Alfred M^traux 573 

History 573 

Culture 573 

Bibliography 574 

Bibliography to Volume 1 575 




1. Southern Patagonian landscape 16 

2. Southern Patagonian landscapes 16 

3. Landscapes of the Greater Pampa 16 

4. Landscapes of the Greater Pampa 16 

5. Southern Patagonian landscapes 24 

6. Archeological sites, southern Chile 24 

7. Archeological sites, Beagle Channel, Tierra del Fuego 24 

8. Archeological sites, Beagle Channel, Tierra del Fuego 24 

9. Stratigraphy, Strait of Magellan 24 

10. Stratigraphy, Strait of Magellan 24 

11. Stratigraphy, Strait of Magellan 24 

12. Stratigraphy, Strait of Magellan 24 

13. Projectile points of the Pampa proper 32 

14. Sherds from San Bias Peninsula, Buenos Aires Province 32 

15. Querandi sherds 32 

16. Querandi sherds 32 

17. Querandi sherds 32 

18. Querandi bone artifacts 32 

19. Pottery, Mendoza and Angol, Chile 32 

20. Polished stone artifacts 32 

21. Stone artifacts from Neuqu^n 32 

22. Sherds from C6rdoba 32 

23. Alacaluf territory 80 

24. Alacaluf territory 80 

25. Alacaluf children 80 

26. Alacaluf camps 80 

27. Alacaluf huts 80 

28. Alacaluf life 80 

29. Alacaluf canoes 80 

30. Alacaluf plank boats and implements 80 

31. Alacaluf artifacts 80 

32. Alacaluf Indian types 80 

33. Yahgan life and manufactures 160 

34. Yahgan bark canoe 160 

35. Yahgan territory and canoes 160 

36. Yahgan spear throwing 160 

37. Ona and Tehuelche shelters 160 

38. Ona and Tehuelche culture 160 

39. Tehuelche costume and ceremony 160 

40. Tehuelche hunting 160 

41. Group of Charrua, 1832 192 

42. Charrua pottery and stonework 192 

43. Projectile points from the middle Rio Uruguay 192 

44. Chipped-stone artifacts, Charrua territory 192 




45. Chaco landscape 352 

46. Chaco landscapes 352 

47. Chaco Indians, 19th century 352 

48. Chaco fishing techniques 352 

49. Chaco women preparing algarroba 352 

50. Chaco houses 352 

5 1 . Chaco houses, granaries, and water carrying 352 

52. Chaco houses 352 

53. Chaco costumes 352 

54. Caduveo facial and body painting 352 

55. Chaco face and body ornaments 352 

56. Chaco costumes 352 

57. Chaco head ornaments and bags 352 

58. Pilagd footgear and skin bag 352 

59. Chaco costumes 352 

60. Chaco bags 352 

61. Chaco textile manufacture 352 

62. Toba spinning wool 352 

63. Toba woman making carrying net 352 

64. Chaco pottery manufacture 352 

65. Chaco wood carving 352 

66. Chaco children 352 

67. Chaco children 352 

68. Chaco Indian types 352 

69. Chaco death customs 352 

70. Mataco tree burial 352 

71. Chaco recreation 352 

72. Chaco religion and games 352 

73. Chaco shamanism 352 

74. Chaco Indian types 352 

75. Chaco Indian types 352 

76. Chaco Indian types 352 

77. Structure of sambaquf 408 

78. Sambaquf artifacts, archaic phase 408 

79. Sambaquf artifacts, meridional and media phases 408 

80. Sambaquf artifacts, meridional phase 408 

81. Guat6 implements 418 

82. Guat6 Indian types from Caracara River 418 

83. Bororo country and house 432 

84. Bororo houses 432 

85. Bororo village of Kejara 432 

86. Bororo archery 432 

87. Bororo festival at village of Kejara 432 

88. Bororo funeral ceremony 432 

89. Bororo jaguar impersonator 432 

90. Bororo Indian types 432 

91. Bororo women 432 

92. Bororo Indians 432 

93. Bororo man 432 

94. Portrait of young Bororo man 432 

95. Guayakf arms and utensils 444 

96. Guayakf warrior 444 

97. Apinay6 dwelling 512 



98. Apinay6 and Sherente artifacts 512 

99. Ge artifacts 512 

100. Sherente artifacts 512 

101. Sherente artifacts 512 

102. Sherente masqueraders 512 

103. Ge Indians and artifacts 512 

104. Ge Indians 512 

105. Arms, ornaments, and utensils of the Botocudo, Purf, and Masha- 

caH 574 

106. Botocudo family 574 

107. Eastern Brazil landscapes 574 

108. Puri dance and burial 574 

109. Coroado and Botocudo life 574 

110. Coroado and Puri shelters 574 

111. Camacan dance 574 

112. Patash6 and Camacan weapons and artifacts 574 


1 . Chipped-stone work from the Buenos Aires coast 29 

2. Ground-stone work from the Buenos Aires coast 33 

3. Querandi incised sherds from Arroyo Sarandi 35 

4. Painted sherds from Arroyo Sarandi 36 

5. Querandi artifacts from Arroyo Sarandi 37 

6. Silbato, or whistle of pottery 39 

7. Chipped-stone artifacts from Neuqu^n 42 

8. Engraved stone plaque from Rio Negro 43 

9. Cross section of two "hornos,"or "botijas" 44 

10. Alacaluf hut frame construction 65 

11. Yahgan harpoon and pole snare 85 

12. Yahgan moccasin 87 

13. Details of Yahgan coiled basketry 90 

14. Yahgan decorative patterns 101 

15. Pattern of Ona moccasin 111 

16. Ona implements 113 

17. Ona bow and arrow 114 

18. Tehuelche arms and instruments 145 

19. Designs from Tehuelche guanaco robe 147 

20. Tehuelche child's cradle for use on horseback 154 

21. Totora balsa, Guanacache Lagoons 172 

22. Guanacache twined basketry details 174 

23. Early drawings of the Timbu 188 

24. Ashluslay fishermen with barring nets 254 

25. Choroti fish fence 255 

26. Mataco traps 258 

27. Mataco traps 259 

28. Mataco jaguar trap 260 

29. Choroti mail shirt 273 

30. Lengua and Choroti headgear 276 

31. Pilagd tattooing 281 

32. Chaco manufactures 283 

33. Chaco netting and lacing techniques 287 

34. Mbayd-Caduveo painted pottery plates 291 



35. Pilagd and Choroti utensils and dress 294 

36. Chaco weapons 296 

37. Chaco weapons and implements 298 

38. Motifs on Pilagd belts and woolen bags 335 

39. Tsuka game, Chorotf 337 

40. Chaco toys and musical instruments 340 

41. Pilagd flat wooden whistle 344 

42. Chaco tobacco pipes 348 

43. Schematic profile of Torres site 402 

44. Schematic cross section of camp site at Torres 402 

45. Cross section of stratified sambaqui of Guarahy Mirim 403 

46. Ground-stone artifacts from the sambaquis 406 

47. Guat6 house construction 412 

48. Guat6 twining techniques 413 

49. Guat6 arrows, bows, and spears 415 

50. Guat6 harpoon and pellet bow 416 

51. Bororo textiles and pottery 423 

52. Bororo manufactures 424 

53. Bororo arrow points 425 

54. Feathering of Bororo arrows 426 

55. Bull-roarers with various clan designs 429 

56. Primitive Caingang wind shelter 454 

57. Modern Caingang houses 455 

58. Caingang manufactures 458 

59. Caingang weapons and artifacts 460 

60. Caingang burial mound 466 

61. Diagram of Sherente bachelors' hut 483 

62. Canella decorations on forehead bands and sashes 502 

63. Sherente body-paint decoration for the various shipsd age classes 503 

64. Sherente racing logs 504 

65. Ge musical instruments 506 

66. Timbira type flute made of gourd from the Apinaye 507 

67. Apinaye gourd rattles 508 

68. Puri-Coroado manufactures 527 

69. Tapuya man and spear thrower 554 


1. Guide to the tribes and subjects of Volume 1 of the Handbook 12 

2. The tribes of southern South America, at the first European contact 

period 15 

3. The Greater Pampa archeological area and subareas 30 

4. Tribes of the Gran Chaco: Locations at the first European contact 198 

5. Tribes of the Gran Chaco: Present-day locations 200 

6. Distribution of the four sambaqui culture phases 405 

7 The tribes of eastern Brazil at various dates since the Conquest 382 


The present monumental work is ideally suited to carrying out the 
purpose of the Smithsonian Institution, "the increase and diffusion 
of knowledge," as well as that of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 
the promotion of "ethnological studies among the American Indians." 
Furthermore, it exemplifies the Institution's century-old policy of co- 
operating with others in the advancement of science, for it is in two 
senses a cooperative work. In this country the Department of State 
the National Research Council, and the Smithsonian Institution have 
joined forces to make the Handbook a reality ; on a hemisphere scale, 
anthropologists of the two American continents have shared in the 
preparation of the manuscript. 

The scope of the work is outlined in the introduction by Dr. Julian 
H. Steward, editor and guiding force of the project. These volumes 
provide for the first time a comprehensive summary of existing knowl- 
edge of the Indians of South America, which it is to be hoped will 
stimulate increased interest and further research in this fascinating 

Alexander Wetmore, 
Acting Secretary^ Smithsonian Institutimi. 

October 20, 1944. 



By Julian H. Steward, Editor 

A developing sense of internationalism in the Western Hemisphere 
has brought increased recognition of the importance of the indigenous 
American civilizations and their survival among millions of present- 
day peoples. It has simultaneously emphasized the need for a more 
complete understanding of how these civilizations developed during 
prehistoric eras and how, after the Conquest, they blended with Euro- 
pean culture to produce modern societies which are neither wholly 
Indian nor wholly European. The task of revealing these long chap- 
ters of American history is truly a pan- American one, requiring the 
assembly of thousands of local fragments from throughout the Hemi- 
sphere. Scientists of the American Republics have consequently long 
urged that more effective means be found of pooling and exchanging 
their information, while teachers and students have pleaded that the 
materials be published in convenient form. 

It has particularly been felt that information on the great South 
American civilizations, which left so deep an imprint on modern life, 
should be made generally available to scholars and laymen alike, for 
present sources on South American Indians are published in so many 
languages and places and frequently have such limited availability that 
no one could have access to more than a fraction of the literature. No 
comprehensive general work on the subject exists, and none has even 
been attempted, because the task has such magnitude that it could only 
be accomplished by the joint effort of a large number of specialists. 

As the need for a comprehensive Handbook of South American 
Indians became more acute, the National Research Council, stimulated 
by the late Baron Erland Nordenskiold, in ] 932 appointed a committee 
consisting of Dr. Robert H. Lowie, Dr. John M. Cooper, and Dr. Leslie 
Spier to explore the possibilities of preparing one. This committee, 
subsequently expanded to include other anthropologists with a special 
interest in South America, prepared a statement of the kind of work 
that was needed. 

The Smithsonian Institution through its Bureau of American Eth- 
nology accepted responsibility for the preparation of the Handbook 


and began work in 1940, when the project became part of the program 
of the Interdepartmental Committee on Cultural and Scientific Co- 
operation, a program carried out by special appropriation of the Con- 
gress of the United States through the Department of State. The 
task became cooperatively inter-American in the broadest sense, for 
more than 100 scientists from throughout the Americas generously con- 
tributed their time and knowledge to preparation of the manuscripts. 
In fact, their enthusiastic participation in the task has, despite the in- 
numerable delays and difficulties brought about by the war, put the 
project well ahead of schedule, so that the material has been written 
and prepared for the printer in 4 years instead of the 5 originally 
planned. It would be difficult to find more unselfish dedication of indi- 
vidual effort to an international undertaking. 

The general objective of the Handbook is that laid down by the com- 
mittee of the National Research Council : To provide a concise sum- 
mary of existing data that will serve as a standard reference work for 
the scholar, a textbook for the student, and a guide to the general 
reader. At the same time, it is intended to take stock of the present 
state of knowledge, revealing its deficiencies and suggesting problems 
that will stinmlate future research in both the field and library. Only 
by enlisting the collaboration of many specialists, each summarizing 
the data of a limited field, could the objective be realized. 

It is not supposed that the Handbook has exhausted existing sources 
in a manner to render their future consultation unnecessary. To the 
contrary, the articles simply orient the reader to the salient facts and 
to the literature; future research on the many problems of current 
interest, such as post-Contact acculturation, and on problems that un- 
fold in the future will require repeated re-use of the sources on which 
the present summaries are based.^ 

Although there was unanimity concerning the general need for 
a Handbook, the concrete terms for presenting, its material were 
inevitably fraught with difficulties. The greatest difficulty was that 
of satisfying diversified modern interests with data that had been 
collected largely at random. Existing information comes primarily 
from missionaries and travelers, whose accounts are overloaded with 
descriptions of Indian dress, weapons, dances, and other readily 
observable items, but are almost wholly silent on social structure, 
religious patterns, land tenure, and other less conspicuous but ex- 
tremely important aspects of native cultures. Even the great ma- 
jority of the more recent anthropological monograplis on South 
American tribes are composed in the 18th- and 19th-century traditions 
and aim to collect facts for their own sake rather than with reference 
to anthropological problems. 

» Some of the research needs and possibilities revealed during the preparation of the 
Ilaiulbook have already been summarized (Steward, 1943 a, 1943 b). 


It was obvious that the necessity of presenting culture elements 
atomistically must dissatisfy those who look mainly for function, 
pattern, and configuration, or who seek psychological characterization 
of primitive peoples. It was clear that emphasis on primitive cul- 
tures would not greatly interest persons concerned with modern, ac- 
culturated Indians. It was apparent that the very division of sub- 
ject matter was fraught with controversial points. An adherent of 
the kulturkreis, or "culture historical" school, would organize this 
material diiFerently than a member of the American historical school. 
There was expectable difference of opinion as to whether a linguistic, 
geographic, or some other basis should be chosen. 

Fully aware of the impossibility of satisfying everyone, the editor 
formulated a detailed plan that adhered as far as circumstances per- 
mitted to the original proposition that the Handbook should sum- 
marize the facts of aboriginal ethnology. At the same time, he urged 
that modern problems be kept in mind, and that the literature be ap- 
praised in a manner to acquaint research workers with its value to 
diversified interests. 

The Handbook centers attention on the culture of each tribe at the 
time of its first contact with Europeans. Where the prehistoric past 
of the Contact period culture has been revealed, as in the Andean 
area, a substantial amount of archeology is included by way of back- 
ground. Post-Contact acculturation is brought up to date when 
information is available. Although little research has been done 
on acculturation, so that it remains a vast field for library and field 
work, any ethnographic description necessarily is acculturational in 
some degree. As accounts of Indian tribes at the moment of the 
Conquest are nonexistent or are sketchy in the extreme, reconstruc- 
tions of aboriginal ethnology must rely on documents ranging over 
the 400 years of the historic period, during which profound Spanish, 
Portuguese, and even Negro influence reached the most isolated jungle 
tribes. To avoid compressing these four centuries of post-Contact 
data into two-dimensional ethnographic pictures, as if they faith- 
fully portrayed pre-Columbian cultures, authors were urged to present 
their data chronologically. The articles consequently reveal much 
post-Contact change, and show that new economic, social, and reli- 
gious patterns followed the introduction of European crops, steel 
tools, new trade relations, Christianity, and many other factors con- 
tingent on the arrival of the White man. The final absorption of the 
tribes of the Tropical Forests and marginal areas into European civili- 
zation has never been studied, for until recently anthropological in- 
terest has ceased when tribal custom has been lost. But in the Andean 
area, a strong native civilization reintegrated with Spanish elements 
and patterns survives among millions of Indians, and gives accul- 
turation practical as well as scientific importance. More complete 


information on this area makes it possible to sketch broad trends 
from the earliest archeolotjical beginnings of Andean civilization 
through the Iifwa Empire, the Spanish Conquest, and the post- 
Conquest period to the present day. 

A volume will be devoted to each of Cooper's fourfold culture 
divisions of South America (1940, 1941) : (1) Marginal hunting 
and gathering tribes of Eastern Brazil, the Gran Chaco, the Pampa, 
Patagonia, and Tierra del Fuego; (2) the Andean civilizations; (3) 
the tribes of the Tropical Forests and Savannas; and (4) the Circum- 
Caribbean cultures, including that portion of Central America which 
was strongly influenced by South America. The fifth volume will con- 
tain a description of the impact of Old World civilization on the 
Indians, the geographical background, the physical anthropology, a 
summary of linguistic relationships, Indian demography, and articles 
describing various aspects of the cultures comparatively and distri- 

The Handbook subdivisions and their length have been governed 
by expediency. Tribes with great cultural similarity are treated as a 
unit when possible. In many cases, however, it seemed more important 
to place on record the specialized knowledge of a certain contributor 
than to group or divide according to uncertain cultural frontiers. In 
other cases, difficulties facing all contributors during the present world 
situation required last-minute reassignment of subjects. The result 
has been to split the Handbook into an increasing number of separate 
articles as specialists were found with knowledge of particular subjects. 

The lack of uniformity in treatment and proportion of detail in 
articles is explained by several considerations. First, there are in- 
evitably individual differences among 100 contributors. Second, it 
was a policy to include more detail in articles based on early documents 
and on obscure, scattered, and inaccessible sources, which are published 
in many languages, than in articles treating subjects that are well 
covered in generally available recent monographs. Third, there is 
unevenness in the original source materials. The only sources, espe- 
cially for tribes which have long been extinct, are often early missionary 
and travelers' accounts, which generally afford only extremely spotty 
and tantalizingly incomplete information. 

It was hoped at first, when the Handbook was planned as a closely 
unified, one-volnme work, that all contradictory statements could be 
reconciled and eliminated. As the Handbook has increased in size, 
however, and as the material has been divided into fiA^e volumes, each 
of which is to be published as soon as it is completed and therefore 
before all articles for subsequent volumes are received, it is impossible 
to avoid including conflicting views. Differences of opinion, however, 
are quite expectable in the present stage of knowledge of South 
American Indians ; and to present the material as if all authors were 


in agreement would give a fictitious certainty to many interpretations 
which are no more than tentative opinions. In a vigorous science, 
moreover, there will be diverse points of view, especially among the 
scientists working on the same problems. These, however, are of 
a purely intellectual order. Dedication of effort to a common problem, 
often through the closest personal and professional cooperation, con- 
stitutes a fundamental bond between individuals, regardless of their 
failure to agree on particular points. 

To make the Handbook as widely useful as possible, it includes 
articles of varying breadth. The introductory sections are intended 
for persons seeking a brief, comprehensive view of the major areas 
and subjects. Necessarily synthetic in nature, these naturally tend 
to be more interpretative and theoretical than the more specialized 
articles which are essentially factual. But it is frankly recognized 
that the very selection and organization of fact unavoidably imply 
some theoretical presuppositions. 

It is unfortunate that the war has made it impossible to take ad- 
vantage of the knowledge of our many European colleagues who have 
spent years in South American research. At the same time, the very 
necessity of finding personnel from the Americas to write all the 
articles has made the work as truly pan-American in execution as in 
scope. The awakened interest in mutual problems as well as the 
contacts created between scientists foreshadows a new era of research, 
most of it necessarily cooperative, directed toward fundamental human 
problems of the Americas. The appropriateness of inter-American 
collaboration on these problems can hardly be questioned. 


Article outlines. — The material in each article is arranged according 
to a standard sequence. When an examination of a large number of 
standard ethnographic monographs revealed wide variation in sub- 
ject arrangement, the authors agreed to follow an arbitrary outline, 
so far as their materials permitted. 

The articles start with an Introduction, which often includes a 
geographical sketch. Tribal Divisions and History then follow. The 
history traces the major post-Contact events which have affected the 
tribe. When local archeology can definitely be linked with the 
historic tribe, it is included as a background to the history. Otherwise 
it is treated in a separate article. The next section evaluates the 
principal anthropological sources. The cultural summaries com- 
mence with Subsistence Activities (Farming, Collecting Wild Foods, 
Hunting, Fishing, and Food Preparation and Storage). Then come 
Villages and Houses, Dress and Ornaments, and Transportation. 
Manufactures, which follows, is essentially technological; the func- 
tional aspects of material culture are described under other headings 


appropriate to the use of the objects. This section includes Basketry, 
Weaving, Ceramics, Bark Cloth, Metallurgy, Weapons, and other 
types of manufactures. The following section is usually Trade or 
Economic Organization. Social and Political Organization, which 
follows, describes the general patterns and structure of the groups. 
If necessary, special accounts of Warfare and Cannibalism come 
next. Life Cycle then sketches Birth, Childhood, Puberty rites and 
initiations. Marriage, and Death observances. Esthetic and Recre- 
ational Activities includes Games, Music, Musical instruments, 
Dancing, Narcotics, and Intoxicants. Religion describes beliefs about 
supernatural powers and beings, and magical and religious rites, 
functionaries, and structures. It also includes concepts and prac- 
tices concerning the medicine man or shaman, unless shamanism is 
sufficiently developed to warrant a separate section. Mythology and 
Folklore follow. Finally comes Lore and Learning, which includes 
cosmogony, measurements of weight, time, and space, and other 
special beliefs or concepts of an essentially nonreligious nature. 

Tribal names and synonyms. — Each chapter of Volumes 1 to 4 
carries a heading. Tribal Divisions, which lists tribes, subtribes, and 
synonyms, the last usually in parentheses. An effort is made to 
account for all the significant names appearing in the literature, a 
prodigious task complicated by conflicting usage and innumerable 

The inclusiveness of tribal designations varies tremendously. At 
one extreme are terms like Arawak^ Carib^ and Tupi or Guarani^ 
designating widespread peoples, each with great linguistic similarity 
and some cultural homogeneity, but lacking any political unity. 
Some terms are more restricted. Tupinarriba, for example, embraces a 
large number of Tupi peoples, who, though culturally homogeneous, 
are split into independent and locally named groups scattered along 
2,000 miles of Brazilian coast. At the other extreme is the practice, 
commonly employed for large portions of the Amazonian and Mar- 
ginal culture areas, which lists every independent village, band, or 
horde as a separate tribe even though it consisted of but a single 
family. Thus, there is a name for each of the many localized, 
patrilineal bands which compose the Ona of Tierra del Fuego, for 
the innumerable independent hordes of the Ge^ for the many 
migratory families of the Alacaluf^ and for the independent family 
villages of the Tucano. As it would exceed the physical limits of the 
Handbook, as well as the bounds of usefulness, to list all these names, 
we have attempted to group them into what may, in a cultural and 
linguistic sense, be considered tribes. 

Efforts to systematize tribal classifications and to clarify tribal 
names have been only partially successful. Many names appear in 
the early lists without explanation. Others are so inadequately ex- 


plained that the nature or the magnitude of the groups in question is 
obscure. Some are doubtlessly synonyms of well-known tribes, 
whereas others probably designate minor and unimportant groups. 
But until new data from the field or the literature clarify their 
significance, the tribal lists and the tribal map of South America will 
have an enormous number of small tribes — more, perhaps, than other 
comparable areas of the world. 

The standard name chosen for each tribe is that best established by 
usage, except in a few cases where a secondary name is selected to 
avoid confusion between similarly named tribes. Coronado (crowned) 
and Orejon (large ear), for example, have become the established 
designations of so many unrelated tribes that we have substituted 
synonyms for these names to distinguish them from one another. 

All synonyms are included in parentheses following the first listing 
of the standard tribal name. Important differences in nomenclature 
are also explained in the text, but many synonyms are mere variants 
of spelling. 

Spelling follows a simple orthography, which aims to be intelligible 
in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Vowels have their Spanish 
values, and accents fall on the antepenult unless otherwise indicated. 
As k does not occur in Spanish and Portuguese, c has been substituted 
before w, o, and «, except in spelling which is too well established to 
permit change. No attempt is made at phonetic spelling, for it would 
serve only academic interest even if it were possible to know the 
native rendition of those names originating in Indian languages. 

Following North American usage, the singular form of the tribal 
name serves as the collective noun, and linguistic families bear the 
ending an. 

All tribal names and synonyms will be listed in the general index 
in the last volume. The more important tribes will be shown on the 
general map, the locations being those at the time of the first contact 
with Europeans. 

Bibliography. — Citations of sources are usually placed in paren- 
theses in the text, the author's name, the date of his publication, and 
frequently the volume and page or pages being indicated. "When only 
the date and pages are cited, the latter are indicated by p. or pp., for 
example, Jones, 1915, p. 10. When the volume is included, it is indi- 
cated by the number following the date and the pages are indicated 
by a colon, for example, Jones, 1915, 2 : 10-15, which means Jones, 
1915, volume 2, pages 10 to 15. 

The full titles and place of publication of each reference will be 
found in the general bibliography at the end of each volume, where 
all the publications cited throughout the volume are given under the 
authors' names, which are listed alphabetically. 


Handbook contributors have compiled complete bibliographies on 
their subjects, briefly and critically commenting upon each article, 
monograph, and book. It was the original plan to publish these in 
a single large bibliography which would form a part of the Handbook. 
As the complete annotated bibliography will, however, probably in- 
clude nearly 10,000 items, publication of this material in full is deferred 
in the hope that special bibliographic volumes may some day be 

Maps. — Each volume will carry a guide map to the articles con- 
tained in it. In addition, certain articles are accompanied by special 
tribal maps. A general tribal and linguistic map will accompany 
Volume 5, but will also be made available separately. 

Except where special dates are indicated, maps give the location of 
tribes at the time of their first contact with White men. On the 
coastal regions and in Highland Peru, this was early in the 16th 
century. Along the main waterways and other routes of exploration 
and travel, many tribes were encountered later in the same century. 
In other regions, especially around the periphery of the Amazon 
Basin, the Indians were first discovered much later, many of them only 
in the present century. There are even regions so imperfectly ex- 
plored today that the identification and location of tribes is based on 
the merest hearsay. 

Special mention must be made of the three maps which cover, 
respectively, the area north of the Amazon Kiver, the portion of 
Brazil lying east of 56° W. long., and the area extending south- 
ward from the Amazon River to include the lower Jurua, Purus, and 
Madeira Rivers, and a portion of Matto Grosso. These, which are 
unusual in detail and in the location of tribes at different dates, were 
traced directly from a large map especially prepared by Dr. Curt 
Nimuendaju for the Handbook. It is regretted that Dr. Nimuendajii's 
original map could not be published, but its size, 6 feet by 8 feet, and 
the large number of colors indicating the linguistic afliliation of all 
tribes, made this impossible. In addition to being traced directly for 
the three maps just mentioned, other parts of Dr. Nimuendajii's map 
served, along with special maps prepared by other contributors, as a 
source of information for the general tribal map, which was prepared 
by the editor. 

Index. — A complete index to the entire Handbook will be issued 
under separate covers. It will include all the synonyms of each tribe 
in order to facilitate the identification of tribes. 


Individual acknowledgments in a cooperative work are scarcely 
necessary. All persons involved had a part in urging the necessity 
of the Handbook, in planning it, and in carrying it to completion. 

Vol.1] introduction STEWARD 9 

All have given unselfishly of their time. Those who found their 
normal work redoubled after the war involved the Western Hemi- 
sphere, even those who eventually left their countries to fight with the 
armed forces, somehow found time to complete their promised con- 

A special word of gratitude, however, is due Dr. Alfred Metraux. 
The extent of his contribution is by no means indicated by the large 
number of articles appearing under his name. With an unsurpassed 
knowledge of South American ethnology and ever generous with his 
time, his advice and help to the editor and contributors alike have 
been a major factor in the successful completion of the work. 

Dr. Kobert H. Lowie also merits particular thanks for his help in 
arranging and editing the materials of Volume 3 and for writing the 
general article on the Tropical Forests. Similarly, to Dr. Wendell 
C. Bennett the Handbook is indebted for constant advice in planning 
Volume 2, in integrating its articles, and for preparing the general 
article on the Andean civilization. 

The Handbook acknowledges with gratitude the gracious coopera- 
tion of the Hispanic Foundation of the Library of Congress, and es- 
pecially the Foundation's Director, Dr. Lewis Hanke. The wealth 
of readily available materials in the Foundation's collections and the 
conveniences and courtesies accorded Handbook contributors in con- 
sulting them have added immeasurably to the completeness of the 

Gratitude is due the innumerable persons and institutions which 
generously made photographs available for reproduction without cost 
or restrictions. These are individually acknowledged in credit lines. 

For translation of several manuscripts in Spanish, Portuguese, and 
French, the Handbook is indebted to the kindness of the Central 
Translating Division of the Department of State, to the Strategic 
Index of the Americas, and to several members of its own office staff. 

Finally, special praise must be given the untiring office staff for 
carrying out the vast routine tasks of preparing the manuscripts and 
materials. The editor is particularly indebted to Miss Ethelwyn 
Carter who, almost since the beginning of the project, has helped with 
the innumerable details necessary to its smooth functioning, and to 
Dr. Gordon R. Willey who assumed responsibility for the final as- 
sembling and preparation of illustrations and manuscripts. 

Editok's note. — While this volume was in press, word was received of the death 
of Dr. Curt NimueudajG during a field trip late in 1945 to the Tucuna Indians of 
the upper Amazon. Scientists everywhere will deeply feel the loss of this emi- 
nent Brazilian scholar, whose extensive researches made him the foremost of all 
ethnologists working in the South American field. 




Herbert Baldus, Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

Juan Belateff, Asuncion, Paraguay. 

Junius B. Bird, American Museum of Natural History, New York, 
New York. 

Salvador Canals Frau, Universidad Nacional de Cu/yo, Mendoza, 

John M. Cooper, Catholic University of America, Washington, D. C. 

Samuel K. Lothrop, Pedbody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology, 
Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

Robert H. Lowie, University of California, Berkeley, California. 

Anibal Mattos, Instituto Historic^o e Geograftco de Minos Gerais, 
Mmas Gerais, Brazil. 

Alfred Metraux, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. G. 

Curt Nimuendaju, Museu Parafinse Emilio Goeldi, Belem do Para, 
Brazil. (See Editor's note, page 9.) 

Antonio Serrano, Universidad Nacional de Cordoha, Cordoha, Ar- 

Gordon R. Willey, Smithsonian Institution, Washvngton, D. C. 







-10 ^ 


S ^IjM^- 






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1 i»L *^ f 

\Y 1 / 



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IB ^|<S\ 



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70 60 SO AO 

30 10 


Map 1. — Guide map of tlie tribes and subjects of Volume 1 of the Handbook. 
(Parallel-hatched, the Andean Civilizations, Volume 2; stippled, the Tropical 
Forests and Savannas, Volume 3; cross-hatched, the Circum-Caribbean cul- 
tures, Volume 4.) 1, Southern Hunters; lA, Fuegians; IB, Alacaluf; IC, 
Chono; ID, Tehuelche and Patagonian archeology; IE, Puelche and Pampa 
archeology; IF, Querandi and Pampa archeology. 2, Euarpe and Mendoza 
archeology. 3, Parand Delta. 4, Charrua. 5, Gran Chaco. 6, Lagoa Santa. 
7, Ouato, 8, Bororo. 9, Guayaki. 10, Caingang. 11, Southern Cayapd. 12, 
Northwest and Central Ge. 13, Puri-Coroado. 14, Guaitaca. 15, Botocudo. 
16, Mashacali. 17, Camacan. 18, "Tapuya." 19, Pimenteira. 20, Cariri. 21, 
TerememM Tarairiu. 22, TerememM. 

Part I. Indians of Southern South America 


By John M. Cooper 

Under "Southern Hunters" are here included the Yahgan, Alacaluf, 
Chono, and Ona of the Magellanic Archipelago, and the Tehioelche, 
Poya, and Puelche of Patagonia and the Argentine Pampa (map 1, 
No. 1; map 2) . Inasmuch as extensive bibliographies and fully docu- 
mented studies of the culture of the Yahgan, Alacaluf, Chono, and 
Ona are readily accessible in the works of Cooper (1917), Lothrop 
(1928), and Gusinde (1931, 1937), source lists and page references in 
the present papers on these four tribes are kept to the minimum con- 
sistent with the objectives of the Handbook. Since, however, we lack 
similar over-all documented studies of the Tehuelche and Puelche, 
much more copious sources and page references are included in the 
sections dealing with them. 

All these Southern Hunters belong to the South American marginal 
peoples, as distinct from the silval and sierral ones. These marginals 
may be divided into : The Southern Coastal, of the Magellanic shores 
and channels; the Campestral, of Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia, the 
Argentine Pampa, the Uruguayan plains, and the Chaco; the Savan- 
nal, of the Brazilian highlands and adjacent regions; and the Intra- 
silval, scattered here and there within or near the broad expanse of 
the tropical rain forest (Cooper, 1942 b). 

The Southern Coastal marginals are the Yahgan, Alacaluf, and 
Chono. The Ona, Tehuelche, Poya, and Puslche are the more south- 
ern of the Campestral marginals. 

The Yahgan, Alacaluf, Ona-Tehuelche, and Puelche represent dis- 
tinct linguistic families. The Chono may have spoken an Alacaluf an 
dialect, the Poya an Ona-Tehuelche one. Physically the Yahgan, Ala- 
caluf, and Chono may be classed together, at least loosely and pro- 
visionally, as may also the Ona and Tehuelche. Classification of the 
Poya and Puelche is much more problematic. 

Culturally, these seven peoples had much in common, although man- 
ifesting many marked divergences. The Yahgan, Alacaluf, and Chono 



should best be bracketed together ; likewise the Orw,^ Tehuelche^ Poya^ 
and Puelche. In either case much of common culture is conditioned 
by the natural environment — archipelagic for the first group, insular 
and continental for the second. 

All seven shared in common the following cultural elements : A col- 
lecting economy, with gardening lacking, except for traces among the 
Poya and Ghono in touch with the Araucanians; absence of tobacco 
and alcoholic beverages, except among the Poya and perhaps the pre- 
Columbian Puelche; simple movable shelters, of lean-to, domed, con- 
ical, or toldo construction; sleeping on the bare ground or on brush 
or skins, with the hammock and raised bed absent; weapons and 
utensils of stone, bone, or wood, with metals quite lacking ; absence of 
gastronomic and ritual cannibalism; well-organized family system, 
with prevalent (not strict) monogamy; the band as the more common 
economico-political unit, usually made up largely of relatives by kin 
or marriage; chiefs either absent or, where present, of most limited 
authority ; societies, sibs, and moieties quite absent, and social strati- 
fication almost entirely so; land-tenure systems, where our informa- 
tion is at all clear, approximating the family hunting ground system ; 
again, where information is clear, well-marked theistic as well as 
shamanistic beliefs and practices (Cooper, 1942 a, pp. 10-11 ; 1942 b, 
pp. 149-150). 

Between, however, the Southern Coastal peoples and the Campestral, 
and, for that matter, between the several tribes within these two divi- 
sions, there were numerous and often marked divergences (Cooper, 

The Southern Coastal tribes were predominantly canoe people, 
fishermen, and gatherers of sea food, with well-developed types of 
watercraft. Little clothing was worn. The chief weapons of chase 
and war were the spear, harpoon, sling, and club. Basketry was of 
coiled or looped techniques. 

The Campestral Ona^ Tehuelche^ and Puelche were predominantly 
land people, hunters of the guanaco in particular. Clothing covered 
most of the body. Their chief hunting and fighting weapon was the 
bow and arrow, although the Puelche when first known to the Whites 
had the bolas and the Tehuelche later acquired it. Bags and contain- 
ers were mostly of skin. 

The principal post-Columbian changes in culture among the South- 
ern Hunters of the mainland north of tlie Strait of Magellan, apart 
from such direct European importations as steel tools and weapons, 
firearms, and Christian religious concepts, came as a result of or a 
sequence to the introduction of the horse. The Puelche must have 
acquired the horse well before 1700, but our information on the point is 
slight. The Tehuelche acquired it, from either the Araucanicms or 
the Puelche, some time between 1670 and 1741, more likely around 

Vol. 1] 







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'v^'*;y ,,. >^ ; , _ 



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60 50 

Map 2. — The tribes of southern South America, at the first European contact period. 

1725. At the time of or subsequent to the adoption of the horse by the 
Tehuelche, a great many new developments occurred in their culture, 
all or most of them being accretions from without : the bolas, lasso, and 
lance ; hide helmets, coats, and shields ; pipe smoking and the use of in- 
toxicants; earrings and the tupu; gambling; the musical bow (Cooper, 
1925, pp. 408-409). 

Both the ethnological and the archeological evidence suggests, with- 
out, of course, rigidly demonstrating, that the Southern Coastal and 
Campestral marginals included in the Southern Hunters are not cul- 
tural reverts (Bird, 1938) , but instead are cultural tarriants who have 
retained in an appreciable measure a very archaic pattern of culture. 
(Nordenskiold, 1931; Krickeberg, 1934; Cooper, 1925, 1941, pp. 9-13, 
1942 b.) But in the descriptive treatment which is called for in the 
present volume of the Handbook, fuller discussion of this large prob- 
lem of historical interpretation is not in order. 


■ I 


Plate 2. —Southern Patagonian landscapes. Top: Typical grassland country, north side of Strait of 
Magellan. Botiom: Volcanic crater and core in grassland arfta, north side of Strait of Magellan. (Cour- 
tesy .Junius Bird.) 


By Junius Bird 


The geographical limits of Patagonia have never been fixed by law 
or even by common usage. In the present instance, Patagonia is used 
broadly to include the southern Chilean archipelago and the Argentine 
territory south of the Rio Negro. The island of Chiloe, though not 
properly within its limits, may for cultural reasons also be included. 
We deal then with a roughly triangular area, about 1,200 miles (1,920 
km.) by 600 miles (960 km.) at its widest (map 1, Nos. lA, IB, IC, ID) . 

The archeology of this region is of more than local interest. Some 
of America's most primitive cultures survived here almost unaltered 
until recently. If, as supposed, they stem from ancient prototypes, the 
sites offer possibilities for revealing the changes they have undergone, 
the succession of cultures, and the time which has elapsed since they 
first reached the tip of the continent.^ 

Some information is now available, and the prospect for a complete 
recovery of the archeological record is unusually good here for sev- 
eral reasons. Most of the grasslands are unglaciated, and the moraines, 
marking different stages of the ice advance, lie far from the east 
coast, except at the Strait, so that sites have not been destroyed. 
Furthermore, the land has gradually risen since before human occu- 
pation became possible so that sites close to the shore are preserved 
and their antiquity may be correlated with the elevation of the land. 
Finally, the many rock shelters and caves, especially in lava, served 
as sites where cultural remains have been excellently preserved for a 
longtime (pis. 5, 6). 

The archeological problems of our area are somewhat simplified 
by the environmental influence on the cultures. The remains are al- 
most exclusively those of nomadic hunters and fishermen. Pre-Co- 
lumbian agriculture never extended south of Chiloe, and to this day 
the excessive rainfall and rugged topography of the southern archi- 

1 All evidence indicates that the native populations of Fuegia at the southern end of this 
region ultimately came from the north. Nothing supports hypotheses of trans-Pacific mi- 
grations, either direct or via Antarctica. 



pelago discourage cultivation. On the Argentine side, the land is 
even now used primarily for grazing, although Europeans have suc- 
cessfully farmed the limited quantities of arable land in the northern 

Our region, however, has two cultural areas : that now occupied by 
the canoe Indians — Chono, Alacaluf^ and Yahgan — in the archipelago 
west of the Cordillera, and that of the foot Indians — Tehuelche and 
Ona — in the broad, open country of Patagonia. There was little cul- 
tural exchange between these areas, except in the region of the Strait 
of Magellan, where the canoe and foot tribes had ready access to one 

On the densely forested and overgrown archipelago south of Chiloe, 
the food supply was principally shellfish, sea lions, and sea birds ; land 
game was limited. Travel is possible only by boat or canoe, so that 
the preferred camps are, and always have been, protected moorings 
or landings which are close to sources of food. Contrary to what 
one might suppose, the most desirable part of the archipelago is in 
the extreme south, along the southern side of Tierra del Fuego, where 
a better climate induced people to remain. There is, in fact, a much 
greater concentration of middens there (pis. 6, 7, 8) than anywhere 
else south of Chiloe. 

The Atlantic coast is by contrast desolate. Vegetation from the sea 
back to the foothills is limited to grass or low bushes, and in places 
suffers from scanty rainfall. Beaches are open and unprotected, 
harbors are infrequent and poor, and shellfish, fish, and sea lions are 
not as plentiful, or at least as accessible, as on the Pacific side. Mate- 
rial for the construction of watercraft is absent, though a people with 
the skill and ingenuity of the Eskimo could, with any real inducement 
to develop a strictly coastal culture, have managed. Actually, land 
game provided the staple food, with the products of the beaches 

At the beginning of historic times, guanaco and rhea and probably 
Patagonian cavy were the important game in the grasslands, and the 
native economy centered on their pursuit and capture. Permanent 
camps could not be maintained, but sites that were sheltered from the 
wind, accessible to water, and in a good hunting district were used 
repeatedly. If not damaged by erosion, such sites are likely to yield 
data on a long period of human occupation. 


The first recorded archeological discovery in this area was in 1578, 
when members of Drake's crew, while digging a grave, found "a great 
grinding stone, broken in two parts" (Fletcher, 1652, p. 33). Interest 
lagged, however, until the latter part of the last century when settlers 
began to collect surface material. As this filtered into museums, espe- 


cially in Buenos Aires, it aroused interest, and led to Dr. Felix F. 
Outes' detailed report on existing collections (1904 a), long the stand- 
ard reference on Patagonian artifacts. This was supplemented by later 
papers (Outes, 1905, 1916) and the reports of other Argentine scien- 
tists, Ambrosetti (1903), Aparicio (1935), Vignati (1923 a, 1923 b, 
1933) treating mainly surface finds, graves, and rock paintings. 

The first archeological report on the far south was Lovisato's account 
(1885) of his examination of a midden on Elizabeth Island in the Strait 
of Magellan. The discovery of a Mylodon skin in a huge cave near 
Ultima Esperanza in 1895 stimulated excavation in search of additional 
remains of this animal. (For bibliography, see Gusinde, 1921.) In- 
vestigation exposed a small amount of late camp refuse, a burial, and 18 
artifacts, 2 of which may have been as old as the sloth remains. The 
remains were variously explained, some persons even concluding that 
the Indians had stabled giant sloths in the cave, an explanation which 
has persisted even though one of the most reliable excavators (Nor- 
denskiold, 1900) doubted that the Mylodon remains and artifacts 
were really associated. 

On Tierra del Fuego, the first archeological study and examination 
of shell mounds on the east coast was made by Vignati (1927). In 
that year, Lothrop (1928) visited the area for ethnological and archeo- 
logical reconnaissance. His survey of portions of the south side of 
Tierra del Fuego revealed abundant evidence of human occupation. 
In the same season, Guinazu (1936) mapped additional middens on the 
east coast. A few years later Sir Baldwin Spencer came from Aus- 
tralia to work in the same section, but died shortly after his arrival. 

From 1932 to 1937, the American Museum of Natural History spon- 
sored two field trips with the kind cooperation of the Museo Nacional 
de Historia Natural of Chile. These included a general survey of 
various sites south from Puerto Montt to the Strait of Magellan and 
intensive excavations on Navarino Island and in Chilean territory east 
of Punta Arenas (Bird, 1938). 

These sources, supplemented by valuable information from private 
collectors in Argentina, afford a reasonably reliable basis for a sketch 
of the prehistory of Patagonia and the Archipelago. 


The longest cultural sequence was found in several caves and shelters 
in the grasslands along the north shore of the Strait of Magellan in a 
section beyond the limits of the last ice advance. There were five 
prehistoric periods of the inland culture. The oldest consists of re- 
mains of people who hunted the ground sloth and the native American 
horse ; the latest is indentifiable with the culture of the Ona of Tierra 
del Fuego. The periods are distinguished by the types of projectile 


points and by the presence or absence of certain other artifacts. All 
lack pottery, which is found only rarely in this region on historic 
Tehuelche camps (pi. 5), associated with modern horse bones and 
trade beads. All have in common simple stone scrapers for working 
wood and bone. Blades for scraping skin, however, show an abrupt 
change in pattern and are an important diagnostic trait. The first 
three periods used large blades, which varied in size and proportions, 
while the fourth had the small "thumbnail" type which, because of the 
manner of hafting, is much more uniform in size. The last is used 
to the present day. 

First period. — The oldest culture can be most readily recognized 
by the projectile points — barbless blades with tapering stems expanded 
at the base. The few associated artifacts are : Bone flaking tools, bone 
awls, scrapers, rough chopping tools, and flat lava disks of unknown 
use (pi. 9). At this time cremation burial was practiced. 

Second period. — The second cultural level yields bone projectile 
points of varying form and size, two types of awls which seem to be 
confined to this level, and numerous scraping tools (pi. 9). 

Third period. — The third period produces stemless stone points, 
the majority of which are triangular in outline with rounded bases; 
awls ; scrapers ; and bolas stones. These stones are mainly small ones 
for taking birds, a significant fact in view of the use of bird bolas else- 
where in America (pi. 10). Contemporary human skeletons are flexed 
and smeared with red clay. 

Fourth period. — In the fourth period, stemmed knife and projectile 
points replace the stemless types and are accompanied by the small 
hafted scraper already mentioned. There are also simple beads and 
ornaments, awls, and large bolas stones of various forms (pi. 10). 
Burials thought to be of this period are found in stone cairns, the 
body extended. 

Fifth period. — Although artifacts of the fourth period may have 
been in use until the historic period, the presence of a fifth cultural 
group is evident. Small arrow points of a type characteristic of the 
Ona (pi. 11) associated with other typical Ona artifacts such as combs, 
beads, and rough bone tools show the relatively late presence of this 
tribe on the mainland. 

Historic period. — The only evidence of White contact at the Strait 
is the material on Tehuelche camp sites. The abundance of modern 
horse bones probably dates them at about the middle of the 18th 
century. Plain undecorated sherds, pipes, hammered copper orna- 
ments, and sometimes glass trade beads are found. 


On the shores of Beagle Channel, south of Tierra del Fuego, are 
innumerable shell middens, some quite large, with compact refuse 


over 10 feet (3 m.) deep. They contain evidence of two distinct 

Early period. — The older is characterized, as in Alacahif territory, 
by the use of mussel-shell knives, single-barbed harpoon points, bird- 
bone awls, whetstones, sinkers, rough choppers, simple ornaments, and 
the complete absence of the pressure flaking technique of stoneworking 
(pi. 11). In the Fuegian middens these items are accompanied by 
large bolas stones and small hafted scrapers, both of which must have 
been acquired from the foot tribes who, according to mainland chronol- 
ogy, first had them in the fourth period. Similarity of ornaments is 
further evidence that Tierra del Fuego borrowed from the mainland 
during this period. 

This simple culture evolved with slight change into the modern 
Alacaluf in the territory between the Strait and the Gulf of Penas. 
Its extension into Tierra del Fuego may indicate that the Alacaluf 
were then in what at the beginning of historic times was Yahga/n 

Recent period. — The late material, which forms the upper portions 
of the Beagle Channel middens, is identifiable as Yahgan (pi. 12). 
The use of pressure-flaked arrow, lance, and knife blades of distinctive 
forms, pit huts, drinking tubes, wedges, bark removers, and many 
scrapers distinguishes the Yahgan from their predecessors, while the 
use of single-barbed harpoons (though slightly modified) , bark canoes, 
sinkers, bird-bone awls and beads, and the same food habits were 
common to both. This seeming blend of two cultures does not appear 
to have occurred along Beagle Channel, where the transition is 

There are no later changes, except for the introduction of the 
saw-toothed spear, possibly in historic times. 


The structure of the Beagle Channel middens and the beach deposit 
on which they rest shows that the land has risen about 15 feet (4.5 m.) 
since the first occupation of the sites, and 2l^ feet (0.75 m.) since 
the introduction of the Yahgan culture. As stone-tipped arrows, 
indicating the Yahgan culture, were reported in this district in 1624, 
the 214-foot change must represent over 300 years, so, if the uplift 
was constant — and there is some reason to believe it was — in this case 
the total age of the deposits cannot be less than 1,800 years. 

Lothrop (1928, p. 197), by estimating the population of a district, 
the volume of the middens, and the consequent rate of deposit, cal- 
culated the age of the middens to be between 1,300 and 2,600 years, 
and gave 2,000 as an approximation. 

Along the north shore of the Strait, 190 miles to the north, there 
is evidence that the land has risen 42i^ feet (13 m.) above sea level 


since human occupation of the section began. If the land rose at 
the same rate as at Beagle Channel, 5,100 years is the minimum an- 
tiquity of the oldest cultures. Estimates of 5,400 and 3,000 years 
were secured by calculating the rate at which the cave deposits had 
accumulated since the first occupants disappeared and the sloth and 
native horse became extinct. 

Other geologic evidence of antiquity is that since the sloth hunters 
occupied Fell's Cave on the Rio Chico that stream has dropped 16 to 
191/2 feet (5 to 6 m.). Furthermore, it has been shown that during 
the first culture period, shortly before the sloth and native horse dis- 
appeared from the grasslands, there was a violent volcanic eruption 
along the present Chilean-Argentine boundary, apparently the last 
such activity in that area. Finally, and perhaps most important, 
human occupation has been correlated with the recession of a glacial 
lake, Laguna Blanca. This lake, which lies in a basin between the 
third and fourth (final) moraine systems, was studied, mapped, and 
described by Caldenius (1932). Within this basin, well below the 
terraces marking the old lake levels, is a shelter which was occupied 
by Indians almost immediately after the recession of the lake. The 
artifacts on the cave bottom, beneath 8 to 9 feet (2.4 to 2.7 m.) of 
soil, are of the third culture period, which was, however, almost im- 
mediately succeeded by the fourth period, showing that the lake 
had receded only shortly before the arrival of that culture at this site. 

The antiquity indicated by the glacial evidence is not clear. De 
Geer believed he had correlated the Patagonian varve series with the 
Scandinavian series and that Caldenius' fourth or finiglacial moraines 
were contemporaneous with the Scandinavian finiglacial. Regard- 
less of the validity of such claims, it is worth noting that, in com- 
menting on the territory that has been freed from ice since the fall 
in the lake level, Caldenius states (1932, p. 147) : 

Within the two youngest [moraines 1 the original glacial topography is many 
times so well preserved that one is astonished not to find the glacier still in 


Argentine Patagonia has no stratigraphic studies for comparison 
with those made in the south. The large collections of surface mate- 
rial, published and unpublished, show marked uniformity north to the 
Rio Negro. Most of the projectile and knife points are identical or 
similar to those of the fourth period at the Strait, except for slight 
differences due, perhaps, to the better quality of stone available. 
Small Ona type arrow points also occur to the Rio Negro, but around 
and north of Deseado are other small arrow points differing from the 
Oria type. The latter are unknown farther south. Points belonging 
to the third period at the Strait have been found at scattered localities 


up to Comodoro Rivadavia, and similar points occur in the Chubut 
Valley. In northern collections they occur in about the same very 
small proportion as in surface collections gathered near the Strait. 
Points of the first period have not yet appeared in the collections. 
Various types of scrapers and bolas stones give additional evidence of 
the general archeological uniformity. It seems probable that north- 
ern Patagonia will produce a sequence similar to that found at the 

The distinctive features of the north — the greater number of pot- 
sherds (some of them decorated with simple incised or punctate mark- 
ings), the drills (abundant in the north and almost unknown at the 
Strait), and rare pieces such as polished celts (Vignati, 1923 b), per- 
forated club heads (Outes, 1905, p. 437), curiously shaped objects (re- 
ferred to by Outes (1916) and Vignati (1923 a) as ceremonial axes), 
and engraved stone tablets (Outes, 1905, p. 469) — may all represent 
elaborations of the late periods. How the numerous cave paintings 
and petroglyphs relate to the chronology remains to be seen (Aparicio, 


Brief comments may be included on Chiloe Island and the adjacent 
area. Along the shores of the Gulf of Reloncavi and Corcovado and 
down the eastern side of Chiloe are many large shell middens. As yet 
we know all too little about their contents. The absence of pressure- 
flaked stonework in the lower portions of the deposits and the pres- 
ence of a few artifacts duplicating those found farther south show 
that the culture was identical to that in Alacaluf territory. Later ref- 
use, yielding pressure-flaked points of a type absent farther south and 
on the Argentine side, drills and polished celts (pi. 12), suggests influ- 
ence from the Chilean mainland. Pottery is rare, and may antedate 
the arrival of the Spaniards by only a short time. 


Perhaps the most important task of the future is to learn more of 
the oldest cultures, the first two periods discovered at the Strait. 
This will have to be done in Argentine territory, where a further 
check on the correlation of the cultural and glacial periods can be 

One of the most puzzling problems is the origin of the Tahgan 
culture. Its distinctive stonework has not yet been found anywhere 
north of the Strait. Its pit house, impractical in the western archi- 
pelago but suited to the drier, windy country east of the mountains, 
has never been noted north of Elizabeth Island in the Strait. To un- 
derstand this culture, perhaps the first task should be a careful study 
of the house pits on northern Tierra del Fuego. 


A third great need is to investigate fully the Chilotan middens. 
This is bound to be a tedious task, which will yield little in material 
specimens, yet the information gained may clarify the relationship 
between the oldest coastal cultures of northern and southern Chile. 
(See Bird, 1943, p. 309.) 


Ambrosetti, 1903 ; Aparicio, 1935 ; Bird, 1938, 1943 ; Caldenius, 1932 ; Fletcher, 
1652 ; Guinazti, 1936 ; Gusinde, 1921 ; Lothrop, 1928 ; Lovisato, 1885 ; Nordenskiold, 
1900; Outes, 1904 a, 1905, 1916; Spencer, 1931; Vignati, 1923 a, 1923 b, 1927, 1933. 




Plate 5— Southern Patat'onian landscapes. Taji: Kfu Cliirn \' alley, Chile, near Argentine border. 
Bone fragments of Period 4 camp refuse in foreground. Bottom: East side Laguna Blanca, Chile. 
Rock shelters are common in these canyons. (Courtesy Junius Bird.) 




Plate 6. — Archeological sites, southern Chile. Top: Midden site, north side of Navarino Island. Canoe 
runways and markings on beach below midden. Bottom: Cave in volcanic outcrop, Chile-Argentine 
boundary, containing e.xtinct horse bones and a few artifacts. (Courtesy Junius Bird.) 

Plate 7.— Archeological sites, Beagle Channel, Tierra del Fuego. Top: Midden (center of picture), Na- 
varino Island. Bottom: Navarino Island midden. Depressions mark pit house locations. (Courtesy 
Junius Bird.) 




Plate 8.— Archeological sites. Beagle Channel, Tierra del Fuego. Top: Midden, Puerto Pescado, Nav 
rino Island. Bottom: Cross section of above midden. (Courtesy Junius Bird.) 


4» •••§ 

Plate9.— stratigraphy. Strait of Magellan. Top; Period 1 artifacts, a. End scrapers; 6, side scrapers; 
f. chopping stones; d, rubbing stones; e, early type chipping tools (?);/, bird awls; ff, early type stemmed 
projectile points. Bottom: Period 2 artifacts, a, Side scrapers; 6, end scrapers c, bird awls; d, bone 
awls; e, bone points. (After Bird, 1938, figs. 27, 26.) 

'^ L *> 

Iff fO«€fi 

Platk 10.— Stratigraphy, Strait of Magellan. 7.-,;. 1 . i .., ; ...u'.ifacts. a, Bolas; 6, bone scraper; c, straight- 
stemmed projectile points (very rare); d. hafteii scrapers (very rare); e, end scrapers;/, side scrapers; 
g, stemless projectile and knife points. Bottom: Period 4 artifacts, a. Chipping tools; 6, incised bone; 
c, beads and ornaments; d, bone awls; e, side scrapers; /, end scrapers; o. hafted scrapers; h, Patagonian 
projectile points and hafted knives; (, bolas. (After Bird, 1938, figs. 25, 24.) 

4 4 44 


m 00 . 

Plate U.— stratigraphy, strait of Magellan. Top; Period 5 {Oiia} artifacts, a, Chipping tools; 6, Ona 
projectile points; c, beads and ornaments; d, bird awls; e, bone awls; f. bark remover (?), early; g, combs. 
Bottom: Beagle Channel, shell-knife culture artifacts, a, Solas; b, flshline sinkers; c, bark remover (?), 
early; d, bone awls; e, bird awls; /, round-shank harpoons; g, hafted scrapers; h, comb; i. beads and orna- 
ments; j, shell knives; k chopping stones; I, side scrapers; m, whetstones. (After Bird, 1938, figs. 23, 21. 

Plate 12.— stratigraphy. Strait of Magellan. Top: Beagle Channel, recent period, a. Whalebone wedaes; 
0, drinking tube; c, shell knives; d, fish spear; e, bolas;/. fishline sinkers; g, whetstones; h, flat-shank har- 
poons; i, bone awls; j, side scrapers; k, end scrapers; I, bark remover, late; m. bird awls; n, beads and orna- 
ments; 0, chipping tools; p, projectile and knife points. Bottom: Early and late Chilo? artifacts, a. 
Potsherds; b, projectile points; c, Fwlished celts; d. whalebone wedges; e, pointed shell tools;/, beads and 
ornaments; q, hafted drill; ft. flaked sinkers; i, whetstones; j, chopping stones; k, flaked tool (?). (After 
Bird, 1938, figs. 20. 22 ) 


By Gordon R. WiiiLEY 


The country lying north of the Rio Negro, east of the high Andes 
which separate Chile from Argentina, west of the Parana River, and, 
roughly, south of parallel 32°50' S., is considered in this paper as 
the Greater Pampa (map 1, Nos. lE^ IF, 2). It embraces, geograph- 
ically, the central one-third of the Argentine Republic. Beginning 
at the south, it includes a portion of the Territory of Rio Negro, the 
Territories of Neuquen and La Pampa, the Province of Buenos Aires, 
rather vaguely defined lowland portions of the Provinces of Cordoba, 
San Luis, and southern Santa Fe, and most of the Province of Mendoza 
(map 3). The natural environment is varied. On the extreme west 
are the Cordilleras and eastern piedmont of the Andes. The latter 
slope down gradually to the Dry Pampa of western La Pampa and 
San Luis and the lowlands of Cordoba. Continuing east, the Dry 
Pampa gives way to the Humid Pampa of eastern La Pampa and 
Buenos Aires. These plains were originally covered with clusters of 
scrubby trees and grasses, a vegetation type known as "monte." 
Toward the southeast, in the Province of Buenos Aires, the rainfall is 
heavier and the summers are cooler. Tall prairie grasses were prob- 
ably once the most important cover in this section (James, 1942, pp. 
284 ff.). 

These Pampa lands with their heavy soils were not adapted to cul- 
tivation with Indian techniques, and the region offered a barrier to 
both the Andean and Tropical Forest types of horticulture which, 
in aboriginal times, bordered the Pampa on the north. Exceptions 
to this are the settlements at the Parana Delta, where the land is wet, 
marshy, and favorable to cultivation, and the inter- Andean valley 
settlements of Mendoza, where a highland type of agriculture was 
practiced. For peoples living in either the mountains or Pampa, on a 
nonhorticultural level, the country offered resources sufficient to sus- 
tain numerous small nomadic or semisedentary groups. The rhea 
and the guanaco were the most important food animals. These were 
supplemented by deer and otter, and various small birds. Roots, 



wild fruits, and berries were gathered ; and fish and shellfish formed 
a large part of the diet of the river and coastal groups (Joyce, 1912, 
p. 246). 


With but a few exceptions, the present knowledge of Pampa arche- 
ology is due to the persistent efforts of Argentine scientists over a 
period of a great many years. Beginning with F. Ameghino (1911 and 
many other titles before and after this date) there have been a suc- 
cession of investigators. The present paper is based largely upon their 
writings. In the earlier decades Ambrosetti (1902, 1909) and Outes 
(1897, 1904 b, 1905, 1906 a, 1907, 1909, 1911, 1926 a) were outstanding 
contributors. OHveira Cezar (1895) and Lehmann-Nitsche (1916 a) 
were other important authors. These were followed by L. M. Torres 
(1922, 1923) and more recently by an outstanding leader in the field, 
Vignati (1931 a, 1931 b, 1931 c, 1931 d, 1937 a, 1937 b, 1937 c, 1939 b, 
1940, 1940-41, 1942). Other able and well-known archeologists and 
anthropologists of the contemporary scene are Serrano (1930, 1936, 
1940 a, 1940 b, 1940 c, 1940 d, 1940 e) , Marquez Miranda (1934) , Fren- 
guelli (1941), Frenguelli and Aparicio (1932), Aparicio (1935, 1940, 
1942), Greslebin (1928 a, 1928 b), Basavilbaso (1937 a, 1937 b), Bruz- 
zone (1931), and Salas (1942). 

Metraux (1929) conducted important studies in Mendoza, and has 
been followed in this region by the Argentine scientist Rusconi (1940 a, 
1940 b, 1940 c, 1940 d, 1941 a, 1941 b, 1941 c) . The Swedish investigator 
Boman (1908, 1920) and the North Americans, Hrdlicka (1912), 
Holmes (1912), and Lothrop (1932 b), must be added to this list. 
This by no means exhausts the references to the literature on Pampean 
archeology. However, from the sources cited the reader may orient 
himself in the subject. 


The basic culture throughout most of the Greater Pampa area is 
founded on a hunting and gathering economy. The artifactual re- 
mains and the nature and disposition of archeological sites imply a 
simple, conservative culture. In spite of subareal variations, the 
basic culture traits are similar or identical for the entire area. That 
this widespread Pampean culture once existed in a pure state is an 
hypothesis. Documentation, which ranges from the middle 16th to 
the early 19th century, reveals alien influence at different periods. 
Most early observers recorded a culture which had been influenced by 
important European innovations. They also reveal late Araucanian 
influences which modified the simpler culture of the Pampa. Begin- 
ning in late pre-Conquest times, traits such as metal ornaments, from 


the northwest, and, possibly, some knowledge of maize cultivation, 
from both the northwest and the northeast, were filtering into the 
Pampa. Because archeological sequences are imperfectly known for 
the southern Andean and the Parana Kiver areas, as well as the Pampa, 
it is not easy to factor out foreign elements from the old culture of the 
Pampa (Cooper, 1941, 1942 a, 1942 b). 

Stonework. — Because of the importance of hunting throughout 
the Pampa, chipped-stone weapons and implements were universal. 
Stone-tipped projectiles were used to kill game, and scrapers of all 
types to clean and treat hides. Authorities agree that the lithic in- 
dustry is an old Pampean trait complex but disagree as to its antiquity 
(Hrdlicka, 1912). An Argentine paleolithic, correlated with pre- 
Pleistocene geological periods, is still seriously considered by Argen- 
tine scientists (Frenguelli, Handbook of South American Indians, 
vol. 5). Various sites along the Atlantic coast, and elsewhere, have 
been classed as paleolithic and equated with the geologic Tertiary. 
A crude hand-ax or chipped pebble is the principal artifact type for 
this paleolithic (Ameghino, F., 1911). Holmes (1912), who studied a 
number of these hand-axes gathered by Hrdlicka from beach sites 
between the mouth of La Plata and Bahia Blanca, considered them to 
be cores, from which flakes had been struck for the manufacture of 
scrapers and projectile points, and not utilitarian objects. Outes 
(1909) considered them to be artifacts but of a relatively recent age. 
Hrdlicka (1912) also denied that the geological associations at the 
sites indicated the great antiquity claimed. 

Lack of demonstrable vertical series makes it necessary to discuss 
Pampa archeology in typological and distributional terms. This 
does not mean that all archeological material gathered to date can b© 
subsumed in a brief, recent period. Leaving aside paleolithic claims, 
it is probable that there is considerable time depth to the basic culture 
of the Pampa.^ 

Considered as a single, undifferentiated horizon, the chipped-stone 
industry presents a number of weapon and utensil types, most of 
which occur throughout the Greater Pampa, although with some dif- 
ferentials in distribution. The forms include small and large, 
stemmed and unstemmed projectile points, knives, a variety of scrap- 
ers, drills and punches, crude grooved axes, gravers, and flake knives. 
They were made by percussion and percussion combined with pressure 
flaking. In competent workmanship and their moderate abundance, 
these artifacts are, as Holmes (1912) pointed out, comparable to the 
stonework of the Middle Atlantic States of North America. 

* In fact, for the present, a horizontal segregation of sites in Buenos Aires Province sug- 
gests a pre-ceramic to ceramic sequence to Outea (1897). His differentiation between tal- 
leres (workshops for flint tools), without pottery, and paraderos (sites), with pottery, could 
be interpreted sequentially instead of functionally. 


Chipped stone is better developed in the southern Pampa than the 
northern region around Buenos Aires. Large, carefully chipped leaf- 
blade artifacts, especially stemmed projectile points, are characteris- 
tic of the Kio Colorado and Rio Negro country, but the common points 
of the north Pampa are small, stemless, and triangular. The hand-ax, 
of paleolithic mention, is a feature of the north but is lacking in the 
south. Plano-convex scrapers are present in the southern Pampa, but 
a notable northern form, the small hafted duck-bill scraper (fig. 1, 
top row), is only occasionally found there.^ 

There is less areal differentiation of ground stonework than of pro- 
jectile types. The bolas is universal in the Greater Pampa. Bolas 
stones vary in size, and are spherical, biconical, or ovoid. They were 
attached to the thong by a medial or end groove, or were tied in a 
small hide bag. The wide archeological distribution of the bolas in 
southern South America suggests antiquity .^ Numerous grinding and 
pounding tools in all parts of the area attest to the importance of 
food gathering as well as hunting in the native economy. Mortars, 
pestles, mullers or manos, grooved hammers, pitted hammer stones, and 
anvil stones are, technologically, much like those from the early hori- 
zons of the eastern United States. Polished stone lip plugs and ear- 
plugs are scattered all over the Pampa. Their original sources, or cen- 
ters of distribution, were probably northern. Pipes, the origins and 
antiquity of which are puzzling, have a modified monitor form. They 
are widely distributed. Rather elaborate polished and sometimes en- 
graved stone axes and plaques (placas grabadas) are found in the 
southern and southwestern portions of the Greater Pampa (Holmes, 
1912; Outes, 1905). 

Ceramics. — The pottery of the Greater Pampa is uniform as com- 
pared with the technologically more advanced ceramics of the Andean 
or Tropical Forest areas. It is medium- well to poorly made and fired, 
and is thicker and coarser than the Andean or Tropical Forest ware. 
Forms are simple bowls and subglobular bowls or jars. With very 
few exceptions, it is unpainted. A large percentage is undecorated. 
Decorative techniques include incising, punctating, "drag-and-jab" 
or stippled-line punctating, and textile impressing. The first three 
techniques in special combinations characterize subareas or cultural 
divisions of the Pampa. Pottery is most abundant, and is best made 
and most elaborately decorated in the northern part of Buenos Aires 
Province. Its antiquity in the Pampa cannot be known, but it is 

» The smaU hafted scraper is not common in extreme southern Patagonia until the fourth 
archeological period in that region. This is only shortly subsequent to the beginning of 
historic times. (See Bird, 1938.) 

"Bird (1938) shows bolas first appearing in his third period in southern Patagonia. 
They became much more numerous and varied in form in his fourth period. (See also 
Bird, this volume.) 



Figure 1. — Chipped-stone work from the Buenos Aires coast. Top row: Duck-bill scrapers 
from Campo Peralta and Necochea. Center row and bottom (left): Plano-convex blades 
from Campo Peralta (% natural size). Bottom (right): Nucleus of quartzite from which 
flakes have been removed (% natural size). (After Holmes, 1912, flgs. 29, 31, 27.) 



[B. A. B. Bull. 143 

definitely pre-Conquest. Its manufacture seems to have been discon- 
tinued by 1767 (Cooper, this volume). 

Miscellaneous. — Ornaments of shell and projectiles, awls, and 
punches of bone are found in many of the sites. More rarely, silver 
pins and ear ornaments and ornaments of rolled sheet copper are 
found. Metal objects, when not post-Conquest, are undoubtedly the 
result of contact with the Andean cultures to the northwest, and the 
objects themselves are probably trade pieces. 

Dwellings and burials. — Dwellings are not known from arche- 
ology, but early accounts describe them as temporary, pole-supported 
structures of a kind that leaves little archeological evidence except 
post molds. Burials were in, or near, the midden sites or sometimes 
in caves. They are both secondary and flexed primary. The bones 
often were painted before interment. 


The basic culture of the Greater Pampa contrasts with the cultures 
of adjacent areas. Its geographical limits, however, are not sharply 
marked; it has blended with adjoining cultures to form archeological 
subareas along the northwestern, northeastern, and western peripheries 
of the Pampa, which are included as parts of the Greater Pampa area 
(map 3). 

70* 69* 60* 85° 



XC^pV^l^^ y<n^. f URUGUAY ^/ 

V Luis i ^^ / W "'«^l Y 

La J/mehJ 

'\ i^^i"""\^ix~x.^^^^ 



J;^J^J 1 ^^.^^^ 


''\' ^ ; Buenos Aires V^ Atlantic 
\ LaW Pampa \t J "^ 

\ /^Neuque n >-..J-^^^^^^ V ' 


) I'l 4^¥^ '^"^^^z? i ^ ^ PAMPAS PROPER 
\ l^^^ R'o Negro /K^>J' TL OUERANDI SUB-aREA 



]\ ]\ Chubut i^ sub-area 

:^L, \ . } . 

70° 65° 60° 5S* 

Map 3. — The Greater Pampa archeological area and subareas. 


111 northwestern Argentina, the AtacaTnenan cultures of Jujuy and 
Salta and the Diaguita or Diaguita-derived cultures of Tucuman, 
La Kioja, Catamarca, San Juan, and Santiago del Estero are Andean 
in type. There is no revealed archeological evidence in these provinces 
of simpler cultures similar or comparable to those of the Pampa. 
Farther south, the highlands of Cordoba and San Luis were the seat 
of the historic groups, the Comechingon and jSanaviron, who repre- 
sent the southeastern extension of the Andean agricultural pattern 
into the country of the southern hunting tribes. There are a number 
of resemblances between the archeology of the Gomechingon-Sanaviron 
region and that of the Pampa. The intervening lowlands of southern 
San Luis and eastern Cordoba appear as a cultural borderland and 
are treated as an archeological subarea. 

On the northeast, the Pampa culture merges into that of the Parana 
Delta and into the archeological area of the Parana Kiver in eastern 
Santa Fe and Entre Eios. Influences of the Tropical Forest are dom- 
inant in the archeology of the Parana and of the Delta, but the region 
of the historic Querandi, lying in northern Buenos Aires Province 
and southern Santa Fe, while Guarani influenced, is essentially 
Pampean and forms another archeological subarea of the Greater 

Along the western border of the Pampa, in the mountains of Men- 
doza and Neuquen, is another cultural borderland or third archeolo- 
gical subarea. In this case the bordering sedentary culture which 
influenced the old Pampean pattern was probably the Araucanian of 

The Pampa proper, the habitat of the historic Puelche^ is the great, 
low-lying plains of the east and south, extending down to the Rio 
Negro, where, theoretically, occur the archeological remains of the old, 
unadulterated culture of the Southern Hunters. The Rio Negro is 
a convenient southern boundary for the Pampa, but the archeology of 
Patagonia, to the south, is closely related. 


Pampa proper. — The archeology of the Pampa proper is well 
represented by the sites on the San Bias Peninsula* (Outes, 1907; 
Torres, 1922). 

Stonework. — The lithic component from sites in the semiarid, 
desolate San Bias country consists of: Plano-convex scrapers made 
from flint flakes (fig. 1, top and center rotes) ; both the narrow blade 
and the ovate leaf -form knife; expanded-base, T-form, and slender 
spike-form drills; and projectile points, the number of types of which 

*The Hucal site in La Pampa (Outes, 1904) is culturally very similar to the sites on the 
San Bias Peninsula. 


intimate that the San Bias sites cover a considerable time range.^ Un- 
stemmed points of medium and small size are triangular or ovate, 
equilateral or elongated, and have straight or concave bases (pi. 13, 
three top row^). Stemmed points are similar in shape and propor- 
tions (pi. 13, hottom row). There are also some very small stemmed 
and unstemmed points of the delicately chipped type, called bird points 
in North America (pi. 13, top) . A number of exceptionally large, long 
points are classed as spear points. Bone tools, probably employed as 
flint-chipping implements, were associated with the flint artifacts. 

Lip plugs and earplugs, made of local stone, and polished and en- 
graved stone plaques, are present in the San Bias region. The plaques 
bear decorative figures very similar to those on some of the pottery; 
rectilinear zones and chevron figures, either plain or filled with fine 
cross-hachure, are characteristic. The engraved plaques occur south 
in Patagonia to the Rio Deseado (Serrano, 1940 a). Bolas stones, 
mortars (fig. 2, top), muUers (fig. 2, hottom), and pestles were found 
in considerable numbers on the San Bias Peninsula. 

Ceramics. — The pottery of San Bias (pi. 14) is fairly well fired 
and constructed, and is either tempered with crushed quartz or appears 
to be temperless. Forms are subspherical. Teat-shaped pot sup- 
ports, used in threes (?) or fours ( ? ) , occur. Decoration is on the 
vessel exterior, arranged in a band just below the rim. The following 
variations are noted : Simple fine-line incisions ; simple incisions com- 
bined with rows of small punctations; simple incisions with puncta- 
tions used as filler for various designs; deep groovelike incisions 
sometimes combined with deep punctations; and semilunar puncta- 
tions, made with an instrument or, possibly, the fingernail. Designs 
are either geometric or crudely drawn forms which cannot be inter- 
preted with certainty as naturalistic elements. 

L. M. Torres (1922) has postulated two ceramic periods of the San 
Bias Peninsula upon the basis of design evolution and relationships to 
other areas. He connects the fine-line incised designs with the ceramic 
and stone decorations of Patagonia, and believes them to represent 
the earlier period. He relates the grooved incising to the Buenos 
Aires coast and makes it a second period. The geographic connec- 
tions are indisputable, but the proposed sequence awaits stratigraphic 

Bv/rial. — Simple interment was practiced in the Pampa. When 
burials were secondary, the skeletons must have been cleaned of flesh 

» Bird, this volume, notes that projectile point types of his third and fourth southern 
Patagonian prehistoric periods are found in northern Patagonia. The unstemmed points 
of medium size of the Pampa proper are like those of Bird's third period. The stemmed 
triangular points match with those of his fourth period, and the small, stemmed bird points 
resemble the Ona type. The small triangular stemless point with a concave base, common 
In the Pampa, Is apparently not a part of the southern Patagonian series. 




Plate 13— Projectile points of the Pampa proper. Vicinity of SanjBlas,|Buenos Aires. Two top rows: 
Small stemless and stemmed triangular form (common in north Pampa) . Third row: Large stemless form 
(similar to Bird's. 1938, third Magellanic period). Bo?/om roii'.- Medium-sized stemmed triangular form 
(similar to Bird's, 1938, fourth Magellanic period). (4/5 natural size.) (After Holmes, 1912, pi. 13.) 

Plate 14.— Sherds from San Bias Peninsula, Buenos Aires Province, a. Grooved-incised decoration; b, 
semilunar punctations; c, d, fine-line incisions with zoned punctations; e, /, flne-line incisions combined 
with eross-hachure and rows of punctations. (After Torres, 1922, figs. 39, 40, 42, 43, 44, 45.) 


iaiW i .%3 




j.^- ^-> 


Plate 15. — Querandi sherds. Punta Piedras, Buenos Aires Province, a, b, c, d, Semilunar or elongated 
punetations within grooved-incised zones; e, punctations in incised zones; /, incisions. (After Vignati, 
1931 a, pis. 5, 6, 8.) 



/ -. ^ -^ 
I ♦ I ♦ ^ I I $ 

Plate 16.— Querandi sherds. Punta Piedras. a, Decoration combination of serried puactations and 
"drasr-and-jab" punctation-incision; 6, "drag-and-jab"; c, semilunar punctations; d, incisions or connected 
semilimai punctations. (After Vignati, 1931 a, pis. 5, 6, 8.) 

Plate 17.— Querandi sherds. Punta Lara, Buenos Aires Province, a, b, c, "Tubulares"; </, e. fine-line 
incision;/, g, grooved-incisions; h, fingernail imbricated slierd. ('2 natural size.) (After Bruzzone, 1931 
pis. 3, 5.) 

Plate 18.— Querandi bone artifacts. Arroyo Sarandi, Buenos Aires Province, a, Shaft straightener; b-d. 
socketed lance point {b is 3 in., or 7.5 em.); e, antler punch or tapping tool (105^ in., or 27 cm.); f-j, bone 
awls of various shapes and sizes (A is 4).2 in. or 11.5 cm.). (After Lothrop, 1932, figs. 71, 72.) 

Plate 19.— Pottery, Mendoza and Angol, Chile, a, b, d. e, Viluoo stvlo; c, Araucanian stvle. (a. h, d, e, 
after Mptraux, 1929, pis. 5, 7; c, courtesy D. S. Bullock.) 

Plate 20.— Polished stone artifacts. Top: Ax with engraved designs from Aguada del Chanar, Rio Xegro. 
(Length 4 in. or 9.1 cm.; width 2J.2 in. or 6.1 cm.; thickness U in., or 8 cm.) ( \fter Vignati, 1931 b, plate 
opposite page 174.) Bottom: Offertory basins from Mendoza. (Length Sk' in., or 22 cm.; width 5 in. ,or 
J2.3 cm.; depth of basin 1 in., or 2.4 cm.) (After Rusconi, 1941 a, figs. 6, 7.) 

Plate 21.— stone artifacts from Neuquen. a, Bola (J-2 natural size); b, celt (^.5 natural size); c, sohador 
(^-lo natural size); d, hafted celt from Chos Malal salt mine (U natural size). (After Aparicio, 1935, pis. 
20, 21, 22.) 

Plate 22.— Sherds from Cordoba, a, b, "J)rag-aiid-jab;" c, d,f, zoned punctations; e, so-called net-marked; 
g, net-marked or cord-marked (?). From Los Porongos, Mar Chiquita area. (After Aparieio. 1942, 
pis. 1, 2, 3.) h, i, Incised sherds. From Villa Maria. (After Outes, 1911, figs. 102, 103.) 

Vol. 1] 



FiGDRE 2. — Ground-stone work from the Buenos Aires coast. Top: Mortars of sandstone 

from Bias and Viedma (% natural size.) Bottom: Mullers or manos of granite and 

|. sandstone from Viedma and San Bias (% natural size). (After Holmes, 1912, fig. 35.) 

before inhumation. A few rather elaborately painted skulls, with 
red, black, yellow, and green on a single skull, have been recorded 
(Vignati, 1937 a). 

Querandi. — The archeology of the Querandi subarea is concerned 
with those sites south and west of the Parana and La Plata Rivers, 
in the historic habitat of the Querandi tribe. Arroyo Sarandi (Loth- 
rop, 1932 b), a delta site near Buenos Aires, and sites in the Lake 
Chascomus and Lake Lobos (Outes, 1897) region of northern Buenos 
Aires Province are representative. Additional sites containing very 
similar archeological finds are those of Rio de las Conchas (Oliveira 
Cezar, 1895), Punta Piedras (Vignati, 1931 a), Punta Lara (Bruz- 
zone, 1931), and Rio Matanzas (Basavilbaso, 1937 a). The southern 
limits of the Querandi archeological subarea are not clearly defined. 

Sites. — The village sites attributed to the Querandi are shallow 
refuse mounds representing at least semipermanent living places, 
Arroyo Sarandi, located on the intermediate ground between the flood 
plain of the river and the higher ground of the Pampas, is a thin 
rubbish site, apparently several acres in extent. Outes (1897) 
describes some of the midden sites, or paraderos, in the Chascomus- 

583486 — 46 3 


Lobos region as 45 to 165 yards (40 to 150 m.) square, and others as 
much larger, although these latter may not be deposits of continuous 
refuse. Sherds, flint artifacts, and other objects are scattered over 
the surface of the sites and distributed through the midden. 

Ceramics. — Certain pottery is very similar to that found else- 
where in the Pampa, but some types are uniquely Qiterandi, so that 
the total pottery complex differs from that of the Pampa proper. 
The Querandi ware is generally the hardest and best made. The 
temper is sand, grit, or tiny smooth pebbles, although Punta Piedras 
( Vignati, 1931 a) is exceptional in that both ground-sherd and vegetal- 
fiber temper were reported. Thickness of vessel walls ranges from 
2 mm. to 2.5 cm. There are no composite or other unusual vessel 
forms. Hemispherical bowls and shallow bowls with plain and re- 
curved rims, and sometimes with small tubular spouts set just below 
the rim, are typical. 

Most Querandi pottery is plain or is decorated with punctations 
or incisions (fig. 3). Red and white pigments are used sparingly, 
sometimes being applied as a slip of the entire vessel, but more often 
as bands forming rim borders (fig. 4, bottom). Sometimes red zones 
or bands are enclosed with incised lines (fig. 4, top). Lothrop 
(1932 b) mentions Arroyo Sarandi as the southernmost occurrence of 
painted pottery on the Atlantic coast, but it has since been reported 
farther south but still within the La Plata district (Vignati, 1931 a). 

The Querandi painted decoration was undoubtedly an idea received 
from their Guarani neighbors. A horizontal stratification at Punta 
Lara suggests that Guarani influences were added to the Qu£randi 
complex, presumably at a later time. Bruzzone (1931) found grooved- 
incised and "drag-and-jab" incised pottery together on one area of the 
site; and found the same types associated with red-zoned and finger- 
nail-imbricated (pi. 17, h) were segregated on a contiguous but sep- 
arate part of the site. 

The incised and punctate Querandi decoration is arranged in a 
band encircling the vessel exterior just below the rim. Incision is 
usually of the deep-grooved rather than the fine-line variety. Other 
techniques include deep rectangular or triangular punctations (pi. 
16, a), stippled line or "drag-and-jab" incision-punctation (pi. 16, 
a, h; fig. 3), and semilunar punctations that do not appear to be 
fingernail impressions. These techniques are combined into the fol- 
lowing designs: Borders consisting of a series of parallel grooved, 
straight or wavy lines ; similar borders done with "drag-and-jab" lines ; 
rectilinear or undulating zones outlined with grooved lines and filled 
with semilunar punctations (pi. 15, a, &, <?, d) ; stepped, triangular, 
and connected diamond designs which may be filled with punctations 



Figure 3. — Querandi incised sherds from Arroyo Sarandi. All are examples of "drag-and- 
jab" or stippled line incision (length of bottom sherd 4 in., or 10 em.). (After Lothrop, 
1932, pi. 23.) 



[B. A. E. Bdll. 143 

Figure 4.— 
with red. 

Painted sherds from Arroyo Sarandf. Top: Sherds with incised zones filled 
Bottom: Use of red bands, no incisions. (After Lothrop, 1932, figs. 56, 54.) 

(pi. 15, e) ; and stepped and other rectilinear designs executed by rows 
of deep punctations. Occasionally fine-line cross-hachure is noted on 
vessel interiors. Both the "drag-and-jab" technique and the designs 
composed only of rectilinear arrangements of rows of deep puncta- 
tions are Querandi features, or, at least, are more common in northern 
Buenos Aires around the Parana River than in the southern Pampa. 
(See Lothrop, 1932 b, pp. 155-56, for a discussion of decoration 
variations and their distributions.) 

Ceramic objects other than pottery from Querandi sites include per- 
forated pottery disks, possibly spindle whorls (found south to Pata- 
gonia), and "tubulares," or "pot-rests" (pi. 17, «, 5, c; fig. 5, left) 
(from delta Querandi and Guarani sites). The latter are hollow, 
more or less tubular objects. Quite possibly they are also a diffused 

Vol. 1] 



Guarani trait. Lothrop (1932 b) lists a single pottery pipe from 
Arroyo Sarandi. 

Stoneioork. — Chipped-stone projectile points are mainly un- 
stemmed, small, and triangular. Plano-convex round and elliptical 
scrapers, including the duck-bill type, are common in the Lake Chas- 
comus region. Stone mortars and grinders are found in Querandi 
sites, and accord with the historical accounts of their use for grinding 
fish. Bolas, both spherical and oval, are common. 

Figure 5. — Querandi artifacts from Arroyo Sarandi. Left: "Tubular," or pot-rest 
(restored height 7 in., or 18 cm.). Right: Bone arrow point (length 2% in., or 6 cm.). 
(After Lothrop, 1932, figs. 62, 70.) 

Miscellaneous. — Socketed bone points with a long narrow tang and 
a single flat barbed and stemmed bone blade (fig. 5, right) were re- 
covered at Arroyo Sarandi. Querandi sites of the Delta abound in 
bone tools (pi. 18), including sharpened fish spines, pierced horn 
implements probably used to string fish, awls of all types, and bone 
pegs which appear to have been used on spear throwers. The scarcity 
of large, stemmed stone points in Querandi sites suggests that bone or 
wooden points must have often been used to tip the spears. Objects 
of personal adornment were made of shell or hammered metal. 


Burials. — Burials occur in the shallow refuse at Arroyo Sarandi. 
They are about numerically divided, half secondary and half primary 
interments. Secondary burials sometimes comprise masses of bone 
with the remains of several individuals. The primary burials are 
extended. Burial offerings do not accompany the dead. Lothrop 
(1932 b) suggests that, as the secondary burial was the widespread 
aboriginal Pampean custom, primary burial may be a European in- 
novation. European objects found in the midden at Arroyo Sarandi 
clearly indicate that occupation of the site extended into the post- 
Contact period. 

Mendoza-Neuquen. — This archeological subarea diverges from the 
Pampa proper more than the Qicerandi, perhaps because the unique 
traits found in the mountains of Mendoza and Neuquen came relatively 
late from the Andean cultures, and therefore stand out in stark relief 
against the old Pampean culture pattern. Guarani traits, which are 
the exotic elements in Querandl, are, on the other hand, probably 
much older importations that were more thoroughly integrated into 
the local picture. 

A good many of the non-Pampean archeological elements of the re- 
gion occur at Viluco, a site in northern Mendoza. There is disagree- 
ment as to the origin and relationships of the Viluco culture. Boman 
(1920) sees Viluco as a 16th-century Puelche or Huarpe site. Metraux 
(1929 a), in a later analysis, argues that it is a post-Contact site of 
Araucania7i origin. L. M. Torres (1923) concurs in Metraux's view, 
while Canals Frau (this volume, p. 170) inclines to attribute the 
Viluco type archeological complex to the Huarpe. 

Boman concluded that Viluco was an agricultural community, which 
practiced irrigation to sustain crops in a rather inhospitable en- 
vironment. He opened a number of graves in a cemetery area at the 
site. These graves were 3 to 5 feet (1 to 1.5 m.), or less, in depth 
and each contained a flexed burial or burials. The accompanying 
grave artifacts were of both aboriginal and European manufacture. 
The latter, which include iron lances, iron nails, glass beads, and 
Christian religious medals, place the burials and probably the entire 
site as post-Conquest. 

Some of the grave pottery is painted, and there are a number of 
unusual forms, especially a small, single-handled pitcher or jar and 
a single-handled kero or beaker (pi. 19, a, 6, d, e). The painted 
pottery has a dull red or buff background with black, red, white, or 
red and black designs. The designs are geometric stepped figures, 
zigzags, nested triangles, bands or zones segmented into compart- 
ments, fields of checks, parallel straight or wavy lines, dots, and stars. 
Except for the painted ware, the majority of vessels, including the 
pitcher with single handle, and the sherds are a plain black. No 
simple incised or punctated pottery of a Pampean type was found 

VOL. 1] 



at Viluco, although a few basketry-impressed sherds, resembling those 
from Cordoba, were obtained. 

There is agreement that the Viluco pottery is generically Andean, 
but its more exact relationships have not been determined. In the 
writer's opinion, there is little specific similarity to the classic Andean 
Tiahuanaco-Epigonal and Nazca styles. The Diaguita style of North- 
west Argentina has only a slightly greater resemblance to Viluco. 
Comparisons to what is probably Araucanian pottery, across the 
Andes, are more rewarding (pi. 19, c). The single-handled pitcher 
or jar is a characteristic Araucanian form (Latcham, 1928), and 
Araucanian pottery utilizes dark-red designs on a neutral buff ground 
and has similar designs. 

Additional features in the Viluco graves which relate that site to 
Chilean Araitcanian are pottery whistles (fig. 6), pyramidal dice, 

Figure 6. — Silbato, or whistle of pottery. Cemetery of Viluco, Mendoza. Rusted iron 
nail adhering to whistle (% natural size). (After Boman, 1920, fig. 9.) 


and brass ear ornaments. Metraux (1929) considers the pictographs 
of the immediate region of Viluco to be Araucanian, although he re- 
gards the pictographs in extreme northern Mendoza as Diaguita. 

The projectile points found at Viluco (Torres, L. M,, 1923; Boman, 
1920) are all of the small, unstemmed variety, very similar to those of 
the Pampa proper.^ Other sites in Mendoza yield microlithic points, 
quite different from any in the Pampa region. Other Pampa traits at 
Viluco are spherical and pyriform bolas, a bone lip plug, and shell 
necklaces and perforated shell disks. These last are, interestingly, 
made of Pacific as well as Atlantic shells. Square-bodied copper 
punches and wooden beads found in some of the graves may or may 
not be of aboriginal origin. 

Wliether or not Viluco was an Araucanian or Euarpe site is, of 
course, not conclusively proved by its archeology. A very strong case 
can be made to demonstrate that its material remains are closely 
related to Chilean Araucanian. It is, of course, possible that the Arau- 
canian features, including agriculture, were borrowed and rapidly 
assimilated by a simple, nonhorticultural people, such as the Euarpe. 
Such an assumption supposes a very quick and complete change in the 
underlying mode of life of a peripheral Pampa people. Archeological 
evidence indicates a relatively brief and late period to be involved. 
Presumably, Pampean peoples had been living in close proximity to 
Andean agriculturists for several hundred years previous to the Euro- 
pean Conquest without basically changing the Pampean mode of life. 
It seems doubtful that such a swift acculturation of non-European ele- 
ments took place after the Conquest. 

Although the Viluco site is representative of many of the distinctive 
features of the Mendoza-Neuquen subarea, other non-Pampean finds 
have been made in the mountain valleys of the two provinces. The 
subterranean granaries, lined with tied sticks and clay-capped, and the 
above-ground rock structures of the Uspallata Valley are clearly non- 
Pampean features (Rusconi, 1940 b).^ Basketry, to judge from bas- 
ketry-impressed sherds, must have been a prehistoric as well as an 
historic and modern native industry. There are deep, man-made 
holes in large stationary rocks, presumably mortars for grinding food 
(Rusconi, 1940 c). Stone lip plugs both of the flat Pampean variety 
and of an elongated spike form (Rusconi, 1940 d) obtain in Mendoza. 
More unusual artifacts are the Fuentes de Of rendas, or offertory basins, 
made of steatite or pottery. These are somewhat like the snuff tablets 
from Northwest Argentina, although the former are ovoid rather 
than quadrangular. A typical specimen shown by Rusconi (1941 a) 

* Larger stemmed points are found at other sites in Mendoza, as at Cocliico (Outes, 
1906 a). 

* Tile pottery from these rocli structures, or Tambillos, is, in the judgment of the writer, 
quite similar to the Viluco style. (See Rusconi, 1940 b.) 

Vol.1] archeology OF THE GREATER PAMPA — WILLEY 41 

is 8.7 inches (220 mm.) in length, 4.8 inches (123 mm.) in width, and 
1 inch (25 mm.) deep, and has a projection at one end whiich seems 
to be a crude animal effigy head (pi. 20, hottom). The sides and bot- 
tom bear designs resembling those on the stone plaques and axes of 
Neuquen, Rio Negro, and Patagonia. An interesting monitor-type 
pipe (Rusconi, 1941 b) from the Department of San Rafael is also 
made of steatite, in the form of an animal. The tobacco bowl is in 
the animal's stomach and the self-stem is the tail. The pipe is be- 
lieved to have been a trade piece from the northwest. 

In Neuquen, to the south, the chipped-stone artifacts (fig. 7) are 
much like those of Mendoza except that the large stemmed projectile 
points are found in addition to the small stemless points. Some of the 
latter are carefully and delicately chipped of obsidian. Ground-stone 
weapons and grinding tools are like those of the Pampa proper, but, 
in addition, there are curious maul-shaped objects called sobadors 
(Ai^aricio, 1935). These are approximately 6 inches (15 cm.) long 
with a cylindrical body and a round, flattened head. Made of porous 
rock, they are said to have been used for the pounding and depilation 
of skins (pi. 21, c). 

Neuquen pottery is apparently simpler than that of Viluco. Sherds 
from the Lake Lacar site, while mostly plain except for a few incised 
fragments, differ from Pampa pottery in having handles. The plain 
red and plain pottery vessels uncovered near Covunco Centro are iden- 
tical in form to the little single-handled jars from Viluco. This 
Covunco Centro ware is said to be modern (or relatively late) 
Araucanian (Aparicio, 1935). 

Stone celts (pi. 21, h, d) and axes of distinctive forms have been 
found in Neuquen. The latter have an abrupt central constriction 
while others are more like an inverted "T" in outline. They are usually 
flat and thin in cross section, well polished, and may be engraved. 
They are sometimes called "pillan toki," or votive axes (Ambrosetti, 
1902 ; Vignati, 1931 b) . They have been found in Mendoza, La Pampa, 
Rio Negi'o (pi. 20, top)^ and Patagonia. The engi-aved designs on 
some of the axes are similar to those on the engraved plaques of Rio 
Negro (fig. 8) and Patagonia. Some authorities consider the axes to 
be Araucanian. 

San Luis-Cordoba lowlands. — There are fewer data available on 
this subarea than the others. It is possible that the lowland country 
between the mountains of Cordoba and San Luis and the Parana 
River was very sparsely occupied in prehistoric and early historic 
times. The little material from this country appears to be related 
to the Cordoban highland and the Pampean and Querandi cultures. 

Pottery. — Pottery from Villa Maria, in the lowlands of central Cor- 
doba, is described as mostly a plain ware with quartzite and mica 



Figure 7. — Chipped-stone artifacts from Neuqu6n. Top: Pointed scraper. Bottom: Plano- 
convex knife with fine retouch. (Both natural size.) (After Aparicio, 1935, figs. 3, 5.) 


FiGDRE 8. — Engraved stone plaque from Rfo Negro. Obverse and reverse. (After Greslebin, 
1928 b, pi. 2.) 

temper, poorly fired but well smoothed (Outes, 1911). The decorated 
sherds are grooved-incised (pi. 22, h, i). Pottery from the region of 
Mar Chiquita in the lowlands of northern Cordoba resembles the 
Parana littoral in its "drag-and-jab" technique of decoration (pi. 22, 
a, b). Some sherds from Mar Chiquita are decorated with incised 
zones filled with punctations (pi. 22, c, 6?, /) , a combination suggesting 
the south, although the small pottery sample makes this a very tentative 
judgment. More abundant at Mar Chiquita is a net-impressed pottery 
(pi. 22, e, g), which is probably Andean derived (Aparicio, 1942).^ 
One sherd with a handle was included in a recent collection. 

Burial. — A single primary inhumation of a flexed, articulated, but 
decapitated, burial was excavated at a site near Mar Chiquita. The 
primary flexed inhumation is the Andean rather than the Pampean 
mode of disposal of the dead (Frenguelli and Aparicio, 1932). 

'"'• Homos.'''' — Various Argentine archeologists (Greslebin, 1928 a; 
Eusconi, 1940 c; Frenguelli, 1941) have commented upon the curious 
oUa-shaped earth ovens or storage pits which are an outstanding fea- 
ture of the San Luis-Cordoba region and are also found in Santa Fe 
and Mendoza. These "hornos," or "botijas," range in width from li/^ 
to 3 feet (0.5 to 1 m.), and in depth from ll^ to 134 feet (40 to 60 cm.) . 

8 Some of these sherds may possibly be cord-wrapped paddle stamped rather than net- 



B. A. E. Bull. 143 

When intact they are apparently globular, bemg narrower at the mouth 
than at the midpoint. The "homos" lie entirely beneath the present 
ground level except for the rim of the mouth. This rim and the upper 
walls of the "horno" are of well-fired clay. The lower third of the 
walls and the base is unfired and usually filled with carbonized vegetal 
material (fig. 9). There are variations in form, although in some 
cases these appear to be the result of erosion. 




Figure 9. — Cross section of two "homos," or "botijas." From Los Baldes, San Luis. 
1, Vegetal ash ; 2, burned earth from direct action of fire ; 3, heterogenous carbonized 
vegetal matter; 4, sandy soil. (After Greslebin, 1928 a, fig. 7.) 


The immediate surroundings and orientation of the "hornos" have 
been of little help in determining their function. Usually they are 
clustered, without any apparent purposeful arrangement or spacing. 
Wliether they were situated inside dwellings, or even within camp 
areas, is not known. Sometimes, sherds and flint scrap found nearby 
indicate a village; at other times, the pits are remote from any evi- 
dence of human habitation. The "hornos" have been considered as 
ovens for firing pottery, ovens for cooking food, storage pits for pre- 
serving fires, repositories for cremated remains of the dead, and 
reservoirs.^ The last two purposes seem ruled out by the nature of the 
"hornos" and by their contents or lack of contents. Unless new data 
of a revealing sort are added to present knowledge, speculation upon 
their function appears futile. 


The conclusions to a summary of Pampa archeology lead into ques- 
tions from almost every point of departure. We know that, stripped 
of Guarani or other presumably Tropical Forest traits and elements 
derived from the Highland cultures of the northwest or the Arauca- 
nian to the west, there is left a certain cultural residue in the Pampa. 
It has been referred to here as the "basic culture" of the Greater 
Pampa. Within this residue we observe that the trait of pottery 
making and decorating was most developed in the north near the La 
Plata and Parana Rivers, and that there was a diminution of the 
pottery trait to the south. This fact, combined with the absence of 
pottery from all prehistoric periods at the extreme south of the 
continent, is a reasonable argument for supposing that pottery mak- 
ing diffused from north to south. Does then, the fine-line incised 
pottery from the southern Pampa represent an earlier pottery period 
than the incised Querandi wares in northern Buenos Aires Province ? 
If so, a similar style might be found stratigraphically beneath 
Querandi pottery in the north. 

In like manner, do the stemmed points and engraved stone plaques 
of the south belong to such a pre-Quercmdi horizon in the north? 
Or is the medium-sized, stemmed projectile point derived from the 
south? Bird's data (1938) suggest the latter. We know almost 
nothing concerning the age of bolas in the Pampa except that they are 
prehistoric. In Patagonia they are considered a very late, post- 
Contact importation from the Pampa. Yet Bird (1938) has strati- 
graphic evidence at the Strait of Magellan to show that bolas have a 
respectable antiquity. Are they older there than in the Pampa? 
Were they developed in the far south? These are only a few of the 
questions that cannot be answered without further evidence. 

• It has also been suggested that they are natural formations. 


It appears that the immediate tasks in Pampa archeology are: 
first, to determine a sequence within the Pampa; second (or concur- 
rently), to establish a chronology for the richer archeological regions 
of the northwest and northeast; and third, to prove relationship 
or lack of relationship between these two sequences and to compare 
the results with the sequence at the Strait of Magellan. Did a cul- 
tural complex that is technologically equated with and typologically 
similar to that of the Pampa underlie such cultures as the Diaguita 
or Santiaguena in the northwest and survive in the Pampa ? Or, on 
the other hand, if Pampa cultures are not marginal survivals of an 
old culture layer, are they the product of a people who were forced 
out of the Andean or Tropical Forest orbit of living, and who adjusted 
to an inhospitable environment? The answers to these questions, 
more fundamental to New World prehistory than the Pampean- 
Patagonian relationships discussed above, await the interrelation of 
cultural stratigraphic sequences. Such stratigraphy need not neces- 
sarily involve a great time span or be cross-referenced to major 
geologic phenomena. In all likelihood it can best be calibrated by the 
small stylistic changes and frequency-count variations of the stratified 
materials within individual archeological sites. 


For bibliographic references, see page 26. 


By John M. Cooper 


The circa 300-mile strip of the southern Chilean archipelago, from 
about 43°30' to 48° S. lat., which constituted the habitat of the 
Chono, is a region of hilly islands, deep fiords, and tortuous channels, 
in which travel was of necessity mostly by water (map 1, No. IC ; 
map 2). The Chono were, like the Alacaluf and Yahgcm, a distinctly 
canoe people. The climate is marked by a predominance of damp, 
cloudy days, by very high rainfall in all seasons, well over the 80-inch 
(200 cm.) per year mean, by strong to violent prevalent westerly winds, 
and by temperatures cool without being severe. The islands and 
mainland coast are mostly covered with dense, extremely wet, tem- 
perate rain forest. 


The northern limit of Chono territory — the dividing line between 
the southernmost Araucanians of southern Chiloe and the northern- 
most Chono of the Guaitecas Islands region — was Corcovado Gulf, 
as is clear from our 16th-, I7th-, and early 18th-century first-hand 
sources, Goicueta, Ferrufino, Venegas, Pietas, and Olivares. That the 
early Chono lived or wandered as far south as the Taitao Peninsula is 
reasonably clear from Garcia. They probably extended a little farther 
south, to the Gulf of Pefias and the Guaianeco Islands, at least in the 
middle or later 18th century, but the point is open to some question, 
as the Chono ethnic identity with or relation to the ^^Huilli^'' '•''Cauca- 
hue^'' and '■'■Guaiguen''' of this region just south of Taitao Peninsula 
is none too clear. (Cf. below. Names and Divisions and Language, 
and detailed review and discussion of evidence in Cooper, 1917, pp. 

The Chono were in contact from very early times with the Arauca- 
nians of Chiloe. They raided the Chilotans to secure iron and other 
plunder ; the Chilotans raided the Chono and took women and children 
as captives. The Chono of the Guaitecas Islands used to capture 
'"'■Huillis''' farther south, to keep them in a sort of drudgery servitude, 
and to sell them to the Chilotans. 




The name Chono (etymology unknown), probably the name which 
the people called themselves, was first recorded in Ferrufino's letter 
of 1610. Other tribal denominations used by early Spanish writers 
for natives living in the region between Chiloe and the Guaianeco 
Islands are: HuiUi {HuiJle; from Araucanian willi, "south"), Cauca- 
hue {Cauccm; Araucanian kaukau, "gull"), and Guaiguen {Arauca- 
nian waiwen, "south" [wind]). Some at least of these '•''Jluilli,''^ 
^^Caucau,''^ and ^^Guaiguen'^ were probably Chono. In the said region 
there may possibly have been more distinct tribes than one, or two 
or more well-constituted subdivisions of one tribe, but we have no 
clear evidence thereof (Cooper, 1917, pp. 30-34). 


Contact was first made by Whites with the Chono on the Ulloa ex- 
pedition in 1553. Our first description of them was given by Goicueta, 
the chronicler of the Cortes Hojea expedition of 1557-58. A half- 
century later, some further data on Chono anthropology were gotten 
with the advent of the Jesuit missionaries, Fathers Estevan, Ferrufino, 
and Venegas, to Chiloe and the Guaitecas Islands in 1609-13 — data 
recorded in the Cartas Annas (1927), and cited or drawn upon in the 
writings of Fathers del Techo, Rosales, Olivares, and Lozano. 
Around the middle of the 18th century, some further light was shed 
on Chono anthropology by Byron, Campbell, Bulkeley and Cummins, 
and the anonymous author of the Affecting Narrative, who were mem- 
bers of the crew of the IFa^er, which was shipwrecked on the Guaitecas 
Islands in May 1741 ; and by Father Garcia in his account of his mis- 
sionary expedition of 1766-67 to the Guaianeco Islands. Since then 
additions to our knowledge of Chono culture have been negligible. 
Nearly all our exceedingly scant information, from the sources, on the 
history, territory, culture, and language of the Chono, has been sum- 
marized and discussed in Cooper (1917, passim.) . 


Not a single word of the Chonoan language has come down to us, 
except, perhaps, the word Chono itself, three names of unidentified 
birds (colman [ = cormorant?, to judge from context], optem, piupi- 
gue : Garcia, J., 1889, pp. 5, 13, 24) , and a few tribal, personal, and geo- 
graphical names. The three words listed by Fitz-Roy (1839, Appen- 
dix, p. 142) as Chonoan were more likely Alacalufan. Ferrufino's 
(1927, p. Ill) and Estevan's (Torres, D., 1927 b, p. 380) manuscripts 
in and on the Chonoan language have been lost, perhaps irretrevably. 
From our historical sources on the Chono, however, certain general 
conclusions regarding their language can be formulated. 

Vol.1] the CHONO — COOPER 49 

That the Chono spoke a tongue distinct from the Araucanian of 
southern Chile and of Chiloe is abundantly testified, and there is no 
ground for assuming that Chono may have been a highly divergent dia- 
lect or language of the Araucanian family. That they spoke a Te- 
hueJchean-Onan {Chon) dialect is extremely unlikely. That their 
language was distinct from that of the Alacaluf or of the archipelagic 
canoe-using natives immediately south of them, beyond about 48° S. 
lat., is slightly more probable than not, but such difference, if it existed, 
may have been merely dialectic. In any case, we have no even near- 
solid scientific ground for classifying Chono as a distinct isolated lin- 
guistic family. (Cf. Cooper, 1917, pp. 34-41, for discussion of evi- 


Our various first-hand accounts of Chono territory indicate that it 
was thinly populated, but exact data on the total population are not 
available. We have only a few figures, from missionary records. The 
Jesuit missionaries baptized 220 Chono of the Guaitecas Islands re- 
gion and estimated that there were not more than 50 other Chono at 
the time, 1G12-13, in the region (Venegas, 1927, p. 382). A century 
later, in 1710, hard pressed by raids both of the Chilotans and of more 
southern Indians, 30 Chono families, and, shortly after, 200 families 
or more than 500 souls, were settled under the Jesuit missionaries on 
Huar and two other islands in the Gulf of Reloncavi. They or some 
of them were still there in 1736, but in 1795 Moraleda found no Indians 
on Huar. 

In 1745 some Guaineco Islands Indians were brought back and 
established on Chonchi Island under mission auspices. In 1765 the 
Island of Cailin, just off the southeastern coast of Chiloe, was set aside 
as a mission for the Chono, and thither came many Caucahue and 
later Calen. In 1779, 11 Guaineco were persuaded by Fathers Marin 
and Real to return with them to Chiloe. In 1780, 30 or 32 came to 
Lemui Island, off the central eastern Chiloe coast, but left about a 
year afterward. In 1780-81 the Chono established on Cailin moved 
to Chaulinec Island, east of Lemui. In 1788 Moraleda reported 21 
or 22 families of Chono on Apiao Island, east of Chaulinec. In 1790 
the surviving 22 Chono on Chaulinec returned to Cailin. 

After this date the Chono\s trail is lost almost completely until 1875, 
when Captain E. Simpson came across a sole family of "6'A6>/io" in 
Puquitin Channel between Ascension Island and the Guaitecas Islands. 
We have no later reports of surviving Chono. All later observers 
since 1875 have declared that the islands north of Taitao Peninsula 
were uninhabited except by a few Whites or Chilotan Indians. The 
Chono appear to have become completely extinct, unless they were 
from the beginning, as is not improbable, only a branch of the Alacaluf, 

583486—46 4 


and later merged with their Alacaluf fellows south of the Taitao 
Peninsula (Cooper, 1917, p. 46-47). 


Our knowledge of Chono culture is exceedingly meager. No single 
survey covers even material culture in any detail, while social and 
religious culture is an almost complete blank. Our most important 
first-hand sources, such as they are, are Goicueta ([1557-58] 1879), 
Ferrufino (1927), Venegas (1927), Campbell (1747), Byron (1768), 
and Garcia, J. ([1766-67] 1889). The data given in Del Techo 
(1673), Rosales (1877-78), Olivares (1874), and Lozano (1754-55) 
are largely derived from Ferrufino and Venegas. In the following 
pages the data on the canoe-using Indians from J, Garcia and Byron 
are cited as Chonoan. Inasmuch, however, as their '-''Caucah.ue''' and 
'•'"Chono''' respectively cannot be shown beyond all doubt to have been 
true Chono ^ the citations are made with some reserve. 

In most respects, Chono culture, so far as known, was identical with 
or similar to that of the Alacaluf. Certain elements of Araucanian 
culture had spread down the coast as far at least as the Guaitecas 
Islands. Such were: sporadic gardening and herding, the polished 
stone ax, and the plank boat. Such diffusion is readily understand- 
able in view of the known raiding and trading contacts of the Guaite- 
cas islanders with the Chilotans (Cooper, 1917, pp. 43-45). 

There is no evidence of Tehuelche influence upon Chono culture, 
although the Chono may possibly have been in sporadic contact with 
the Tehuelche along the mainland coast. The "gigantic" Caucahue 
described by some sources, as distinct perhaps from the smaller-stat- 
ured Caucahue described by others, who were observed at various times 
in or near Chono territory, may possibly have been of Tehuelche stock, 
but the point is very far from clear. 


Fish, shellfish, and seals constituted the basic diet. Birds, eggs, and 
stranded whales were also eaten. Water and seal oil were the custom- 
ary beverages. 

No systematic agriculture was carried on, but there is some evidence 
of sporadic cultivation, even in pre-Contact times, of the potato in the 
Guaitecas Islands region (Goicueta, 1879, p. 513), and, in the post- 
Contact period, of maize and barley. 

Before the coming of the Whites, the only domesticated animal was 
the dog. Some of the Chono north of Taitao Peninsula bred small, 
long-haired, shaggy-maned dogs, and from their hair made short man- 
tles. In later times, the Chono kept a few sheep and goats. 

Vol.1] the CHONO — COOPER 51 

Cormorants were taken at night with torches and clubs. In seal 
hunting a "lazo" (not a lasso) and a long heavy club were used by 
the Caucahue (Garcia, J., 1889, p. 6). "Canquen" {Chloephaga, a 
goose) , when molting and unable to fly, were rounded up and driven 
to land by throwing pebbles at them from canoes, and were then 
slaughtered with clubs (Garcia, J., 1889, p. 37). For other hunting 
weapons, see page 52. 

The women were accustomed to dive for shellfish. According to 
Goicueta (1879, p. 518), the Chorio used a wooden fishhook, but there 
is some doubt about this. Fish nets were made of bark fiber; seal 
nets, of rawhide. The dogs were trained to help in the fishing. 

Hot stones were employed for boiling fish in bark buckets. Seal 
meat was sometimes eaten raw, a piece being put in the mouth and 
cut off close to the lips with a shell (Garcia, J., 1889, p. 23). 


Huts were of sticks covered with boughs, bark, or skin. Those 
observed by Byron (1768, p. 123) were of beehive or domed construc- 
tion, the framework consisting of branches stuck in the ground in a 
circle and bent over at the top, where they were bound with a kind 
of woodbine, split by holding in the teeth. Those described by 
Venegas (1927, p. 381) were, inside, barely the length of a man's 
body and so low that one had to kneel in order to keep from touching 
the top. In some cases, only the bark or skin cover was carried 
around in the canoe from camp to camp; in other cases, the pole 
framework as well. The hearth was in the center of the hut. 


Clothing, including short mantles covering the shoulders only and 
longer ones reaching to a little below the waist, was of skin, woven 
dog's hair, bark, and woven down or feathers. A pubic covering, 
made of large, hard leaves (kelp?) cast up by the sea, was also used 
(Ferrufino, 1927, p. 111). No head or hand covering or footwear 
is reported. 

Red, white, and black face and body painting was in use. The 
tonsure was sometimes worn. Scarification was practiced; but no 
tattooing is recorded, nor is any form of bodily mutilation, or of 
finger, ear, or nose ornament. Necklaces of shell and bone, and 
feather diadems were in vogue. Garcia, J. (1889, p. 28) observed one 
man around the north end of Fallos Channel with two bird wings 
on his head. 


Travel was almost entirely by water. No rafts, balsas, skin boats, 
or dugouts are reported. As early as first European contact, in 


1553, the plank boat, similar to the one used by the Araucanians of 
Corcovado Gulf, was employed by the Chono between Corcovado 
Gulf and Cape Tres Montes. It was originally of three planks, 
caulked with bark, and made, without axes or adzes, with use of fire, 
flints, and shells. Usually it leaked a good deal and required much 
bailing. There was a portage route from the Chonos Archipelago 
across the Isthmus of Ofqui to the Gulf of Pehas ; the jilank boat was 
taken apart for portaging and put together again at the end of the 
portage. In later times, from about 1767, a sail was sometimes used. 
In the middle 16th century, south of the Gulf of Peiias, only bark 
canoes were used; these were made of thick slabs of bark, and were 
of crescent shape. In the course of time, the plank boat largely re- 
placed the bark canoe, gradually spreading down the coast from the 
Gulf of Pehas and being first reported in the Strait of Magellan, near 
the western end, in 1765 (Cooper, 1917, pp. 195-204 passim.). 


Pottery was absent. The Chono "wove" mantles or blankets of 
dog's hair, of bark fiber (presumably woven) , and of bird down, but no 
details on technique are available. Nor have we any information on 
basket making, skin dressing, or stoneworking. Buckets were made 
of bark. The flint axes and adzes attributed to the Chono by Pietas 
(1846, p. 503) were not unlikely of Chilotan origin, as were the stone 
axes that have been occasionally found in Chono territory (Cooper, 
1917, pp. 44-45, 217). Some kind of stone and shell tool was used 
in making plank boats. 

Weapons. — The usual hunting weapons were the spear and club, 
the former with a head of bone, probably single-barbed. Byron states 
( 1768, p. 129 ) that the natives, most likely Chono ^ but not certainly so, 
with whom he was in contact used "bows and arrows sometimes, but 
always the lance"; all other first-hand observers are silent, and no 
arrowheads appear to have been found archeologically in Chono ter- 
ritory. Neither slings nor spear throwers are reported. 

Fire. — Torches were made of bark. There is no information on 
fire-making methods. 


On the nonmaterial aspects of Chono culture we have only the few 
scattered fragments of information that follow. 

Marriage. — Garcia, J. (1889, p. 42) reported his Chono as monoga- 
mous. The '"'■Chono'''' cacique who guided Byron from Wager Island 
to Chiloe apparently had two wives, an older and a much younger 
one, perhaps a mother and her daughter by a previous marriage ; it is 
very doubtful, however, whether he was a real Chono or was repre- 
sentative of Chono culture (Cooper, 1917, p. 76, 165-66). 


Political life. — The Chono had some kind of headmen or chiefs, 
but what authority they had, if any, is uncertain. Delco, the "cacique 
principal" of the Guaitecas Islands, was at the same time an appointee 
of the Spanish authorities of Chiloe (Ferrufino, 1927, p. 110). 

The Chono raiding expeditions among their neighbors to the south 
and north have been previously noted (see Territory). Chono 
weapons were spears, clubs, and stones. There is no report of shields 
or armor, and cannibalism is not recorded. 

Economic life. — The Chono were in trading relations with the 
Chilotans. Besides serving as middlemen in taking captives among 
their southern neighbors and selling them to the Chilotans as "slaves," 
the Chono themselves kept some of these captives in a kind of drudgery 

Gathering fuel, diving for sea urchins, and searching among the 
rocks for shellfish were tasks of the women ; cutting poles for the hut, 
sealing, and apparently cormorant hunting, tasks of the men. 


In one case reported, a father cut his hair to celebrate the birth 
of a child. 

Burial in caves was common. One instance of platform burial is 
recorded. Burial in embryonic posture or with knees flexed to 
shoulders occurred. 


There is no mention of musical instruments in our sources. On 
dancing (cf. infra) and singing there is almost no detail. Garcia, J. 
(1889, p. 29) was welcomed by the men and women dancing and sing- 
ing most of the night ; the singing reminded him of a lullaby crooned 
to put an infant to sleep. There was apparently no native Chono 
intoxicant. (Cf. Cooper, 1917, p. 44.) 


We have only a few scattered data on certain rites and observances. 
Byron (1768, pp. 145-146) and Campbell (1747, pp. 61-62) give short 
descriptions of a rite, apparently religious, performed by men and 
women. Vocalizations began by deep groans and gradually rose to 
"a hideous kind of singing." The participants, in frenzy, snatched 
firebrands from the fire, put them in their mouths, and ran about burn- 
ing everyone they came near; at other times they would cut one an- 
other with mussel shells until smeared with blood. And so the cere- 
mony went on until exhaustion ensued. When the men stopped, the 
women began. Byron's Christian cacique kept aloof, and stated that 
"the devil" was the chief actor among the Chono on these occasions. 


A person could harm another if he possessed a bit of the latter's 
hair. Garcia, J. (1889, p. 29) reported a case (probably but not cer- 
tainly Chono^ as in much of the information from Garcia) of death 
from black magic wrought by obtaining hair from the top of the vic- 
tim's head. Garcia was told that only hair from the top of the head 
would serve ; that all the natives of the vicinity cut the hair from the 
crown of the head for fear of sorcery ; that the possessor of such hair, if 
he wished to harm the person from whom it was stolen in sleep, would 
place it between two stones, dance around it all night invoking the 
"demon," and from time to time pound, strike, and pierce it; that, if 
he wished to cause the victim's death forthwith, he would take it to 
sea and tie it to some kelp, or would go to the mountains and throw it 
down trees. The purloined bit of hair was kept tied with whalebone. 

Garcia's Caucahue (probably Chono) blacked their faces with char- 
coal on entering a lagoon in which icebergs were floating and on the 
banks of which snow lay, "to salute the snow, lest they die," and on 
another occasion one of them painted his face to bring good weather. 
The Caucahue with Garcia were much incensed at a Spaniard who 
threw his poncho in the sea water to wash it; the Moon, they said, 
would be angry and send them bad weather (Garcia, J., 1889, p. 14) . 

It was taboo to look at a flock of parrots passing overhead, lest bad 
weather follow; to throw kelp or shellfish on the fire, lest the sea 
become rough; to throw shells in the water, Byron being severely 
rebuked for throwing limpet shells from the canoe into the water. 

In curing her husband who was suffering from some malady of 
the back, a woman massaged his back and chest, spurted water on him 
from her mouth, cried, wept, and moaned, and applied her mouth to 
his back. Then another woman came and anointed him and smeared 
him with "colo" on the arms, chest, and back. He himself dived into 
the water many times daily. The rite was a magical one, Garcia was 
told (Garcia, J., 1889, p. 37). 

On mythology, lore and learning, and etiquette, no information is 


By Junius Bird 


The Alacaluf {HalakwulMp, Alakaluf^ Alacalouf, Alaculuf, Ala- 
culoof, Alucdhif, Alukoeluf^ Alooculoof, Alookooloop, Alukulup, 
Alokolup, AUkhoolip, Ah'kuhif, AUkaluf, AUkoolif,^) have, from 
early times, inhabited the archipelago along the Chilean coast from 
the Gulf of Penas (lat. 47°30' S.) to the islands west of Tierra del 
Fuego (map 1, No. IB; see also map 2), 

Habitat. — This is a wild, rugged region, isolated by a natural barrier 
of mountain crests and massive ice fields along its eastern margin, 
and a difficult water passage at its northern limit. There is heavy 
rainfall — in places, more than 120 inches annually — distributed rather 
uniformly throughout the year and generally accompanied by strong 
westerly winds. Low dense clouds and an extremely small total of 
hours of sunshine are depressing. Temperatures are moderate, subzero 
(Fahrenheit) records being rare extremes in the far south. The mean 
annual temperature is close to the 43° F. reported for Fuegia (records 
taken in the Strait of Magellan and south) with remarkably slight 
daily or seasonal fluctuations. Snowfall at sea level is light and of 
short duration; the summer snow line lies between 1,500 and 2,000 feet 
(450 and 600 m.) elevation. 

Most of the region has a dense vegetation which, together with the 
physical structure, makes travel by land impossible or difficult (pis. 
23, 24). The Alacaluf are consequently an essentially canoe- or boat- 
using people. Accustomed to this environment, they have never shown 
any inclination to leave it. 

History. — Along the one route from Alacaluf territory to other 
coastal areas, namely, the Strait of Magellan, archeological and his- 
torical evidence does not reveal the presence of the Alacaluf in the 
grassland area beyond Elizabeth Island, abreast of the eastern limit of 
the forest growth. Archeological remains of the first inhabitants along 
southern Tierra del Fuego and the islands to the south are so closely 

^ See Cooper, 1917, pp. 5-6. Alacaluf may have been derived from the Yahgan Innalum 
Aala Kaluf, "western men with mussel-shell knives." 



related to the Alacaluf culture that it seems safe to assume that the 
Alacahif preceded the Yahgan in that district. When considering 
historical records, it is well to remember that there is reason to question 
the identity of some of the canoe-using natives encountered where the 
Yahgcm and Alacaluf territories overlapped, as the Yahgan also 
ranged as far as Elizabeth Island in not very distant times (Bird, 
1938, p. 260). 

European contacts. — The records of various European contacts 
with this tribe have been admirably compiled and analyzed by Dr. 
John M. Cooper (1917). In the 16th century, major references show 
eight published records of contact with canoe-using Indians in the 
Strait and one in the channels to the north ; in the I7th century, six in 
the Strait and one to the north ; in the 18th century, eight in the Strait 
and two to the north ; and in the 19th century, eight in the Strait and 
four to the north. Excepting the early voyages, these accounts prob- 
ably concern only a minor portion of the actual contacts between 
Whites and natives. As no comprehensive first-hand ethnographic 
study of the Alacaluf has ever been published, the importance of the 
accumulated data in historical sources is apparent. The information 
is, on the whole, extremely sketchy and of varying reliability, but it 
permits comparison of the Indians' former and present status and a 
fairly accurate summary of the changes that occurred through the 

At the present, probably 160 to 200 Alacaluf survive. They are 
rather evenly divided into two scattered groups,^ one occupying the 
inner channels between the Gulfs of Peiias and Trinidad; the other 
concentrated just north of the western entrance to the Strait of Magel- 
lan. The southern group has borne the brunt of White contact and 
suffered accordingly, both culturally and physically, while the north- 
erners continue to live much as their ancestors did many centuries ago. 
Early records reveal a friendliness which soon gave way to distrust of 
the "cristianos," a feeling which endures today. 

The introduction of steam navigation marked the first real utiliza- 
tion of Alacaluf territory by Whites. Prior to the discovery of the 
passage south around Cape Horn, the Strait of Magellan held tempor- 
ary importance; a settlement for defensive purposes was established in 
1584. This failed, and, though many exploring expeditions and some 
sealing and hunting parties entered the region, no further settlement 
was made until 1843. Only when the use of steamers justified the 
establishment of a lighthouse service along the Strait did the southern 
group come into fairly regular contact with Whites, which was 

^ Estimate based on personal observations checked with Jos6 Remulo, a Chilean mar- 
ried to an Alacaluf woman and actively engaged in trading with her people during the past 
18 years. Gusinde subdivides the southerners into two groups, but has not yet published 
his reasons for this distinction. 

Vol. 1 ] THE ALACALUF — BIRD 57 

strengthened with the building of a coaling station in Muiioz Gamero 
Bay shortly after 1900. In 1888, the Salesians started a mission for 
the Alacaluf and Ona on Dawson Island, which was not very success- 
ful as it conflicted with their normal nomadic existence. Moreover, 
when brought together, the Indians were rapidly decimated by con- 
tagious diseases. 

Finally, a steamer route from the Strait northward through the 
channels to the Gulf of Peiias gave the northern group their first 
regular contacts, but, until the lighthouse was established on San 
Pedro Island in 1932 and the Punta Arenas air-route station erected 
on Wellington Island in 1936, no Whites settled in that area. 

The annual visits of small parties of men from Chiloe Island to 
hunt coypus and otter afforded the northern group important contacts 
that are not mentioned in the literature. In 1934, 14 boatloads passed 
San Pedro ; in 1935, eight. It is not known when this custom started ; 
probably it was during the present century. The Indians feel con- 
siderable animosity toward these people. 

Though the White contacts with the southern Alacaluf date back 
to the early voyages of exploration, the Indians were little influenced 
until the last half of the 19th century, and the northern group remained 
much more isolated because of the slight economic worth of the region. 
It is unsuited for agriculture or stock raising; it has no important 
mineral deposits; and the demand for timber has not yet warranted 
the exploitation of the forest resources. A new industry just be- 
ginning is the gathering of deep-water shellfish by men equipped with 
diving outfits. In the past, these divers operated in the Chono Archi- 
pelago, but with the depletion of reserves there, have started work 
south of the Gulf of Pefias, one party being reported at English 
Narrows in 1942. 

Population. — The lack of Alacaluf population figures is under- 
standable. There are no important estimates prior to 1900 ; after this 
date, the more reliable estimates vary from about 200 to 400 (Cooper, 
1917, p. 47). At present, men familiar with these natives believe that 
they are not decreasing. Archeology shows that the greatest concen- 
tration of midden refuse in Alacaluf territory is along the inner 
channels between the Gulfs of Peiias and Trinidad. South of Trini- 
dad and along ths Strait and down into Barbara Channel, camps are 
scattered and have only shallow middens. Nowhere, either north or 
south, is there any concentration of refuse comparable to that seen 
in the Yahgan territory. Even with complete data on the amount and 
distribution of the evidence of occupation, it would be presumptuous 
to give any figure for the former Alacaluf population as it might have 
been in Magellan's time, but it is doubtful if they ever exceeded a few 



The following information on material culture is based on the 
writer's observations of about 95 natives encountered during the 6 
months spent on archeological work in Alacaluf territory in 1935-36, 
supplemented by information from an Alacaluf living on Chiloe Island 
and a study of specimens in the museums in Oslo, Norway ; Goteborg 
and Stockholm, Sweden ; and the American Museum of Natural His- 
tory, New York. Published sources and archeological data are cited 
when these show that cultural changes or modifications have occurred. 
Since Cooper (1917, p. 185) published his list of source material, the 
most important contribution is by Gusinde, who visited the southern 
group in 1923. Gusinde has published in final form only his data on 
physical anthropology (1939), but in several articles (1924, 1925 a, 
b, c; 1926 a; 1927; 1928 b; 1929) he gives a great deal of basic infor- 
mation on social and religious culture. 



The subsistence pattern. — The failure of modern agricultiire to 
spread southward into the Chilean Archipelago, beyond the limits 
it reached in pre-Spanish days (i. e., the island of Chiloe, with 
sporadic efforts at cultivation in the Guaitecas), supports the con- 
tention that this limit is climatically determined. Thus, the com- 
plete lack of agriculture among the Alacaluf is no reflection on them. 
This forced dependence on natural products is perhaps in part 
responsible for the conservatism of the Alacaluf culture, for there 
is no marked difference in food habits and equipment between the 
past, as shown by midden contents, and the present. In addition 
to the native diet, the Indians now beg food scraps from passing 
vessels in the north, and they trade for flour in the south, but this 
yields only a minor portion of their food. Generally speaking, 
shellfish, sea lions, and marine birds are the staples, supplemented 
with porpoise, land game, fish, and a very small quantity of vegetable 
foods. No data are available on the proportions of meat to shellfish 
and fish, though it was observed that the possession of a good meat 
supply did not interrupt shellfish gathering. 

The whole Alacaluf pattern of life clearly follows the routine 
involved in the food quest, which significantly continues in its 
simplest, most elementary form. Small family units wander from 
place to place, never stopping long enough to exhaust completely 
the local shellfish supply. Established communities are unknown, 
and no clan system or chieftainship has evolved. Families come 
together only on rare occasions : for example, when they discover a 


whale that is dead or is in landlocked waters where it can be killed : 

when they hunt the sea lions that are whelping at rookeries on some 
of the off-lying islands ; or when a vessel is wrecked, an event which 
is sure to draw together all persons in the immediate vicinity. 

There seems to be little fixed seasonal migration at present, and 
the range of any one family is purely its own concern. In one 
instance, a family was encountered after a year wdthin 40 miles of 
where it was first seen. Evidence of extended migration is shown 
by the presence of a northern man living among the southerners near 
Muiioz Gamero Bay, and by the discovery in 1932 of an Alacaluf hut 
near Rio Douglas, west of Navarino Island, over 200 miles outside 
Alacaluf territory. Perhaps in former times, w^ith a larger popula- 
tion, some seasonal movements were necessary, but this is no longer 
the case. Today, the scarcity of otter and coypus, and a seeming 
fondness for change of scene, provide motives for wandering farther 
afield than the food quest demands. 

The equipment necessary to maintain life in this region is held 
to a minimum. A boat or canoe is an absolute essential. The 
average family carries fire rather than matches or other means of 
making it, poles for dislodging shellfish from rocks, a sea urchin 
and mussel spear, shellfish baskets, a harpoon and line, a bark 
bucket or tin pail, skins for covering huts, an ax, and an iron knife. 
They make other items of equipment when occasion demands, but 
usually discard them after use rather than carry them. This ac- 
counts in part for the discrepancies in the records of implements 
and weapons used, which was well demonstrated in the case of Jose 
Remulo. (See footnote 2, p. 56.) When shown a seal net, he did not 
recognize it, and had never seen or heard of one, yet his wife, 
children, and Alacaluf son-in-law all knew the correct name for it. 
In view of this, the description of the present status of their 
material culture is difficult. As a check, Lothrop's (1928) illustra- 
tions of implements and weapons were shown to Indians, both north 
and south. Most of the items were readily identified and named, 
but this still leaves a problem of interpretation. Are certain recog- 
nized objects now obsolete, or is their absence merely owing to the 
trait of making equipment only as circumstances demand? 

Shellfish gathering. — Shellfish are collected from three zones: 
the area between high and low water mark, the sea bottom between 
low water mark and a depth of 15 feet, and deeper water beyond. 
All available species of sufficient size are utilized. Limpets, Fissu- 
rella, small blue mussels, and chitons are common along the rocky 
shore between high and low water. In the north, Corwholefas and 
purple whelk are sometimes used, but beyond the Gulf of Trinidad 
they are too rare to be important. If weather permits, w^omen go 


out daily at low tide to collect these species, dislodging them with 
only a wooden stick, and placing the shellfish in an open-mesh basket 
(pi. 28). As sandy beaches or mud flats are very rare in Alacaluf 
territory, such moUusks as clams are relatively unimportant. 

From the sea bottom below low water, the Alacaluf gather sea 
urchins (pi. 25), two species of large mussels {Mytilus ungulatus and 
M. magellanicus), and, more rarely, a giant barnacle. These are 
taken in depths of not over 12 to 14 feet (3.6 to 4.2 m.), with a shell- 
fish spear, used generally from a canoe by both men and women. In 
depths beyond reach of the spears, they are procured by swimmers, 
especially by women who are said to withstand the cold better. Hold- 
ing the handle of the loose-meshed basket in his teeth, the swimmer 
descends to the bottom to a maximum depth of perhaps 30 feet (9 m.) , 
where he dislodges the shellfish with his hands. After a few dives in 
the cold water (annual range 40° to 30° F.), the chilled swimmer 
hurries home and practically sits on the fire. 

Hunting. — Sea lions are either harpooned or killed with improvised 
clubs at the places where they come ashore, or are taken with nets. 
Their rookeries are located in the less frequented districts, often in 
wave-cut caves. If the entrances are too low in the water for a man or 
canoe to enter, and if the approach is suitable, a net trap (fayet cha 
kal) will be set. This trap is made of sea lion skin thongs, and is 
roughly 50 inches (125 cm.) square, each mesh being 7 or 8 inches 
(18 or 20 cm.) square. It is loosely fastened with rush strands to a 
rough hoop of thin saplings. A harpoon line passed through the 
outer meshes is tied to form a running noose. Two poles hold the 
hoop and net under water in the entrance to the rookery. In at- 
tempting to get through the net, the sea lion breaks the rush fasten- 
ings so that the noose tightens about its body, generally back of the 
flippers, and it cannot escape. Campbell (1747, p. 57) states that in 
using net traps on land, one man holds the hoop while a companion 
frightens the sea lion into the net. 

When sea lions cannot be reached with a club, they are usually 
harpooned. The detachable point remains in the flesh, while the 
free end of the line is held by the hunter, or is snubbed around a 
canoe thwart. If not mortally wounded, the animal is gradually 
pulled in and beaten to death with a shellfish pole. The same harpoon 
is also used for porpoise, but, unless the hunter is provided with the 
special spear (pi. 30), there is danger of overturning the canoe. 

Otter and coypus are hunted almost entirely with dogs, which corner 
them in rock crevices, where they can be killed with poles. There is 
no record of taking otter with harpoons, and none of the skins seen had 
holes which might have been made by the harpoon points. 


The huemul, a small deer found on Wellington and Riesco Islands 
and portions of the mainland, is hunted with difficulty, but its bones 
are fairly common in both modern and ancient midden refuse. Gen- 
erally, the saw-tooth spear is used, or lacking this, a harpoon with its 
point tied to the handle by a short thong instead of the usual harpoon 

In the south around Skyring and Otway Sounds and on Tierra del 
Fuego, where the grasslands border Alacaluf territory, the natives 
formerly killed guanaco, using perhaps spears, harpoons, and even 
bows and arrows, and bolas. 

Birds, especially cormorants, form an important part of the diet. 
All species have the habit of gathering together at night and roosting 
on the ledges of small rocky islets. In late afternoon, two or three 
men go to an island and construct a small low shelter of sealskins or 
branches. They blacken their faces and hands with charcoal, and hide 
beneath the shelter until late at night when the birds are settled. They 
then creep out and catch one bird after another, carefully holding its 
head under its wing, the normal sleeping position, until they kill it by 
crushing the skull with their teeth. With care, they can capture nearly 
all of the roosting birds. One informant said that he and two other 
men had filled a canoe at one rock. Naturally, this procedure cannot 
be repeated too often at the same place. 

A second method, used also by the Yahgan, involves several canoes. 
Two parties land on a rock from opposite sides. One lights torches of 
dry twigs, while the other rushes at the birds shouting and making 
all possible noise. The birds run toward the light, where many are 
clubbed to death. 

Birds nesting on accessible rocky ledges are caught with pole snares 
(pi. 30) , preferably on moonlight nights, but the commotion limits the 
take to a few birds. 

The same kind of snare is used to capture steamer ducks (pato 
vapor) . These large flightless birds have so much curiosity that they 
will frequently approach an anchored boat to investigate any noise, 
provided they do not see people moving about. A hunter conceals 
himself on a low bank overhanging the water, his snare projecting 
from the branches. A soft whistling sound, produced by vibrating 
the tongue, attracts the ducks within reach of the snare. 

Penguins are most commonly captured when nesting in underground 
burrows. They can be taken with bare hands, but sticks are safer. 

Other data on the capture of birds are found in earlier sources. 
King (1839, p. 370) describes the taking of blue petrels : "having caught 
a small bird, they tie a string to its leg and put it into a hole where 
blue petrels lay eggs. Several old birds instantly fasten upon the 


intruder and are drawn out with him by the string." Fitz-Roy (1839, 
2: 199) reported a snare trap, apparently for swans, in Obstruction 
Sound: "a neatly constructed small wigwam about two feet high, at 
the entrance of which was a platted rush noose, intended as a snare." 
Coffin (Hanaford, 1867, p. 157) reported the use of live birds as decoys. 

One informant disclaimed killing parrots and white-breasted oyster- 
catchers, stating that to kill parrots would bring bad weather. For 
the other, he could only explain that it was not customary. The red- 
billed oystercatcher is, however, killed and eaten. 

Apparently all varieties of bird eggs are eaten without restrictions. 

Fishing. — Xone of the Indians seen in 1937 had fish lines, nets, or 
spears, but all immediately recognized the picture of a fishing line 
with slip noose for bait, shown by Lothrop (1928, fig. 88). As several 
individuals had braided sinew lines, they probably still use this fishing 
method at times. Notched stone sinkers are rare in the middens, and 
no fishhooks were used in any period. The lack of a hook is no handi- 
cap, as the fish living in the kelp beds will seize bait tied to the end of 
the cord and hold on long enough to be lifted out of the water. Coffin 
(Hanaford, 1867, p. 157) reported the use of a long, rough pole with a 
twisted grass line baited with mussels or pieces of fish. With this, 
fish were jerked into the boat. 

Fish, generally robalo, sometimes enter coves where the water shoals 
gradually toward the head. Men, women, and children, accompanied 
by dogs, wade, swim, and beat the water with sticks, driving the fish 
into the shallows where they can be caught with the hands or with 
harpoons and spears. The dogs are said to dive and swim beneath the 
surface in pursuit of the fish. Stone fish weirs are found in the 
shallow coves in Yahgan territory, but few were seen in the western 
channels, perhaps because suitable places are rare. 

Fish nets are apparently no longer used, although reported twice 
in the past (Marcel, 1892, p. 491; Byron, 1810, p. 76). Byron states 
that the net was held by two Indians, while the dogs "taking a large 
compass, dive after the fish, and drive them into the net." Net sinkers 
have been found only with the late archeological material on Elizabeth 
Island and vicinity. Presumably, nets were never very common. 

The Yahgan took sardines with a special dip net or basket on the 
rare occasions when sea lions drove them into shallow water. A pic- 
ture of this basket was recognized by some Alacaluf of both the north- 
ern and southern groups. Altogether, the evidence on fishing, 
including the relative scarcity of fish bones in the middens, suggests 
that fish were an unimportant food. 

Plant foods. — All species of berries found throughout Alacaluf 
territory are eaten, but it was noted that when other foods were abun- 
dant, the available berry supply was only partially utilized. The 


Indians also eat fuchsia seed pods. Wild celery, which is generally- 
available at all old camp sites, is little used. The large-stemmed 
pangue {Gunnera chUensis) is available in limited quantities in the 
north. Though commonly eaten in Chiloe, the only record of its con- 
sumption among the Alacaluf is by Campbell (1747, p. 63), who states 
that they seem very fond of it. 

Food preparation and storage. — The Alacaluf live from day to 
day on available food. They store none because even carefully dried 
foodstuffs mildew in the great humidity. A surplus of seals or birds 
is kept unskinned in the huts until spoiled. 

There seem to be no fixed hours for eating. Generally, nothing is 
consumed until about 10 o'clock in the morning; whatever is on hand 
is eaten. When hungry during the day, each person, even very young 
children, roasts his own shellfish. In late afternoon or after dark, 
birds and meat are prepared without marked division of labor. All 
birds, even penguins, are plucked and cut up according to a fixed 
pattern : the outer wing joint is cut through and the flesh stripped 
in one piece from the other wing bones and from the breast. The 
legs are removed with all adjacent muscles. By this method, the 
pieces are quickly cooked on the coals, then tossed on the ground in 
front of the person for whom they are intended. Seal meat is laid on 
the coals in large chunks or roasted on the end of a stick ; if no one is 
very hungry, it is thoroughly cooked. It is served in the same fashion 
as birds. Fish is roasted like meat. Sea urchins are the only species 
of shellfish commonly eaten raw. No utensils are used either to pre- 
pare or eat food; even White men's utensils have not changed this 
custom. The only food taboo is relatively unimportant: if the first 
sea lion killed by a boy is small, the meat is not eaten by the people, 
but is given the dogs lest the boy have poor hunting luck, always killing 
small sea lions. 


There are no animals domesticated except the dog. These show 
little uniformity in marking or color, but are fairly uniform in size, 
standing about 18 inches (45 cm.) at the shoulder, and generally 
have coarse straight hair, long tails, and pointed ears (pi. 28) . They 
are extremely hardy, and are practically self-sufficient, gathering 
much of their own food in the form of shellfish. From their masters, 
they receive but meager scraps of food and indifferent or cruel treat- 
ment. Children were observed twisting a dog's legs just to hear him 
howl, yet the animals remain loyal and obedient. They are used in 
hunting otter, sea lions, and penguins when these are among rocks 
beyond the reach of clubs or spears. Under certain conditions, they 
are also used in gathering fish, a procedure described above, and in this 
demonstrate an unusual agility in the water. 


Cooper (1917, pp. 185, 186) suggests that the canoe Indians in pre- 
Magellan times may have lacked dogs; this is supported by the lack 
of dog bones in all middens examined to date in both Alacaluf and 
Yahgan territory. 

The only other trace of domestication is the practice of keeping live 
steamer ducks until they are needed for food. Though these ducks 
can be tamed, they are tied to the hut, where they can be protected 
from the dogs. 

About 50 Alacaluf huts (aht ti pai) were seen between the Gulf of 
Peiias and the Strait of Magellan. Hut sizes vary with the extent 
of level ground available and the number of occupants. Of 24 
measured, the smallest was 9 feet 2 inches by 6 feet 3 inches (3 m. by 
2m.); the largest was 14 feet by 9 feet 6 inches (4.4 m. by 3m.). Con- 
sidering the difficulty of finding open level places among the forest 
trees, the proportion of length to breadth is surprisingly constant. 

These huts have sometimes been described as circular, but all seen 
were oval, with the long axis at right angles to the entrance. The 
average length was 12 feet 8V2 inches (4 m.) ; the width 7 feet 71/2 
inches (2.3 m.) ; the height 5 feet IOI/3 inches (1.8 m.). All were 
near protected landing places along the shore. 

The framework is made according to a definite system that varies 
slightly with the material available. In order of preference, ma- 
terials used are Fuchsia magellamica, the canela tree, and, at last 
choice, cypress {Lihocedrus tetragona). Figure 10, a, shows the 
start of construction, the dotted line representing the intended out- 
line. Four poles are forced into the ground; the ends are then bent 
over and tied together to form two approximately parallel foundation 
arches II/2 to 2 feet (45 to 61 cm.) apart. In one excellent example 
erected on open ground, the saplings were IOI/2 feet long (3 m.), the 
arches 20 inches (50 cm.) apart at the ground and 34 inches (85 cm.) 
at the top, the span 8 feet 9 inches (2.6 m.), and the height 6 feet 3 
inches (2m.). 

Three to nine (average, six) other poles forced into the ground along 
the sides of the floor are bent over and tied to the foundation hoops 
with pieces of rush, or, occasionally, are hooked under the hoops 
(fig. 10, h). These all run approximately parallel with the long 
axis of the house. Three to six lighter saplings are placed outside 
these. Pairs from opposite sides are bent across the frame to form 
transverse arches, which are tied at one or two places to the longi- 
tudinal poles. 

The framework, which is strong and solid (fig. 10, c; pi. 27, hottom) , 
is covered with sea lion skins, one hut seen having 13i/^ separate skins. 


VOL. 1] 



FiGDEE 10. — Alacaluf hut frame construction. Showing three progressive stages of building. 

583486 — 46 5 


Lacking sufficient skins, either bark, sacking, grass, or ferns may be 
substituted. Holes are stopped with fern fronds (pi. 24, right), 
grass, or short branches. Entrances high enough for a person to 
crawl through are usually left on both sides between the two founda- 
tion hoops. Branches or fronds of the large fern {Blechnum magel- 
lanioum), are placed across the opening and spring back into posi- 
tion after a person has passed through. They keep out the wind and 
rain quite effectively. For this purpose, the Alacaluf will carry a 
bundle of fronds when moving camp. 

The fire is built in an oval hearth 2 by 3 feet (60 cm. by 90 cm.) in 
the center of the hut. Sometimes the humus beneath burns away, 
leaving a pit a foot deep (30.5 cm.), but fire pits are not intentionally 
dug. The roof covering above the fireplace is left quite loose so as to 
be moved back if the flames are too high. 

The family sit and sleep on a thin covering of small beech or 
tepu branches. With a good fire, these huts are comfortable and 
quite dry. 

Among the southern Alacaluf^ one may now see circular tipis 
of light poles covered with skins, and canvas or sacks. These are 
identical with the modern Yahgan summer tipi, which may be their 
source. In erecting houses, men generally cut the poles and women 
place them. 

A larger hut is sometimes made for initiation (?) ceremonies. 
Skottsberg (1913, pp. 598-599) encountered one in Puerto Bueno that 
"was 12 meters long, 4 meters broad, 3^ meters high" and apparently 
similar to the elliptical house but had more foundation arches. 
Another seen at Cuarenta Dias Bay by Sefior Remulo was 50 to 60 feet 
(15-18 m.) long and had six entrances. The use of these structures 
will be described later. 


Formerly, small skin mantles or capes and triangular skin pubic 
covers were worn. Today, all adults have some White man's cloth- 
ing — cast-off garments secured from passing steamers and naval 
vessels. Children are generally naked. The Alacaluf have not learned 
to care for clothing, making no effort to alter or repair it. 

Ornaments consist only of strings of crudely made tubular bird- 
bone beads, a few perforated snail shells, and sections of calcareous 
marine-worm tubes (pi. 31, e). Small flat bone pendants are occa- 
sionally made. 


All transportation is by water, land journeys being limited to short 
hunting trips. Today, all northern Alacaluf have dugout canoes. 

Vol.1] the ALACALUF — BIRD 67 

about 12 to 16 feet (4-5 m.) long, while many of the southern group 
have chalupas acquired in trade from the Whites. Both canoes and 
chalupas are rowed by both sexes while a man or woman steers with 
a paddle. Some have a small rough mast and a crude sail of sacking 
or canvas. All dugouts had coamings of driftwood planks roughly 
nailed to the gunwales and cleats. As no attempt is made to caulk 
the seams, these serve more to keep objects in the canoe than to keep 
water out. If planks are not available, pieces of sea lion skin, stiff- 
ened by being held over the fire until semiscorched, may be substi- 
tuted. Canoes are provided with oars, steering paddles, and a skin 
bailing cup. 

Historical records show that originally all the Alacaluf, like the 
Tahgan, used bark canoes. A small example in the Salesian Museum 
in Punta Arenas collected about 1904 is identical with the Tahgan 
canoe. It is made of three strips of beech bark, sewed with baleen 
strips, and is 12 feet 1 inch (4m.) long with a maximum beam of 2 feet 
2 inches (67 cm.) and a depth inside the hull of 1 foot 8 inches (50 cm.) . 
There are eight thwarts lashed on top of the gunwales, 10 to 15 inches 
(25-37 cm.) apart. Small narrow ribs split from a short-stemmed 
shrub are placed next to each other for the full length. 

In the latter half of the 18th century, plank boats patterned after 
the dalcas of Chiloe began to replace bark canoes. Knowledge of 
the latter survived as late as 1927, when one was in use near Muiioz 
Gamero Bay. 

During the 19th century, the plank boat was the most common type, 
finally disappearing from use about 1915 (pi. 30, top). Only two 
specimens, both collected by Skottsberg in Port Grappler, exist today. 
One is now in Stockholm, the other in Goteborg.^ Both are made of 
five planks, the middle one being roughly the same width throughout 
and bent upward at the bow and stern. Each plank is slightly hol- 
lowed inside; the bottom side has two straight parallel raised portions 
near the edges, projecting out far enough to protect the plank lashings 
when the boats are beached or portaged. The Chilotan dalca, judging 
from the only surviving fragment, has by contrast a flat elliptical 
bottom while the upper surface is much more curved in cross section. 
Moreover, the Chilotan specimen has drilled lashing holes whereas 
the Alacaluf example has rectangular holes cut with an iron chisel. 
This is significant, as there are no records of the Alacaluf using drills, 
and none occur in archeological material. 

The modern dugout canoe (pi. 29) appears to have spread to the 
Alacaluf from the Yahgan since the beginning of the present century. 

' Mensurements and detailed description of these are filed in the American Museum of 
Natural History. 


Both tribes, before using a canoe, heat it and increase the beam by 
forcing cross braces inside. The dugout was introduced to the Yahgan 
by one of their people who saw them being made in Rio de Janeiro 
(King, 1839, 2 : 224), whence this practice may have come. 

One record reveals that when a canoe near San Pedro lighthouse 
was damaged beyond repair, two men with one ax completed a new one 
in a week. 

For communication, smoke signaling is commonly used. The smoke 
from leaves heaped on the fire in the hut will call back hunters or bring 
the nearest neighbors to the spot, but it is not known if any special 
signals are employed. 


Basketry and containers. — Both the northern and southern 
Alacaluf use many small, open-mesh, coiled baskets (pi. 31, h) of rush 
made with a technique like that shown by Lothrop (1928, p. 139, fig. 
65). The rush and the baskets have the same name (chep-pash). A 
storage and berry-gathering basket (dtai yo) , made from the same rush 
(pi. 31, a), has the tightly coiled technique shown by Lothrop (1928, 
p. 135, fig. 61) . This type was also made by both the Ona and Yahgan. 
The former called it and the rush "tai," which may indicate that the 
Alacaluf learned its manufacture from the Ona. In making the 
tightly coiled baskets, the Alacaluf use a small deer-bone awl, which 
they also employ to make holes in leather and bark (pi. 31, /) . 

Cylindrical water buckets are made of bark and sewn with either 
baleen or sections of vine (pi. 31, c). Large tin cans now sometimes 
serve the same purpose. 

Skin working. — The Alacaluf do not tan. They lash seal and otter 
skins to rectangular frames made of four sticks to dry them, the 
smoke in the huts effecting some unintentional curing. Skins to be 
used on canoes are held over a fire until hard. 

Stones. — Except for sinkers, the Alacaluf no longer make anything 
of stone, though they use unworked pieces as whetstones. The knowl- 
edge of pressure flaking of stone arrow points came late, apparently 
being acquired in the south. 

Wood. — Woodworking is mediocre. The rough work is done with 
an ax, the fine cutting with an iron knife. Knives, made from iron 
barrel hoops, are sharpened across the end like a chisel, and not on 
the sides. This has a definite prototype in the old mussel-shell knife, 
formerly a very important implement. The best of numerous pub- 
lished references to the use of mussel shells for cutting is by Francis 
Fletcher in 1578 ( 1652, p. 38) . The large choro mussel shell is rubbed 
against a whetstone, which grinds away the thin brittle edge, making 
an extremely effective knife which is hard enough to cut bone. It is 


also used as a chopping tool, the pointed, narrow portion near the 
hinge being broken away and the shell firmly lashed to a stone that 
is naturally oblong. Held in the hand, it is used like an adz, the stone 
providing the necessary weight. Paddles collected as late as 1907 
show shallow fluted markings running transversely across the blade, 
such as would have been made by this tool. Both northern and south- 
ern groups retain knowledge of the shell knife and chopper, and per- 
haps still use them on occasion. 

Weapons and hunting equipment. — The shellfish pole (ayorki), 
an important implement, is a roughly cut section of sapling about 4.5 
feet (1.3 m.) long and 2.5 inches (6 cm.) in diameter, generally 
slightly flattened along two sides of the lower end. 

The shellfish spear is made of a canelo sapling, with the bark left on. 
The lower end is split into quarters which are sharpened into prongs 
and wedged apart by two short sections of sticks ; or else a section of 
harder, stronger wood, used to form the prongs, is lashed to a canelo 
handle 10 to 15 feet (3 to 4.5 m.) long (pi. 25) . 

The club used for killing seals and for fighting is not always car- 
ried, for the ayorki will serve as a substitute. Skottsberg collected a 
hardwood club 2 feet (61 cm.) long. 

The sea lion harpoon (salta) is still used. The shaft, 7 to 9 feet 
(2 to 2.7 m.) long, is cut from a young canelo tree, "harpoon wood." 
The bark is removed but the shaft retains its natural taper. The 
thick butt end is split to form a socket for the head and is whipped 
with a few turns of leather thong or braided sinew to prevent further 
splitting. The modern head is of whalebone with two barbs and a 
flattened tapered basal end expanding on both sides of the shank 
(pi. 31, h). The older form, still used in 1908 (pi. 31, g), had a 
single barb and a base that expanded only on one side of the shank 
(Skottsberg, 1913, p. 604). The harpoon line, carefully cut from 
male sea lion skin, is tied tightly to the shank of the harpoon 
point just forward of the expanded base, and is looped or hitched to 
the shaft back of the center of balance. The lines are up to 60 feet 
(18 m.) long. 

The spear, although well known and still used, is seldom seen (pi. 
30, left). Its shaft is like that of the harpoon, but the whalebone 
point (pi. 31, d) is not detachable. The longest point (3 ft. 7% 
in., or 1 m.) is in the Salesian Museum, Punta Arenas, Chile; it has 
6 inches (15 cm.) of saw teeth beginning 2i/^ feet (% m.) back of the 
point. The usual length is about 18 inches (I/2 m.) but all have the 
saw-toothed barbs set well back from the tip. Yahgan fish spears 
dijffer from these in that the saw teeth begin at the tip. The Alacaluf 
form is good for killing porpoise, guanaco, and deer, and for fighting, 
but less useful for fish. It is presumably a late addition to Alacaluf 
culture, for the only specimen found in midden deposits came from 


Elizabeth Island (Bird, 1938) ; it differs from all other ethnological 
specimens in having offset barbs and side knobs on the butt. 

Bows and arrows are now obsolete, though remembered by both 
groups. Their greater frequency among the southern group and the 
increasing scarcity of evidence of pressure flaking of stone in middens 
toward the north indicate that bows and arrows came from the south 
at a late date. The form of the stone points, though not conclusive, 
suggests Yahgan influence. The damp climate must have made it 
difficult to keep bows and arrows in good condition and so it is not 
surprising that they never were very important. More significant, 
perhaps, is that knowledge of pressure flaking of stone came with 
this weapon. 

Slings were formerly common. Though remembered today, they 
appear not to be used. 

Bolas were sometimes used by the last generation of the southern 
group. Except for very rare surface finds, bolas weights do not occur 
archeologically in the western channels. On the other hand, the first 
canoe people, presumably Alacaluf, took them into what was later 
Yahgan territory. A weapon definitely designed for use in open 
country was impractical in the channels. 

The bird snare is in common use today as in the past. It consists of 
a light pole 4 to 6 feet (1.2-1.8 m.) long with one or two stiff slip 
nooses split from a creeper {Camjmdium chilense), or of baleen 
(pi. 30, bottom, right). 

Fire making. — Today nearly all Alacaluf use matches, though they 
are frequently without them. In the past, they are known to have 
made fire with a piece of pyrite and "flint." As pyrite is very rare 
in the middens, it is very doubtful that all families had it. More 
probably, then, as today, they kept a fire burning continuously, even 
carrying it with them, and when this was extinguished by accident, 
borrowed new fire from neighbors. 

Both sexes gather fuel though only men were observed using axes. 
They seldom cut enough fuel to last all night, so that before dawn 
someone goes, with considerable grumbling, to get more. They prefer 
the wood of the tepu {Tefualia stipularls), a very excellent and readily 
combustible fuel, without which it would be difficult to start a fire in 
this excessively wet region. 


In the past there were few things, with the possible exception of 
pyrite, that any group could not secure for itself. Today, however, all 
are accustomed to barter and are beginning to show some firmness in 
demanding goods which are of practical use. As in the past, each 
family exists independently of others, making its own equipment. 



Property and inheritance. — Property rights are not strict. An 
individual owns the tools and equipment he makes, but shares them 
with other members of the family. On one occasion, a man traded his 
wife's bark bucket for a shirt while the women were absent from camp. 
Later, his wife was furious because he refused to give the shirt to her ; 
he had no right to make this trade. Canoes and skin hut covers are 
family property. There are no territorial rights; evidently, anyone 
is free to come and go where he wishes. Abandoned hut frames may 
be used by anyone needing them. Some evidence of property rights 
appears at the time of death. (See p. 77.) 

Social organization. — There are, apparently, no clans or chieftain- 
ships. The families that live and hunt together are generally blood 
relations. The advice of the oldest individual may be asked, but is 
not always followed. 

Fitz-Koy (1839, 2: 19-1) quotes Low's report that crude spears, 
arrows, and clubs painted red were stuck into the ground around a 
roughly carved figure of wood as a declaration of war or as a warn- 
ing of attack. The custom survives today. In the south, a man 
once stole another man's wife. The husband tried to get her back 
by force, but was beaten off by his competitor. He returned in the 
night with his brother and placed one red wooden replica of the 
tant-tarrh (pi. 30) at either end of the hut and behind it. Thus, having 
given a warning that he would try to kill the man, the latter's rela- 
tives could not hold him accountable. The two brothers subsequently 
ambushed the rival and killed him with a spear. The woman was 
blamed and beaten. In 1920, a similar warning was given a party 
of Chilotans by some of the northern Alacaluf (Oyarzim, 1922, 
p. 167). 

The Alacaluf have, on insufficient evidence, been accused of canni- 
balism. They deny the practice, and, with two exceptions, no human 
bones were found in the middens. 


Childbirth. — During childbirth, men leave the hut and some woman 
helps the mother, though a man may assist his wife if they are alone. 
A separate hut is sometimes made for the mother. The husband 
stands guard. He has red paint on his face, and on his right 
shoulder a string of white feathers similar to that shown by Loth- 
rop (1928, pi. 15, 5) about his head, and a white kelp goose skin 
tied across his breast. (This decoration and costume are also used 


by the guard at initiation rites.) Such a guard at a birth was 
reported in 1828 (King, 1839, p. 315) , and the custom is still practiced. 
The umbilical cord is cut with a choro shell knife, which, together 
with the placenta, hair from the mother and father, parrot feathers, 
and a live coal, is wrapped in a piece of skin and buried by the 
father beneath the "woman's hut." This practice has no explanation 
except that it is customary. The newborn baby is washed with sea 
water. After the birth of a first child, the father and mother may 
take nothing but water for 2 days. They deny that this is done 
for subsequent children. One informant stated that the father 
puts some of his hair into a small package, which the child wears. 
Gusinde (1925 b, p. 142) reports that the father wraps a section of 
the umbilical cord in leather and wears it around his neck for a few 
months after birth to insure the child's well-being. Some informants 
say the child is named by the father; others say the mother. De- 
formed babies are not killed but are allowed to take their chances. 
Children are permitted to nurse as long as they want to, so that a 
mother may occasionally be seen feeding an older child as well as a 
new baby. 

Childhood. — Infants and small children, though shown consider- 
able affection, are not well attended. If, when learning to crawl, they 
fall into the fireplace, adults show them no sympathy. All children 
bear small scars left by such burns. A baby sleeps close to its mother 
or in her arms and has no special cradle or garments. When the baby 
soils itself, the mother scrapes it with a mussel shell. She replaces 
any soiled twigs covering the sleeping place. When able to walk, a 
child receives little parental attention and soon is able to care for 

Children, barely able to walk, were seen seeking mussels on the 
rocks immediately in front of the hut. With one or two clutched in 
their hands, they crawl back into the hut to roast and eat them. By 
the age of four, children cook nearly all the shellfish they consume, 
and begin to handle the shellfish spears. They spend hours in a 
canoe tied to the shore, hooking up sea urchins and mussels (pi. 25). 

Children are allowed to do as they please, but are probably pun- 
ished if their behavior conflicts with their parents' wishes. 

Girls' puberty. — At her first menstruation, a girl remains in a spe- 
cial hut, neither eating nor drinking. These restrictions are said to 
apply only to the first period. 

Initiation ceremonies. — Several White men have seen Alacaluf 
assembled for what were obviously special occasions. Whether these 
can properly be called initiation ceremonies is questionable. It is 
certain only that they occur when there is an abundance of provisions 
on hand. If a whale is obtained, smoke signals call together every- 


body in the vicinity. A large house is made and the people stay to- 
gether as long as the whale meat lasts. 

A young Alacaluf who had lived just south of Puerto Bueno related 
that he had twice seen the big huts erected and had participated 
in the affair. On the first occasion, a dead whale had been found, 
and the shellfish poles were not painted in advance. The second 
affair was planned beforehand by an older man and carried out in 
due course. Its duration, however, is uncertain; apparently it ter- 
minated when the food supply was exhausted. In preparation for a 
hunt at a sea lion rookery some distance away, they built a conical 
house in which to make clubs for killing the sea lions, and a new set 
of shellfish poles (ayorki) with which the women could procure food 
while the men were away. They painted the clubs white, with red 
spots on the heavier end, and the poles red on the handles, with red 
spots and bands on the lower portion. These were all set upright in 
the ground in a circle in the center of the hut. The night before the 
hunt, the men slept in this hut apart from the women, and sang. Be- 
fore leaving, they painted their faces, chests, and arms white, and a 
red stripe across the chest between the shoulders, so that the seals 
would not enter the water and escape. 

The hunters took one young boy with them, but no women. They 
found a cave full of sea lions, blocked the entrance, and harpooned 
and clubbed many animals. They cut out the bones but did not smoke 
or dry the meat. With canoes full of meat and green hides, they re- 
turned home, stopping when within calling distance of the camp, to 
shout a warning, "ahhhhh ha ha hoo," whereupon the women went 
into the huts, covered the doorways with sealskins, and were not sup- 
posed to look out. When near the landing place, the young boy was 
thrown into the water and swam ashore. Avoiding the women's huts, 
the men went to the conical house and were forbidden to look at 
or speak to the women. The boy, however, entered the women's huts, 
described the trip to them, and remained there for the night, being 
forbidden to visit or speak with the men. It was jokingly explained 
that the boy was thrown into the water "so he would not look at the 
women." Next morning, the ban was off. The women fetched the 
sealskins from the men's hut to start preparing them. At night, the 
men and women slept together as usual in the regular huts. 

The women and girls spent the entire following day in canoes 
gathering shellfish, while the men and boys built the big house 
(yinchihaua). The house, like that described by Skottsberg, had 
four entrances and two fireplaces, but, unlike the Yahgan hut, the 
poles were unpainted. The men and boys moved into it that night, 
but the women and girls slept in the regular huts for all but one 
night of the gathering. The first night the men prepared the head 


bands, which had to be made in the absence of the women. One of 
the head men burned a piece of seal meat, an unexplained action. 
From then on, the time was spent mainly in singing, some "dancing," 
considerable horseplay, and a little story telling, while the candidates 
received instruction in making weapons and in what they should and 
should not do. There seem to be few fixed rules for procedure except 
in the manner in which certain participants painted themselves. Boys 
present for the first time wore a plain leather head band (Lothrop, 
1928, fig. 90, ^), but did not paint their faces. Those participating 
for the second time put horizontal red stripes across the upper lips, 
cheeks, and chins, with a red smear on their chests, and wore white 
kelp goose skin head bands. More experienced participants placed 
vertical red stripes on their faces with smudges of white and an 
inverted T on their foreheads, and white stripes on their cheeks. The 
women used no paint. 

In the morning, the men struck the first woman who looked into 
the big house. The women had to fetch drinking water, and the men 
seized the buckets of the first three ( ? ) who passed them in the en- 
trances, and threw the water on them, after which the women and 
girls were allowed to enter freely. During the day, men and boys 
had the middle portion of the house, the women and girls the ends, 
the girls and boys sitting cross-legged along their respective sides. 
If they became tired and leaned over, the men struck them and made 
them sit up. A candidate who refused to obey was bound hand and 
foot. All cooking was done in the women's house, though fires were 
kept burning in the big house. Like the Yahgan (p. 84) , the Alcu;aluf 
drank through a bone tube, an unusual article, which is unknown 
archeologically, except in Yahgan territory. The women had to ask 
permission to leave the lodge to seek shellfish and to cook; the candi- 
dates asked to go out to relieve themselves, which they did only after 
dark. The men cut the firewood as usual. 

For amusement, a rounded piece of wood was hung from the roof, 
18 to 24 inches (45 to 61 cm.) above the floor. When the last lines 
of the Whale Song were sung, this was struck with a short stick and 
made to swing, while the initiates seated along the walls tried to dodge 
it without moving from their position. An ordinary swing made 
with two thongs and a cross bar was also suspended from the house 

AH candidates had to bathe in the sea in the evening, even if it 
were cold. After the first bath, their chests were painted red, but 
were not scratched as among the Yahgan (p. 99). During the first 
days, whenever women were absent, the boys made small symbolic 
harpoons with painted shafts, similar to those shown by Lothrop (1928, 
pi. 9) , and stood them against the wall behind their places. The shell- 


fish poles not in use stood against the walls at the ends of the lodge. If 
either fell over, it was a bad omen. 

At night, the older men danced, wearing the heron-plume head band 
(Lothrop, 1928, pi. 15, A). Two or three performed at once, each 
more or less independent of the others. Boys with short white sticks 
were posted at the doorways to prevent the women, who were excluded 
from this performance, from seeing it. 

The candidates had to learn the Whale Song at night when alone 
with the men. Subsequently, the women were ordered to their huts, 
and a man, dressed and painted as when guarding a woman at child- 
birth, was stationed on the top of the big house. If anyone ap- 
proached, he shouted and beat the roof with a stick. Meanwhile, the 
men and boys inside put on their head bands and paint, according to 
rank and station, and began the first verse of the Whale Song : 

We sing up on the mountain, 

We put the chepana over our head and body, 

We enter the big house to paint the little poles. 

The buzzard is flying at the top of the sky. 

Today we will not go out, tom.orrow we will not go out. 

This we command all. 

The men and boys now left the big house, leaving those who had 
painted their noses and cheeks inside, while certain initiates acted 
as guards to keep them from looking out. Two initiates with their 
hands tied behind their backs, one at each end of a harpoon line about 
25 feet (7.6 m.) long, were led out by older men. This line was then 
stretched taut at the height of their hands and the men and boys 
gathered in a group around each initiate. Three women were called 
by name from the women's huts, where all the women and girls were 
at the time. Accompanied by a special jumping song, they jumped 
together three times over the line and back, afterward running to the 
big hut. In groups of three, the remainder of the women and girls 
were called to jump. Those failing to clear the line were struck by 
a man wearing the heron chepana. The men and boys returned to 
the big house immediately after the jumping. At the conclusion of 
the singing, an old man and a boy had a mock wrestling match outside 
the big house. 

There were various songs about different animals and birds, some 
sung with the women, others sung by men and boys alone at night. 

As among the Yahgan (p. 104), at one point during the ceremony a 
man called "aak ai" went off in the woods and disguised himself as a 
spirit, painting black stripes down his face and his body solid black. 
He was naked, except for a white band with a black spot in the center 
of it and a white kelp goose skin tied across his chest. He carried a 
special club tied to his waist and began shouting, 

hu-hu, harrh, hu-hu, haarh. 


while still out of sight in the forest. Hearing this, the people in the 
lodge beat the walls and shouted to drive him away. Women and girls 
seeing him cried, for he struck with his club those he could catch. 
After whooping and banging about for some time, he stopped his 

Toward the end of the initiation, the women spent one day in the big 
house without eating or drinking, while the men and boys wearing their 
paint and head bands stayed in the women's houses. Except for sing- 
ing, the women's activities are not known. In the evening, the men and 
boys returned to the lodge, where the women remained that night with 
their heads lowered so as not to see what the men were doing, lest they 
be hit with a stick. This marked the end of the festival, and on the 
following day the group dispersed. There was no distribution of 
presents as at the close of the Yahgan initiation (p. 99). 

During this ceremony a large seal tooth and a small white stone 
were buried together to insure good weather. 

Additional data on ceremonies have been recorded by Gusinde * from 
the southernmost Alacaluf at Muiioz Gamero. He uses "yinchihaua" 
to designate secret men's rites performed in a conical hut by masked 
participants for the express purpose of frightening and subduing the 
women. Gusinde distinguishes this from a boys' initiation ceremony, 
ka la kai, which is presumably the equivalent of the ceremony described 
above. It was held in the long oval hut. As this hut is called yinchi- 
haua throughout Alacaluf territory, it is curious that the term should 
apply here to distinct ghost rites. 

North of the Muiioz Gamero group, bark or skin masks are some- 
times used, but not in connection with the big oval house rites. As a 
joke of no particular significance, a man may secretly mask and paint 
himself, hide in the woods, and try to frighten the women. 

The concentration among the southern Alacaluf of ghost rites, which 
are obviously closely related to the Ona kloketen (p. 104) and the 
Yahgan kina (p. 104), and the wider distribution of adolescent initia- 
tion ceremonies, similar to the Yahgan ciexaus (p. 120), can be inter- 
preted to mean that the former diffused from the Ona whereas the 
Yahgan ciexaus and the Alacaluf yinchihaua (the initiation rites and 
festivities connected with the house of this name) are older elements 
among the canoe-using Indians. 

Marriage. — The Indians deny any restrictions prior to marriage. 
After marriage, husbands are likely to be jealous and may beat their 
wives for infidelity. Marriage involves no ceremony; a man and 
woman decide to live together, and the man moves in with the girl's 
family. If they need more room after having children, they set up 
an independent household. There are no restrictions on sexual rela- 

* Summarized or referred to in various articles : Gusinde, 1925 a, pp. 50-60 ; 1926 a, 
pp. 287-312 : 1929 d, pp. 344-348. 


tions, except for 15 ^ days of continence after childbirth. A widower 
may marry his dead wife's sister, but not his brother's widow. Polyg- 
amy is now rare, but is not forbidden ; a man may marry two sisters or 
else a woman and her daughter by a former husband. 

Death observances. — After a death, everyone at the encampment 
paints his face black. All the deceased's property is burned except the 
canoe, canoe equipment, and skins for covering the hut. A southern 
Alacaluf stated that immediately after a death, the men beat the out- 
side of the hut with sticks, shouting "ey-yah-yu-ma." At a child's but 
not at an adult's death, baskets are thrown into the fire. The deceased, 
with the knees and hands against the chest, is wrapped in sealskins 
in as small a bundle as possible. Disposal depends on the situation. In 
the south, the body is interred if possible, but in much of the western 
channel area, any hole cut through the tangled roots fills immediately 
with water, so that caves or protected places along the base of cliffs 
are sought or the body is hidden in the forest. Some meat and shell- 
fish of all available kinds are placed beside the body and live coals are 
put in a miniature hut built nearby. If the grave is at the base of a 
cliff, the rock above or near the body is smeared with red paint. 

After disposing of the body, the Alacaluf make a chepana, a braid 
of three leather thongs, about 5 feet (ll^ m.) long, which holds 
feathers of the carnecero hawk in each turn of a thong. They fasten 
the chepana across the top of the hut frame at right angles to its long 
axis and leave all of the deceased's possessions in the hut, taking only 
the canoe and the hut cover. 

The next party to visit this place on seeing the chepana knows that 
a death has occurred. They are supposed to burn or otherwise de- 
stroy the hut frame and the objects in it. The newcomers will not 
camp here, and before going on must place a reclbird snare pole 
upright in the ground to warn others that a death recently occurred 
and that the camp is not to be used. It is probably only immediate 
relatives who avoid the site permanently. 

Archeological evidence lends some support to verbal accounts. No 
grave goods accompany bodies found in the position described ; a few 
shells of several species, bird and fish bones lie near them, and in the 
south a red smear was seen on a nearby rock. 


Art. — Crude lines sketched on bone pendants and paint applied to 
persons and objects during rites are the sole expressions of art. For- 
merly the Indians put some red paint on their weapons, but now 
rarely do so. 

* This flgure should not be taken too seriously. See : Measurement of time and counting. 


Games, amusement, and toys. — No games or children's toys are 
reported, though swings of rawhide thongs with wooden cross bars 
are sometimes made. As far as observed, children content themselves 
with imitating their elders, occasionally making miniature huts, 
weapons, and baskets, and gathering a few shellfish and roasting them 
in the little huts. 

Music. — The Alacaluf have no musical instruments, and sing little 
or not at all except when the big house is erected. They like to listen 
to a phonograph, but of a wide variety of modern recordings they 
evinced real liking only for American Negro spirituals. Hearing 
these even for the first time, they hum and follow the tune quite well. 

Dances. — There are no good descriptions of dancing, which seems 
to be confined to the initiation ( ?) rites. 

Narcotics. — The Alacaluf had no native narcotics. They have ac- 
quired a fondness for tobacco, but cannot obtain it regularly. 

Drinks. — Leaves, twigs, and berries (?) of the wild currant [Ribes 
magellanicum) placed in water and left for some days produce a drink 
called palpas, which is said to be intoxicating. This mixture, boiled, 
is called ow waf na. As boiling is foreign to their culture and is 
done in old tin cans, it is presumably a recent development. From 
the Whites the Alacaluf have acquired a fondness for alcoholic 
beverages, but none of the natives encountered in 1935-36 requested 


Data on medicine are meager. Canelo bark is said to be used as a 
laxative. From the leaves of Senecio candidans, poultices are made 
for rheumatism. Anyone may prepare these things, though a certain 
old man had unusual knowledge of this subject. Incantation, massage, 
and sucking are used in shamanistic curing (Gusinde, 1925 b, p. 145). 

There is some belief in witchcraft. Hair clippings are burned lest 
someone twist the hairs with sinew into thread and pound them be- 
tween stones, causing the person to whom the hair belonged to become 
thin, sicken, and die. Gusinde (1925 b, p. 142) also reports that hair 
scraps were buried or made into a wad and forced down a dog's 

There are no rules for camp sanitation. Excrement is found any- 
where in the vicinity of and even inside the hut. 


Religious ideas are vague and conflicting and probably have been 
influenced by the White man. The confused data antedating Gusinde's 
investigations, together with archeological evidence on treatment of 
the dead, clearly indicate some belief in spirits and in an existence 
after death. 

VOL. 1 ] 


Gusinde (1925 b, pp. 137-140) is convinced of the native origin 
of a clear-cut concept of a single supreme creator-god, Xolas, who 
resides in a celestial region but is concerned with the daily acts of 
mankind. At Xolas' instigation, a soul enters the body of each 
newborn baby and remains there until death, when it rejoins him. 

Living in an unpleasant climate, where storms and gales constantly 
interfere with the search for food, the Alacahif have various super- 
stitions about the weather. 

Beliefs which, with some variations, are common to both groups 
are the following: 

Bad weather is caused by throwing sand or small pebbles at the 
hut or into the water; by a flock of parrots flying overhead, especially 
if one looks at them or kills one (the Indians do not like to touch a 
parrot) ; by throwing shellfish into the fire and leaving them there 
(this also causes rough water) ; and by throwing empty shells over- 
board. The shells of the shellfish eaten when traveling by canoe 
are carefully saved, and must be placed on land above high water 
mark. This is an old belief, for Byron nearly lost his life by violating 
the custom (Byron, 1810, p. 92). 

Ashes thrown on the water bring fair weather. If bad weather 
overtakes a canoe party, several eg^s thrown in the sea will make it 
smooth; lacking eggs, old baskets may be burned. One northern 
Alacdhof claims to have seen a small baby thrown overboard at a 
time of extreme danger. If a snowstorm blows from the north, 
burning a handful of any kind of feathers will turn the snow to rain 
and cause a south wind, which brings fair weather in this region. 

To assure good, calm weather, the southern Alacaluf bury a large 
sea lion tooth with a small white stone, then dig them up the follow- 
ing "year," i. e., sometime later, and throw them in the sea. The 
northern group wraps a seal tooth and stone in a teal duck sldn, to- 
gether with a bit of the duck's meat, and two feathers from the wing 
or tail, digging them up and burning them the next "year." 

All Alacaluf are extremely vague about units of time. Beyond 
"yesterday" and "tomorrow," and "winter" and "summer," they 
make little distinction. Even those who know Spanish have diffi- 
culty in correctly using our units of time. Their inability to count 
is partly to blame ; most persons can count to five, five being synony- 
mous with "many." Some, however, do not know the word for four. 


Bird, 1938 ; Borgatello, 1928 ; Bulkeley and Cummins, 1927 ; Byron, 1810 ; Camp- 
bell, 1747 ; Cooper, 1917 ; Fitz-Roy, 1839 ; Fletcher, 1652 ; Gusinde, 1924, 1925 a, 
1925 b, 1925 c, 1926 a, 1927, 1928 b, 1929, 1937, 1939 ; Hanaford, 1867 ; King, 1839 ; 
Koppers, 1925 a ; Lothrop, 1928 ; Marcel, 1892 ; Oyarztin, 1922 ; Skottsberg, 1913. 

Plate 23.— Alacaluf territory. Top: East side of Wellington Island. Typical of Western Ciiannels 
Bottom: Carlos III Island and Strait of Magellan. (Courtesy Junius Bird.) 

•> »*-■■* 

••^%:«j- - 

" • '■■'-' 


\f ■• 

-'••J- , 


Safe- ■.,• 









Plate 25.— Alacaluf children. Puerto Rio Frio, Wellington Island. Top: Gathering sea urchins. Bot- 
tom (left): Boy using sea urchin spear. Bottom (riqht): Removing sea urchin from spear. (Courtesy 
Junius Bird.) 


Plate 26.— Alacaluf camps. Top: Hut, Escape Reach. Bottom: English Narrows. (Courtesy Junius 


Plate 27.— Alacaluf huts. Top; Puerto Rio Frio. Rear view of hut. Bottom: Hut framf. At entrance 
to Iceberg Sound. (Courtesy Junius Bird.) 




b- •7'^ 


^ ■■ ■ ■ i/ JH 

Plate 2s.- Alacaluf life. Top; Women going after shellfish. English Xarnnvs. liottom: Alacahi f dogs 
Puerto Eden. (Courtesy Junius Bird.) 

Alacaluf i-anoes. 7'"/); Puerto Bueno. I<"il 
Kiiglish Narrows. (Court 

- \^ith plankod gunwales at 

Plate 30. — Alacaluf plank boats and implements. Top: 
Plank boats at Strait of Magellan. (Courtesy Charles 
Townsend and American Museum of Natural His- 
tory.) So«om (/e/O.'Tant-tarrh spear. Probably from 
Alacaluf ol Magellan Strait. BoHom (center): Steering 
paddle, used in plank boat. Bottom (right): Bird pole 
snare. From Escape Reach. Scale at right, 40 cm. 
long. (Courtesy American Museum of Natural His- 


Plate 31.— Alacaluf artifacts, a, b, Coiled baskets; c, bark bucket; d, saw-tool h point for Tanttarrh spear, 
probably from Southern Alacnlnf; e, necklace of marine worm tubes, from Puerto Eden; /, bone awl, 19 
cm. long, from Escape Reach; g. old type single-barb harpoon point, Wellington Island; h, 2 modern 
harpoon points from English Narrows. (Courtesy American Museum of Natural History ) 

Plate 32.— Alacaluf Indian types. Top: Alacaluf women. iBottom: Alacaluf iiild. (Courtesy Junius 



By John M. Cooper 


Natural environment. — The Yahgan habitat is archipelagic, the 
mountainous islands constituting the last outposts of the Andean 
chain before it dips beneath the sea at Cape Horn (map 1, No. lA; 
map 2). Atmospheric temperatures at sea level differ somewhat 
from locality to locality, with a summer mean around 50° F., a 
winter mean close to the freezing point, and a winter minimum 
around 10° F. Snowfalls not infrequently occur even in the summer 
months (pi. 35). Relatively very cold or very warm spells are 
usually of short duration. Sudden changes in temperature, in wind 
velocity, and in sunshine, cloudiness, and precipitation are character- 
istic. Violent squalls and strong gales are common. 

The islands up to about 1,500 feet altitude are heavily wooded, 
chiefly with beeches {Nothofagus hetuloides and N. pymilio, ever- 
greens; N. antarctica, deciduous), together with Winter's bark 
{Drimys loinferi), "cypress" {Lihocedrus tetragona), and lena dura 
{Maytenus magellanica). The forest floor is thickly covered with 
rotting and rotten fallen trunks, which with the thick spiny masses 
of barberry bushes {Berberis ilicifolia and B. huxifolia) and holly 
{PerneUya mucronata) make travel through the woods extremely 
slow and difficult. Foxes and rats, the land mammals that could 
have helped in the Yahgan dietary, were eschewed. Marine mam- 
mals, fish, and other sea food were abundant in most localities. As 
a result of the foregoing conditions, the Yahgan lived mostly on the 
water and along the shore line, penetrating inland very little. 

Territory. — In the last century and probably from much earlier 
times the Yahgan regularly occupied the southern coast of Tierra 
del Fuego Island from about the eastern end of Beagle Channel to 
Brecknock Peninsula, and the islands south of this line to Cape Horn. 
But they evidently wandered more widely; Yahgan house sites and 
implements have been found as far north as Elizabeth Island in the 
Strait of Magellan (Bird, 1938, p. 260). Between Good Success 
Bay and the eastern end of Beagle Channel, there was considerable 


583486—46 6 


contact, barter, and intermarriage with the Ona; between Brecknock 
Peninsula and the western end of Beagle Channel, with the Alacaluf. 

Names and divisions. — The Yahgan called themselves Ydmana, 
"human beings." They were first called Yahgan by the Rev. Thomas 
Bridges, from Yahga, the native name for the Murray Narrows re- 
gion, a locality much frequented by some of them. Ydmana would 
be preferable for anthropological use, but Yahgan is so well estab- 
lished in the literature that we are retaining it in the Handbook. 
The Yahgan recognized five subdivisions, each with its own 
aboriginal name: a southern, an eastern, a central, a western, and a 
southwestern (Koppers, 1927, p. 468; 1928 a, pp. 158-159; Gusinde, 
1937, pp. 199-208; Lothrop, 1928, p. 120, map opp. p. 24). These 
subdivisions differed more dialectically than culturally. 

History of investigation. — The Yahgan were first visited and de- 
scribed by Jacques L'Hermite in 1624. The next important landmark 
was the Beagle expeditions under Admiral Robert Fitz-Roy in 1829- 
82. It is, however, to the Rev. Thomas Bridges that we are indebted 
for our first intimate insight into Yahgan culture and linguistics. 
The Italo-Argentinian expedition in 1882 and the French Cape Horn 
expedition in 1882-83 made important advances in Yahgan somatology 
but were largely indebted to Bridges for their cultural and linguis- 
tic data. The field studies of Fathers Martin Gusinde in 1919-23 and 
Wilhelm Koppers in 1922 served to complete the picture, particularly 
as regards social and magico-religious life. Samuel K. Lothrop's field 
study of 1924-25 (1928, 1932 a) rounded out our knowledge of Yahgam, 
technology. The only remaining gap is that of archeology, a gap 
in part filled by Vignati and by Lothrop, and more recently by Junius 
Bird in 1932-37. 

The more valuable first-hand sources on the Yahgan from 1624 to 
1917 are : Bove (1882, 1883 : the two identical on culture) ; T. Bridges 
(1866, 1886, 1892, 1893) ; Dabbene (1911) ; Despard (1863) ; C. W. 
Furlong (1909, 1917 a) ; Hyades (1885) ; Hyades and Deniker (1891: 
of basic importance) ; Lovisato (1883, 1885) ; South American Mis- 
sionary Magazine (1854- ) ; Spegazzini (1882). The anthropolog- 
ical information given in these and the other sources up to 1917 is 
analyzed and made available in Cooper (1917). Since 1917, the most 
important contributions are: Lothrop (1928), for technology; Kop- 
pers (1924) and especially Gusinde (1937), for all phases of culture, 
particularly the social and religious ones; Von Hornbostel (1936), 
for music; T. Bridges (1933), for language and general culture; 
Vignati (1927) and Bird (1938), for archeology; Gusinde (1939), for 
physical anthropology. 

Gusinde's exhaustive monograph, "Die Yamana" (1937), based 
mostly on his and Koppers' field studies and in part on a thorough 
combing of the literature, gives nearly all that is known of Yahgan 

Vol. 1] 


culture. If this large and expensive monograph is not accessible, the 
following more important papers may be consulted : Gusinde (1921-22, 
1924, 1925 a, 1925 c, 1926 a, 1926 c, 1927, 1928 b, 1929) ; Koppers (1925 a, 
1925 b, 1926 a, 1926 b, 1927, 1928 a, 1928 b). 

For bibliographies of the Yahgan see: Cooper (1917), for sources, 
with comments on each, to 1917; Lothrop (1928), for sources from 
1917 to 1928; Gusinde (1937), for selected and added sources, and for 
evaluations (pp. 48-161) of the publications of the more important 
first-hand observers. 

Language. — The Yahgan language with its five mutually intelli- 
gible dialects constitutes a distinct linguistic family, with no known 
relationship to any other. The elder Bridges' r«?7iana-English dic- 
tionary, the one completed in 1879, contains about 23,000 words, a 
carefully restricted, not a padded, list, as he himself emphasized 
(1933, p. xvii). Yahgan, in contrast to Ona, is markedly euphonic. 
There were no words for numerals beyond three, and none for 

Population. — According to our first dependable estimates, the 
Yahgan population, in the third quarter of the 19th century, totaled 
between 2,500 and 3,000 souls. In 1881 a sharp decline set in. By 1884 
numbers had dwindled to about 1,000; by 1886, to 400; by 1899, to 
200; by 1902, to 130; by 1913, to less than 100; by 1933 to 40. The 
immediate causes of the sudden drop in the eighties were the respira- 
tory diseases and a severe outbreak of measles in 1884, followed by epi- 
demics of typhoid, whooping-cough, and smallpox. Syphilis does 
not appear to have played an important role. Contributory, or rather 
basic predisposing, factors were, it seems, the then introdaced Euro- 
pean ways of life, especially the clothing, but also the food, alcoholic 
beverages, and type of shelter and work. 


Foods. — The Yahgan had no domesticated plants, and no domesti- 
cated animals except the dog. Whether the earlier pre-Columbian 
and post-Columbian Yahgan had dogs is uncertain. No bones of dogs 
have been found in early archeological sites in Yahgan or other 
Fuegian territory. The earlier explorers, — L'Hermite, 1624 ; d'Arqui- 
stade, 1715 — make no mention of the dog in their descriptions of 
Yahgan culture, as none is made of it among the Alacaluf by the 15 
accounts of them prior to Narbrough's of 1670. The dog was first 
recorded among the Yahgan in 1823 by James Weddell; it is re- 
corded consistently thereafter by later observers (Cooper, 1917, pp. 
186-187) . Dogs were not eaten. 


Lotlirop (1928, p. 32) rated the relative importance in the Tahgan 
dietary of their foods as follows: (1) Easily of first importance, 
mussels; (2) next, seals, and fish of many kinds; (3) next, porpoises, 
gulls, and bird eggs; (4) then, whales, limpets, crabs, sea urchins, 
geese, penguins, cormorants; (5) last and least, otter (chiefly in the 
west), guanaco (only in the east), conchs, ducks, berries (especially 
wild black currants) . The fungi eaten were those growing on trees ; 
those growing on the ground were not eaten. Some wild celery and 
wild parsnips and two varieties of cress and young shoots of tussock 
grass were also eaten. Foxes were eaten only in famine as a last 
resort. Salt was not used. 

Hunting. — Seals were hunted with spear or harpoon from canoes 
or from land (pi. 36) , or killed with clubs. Whales were occasionally 
hunted in the open sea with spear or harpoon; stranded or dead 
whales were eagerly exploited. Dogs helped in otter and fox hunting. 
Cormorants were taken at night by torchlight with clubs; also with 
a pronged wooden gorge hook. Birds were taken with pole snares 
(fig. 11, d) and with single or multiple tether snares of sinew or 
whalebone. No lifting pole snares, deadfalls, or pitfalls are reported. 

Fishing and sea-food gathering. — Mussels were gathered by hand ; 
limpets, with a flat-ended stick; sea urchins, with a four-pronged 
wooden fork; crabs and other Crustacea, with a harpoon or a 
three-pronged stick. For taking sea food, the Tahgan also used a 
spear with two diverging shanks, or two to four spears lashed together. 
Women fished with a kelp-stem or braided whale-sinew line, that had 
a slipknot of whalebone or of quill at the end, instead of a hook, 
to hold the bait ; slowly drawing the fish to the surface, they would 
grab it by hand. Fishhooks were probably lacking. Weirs of 
branches or stakes were used. True fish nets were absent. The near- 
est approach thereto was a small basket attached to the end of a 
pole and used as a sort of dip net for diminutive fish. 

Food storage. — Limited quantities of dried tree fungi were stored ; 
so too was oil, especially whale and seal oil. 

Food preparation and eating. — Large mussel shells were used for 
melting fat and holding grease. Water was heated and grease melted 
by throwing hot stones into them, but there is no record of stone 
boiling proper. 

Shells of large mussels were sometimes used as plates; shells or 
bark buckets as cups ; hollow bird bones or reeds as drinking tubes. 


There were no permanent villages. Certain groups of natives re- 
lated apparently by blood and marriage frequented and occupied 
more or less fixed separate localities within the respective five sub- 




Figure 11. — Yahgan harpoon and pole snare, a. Harpoon assembled for casting ; 6, cross 
section of harpoon shaft ; c, position when dragging through water (length of harpoon 
head 10 in., or 25.5 cm.) ; d, two views of bird snare (diameter of loop 6i/^ in., or 16.5 cm.). 
(After Lothrop, 1928, flgs. 82, 87.) 

divisional areas. Apart from initiation and other social or religious 
functions, which brought larger numbers together temporarily in a 
common camp, each biological family or small group of two or three 
families tended to camp apart, more frequently in the same shelter. 

The two chief forms of family shelter were the beehive hut and 
the conical hut. The beehive or domed hut, the more common form, 
especially in the west, was circular or elliptical in ground plan, 
made of a framework of flexible sticks bent over dome-shape and 
fastened together, and covered with grass, ferns, branches, bark, 
skins, or anything at hand (pi. 33, h). 


quently used toward the east, was tipi-form, with a framework of 
stiff stout saplings or tree trunks. 

The ground in the interior of the hut was often, but not always, 
scooped out, to a depth of 2, 3, or more feet (0.6 to 1 m.) beneath the 
outside ground level, and was usually covered with a little grass or 
some branches. The fire was made in the center. The huts had one 
door, facing the sea ; or else two doors, one facing the sea, the other 
being opposite. 

Archeological stratification in the Yahgo.n area of Navarino Island 
shows an earlier culture with shelters like those still used by the 
Alax^aluf^ oval in ground plan, having two entrances, and without 
scooped-out pits; and a later one with circular shelters having one 
entrance, and with pits 12 to 18 feet (4 to 6 m.) in diameter, scooped out 
in some cases to a depth of more than 3 feet (1 m.) (Bird, 1938, p. 261) . 
The two historic types of Yahgan wigwam, oval and circular, unpitted 
and pitted, may thus represent two chronologically distinct cultures. 

Larger and more substantial huts were built for initiation rites 
(q. v., infra) ; sometimes very small ones, for the use of children. The 
Yahgan also at times used caves or made a very rude shelter of a few 
branches tied together or stuck in the ground. 

At the time of Lothrop's visit in 1924-25, practically all the then 
surviving Yahgan were accustomed to pass the winter months at 
Puerto Mejillones and Porto Piedra, on Navarino Island, in huts 
poorly constructed of ill-fitting boards (Lothrop, 1928, p. 188). Loth- 
rop (1928, p. 131) considers the use of the wing of a large bird for 
sweeping out the shelter to have probably been the result of missionary 


Clothing. — The chief garment, for men and women, was a small 
cape, of seal, sea-otter, or fox skin, sometimes of two or more skins 
sewn together — occasionally of bird skins — worn with the fur outside, 
covering the shoulder and breast or reaching to the waist, and held 
in place by a string across the chest. It was commonly shifted outdoors 
over the windward shoulder. Vei-y frequently it was left off entirely. 
The women rarely if ever went without a small triangular pubic cover- 
ing of bird skin or hide, held in place by a string attached to each 
upper corner and encircling the waist (pi. 33, /). No head covering 
was worn. Usually the Yahgan went barefoot, but sometimes when 
traveling or hunting on land they wore rather crudely made moccasins 
(fig. 12), resembling closely the Ona ones in pattern, of sealskin, with 
the hair outside, and stuffed inside with grass (cf. Lothrop, 1928, p. 
124, photo). The eastern Yahgan^ when hunting guanaco in winter, 
sometimes wore guanaco skin leggings, like the Ona^ from whom they 



Figure 12. — Yahgan moccasin. (After Lothrop, 1928, fig. 46.) 

probably borrowed them. The Yahgan occasionally used a rude 
fingerless working glove of hide. The clothing of the Yahgan seems 
to us utterly inadequate, given the climatic conditions — temperatures 
commonly around and well below freezing point in winter, high winds, 
frequent snow, hail, sleet, and cold rain — but in view of the seeming 
role played in their decline by introduced European clothing and their 
relative good health prior thereto, perhaps their clothing was 
reasonably well adapted to the environment. 

Hairdressing and depilation. — The hair was worn loose, not in 
braids, and was often banged. Sometimes a sort of tonsure was 
worn. A sharp-edged mussel shell was used to cut the hair. For 
combing the hair, more commonly the jawbone of a porpoise or otter, 
or a toothed comb made of whalebone, was used ; sometimes, a brush 
comb made of a bundle of roots (Outes and Bruch, 1910, p. 138) or of 
quills (Gusinde, 1937, p. 423). Depilation, with two mussel shells 
as tweezers, of all face and body hair was practically universal, for 
both sexes. 

Scarification. — Scarification was practiced as a mourning observ- 
ance and tattooing as an initiation rite (Gusinde, 1937, p. 863), but 
neither for ordinary decorative purposes. There was no head de- 
formation, no ear, lip, or septum piercing, no body mutilation of any 
other kind. 

Painting. — Smearing the head and body with grease or oil was as 
much protective as decorative. Face and body painting was com- 
mon, sometimes with use of a small spatula. Only three colors — 
red, black, and white — were used. Eed was derived from burnt earth, 
black from charcoal, and white from clay. Red symbolized peace; 


white, war and ritual; black, mourning. Designs were very simple, 
confined to lines, dots, and, less commonly, circles. 

Ornaments. — Personal adornments were: necklaces, of sections of 
bird leg bones strung on braided sinew, of strung punched shells 
{Photinula violacea), or of f rapped hanks of braided sinew, often 
colored red ; bone or shell pendants, sometimes attached to the neck- 
laces; and wristlets and anklets of sinew and hide. Feather diadems 
and bird-skin, feather, or down-ornamented fillets or forehead caps 
were also used. 


Canoes. — Travel by the Yahgan was almost entirely by water. 
Their earlier sole form of watercraft was the built-up bark canoe, of 
a crescent or gondola shape that characterizes other craft well up the 
west coast of South America to Peru; the plank boat, the Araucanian 
dugout, the seal-hide float, and the double-ended reed balsa were 
absent (Lothrop, 1932 a, pp. 253-54). 

The Yahgan canoe (pis. 34, 35) was made of three strips of beech 
bark, one-half inch to more than an inch (1.2 to 2.5 cm.) thick, which 
ordinarily formed the bottom and two sides respectively. Average 
length was about 15 feet (5 m.), with a range from about 12 to 20 
feet (4 to 7 m.) ; gunwale to gunwale width in center, about 3 feet 
(1 m.) ; depth in center, about 2 feet (0.6 m.). The bark, taken only 
from the evergreen beech {Nothofagus tetuloides) ^ was stripped off 
in the spring, when the sap was running. In removing the bark from 
the tree, the natives used a bone chisel or mussel-shell knife to cut 
it and a bone barking tool to strip it, and in ascending the tree held 
themselves thereto with a strong rawhide thong. After smoothing 
the bark on both sides with a small chisel, they cut it into three cigar- 
shaped pieces. These pieces were then sewn together with whale- 
bone or with shreddings of warmed saplings, the seams being wadded 
with the stringy seams of wild celery grass or with moss mixed with 
mud. The gunwales were next lashed on. The ribs, of split Winter's 
bark, were then fitted in and locked in place under the gunwales. 
The thwarts, usually five or six, of hardwood, were inserted and lashed 
to the gunwale. 

The fireplace was set amidships. The paddle was in one piece with 
a long lanceolate blade and short round-section handle without cross- 
piece or other grip. The Yahgan canoe leaked much ; the cylindrical 
bailers (pi. 33, e) were usually of bark or sealskin. Sealskin thongs 
and braided grass ropes were used as mooring lines. The construction 
and repair of the canoe were the man's task ; but its management, in- 
cluding paddling and mooring off shore in a kelp bed, were the woman's. 
In a sense, she was mistress of the canoe, with its hearth and ever- 
lighted fire. In a favorable wind a crude sail, made of a sealskin or 


of several skins sewn together, was sometimes set up — a practice 
whose origin, native or European, is uncertain. (For details on manu- 
facture and use of canoe, cf . : Lothrop, 1928, pp. 143-145 ; 1932 a, pp. 
251-253; Gusinde, 1937, pp. 438-457.) 

After about 1880 the Yahgan began to give up their traditional bark 
canoes, and to adopt the dugout. Still later, prior to Lothrop's visit 
in 1924-25, the dugout had been entirely superseded by the dory, of 
European type and origin. 

The Yahgan never adopted the plank boat from their Alacaluf 
neighbors and never used rafts or skin-covered watercraft, so far as 
our records reveal. 


Pottery, weaving, and metallurgy were entirely absent ; no traces of 
pottery have been discovered archeologically in Yahgan territory. 

String-making and sewing. — Plant fibers, plain, shredded, or 
braided, were used in basket making, canoe sewing, and for mooring 
lines, respectively; braided whale sinew, for necklaces, fishing lines, 
and tool and weapon lashings ; braided guanaco sinew, for bowstrings ; 
whalebone, in sewing canoes and for bird snares and fishline nooses ; 
seal-hide thongs, for tool and weapon lashings, harpoon lines, basket 
handles, mooring lines, and bowstrings. Awls were made of bone and 
wood, unhafted. The drill was lacking. 

Basketry. — Four techniques in basket making were in use: (1) 
Simple half-hitch coiled, the commonest type (fig. 13, top) ; (2) 
twisted half-hitch coiled, rarer (fig. 13, center) ; (3) knotted half- 
hitch coiled, not common (fig. 13, hottom) ; (4) a sort of wrapped type. 
The first three were of excellent craftsmanship ; the last, very crudely 
woven, and used only as a dip net for catching very small fish. The 
material for all four was a rush {Juncus mageUanicus) . The coiled 
baskets were more or less oblong-spheroid in shape, and had a carrying 
handle of thong or plaited rush (pi. 33, c) . 

Skin dressing. — No process of dressing proper is reported. Seal- 
skins were stretched on the ground, covered with grass and moss, and 
left so for a while, to help dehair them. Drying frames were appar- 
ently used. The scraper consisted of a mussel shell lashed to a cylin- 
drical stone haft. The Yahgan made thongs flexible by drawing them 
through their teeth or by chewing them. 

Stoneworking. — Little use of worked stone was made except for 
arrowheads and, rarely, scrapers. The workmanship was crude. 
Archeologically, there are some traces of stone pecking and polishing 
(Lothrop, 1928, p. 203 ; cf . Bird, 1938) . 

Containers. — Cylindrical buckets (pi. 33, e), of Nothofagm 
hetuloides bark, for carrying and holding drinking water and for 
bailing, were made by the woman, with the use of a barking tool dif- 



[B. A. B. Bull. 143 

Figure 13 — Details of Yahqan coiled ba'^ketry. Top: Simple half bitch coiling (height 
1 in., or 2.5 cm.). Center. Twibted half hitch coiling (height 1 in., or 2.5 cm.). Bottom: 
Knotted half -hitch coiling (height 2 in., or 5 cm.). (After Lothrop, 1928, figs. 61, 63, 65.) 

Vol. 1] 


ferent from the man's. Among other more used containers were: 
pouches of seal or penguin skin for holding small objects; bladders 
or windpipes of seals or porpoises for holding ocher and firestones; 
crops of geese and stomachs of seals for holding oil. (Cf. others in 
Lothrop, 1928, p. 133.) 

Tools. — These have mostly been dealt with incidentally in the pre- 
ceding sections. The hafted mussel-shell scraper, mentioned above 
under "Skin dressing," was also the common knife. Stone-headed 
daggers or knives were used by the earlier Yahgan (Cooper, 1917, p. 
207). The stone celt or ax was lacking. Wedges were of bone; 
arrow polishers, of a bit of pumice. 

Weapons. — The characteristic weapons used by the Yahgan both 
in hunting and in fighting were the spear and harpoon (fig. 11, a-c) , 
the club, and the sling. The bow and arrow, in contrast to Ona usage, 
occupied a very subordinate position. 

The spear shaft was quadrangular, hexagonal, octagonal, or dec- 
agonal in section, from 8 feet (2.5 m.) or less to 12 feet (4 m.) long; the 
shank, ordinarily of bone, with unilateral or bilateral single or serrate 
barbs and with notched tang, lashed to the split or slotted end of the 
shaft. The atlatl was absent. The harpoon, without toggle, was 
merely a spear with a detachable shank tied by a thong to the shaft. 
The club was a plain straight heavy stick. The cradle of the sling 
was of hide, the lines of braided whale gut. 

Yahgan bows, arrows, and quivers closely resembled those of the 
Ona — a curved self bow, ranging from about 3 to 4 feet long, with 
string of seal hide or of braided seal, whale, or guanaco sinew; the 
arrow, without foreshaft, and with triangular stemmed and barbed 
head of stone, bone, or, more recently, glass; the quiver, rectangular, 
of skin, or tubular, of bark. Arrow poisoning was absent. Both 
archeological and ethnological evidence suggests that the Yahgan 
most likely acquired the bow and arrow after their arrival in their 
historic habitat, from the Ona. (Cf. Bird, 1938, pp. 261-263 ; Cooper, 
1917, pp. 211-213.) 

Fire making and illumination. — The only method of fire making 
was by percussion with flint and pyrites, bird down or dried fungus 
serving as tinder. Fire was carried around in the canoe on a hearth 
of earth, shell, or stones. Two-pronged tongs were in use. Bark 
torches provided illumination. Fire was employed not only for cook- 
ing, heating, and lighting, but also for signaling, straightening arrow 
and spear shafts, bending canoe ribs, felling trees, preparing bark for 
canoes and material for baskets, and other purposes. 


Marriage and the family. — The sexes were kept separate after 
about the age of 7 and were warned by their elders against sexual liber- 


ties. Intercourse between the unmarried was disapproved, but 
breaches of the code were not infrequent. Marriage between blood 
relatives, however distant, was in theory taboo; in practice, the pro- 
hibition included half-siblings, uncle and niece, aunt and nephew, first 
cousins, both parallel and cross, and seemingly extended somewhat 
beyond these limits. Since near relatives commonly lived near one 
another, marriages tended to be locally exogamous. Marriages with 
mates from far distant localities, especially outside one's own of the 
five dialectic groups, were disliked and infrequent. Marriage with a 
mother and her daughter was disapproved, but not so strongly as mar- 
riage with near blood-kin. Sponsors were barred from marrying 
their respective candidates of the ciexaus ^ initiation rite. 

Choice of mate was ordinarily free on the part both of the boy and of 
the girl, and appears to have been based largely on mutual affection and 
regard. Gifts from the groom to the bride's father were given and 
expected, as were also certain services before and after marriage. But 
a bride-price as stipulated by or haggled for by the father was absent. 
Bride capture or stealing, if it occurred, must have been very rare. 

Boys and girls did not marry until they had passed through the 
required ciexaus initiation. Gusinde (1937, p. 633) estimates the 
more common chronological ages of first marriages as about 17 to 19 
years for boys, and 15 to 16 for girls. 

Monogamy was by far the most prevalent form of marriage. Poly- 
andry did not occur. Polygyny was permitted, but was uncommon. 
A few men had two wives, more commonly sisters ; cases of three wives, 
if they occurred, must have been very rare. On the death of a man's 
wife, he had a certain marriage claim to her unmarried sister. On the 
death of a woman's husband, she frequently became, and under certain 
circumstances was expected or obliged to become, the wife of his oldest 
surviving brother, especially his unmarried brother, unless she married 
another man. This custom (the levirate) was, from the native point 
of view, primarily an obligation of the father's brother to be responsi- 
ble for his nephews and nieces, a responsibility that lay on the uncle 
even though his brother's widow married another man. A surviving 
married brother was not entirely free to marry the widow, as his own 
wife might object. 

The chief wedding rite consisted in painting the cheeks of the couple 
with three red parallel horizontal lines. These were worn and re- 
newed for a week, during which time there were feasting and dancing, 
and at the end of which the couple went off together in their own canoe. 
Customarily, they remained with the bride's people for a few months, 

^ 6 has the sound of English ch,, S of English ah. 

VOL. 1] 


after which they would usually go for good to the groom's kin. Thus, 
localized groups of kin tended to be paternal. 

After marriage the husband's paternal uncle and the wife's ma- 
ternal aunt took particular interest in them, superseding in large 
measure their respective parents. Children-in-law were expected to 
look after their parents-in-law in sickness or other needs. Children- 
in-law observed a number of avoidances regarding their parents-in- 
law : greeting their parents-in-law, speaking to them or breaking in 
on their conversation with remarks, looking at them, and sitting down 
beside them were all taboo. When in the same hut with their 
parents-in-law, they turned their sides or backs on them. A year or 
so after marriage, the restrictions between daughter-in-law and 
mother-in-law were partly, but never wholly, relaxed ; those between 
son-in-law and father-in-law lasted through life. On visits of the 
father-in-law to his daughter, he and his son-in-law communicated 
wishes and news through the daughter and wife or by indirect 

The man was, in theory, considered the head of the family, with 
authority to rule. Actually, his authority was very far from abso- 
lute, and the woman was largely her own mistress, particularly in 
such provinces of her own as child rearing, food gathering, and 
canoe managing. Some men domineered over their wives, but not a 
few husbands were under the thumbs of their spouses. Some hus- 
bands were cruel, but if so they ran afoul of the wife's kin. More 
generally, woman's position both in the family and in the community 
seemed a respected one, not that of a drudge, slave, or inferior being, 
and she enjoyed a fairly high degree of freedom and independence. 

Adultery was disapproved by the Tahgan code, but apparently 
the code suffered appreciable infringement in practice. Adultery 
on the wife's part was, if discovered, punished by the husband with 
sound beatings, very rarely with death. Public opinion disapproved 
of her behavior. Adultery on the husband's part also gave rise to 
domestic battles in which the husband sometimes suffered severe 
treatment at his offended wife's hands. Jealousy on the part of both 
husband and wife was common. Wife lending was absent. There 
was no professional prostitution; a woman, married or unmarried, 
of markedly loose character was looked down upon. 

Separation and divorce were fairly frequent, but were not lightly 
resorted to. The most common cause appears to have been cruel 
treatment of the wife by the husband, though there were other causes 
such as marked laziness, negligence, or crabbedness on the part of the 
wife. In case the wife became incapacitated through illness or age, 
the man could, and, it seems, more commonly did, take to himself a 


second wife. Desertion was more frequent on the man's part than on 
the woman's. 

The aged were, according to all dependable evidence, usually re- 
spected, well treated, and well cared for. Neither abandonment or 
killing of the aged was ordinarily practiced but may have occurred 
in exceptional cases. 

Political life. — Over and above the biological family there was no 
closely organized larger group or constituted authority. There were 
no sibs, secret or other societies, or social classes, and no chiefs or 
ruling group or caste of any kind. Each biological family was for 
most practical purposes a sovereign political unit. The sense of 
individual independence was deep. No man took or brooked orders 
or dictation from any other. However, aggressive individuals of 
personal force and strength, especially if they had powerful kin 
backing, at times dominated. Older men of recognized intelligence 
and integrity exercised considerable moral influence. 

The next group to the biological family was the kinship gi'oup, 
mostly a paternal one. The members gave mutual aid where called 
for, particularly in feuds and in blood-revenge activities. The kin- 
ship group, owing to common patrilocal residence, was partly, but 
not fully localized. 

The five regional divisions of the Yahgan^ each with its distinctive 
dialect, had very slight political significance. Members of one di- 
vision were usually chary of trespassing, at least for long, upon the 
territory of any other division, unless there were a recognized good 
cause, such as grave shortage of food, partaking of a stranded whale, 
trading, gathering canoe bark or fire-making materials. 

Each of the five dialectic regions was broken up into local groups, 
each of which appears to have been composed, mostly at least, of 
members related by blood or marriage (Koppers, 1926 b, p. 5) . Each 
such local group had its own territory — that of Ushuaia, for instance, 
occupied 20 miles (32 km.) of coast line on Beagle Channel — and 
its own name derived from its locality. Like the dialectic groups, 
these local groups had no chiefs. The local group's chief function 
was that of holding the ciexaus initiation rite. The leader chosen 
therefor had authority only so long as the rite lasted. As the 
ciexaus rite was an educational device contributing greatly to social 
conformity and solidarity, the local group's political function was 
chiefly an indirect pedagogical one. Loyalty to fellow members of 
a local group existed, but was not as strong as that to one's own 
kinship group. 

There was no organized process of judicial procedure. In case 
of murder, the victim's kin took blood revenge on the murderer 
or his kin, or settled with him or them by composition. At times 
such kinship feuds led to a sort of pitched battle, in which slings, 


clubs, fists, and so forth were used freely, with no holds barred, but 
grave wounds or deaths were uncommon. Organized warfare did 
not exist, and the Yahgan had no defensive weapons. The weapons 
used in their feuds were primarily made for, and adapted to, hunting. 

Social relations within and between the dialectic and local groups 
appear to have been normally irenic, but violence and bloodshed 
were not infrequent. The friends of fighting parties usually inter- 
vened, both by persuasion and by force, to restore peace. A murder 
was strongly condemned, and the murderer often became an outcast. 
Bridges found 22 cases of homicide between 1871 and 1884 — an 
annual rate per population something like 10 times as high as that 
of the United States. Mercy killings occurred for the purpose of 
putting an end to the sufferings of the hopelessly ill. Human 
sacrifice was unknown; so too was premeditated suicide. 

The evidence that the Yahgan practiced no form of cannibalism — 
gastronomic, famine, ritual, or other — is convincing beyond all 
reasonable doubt. They would not even eat animals suspected of 
devouring human flesh. 


Ownership. — The Yahgan resented and avenged exploitative tres- 
pass upon their tribal territory or attempted occupation of any part 
thereof by non-Yahgan, Indian or White. So, too, did members 
of any one of the five dialectic groups (Gusinde, 1937, pp. 964^965) 
or, according to Koppers (1928 b, p. 176), of any one of the numerous 
local groups, by nonmembers. Since these local groups seemingly 
were chiefly kinship groups (cf. supra. Political Life), the Yahgan 
land-tenure system resembled the family-hunting-ground system. 
There was no exclusive tenure by kinship circles as such, by biological 
families, or by individuals. 

Members of one dialectic or local group could, however, exploit the 
territory of other groups to secure food in grave shortage, to feast 
on a stranded whale, and to gather firestones and suitable canoe bark, 
which were found only in certain parts of the Yahgan territory. 
Ownership of personal property, such as weapons, clothing, adorn- 
ments, and baskets, was vested in the individual. Women and 
children, as well as men, had well-recognized rights to such things. 
The ownership of certain other things — food, hut, canoe — appears to 
have been vested in the biological family. 

Food was looked upon as the property and gift of the Supreme 
Being ; wasting it was disrespectful to Him. 

Title to personal property was acquired through occupation, labor, 
donation, and barter. Barter took two forms : plain, or exchange of 
goods for goods; and by exchange of presents. There was no cur- 


rency of any kind, and no weights or measures. Barter was carried 
on among the Yahgan themselves, with the Ona and Alacaluf, and 
with the Wliites. Barter by exchange of presents was common; a 
gift was made, regardless often of the wishes of the recipient, who 
could not refuse it without affronting the giver, and who was defi- 
nitely expected to give something in return. 

Inheritance played a very minor role. Much or most of the de- 
ceased's property was burnt with the body. The person's dog fell 
to the oldest son or other near relative or acquaintance. Some of the 
more valuable or useful property might be bartered or given away to 
distant persons. Such burning, bartering, and giving away were in- 
tended to take from sight what would cause sorrow to the surviviors by 
reminding them of the beloved departed, and to signify the survivors' 
desire not to profit by the death. 

Stealing was considered decidedly reprehensible ; but thefts actually 
occurred, even among their own people, not as daily matters, so to 
speak, but it would seem, not very uncommonly. A habitual thief, 
who failed to reform, was in the end boycotted — a severe punishment 
under Yahgan living conditions. 

Generous sharing of food with kin and friends was the rule. Hospi- 
tality was extended as a matter of course. 

Labor. — Neither wage nor slave labor existed. There was a little, 
but not much, labor in common. Each family was a relatively inde- 
pendent economic unit. The division of labor was almost exclusively 
a sexual one, with no organized or unorganized craftsmen making their 
living by specialized trades. 

The man's task was to hunt marine mammals, otter, guanaco, and 
birds, to make his own weapons, to build and repair the canoe, to do 
the harder work in hut building. The woman's task was to care for 
the younger children, to cook, tend the fire and look after the hut 
generally, to paddle and have general management of the canoe in 
which the family spent so much of its time, to do all the skinwork and 
leatherwork, such as preparing skins, sewing clothing, and making 
skin bags and pouches, to make baskets, and, last but not least, to collect 
mussels, much of the fish and other sea food, eggs, fungi, and berries. 
Since mussels were the chief food resource, the woman's part as 
provider was an extremely important one. 

Probably her crucial role as food provider had a good deal to do with 
her relatively high status in Yahgan society. Certain tasks fell to man 
and woman jointly, such as building the hut, and hunting from the 
canoe, when the man did the killing while the woman maneuvered the 
craft. All in all, if we take into account Yahgan living conditions, 
although the list of women's tasks is longer than that of the men's, 
actually the sexual division of labor appears to have been a fairly 
equitable one. 


Nearly all work was done for hand-to-mouth existence. There was 
little concern for the future, and practically none for amassing wealth. 


Intimate friends, men or women, on meeting greeted each other with 
vigorous hugs and with wordless vocalizations of joy. When a guest 
entered a hut, he crouched by the fire without manifesting curiosity ; 
only after a while did he begin to talk and give the news, during which 
time he was not interrupted. Hospitality was generously given, 
especially to kin and friends. The guest did not verbally express his 
thanks for the food received. If he were from a distant place, his host 
presented him with some gifts on his departure. A person leaving the 
hut of a friend used the expression : "I will go." 

On paying a visit it was proper, especially for women and children, 
to paint the face with a red or white streak or paint up otherwise. A 
graduate from the ciexaus initiation rite on approaching his sponsor 
was expected to paint himself or herself ; to go without such painting 
was disrespectful. It was bad form to show too much eagerness in 
eating ; a gluttonous eater was looked down upon. Belching and expec- 
torating in the presence of others was not disapproved. Natural needs 
were attended to at a good distance from the hut. 

When several families came together to camp, the respective sexes 
kept more or less to themselves. A man would not enter a hut where 
a woman was inside alone, and vice versa. 

It was very bad form to summon or address a person, even a child, 
by his or her own name. In conversation the names of others were 
not mentioned, roundabout descriptive phrases being used instead. 
The Yahgan had no expressions corresponding to our cursing or 

The foregoing were some of the more significant rules of Tahgan 
etiquette, details of which are given at length by Gusinde (1937, pp. 


These have been dealt with supra under Social and Political Life. 


Childbirth and infancy. — There was clear awareness of the de- 
pendence of conception on coitus. Desire for children was marked. 
In some cases abortion — by mechanical, not medicinal, means — was 
resorted to by unmarried mothers. A badly deformed or defective 
newborn infant was allowed to die through neglect. Delivery took 
place inside the hut, the father going outside and leaving the mother 
with women assistants. Very shortly after birth, the mother bathed 

583486 — 46 7 


herself and the infant in the sea, and the mother usually took sea 
baths for some days thereafter. For some time before and after a 
child's birth the mother and father observed certain food and other 
taboos. A form of couvade obtained, especially in the case of a first 
child, the father remaining quiet in the tent and abstaining from most 
work for some days while relatives and friends supplied the family 
with necessities. The placenta was burned ; the navel cord, dried and 

Marital relations were avoided for about 6 weeks or more after 
delivery. Weaning ordinarily took place after 10 to 15 months, but 
in some cases not until a good deal later. The child was commonly 
named after its birthplace. 

Education. — Corporal punishment was rare. Severer correction 
was ordinarily verbal, or else took the form of sending the child out 
of the hut for the day. A great deal of moralizing counsel was given 
the growing child by elders, counsel not always received with eager 
alertness by him, to judge from one of the instructions stressed in the 
initiation rite; viz, to listen attentively to what his elders told him 
even when the sermon was long drawn out. The sexes were kept 
separated after about the 7th year. 

Girls' puberty observances. — At her first menses, the girl fasted, 
eating little or nothing, for 3 days. Both cheeks from the eyes 
down were painted with red radiating streaks. Older women gave 
her much moral counsel. On the 8th or 10th day she bathed and washed 
in the sea. At the end, a feast was given to all the members of the 

The ciexaus initiation rite. — This rite (Koppers, 1924, pp. 45-95 ; 
Gusinde, 1937, pp. 805-961), for both boys and girls together, and 
actively participated in by all their elders who had previously been 
initiated, was the most important native ceremony, the focal point, 
in a sense, of their religious life, a dynamic stay of social order and 
solidarity. It was likewise an intensive training course, constituting 
the climactic event in the native educational system. 

This initiation rite, the ciexaus, under the auspices, it seems, of 
the local group, rather than of the dialectic division or whole YaJigan 
tribe, was held not at stated seasons or intervals, but as need or oc- 
casion arose, yearly or more or less often than yearly. It could last 
from several days to several months. The candidates were boys 
and girls who had reached puberty. 

The chosen officers in charge of the rite were a leader, a mentor, 
and guards. A special large hut, of oval beehive or conical construc- 
tion, was used, with simple decorations in the way of red, white, and 
black painting on the framework inside and similarly painted oblong 
boards hung up. Each participant wore a special diademlike feather 


head band and had a special painted staff. To each candidate were 
assigned sponsors, one or two men and a woman to the boy, one or 
two women and a man to the girl. 

The candidates were subjected to certain endurance restrictions: 
little sleep, food, and drink, hard work, a daily bath in cold sea water, 
cross-legged posture during much of the time. They had to drink 
through a hollow bird bone. The boys were given a sort of tempo- 
rary tattoo. Much vocational instruction was given, and particularly 
an elaborate moral instruction in the native code, with very concrete 
counsels on the obligations of altruistic behavior, respect for the aged, 
peaceableness, industry, not spreading scandals or carrying tales, and 
so forth. This moral instruction was given by the mentor, sponsors, 
and other elders, as the will of Watauinewa, the Supreme Being, who 
saw everything and who would punish delinquents with shortened life 
and with the death of their children. Yetaita also, the chief evil 
spirit, would harm them if they did wrong. 

The ritual consisted otherwise mostly of dances and of songs 
peculiar to it. Toward the end, the sponsors gave each candidate a 
basket, a bird-bone drinking tube, and a scratching-stick. The rite 
ended with a mock battle between the men and women, and with a 

Only those who had gone through the ciexaus rite were considered 
full-fledged members of the tribe, and were told the whole mytho- 
logical complex of the Yoalox brothers and their sister. And only 
twice-initiated boys could take part in the kina rite (of. infra under 
Religion), whith was often held just after the ciexaus. 

Death and burial. — Mourning was expressed by fasting, body 
painting, gashing of the breast with sharp stones, and a special 
mourning dirge accompanied by a mourning speech. Angry com- 
plaints were directed to Watauinewa for letting the person die. A 
general mourning rite in which the men and women painted them- 
selves, wept, hurled complaints at Watauinewa, and engaged in a 
mock battle, the men with clubs and the women with paddles, was 
also held. 

The more common form of disposal of the body, up until recent 
times, was cremation — lest foxes, rats, or dogs should eat the body, 
so the natives said. The dead person's personal property, or some of 
it, was burned with the body. In some cases, especially of children, 
the body was buried in a kitchen-midden. The burial spot was avoided 
as a camping place, for several years where the deceased was an adult. 
The name of the dead was never spoken. 

Future life. — The koshpik (kespix), or soul, flew east, but exactly 
whither was not known. Nor was it known what its fate was, happy 
or unhappy, nor whether such fate was at all dependent on moral 
behavior on earth. 



A great deal of Yahgan recreation was incidental to the initia- 
tion and other rites and through the feasting and social activities 
that accompanied set events such as marriages, or chance meetings of 
families at camps, or larger gatherings of longer duration occasioned 
by treasure trove in the shape of stranded whale. In connection with 
some of even the more solemn rites there were intervals of free play 
releasing tensions developed during the more serious phases of the 

Narcotics were totally lacking. No alcoholic or other intoxicating 
beverages were made or used by the Yahgan before their contact with 
the Whites. Nor was tobacco grown or in any form used. 

Art. — There was no form of sculpture or of carving in wood. The 
only designs, if they can be called such, were the lines, dots, and circles 
used in face and body painting and in the ornamentation of lodges 
and paraphernalia in connection with the major rites (fig. 14) . There 
was a certain crude artistry in bodily decorations and in the personal 
adornments referred to elsewhere in the present paper. 

All in all, there are few if any peoples in the world that possessed 
a more rudimentary esthetic development than the Yahgan and their 
neighbors, the Alacaluf and Ona. 

Games and sports. — There was no gambling, no games with elabo- 
rate rules, no team games unless group wrestling could be called such, 
and no competitive games except wrestling. 

Boys practiced with the spear, bow and arrow, and sling, and at 
stone throwing, but this was as much vocational as recreative activity. 

There were certain quite simple children's play activities, such as 
swinging, rolling down hillocks, endurance hopping on one foot, 
and group play such as tcenalSra, in which boys and girls crouched 
in a line one behind the other, sang together a melody in which the 
meaningless word "tcenalora" was repeated, and slowly danced rocking 
back and forth in imitation of a canoe making its way forward 
through the waves. Songs sung on one long meaningless word were 
common accompaniments of children's group play. 

All the women could swim ; the men could not. Recreative swim- 
ming was rarely indulged in. 

Adults' games, in some of which the children could participate, 
were equally simple. Such were : blindman's-buff, hopping and sing- 
ing at the same time, throwing small burning sticks in the air, standing 
in a circle through which "it" in the middle tried to break. The ball 
game was popular : A ball made of seal gut stuffed with feathers or 
grass was kept in the air by the players with strokes from the palm 
of the hand. Men and women might play the ball game together. 

VOL. 1 ] 




Figure 14. — Yahgan decorative patterns. From the painted frame of a ceremoni 
(Redrawn from Lothrop, 1928, pi. 9.) 

Wrestling was indulged in a good deal, mostly by the men, although 
the women would sometimes intervene in the group wrestling. In pair 
wrestling, a man challenged an opponent by putting a small ball at 
his feet. The onlookers formed a circle around the contestants and 
applauded vigorously. The aim was to put the opponent on his back. 


The loser would call upon a friend who would in turn challenge the 
victor who had no choice but to accept. Before the wrestling match 
began the wrestlers were magically massaged by the medicine man. 
Sometimes these single matches developed into a free-for-all wrestling 
match in which several or all of the men would join. Sometimes, too, 
these general wrestling bouts ended in a serious scuffle. 

Music. — Proverbs were absent. So, too, was poetry; the nearest 
approach to it was the meaningless words or syllables having a certain 
rhythm which occur in songs. The songs themselves were extremely 
simple and monotonous with or without meaningless words. The 
Yahgari had many songs, sung for special occasions such as the ciexaus 
and mourning rites ; others intoned ad libitum. There were no lulla- 
bies. Yahgan songs show sundry very primitive features, according to 
von Hornbostel (1936). There were no musical instruments at all. 
Even the rattle, drum, and flute were absent. Staves with which to 
beat time were used in certain rites. 

Dances. — Apart from the dances carried out during the chiexaus 
and kina rites, there were none of a symbolic, imitative, or dramatic 
type, and no war or hunting dances. The Yahgan danced alone, in 
circles or in Indian file. The women rarely danced, and the men 
and women never together. 

Most of the religious life of the Yahgan centered around theism 
and shamanism. There was a distinct fear of the dead; there were 
also the mourning observances previously noted; the souls of dead 
shamans entered into the beliefs and practices of the medicine men. 
But no organized ancestral cult existed, and the dead were not prayed 
to. Animistic beings and observances appeared marginal to the 
theistic cult and focal in shamanism. There were a number of mis- 
cellaneous magico-religious conceptions and observations. Each 
Yahgan had a yefacel, as a sort of guardian spirit. Various omens 
were believed in: for instance, the call of the owl was supposed to 
portend a murder or at least a death. A number, too, of taboos were 
observed : for instance, when traveling by canoe people had to throw 
waste into the fire kept burning in the canoe, and not into the water, 
lest the children should cry. There does not appear to have been any 
form of divination. The kina rite, to be described, had religious 
features to it, but its purpose and function were primarily social. The 
great bulk, therefore, of Yahgan religion having been taken up with 
theism and shamanism, in summarizing Yahgan theistic and shaman- 
istic phenomena, we shall be summarizing Yahgan religion as such. 

Theism. — There was a very definite belief in a Supreme Being 
called Watauinewa or Watauineiwa, who was also called by other 


names meaning "The Powerful One," "The Highest One," and espe- 
cially by the name of "My Father." He was not the maker or creator, 
but rather the master and ruler. He was the owner and giver of 
animals and plant food. It was he who gave life to human beings, 
and who took it away. He was fundamentally good and benevolent. 
He lived above in the heavens. He had no body nor had he wife 
or children. He was distinctly and eminently set off against and 
above all other spirits, good and bad, and in this sense stood as it 
were alone. He did not enter into the tribal folklore and mythology. 
He saw what human beings did, and upon those who broke the 
precepts of the Yahgan socio-moral code, which represented his will, 
he inflicted punishment in the way of early death, and often the 
death of their children. 

The central role of Watauinewa in the initiation rites has previously 
been mentioned. Apart, however, from these rites, Watauinewa was 
prayed to a great deal by the individual Tahgan. These prayers were 
mostly petitions to him for food (as the owner of the food animals 
and plants) , for cure and health, and for protection from the elements, 
as well as expressions of thankfulness. A good many of them were 
more or less traditionally crystallized formulae, of a few words each, 
but prayer was likewise expressed in free wording. A quite dis- 
tinctive feature of Yahgan communication with the Supreme Being 
was the frequency of complaint expressions and charges directed 
toward him on the occasion of sickness, bad weather, or other evil 
fortune, and particularly on the occasion of deaths. Gusinde and 
Koppers collected over 60 of these various kinds of prayer formulae. 
Some of them are in somewhat archaic language. 

In view of these archaisms in the complex, of the many distinctly 
native features (e. g., master, owner, not creator or maker), of the 
absence of all characteristically European or Christian conceptions, 
and of the express and emphatic statements by the natives whose 
memories or whose knowledge from their elders reached back to pre- 
missionary days, there can be no reasonable question but that Yahgan 
theism is aboriginal, and not the result of missionary influence. It 
seems equally clear that it was central in the religious outlook of the 
Yahgan and that it entered deeply and dynamically in their 
thoughts, emotional life, and personal behavior. 

Shamanism. — A person became a medicine man (yekamush) 
through an inner call manifested to him in dreams and visions. The 
heshteka-yekamush, dwarfish spirits, appeared to him ; a female spirit, 
a Haucellakipa, also played an important part in shamanism, as the 
shaman's helper. Through the dreams and visions the future medicine 
man learned which of the small spirits was to be his yefacel, or 
particular guardian spirit. From this spirit he also received a song. 


He was trained in his professional duties by an older shaman. 
There was also held a shamans' institute and feast, which could last 
several months, to condition and school young candidates. During 
it, the candidates were secluded, and were required to fast, to sing 
much, to maintain a certain posture, to go with little sleep, and to 
drink water only through a hollow bird bone ; and were taught heal- 
ing techniques, tricks of the trade, and so forth. Women were barred 
from this shamans' school. Shamans were not banded into an or- 
ganized society. 

A full-fledged shaman, besides getting help from his special guard- 
ian spirit, was also in close touch with the spirit of a deceased shaman. 
The shaman's relations were with the world of lesser spirits, not with 
the Supreme Being, Watauinewa; and the latter did not figure in 
the shamans' school. 

The shaman's chief function was that of curing the sick, but he also 
influenced weather, helped in hunting, prognosticated, and so forth. 
The familiar procedures of massage, friction, and anointing, with the 
extraction of some object supposed to be the immediate cause of the 
disease, were used in curing. Such objects were often believed to have 
been sent by malevolent shamans from whose power the good shaman 
endeavored to deliver the victim. An evil shaman could steal and keep 
in his possession the soul of a victim, and the victim would die unless 
his soul were freed by another shaman. It was also the function of 
the shaman to assign to each infant as soon after birth as possible its 
own yefacel, a male one to the male infant and a female one to the 
female. It was the primary and most important duty of the yefacel 
to protect its charge against sickness and bodily harm and against 
dangers of all kind. 

Kina rite. — This Yahgan institution, with its numerous analogies 
to the yinchihaua of the AlacaJuf (p. 76) and with the kloketen of the 
Ona (p. 120) , could have been properly discussed under Social Culture 
because it had primarily a social function. But it is treated here be- 
cause it also had important religious or pseudo-religious features and 
was largely under the direction of the shamans. In fact only a shaman 
could be the leader of the kina rite. Back of the kina rite was a long 
myth of an earlier time when the women held mastery of the tribe and 
lorded it over the men. To maintain their supremacy the women used 
masks to impersonate spirits and to hoodwink the men. Finally, one 
man discovered the deception, told the other men, and overthrew the 
women, killing all females except one very young child. In the kina 
rite only men who had passed twice through the ciexaus rite could 
take part. Women were kept away from the large conical tent. The 
men secretly painted themselves and wore conical or conoidal masks 
(pi. 33, d) of bark or sealskin to impersonate a very great number 


of spirits (pi. 33, a) . So decked out, they sang and danced in the sight 
of the women and children and threatened the women with dire 
penalties if they did not remain submissive to the will of the men. 


Full details on the cosmogony and mythology of the Yahgan have 
been presented by Gusinde (1937, pp. 1139-1277), with further in- 
formation on certain of the more important folklore beings (1937, 
pp. 1278-1294). Perhaps the most important single phase of the 
mythology is the Yoalox cycle. The elder of the two Yoalox brothers 
was stupid, the younger, clever. The younger is in a general sense the 
culture hero. He is not a trickster. The cosmogonic myths include 
a flood story. There are a great many explanatory tales of the cor- 
morant, the otter, the fox, and so forth. A number of other stories 
were told with the moral purpose of instructing and warning 
the young. Certain others concern the medicine man. The long story 
of the earlier matriarchate was briefly summarized supra under Kina 
rite with which it was associated, just as the Yoalox cycle was more or 
less associated with the eiexaus. The chief folklore beings believed 
in, but to whom no cult was given, were the dreaded cannibal beings, 
the Lakiima water spirits, and the Hannush giants. 


In general, Yahgan technology, with the exception of the bark canoe 
and coiled basketry, gives little indication of inventive strivings. 
Thus they stand in sharp contrast with their Arctic counterparts, the 
Eskimo. A comparison for instance between the very simple Yah- 
gan harpoons and the very elaborate Eskimo ones shows the sharpest 
contrast. In this respect Yahgan culture resembles more closely the 
culture of the northern Athahaskan and northern Algonquians of sub- 
Arctic America. 

There were no weights and measures of any kind. There were no 
means of communication such as knotted cords, notched sticks, or, 
so far as our records go, of travelers' signs, such as the inclined stick 
to show direction of journey. Smoke signals were made by putting 
branches of Nothofagus hetuloides on the fire and, when the dense 
smoke had risen about 16 feet (5m.) high, quickly extinguishing the 
fire, allowing a balloonlike cloud of smoke to ascend. One such smoke 
signal signified sickness or an accident; two, a grave emergency; 
three, a death ; four, the discovery of a stranded whale. 

The day was divided into periods of about 4 hours each. The year 
was divided into four seasons corresponding roughly to our own, 
and also into eight divisions : "the time when the bark is loose," "when 
the first bird eggs were found," and so forth. 


There was almost nothing in the way of herbal curatives, unless 
the chewing of the leaves of Drimys winteri as a purgative and for 
cardiac and stomach pains could be considered such. Sap from the 
broken end of a beech branch was swallowed for certain ailments. 
Other simple remedial measures employed were drinking oil, rub- 
bing the body with it, massaging with Drimys winteri leaves, drink- 
ing sea water, covering with robes and sweating near the fire. Chalk 
dust was smeared on for skin eruptions. To cure headache, the nasal 
passages were scratched to bring about nosebleed. 


For bibliographic references, see pages 82-83. 



By John M. Cooper 


The large island of Tierra del Fuego, the habitat of the Ona^ is 
roughly triangular in form, about 240 miles east to west on its south- 
ern coast, and about 170 miles north to south from apex to base. 
The northern and eastern sections of the island are low-lying rolling 
prairie country; the southern and western parts are mountainous. 
Climate approximates closely that of the country of the Yahgan 
(p. 81) ; so, too, does the flora of the forested section of the island. 
The open plains section to the north and east is covered with only 
grass and bushes. South of the Rio Grande and Rio del Fuego 
small clumps of trees appear and gradually increase in size, height, and 
area until they become solid forest. The land animals most exploited 
by the Ona are the guanaco {Lama glama guanicoe), the fox {Dusi- 
cyon culpaeus lycoides: Cabrera and Yepes, 1940, p. 127), and the 
tuco tuco or cururo {Gtenomys magellanicus fueginus). The puma 
and rhea of Patagonia are not found on Tierra del Fuego Island. The 
Ona were primarily hunters of land mammals, above all of the guanaco, 
and were distinctly a land people, whence their common name, "Foot 
Indians," as distinguished from the "Canoe Indians," viz, the Yahgam 
and Alacaluf. 


The Ona occupied the whole of the island of Tierra del Fuego 
(map 1, No. lA; map 2), except the shores of Useless Bay and Ad- 
miralty Sound, which, intermittently at least, were frequented by the 
Alacaluf^ and the strip of land between Beagle Channel and the 
mountain range paralleling it, which was inhabited by the Yahgan. 
The Ona were in contact with the Alacaluf in the western part of the 
island, probably crossing at times to Dawson Island. They were like- 
wise in contact with the Yahgan between Beagle Channel and Good 
Success Bay, trading and intermarrying to a certain extent with them. 
There is also some good evidence that, in spite of their reported lack of 
watercraft, the far northern Ona were in sporadic touch with the 
Tehuelche of the mainland. (Cf. Patagonian and Pampean Hunters, 
Tribes, p. 131.) 




The name Ona {0''ona^ Aona, Aoniks, Oem) is the one by which 
they were known to the Yahgan, and probably means in Yahgan 
"north" (Cooper, 1917, p. 48). Although this is not the name by 
which the Ona call themselves, we use it in the present paper in view 
of its long acclimatization in anthropological literature. Further- 
more, there appears to be no Ona name for all divisions of the 
Ona (pi S8, top, left). 

The Ona were divided into two main groups who called them- 
selves respectively Haush and Shelknam. The Haush [Haus and 
other variants), who also called themselves Mdnekenkn {Manckenkn 
and other variants), occupied the Peninsula Mitre at the extreme 
southeastern corner of Tierra del Fuego Island. They may earlier 
have occupied a larger territory and may represent an earlier migra- 
tion from the Patagonian mainland. They were distinct dialectically 
and to a certain degree culturally from the Shelknam. The Shelk- 
nam (SeWnam and many variants) were divided into a northern and 
a southern group. The northern group occupied the treeless prairies 
north of the Kio del Fuego and Rio Grande ; the southern group, the 
parkland and forest region south of this line. The two groups differed 
somewhat both dialectically and culturally and were not on the best 
of terms. 

Throughout the present paper we shall use the term Ona to include 
both the Haush and the Shelknam] the terms Haush, Shelknam, 
Northern Shelknam, and Southern Shelknam to denote these respective 
divisions and subdivisions. 


A Shelknam could understand a Haush but only with a good deal 
of difBculty. The dialects of the Northern and Southern Shelknam 
differed very slightly. In contrast to Yahgan, Ona is characterized 
by explosives and gutturals. Ona is rather closely related to 
Tehuelche, with which it forms the Tshon family. 


Earlier estimates from the last quarter of the last century put the 
Ona population at about 2,000. From the eighties on, the scant 
records show a sharp decrease. Around 1910 there were about 300 
survivors; in 1919, 279; in the middle twenties, well under 100; at 
present, probably well under 50. In 1919-23 the only surviving 
Haush were two old women (Gusinde, 1939, p. 6) ; in 1926, Tonelli 
(1926, p. 8) knew of only one living Haush. 

The factors responsible for this decrease were many. Gold seekers 
and sheep ranchers invaded Ona territory around the early eighties 
of the last century. These movements led to a bitter campaign on 

Vol. 1] 


the part of the Whites to exterminate the Ona. Feuds among the 
Ona themselves took their toll of lives. Respiratory diseases and 
epidemics of smallpox and measles also played their part. European 
clothing, food, shelter, and work habits contributed, as among the 


The Ona were first seen by Sarmiento in 1580 ; later, by the Nodals 
in 1619, by perhaps one of L'Hermite's officers in 1624, by Labbe in 
1711, by members of the first and second Cook expeditions in 1769 
and 1774, and by several other voyagers in the early 19th century. 
These observers, however, left very meager records. The real study 
of the Ona dates from 1875, when they were first encountered by 
Thomas Bridges. Important progress was made in the fields of Ona 
culture and language only after the beginning of the present century, 
thanks above all to Lucas and William Bridges, sons of Thomas 
Bridges; to the Salesian fathers, especially Zenone and Borgatello; 
and to the field studies of Gusinde in 1919-23 and of Lothrop in 

The more important first-hand sources on the Ona from 1580 to 
1917 are: Banks (1896); Barclay (1904); Beauvoir (1915); Bollet- 
tino Salesiano (1877- ) ; Cojazzi (1911) ; Dabbene (1911) ; Fur- 
long C. (1910, 1917 b); Gallardo (1910); Lehmann-Nitsche (1913). 
The data given by Barclay, Dabbene, and Gallardo were almost en- 
tirely, and those by Furlong largely, from the Bridges brothers. The 
anthropological information from the above and the other earlier 
sources were assembled in Cooper (1917) . The most important sources 
since 1917 are : Borgatello (1924) and Tonelli (1926), for general cul- 
ture, from the Salesian contacts; Lothrop (1928), especially for tech- 
nology, from field studies; Gusinde (1931), for his exhaustive treat- 
ment of the whole range of Ona culture, and especially the social and 
religious phases thereof, from his own extensive and intensive field 
studies and from a thorough critical gleaning of the literature. 

Gusinde's large monograph, "Die Selk'nam" (1931), contains prac- 
tically all that we know of Ona culture. Where this basic work is 
not accessible, the following more important papers may be consulted : 
Gusinde (1923-24, 1924, 1925 a, 1925 b, 1925 c, 1926 a, 1926 b, 1926 c, 
1927, 1928 a, 1928 b, 1929). 


The Ona practiced domestication neither of plants nor of ani- 
mals. Dogs are reported among the Ona, probably Haush, of Good 
Success Bay as early as 1769, by members of the first Cook expedition. 


Lothrop's rating (1928, p. 32) of the relative importance to the 
Ona of the foods they used is as folloAvs: (1) Guanaco, by far the 
most important; (2) of much less importance, foxes, eels, geese (4 
kinds); (3) next, mussels and cormorants; (4) last and least, tuco 
tucos, seals (4 kinds), whales, limpets, crabs, ducks (5 kinds), fungi 
(several kinds), berries (3 kinds), grass seeds. According to Gusinde 
(1931, p. 125), the tuco tuco was more important than the guanaco 
for the Northern Shelknam; the guanaco more important for the 
Souther-n Shelknam. The Ona prepared a flour from the seeds of 
tay {Descurainea canescens) ; the seeds were ground with two un- 
worked stones as mortar and mano, and the flour was mixed with 
water or grease. Salt was not used. Dogs were never eaten, and 
the flesh of foxes was ordinarily avoided. 

Hunting. — The guanaco was hunted with the bow and arrow. The 
killer of a fox made an apologetic speech to the dead animal to pro- 
pitiate the whole fox world and to ensure good fortune in future fox 
hunting (Gusinde, 1931, p. 280). Dogs were very important in fox 
hunting as well as in guanaco hunting. Tuco tucos were dug up 
and killed with a pointed stake or short spear. Birds were taken 
with single- or multiple-noose snares, with the pole snare and by 
torchlight, as among the Yahgan. Apart from these snares no other 
forms of trap or pitfalls are reported. Seals were sometimes taken 
with seal-hide nets. 

Fishing*. — Fish were speared in shallow water with a short bone- 
headed spear. They were also taken with nets made of sinew and 
in weirs made of branches or stakes. A fishhook of a dorsal fin 
tied to a bit of whalebone was earlier reported by Wilkes at Good 
Success Bay (1844, 1: 118). 

Food preparation and storage. — Dried meat and fungi were 

Meat was cooked on a spit or over the coals. Heated stones were 
used for warming and roasting seeds of tay. The only foods eaten 
raw were guanaco fat, fungi, and wild fruit. 


The two chief forms of shelter were the windbreak and the conical 
hut, the former the more common one among the Northern Shelknam, 
the latter the ordinary one among the Southern Shelknam (Gusinde, 
1931, p. 126). The windbreak consisted of guanaco hides sewn to- 
gether and painted red and attached to a few poles stuck in the 
ground in a curve or semicircle and inclined toward the center 
(pi. 37, hottom) ; it thus formed a fencing without a roof, but in bad 
weather could be nearly closed over. Sometimes the skins were 



merely pegged with thorns or lashed to standing trees. The conical 
tipi with a framework of stout sapling trunks, about 10 feet (3m.) 
high, was covered with branches or other material. The material 
for such a framework was at hand in the parkland and forested 
habitat of the Southern Shelknam. In both types of shelter the 
floor was often scooped out and branches strewn on it. 

Considerably larger conical lodges covered with sods were set up 
for ceremonial purposes (cf. p. 120). 


Clothing.— The chief garment of both men and women was a long 
cape, reaching from over the shoulders to the feet or ankles (the 
woman's cape a little shorter), about 5 feet (1.5 m.) square, the skin 
side coated with mixed red paint and grease or saliva, worn with 
the fur outside. Men simply held the garment together or let it fall ; 
the woman's garment was tied on with thongs at the breast. Among 
the Southern Shelknam the mantle was usually of guanaco skins; 
among the Northern Shelknam it was commonly of tuco tuco skins. 
Among both the fox-skin mantle was prized. Moccasins made from 
guanaco-foreleg skin were worn, fur outside, and stuffed inside with 
grass (fig. 15). Leggings of guanaco skin were used in heavy snow. 

Figure 15. — Pattern of Ona moccasin. (After Lothrop, 1928, fig. 8.) 

In travel over light deep new-fallen snow a small bundle of thick 
bushy twigs was tied to the moccasin to keep the wearer from sinking; 
the contrivance was called xose ke xamni, "snow shoe" (Gusinde, 
1931, p. 215). 

Ona men wore a triangular peak or head band over the forehead, 
made of guanaco fur. Ona women wore under the cape two other 


garments : an undergarment of guanaco skin reaching from the arm- 
pit to the knee, with the fur inside, and tied at the waist with a 
thong ; and a small triangular pubic covering like that of the Yahgan. 

Ornaments. — The hair was worn loose, not in braids, and was 
often banged. The top of the head was shaved in mourning. Combs 
were made of wood or whalebone or were merely the jawbone of a 
porpoise or otter. Depilation of facial and bodily hair with two 
mussel shells was practiced by both sexes. 

Scarification was resorted to as a mourning rite. Puncture 
tattooing on the arm or forearm with charcoal was common to both 
sexes. Head deformation, and ear, lip, and septum piercing were 

Smearing the head and body with grease served protective as well 
as decorative purposes. Face and body painting was common; 
besides the three colors, red, black, and white, used by the Yahgan, 
the Ona used blue, gi^een, yellow, and slate. Body painting was 
also used for camouflage coloration in the chase. 

The chief personal adornments were : necklaces of braided guanaco 
sinew, plain or strung with bone beads; anklets and wristlets of 
braided sinew and of plaited grass. Feather armlets were worn 
during foot races. Finger, ear, and nose adornments were absent. 


There is good ground for holding that the Ona on rare occasions 
venttired out on the water, but there is no evidence whatsoever on the 
kind of watercraft they used or whether it was their own. In 
traveling afoot, the women used a tumpline of thongs, passing across 
the chest, for carrying household impedimenta, and often used a 
walking stick. 


Pottery and weaving were absent; and no sherds have been found 
in any of the few archeological investigations in Ona territory. 

String-making and sewing. — Sinew twisting and plaiting was 
common. For sewing skins or bark, an eyeless bone needle or awl 
was used. 

Basketry. — The Southern Shelkham and probably the Hav'^h 
made half -hitch coiled baskets with foundation quite similar to the 
commonest Yahgan type (p. 89). 

Skin dressing. — Skins were dried by stretching them taut with 
flexible cross sticks or by staking them to the ground. They were 
cleaned with a flesher in which the stone or glass blade was set at an 
angle to the handle (fig. 16, c) . Some of the scrapers revealed archeo- 
logically may have been used without a handle. The skins were taken 

Vol. n 



Figure 16. — Ona implements, a, Ona knife with schematic cross section, length 8% In., 
or 22 cm. (after Outes, 1906 b) ; b, Ona wood scraper, length 5% in., or 14 cm. (after 
Lothrop, 1928, fig. 25) ; c, flesher (after Lothrop, 1928, fig. 25). 

in both hands and rubbed together briskly. To preserve them, they 
were smeared with a mixture of grease and red earth. There was no 
smoking of skins. 

Stoneworking. — Stone chipping was by pressure, with use of a 
small leg bone of a guanaco sharpened to a dull point. 

Containers. — Instead of the cylindrical bark baskets of the Yahgan, 
the Ona used more or less rectangular envelopelike bags of guanaco 
or other skin, of different sizes, for holding or carrying water, food, 
small objects, and so forth. The man's ditty-bag of foxskin worn at 
the waist also served incidentally at times as a pubic covering. Small 
bags made of bladders, intestines, and so forth, were used for holding 
oil and pigments. 

Weapons. — The bow and arrow were the Ona man's chief and al- 
most his only weapon for hunting and fighting. They may be sum- 
marily described as follows (fig. 17). Bow: curved self -bow, length 



[B. A. E. Boll. 143 

from about 3 to 9 feet (1.0 to 1.6 m.) ; section ovate rounded with apex 
toward cord; of Nothofagus antarctica, fluted; string of twisted 
guanaco sinew. Arrow: head, triangular, stemmed, and barbed, of 
stone, bone, or glass ; fitted into socket in shaft and lashed with sinew ; 
no foreshaft; feathering, two half-feathers lashed radially to shaft 
with spirally wound sinew or gut. Quiver : oblong, sewn skin. Ar- 
row shafts were smoothed with a grooved stone rubber and given final 
polish with leaves or wood and stone dust on a bit of f oxskin. Arrow- 
heads were chipped by pressure with a blunt rounded bone tool. Bows 
were made by specialists, who received some remuneration ; arrows, by 
nearly every man. Ona children plaj^ed with small bows and arrows. 


Figure 17. — Ona bow and arrow. (Leiij,'ib ui anuw 32 in., or 80 cm. ; of bow, 63 1^ in., or 
158 cm.) (After Lothrop, 1928, pi. 5.) 

the latter often blunt-headed. The bow was held diagonally in shoot- 
ing, with primar}'' release, or, if far shooting was desired, with sec- 
ondary or tertiary. No poison was used on arrow points, 

A short spear, about 5 feet (1.5 m.) with a unilaterally barbed 
bone shank, was used for hunting and fishing. Slings were sometimes 
used by the &outliern Ona. Spherical stone artifacts that may have 
been bolas balls have been found in Ona territory, and the bolas has 
been ascribed to the Ona within the last 50 years by an occasional 
writer (Spears, 1895, p. 59; Beauvoir, 1915, pp. 203-204), but practi- 
cally all of our first-hand sources on Ona culture are silent regarding 
the bolas. Clubs were apparently used only rarely, in hunting. The 
atlatl was absent. 

Tools. — The stone celt or ax was apparently lacking; we have 
neither ethnological nor archeological evidence of its presence. 

Vol.11 THE ONA — COOPER 115 

Lothrop, however, found on east-coast sites several heavy oval imple- 
ments, which he thought may have been used as cleavers or handaxes by 
earlier Eaush or other occupants- A wedge of bone or stone was used 
to split the wood for arrow shafts; a scraper for woodworking, 
especially in making bows and arrows (fig. 16, 6). The earlier stone 
or shell knife was later replaced by a terminally edged bit of iron lashed 
to a wooden haft (fig. 16, a). 

Fire making and illumination. — Fire was made solely by the flint 
and pyrites method, with dried fungus or bird down for tinder. Fire 
tongs were made of a split stick. Torches were made of bark or of 
bundles of dry grass stalks. 


Marriage and the family. — From early age the sexes were kept 
separated. Premarital sex relations were strongly disapproved, and, 
except between betrothed couples, were actually, from all reports, 
very uncommon. Marriage with a blood relative was strictly pro- 
hibited, but limits of relationship were not very specifically set down ; 
marriages to girls from far distant localities were decidedly favored. 
Marriage with a mother and her daughter was disapproved, but not so 
severely as blood-kin unions. 

Both the boy and the girl were ordinarily free to marry the mate of 
their choice and affection. There was no bride-price or obligatory 
service to the bride's parents. Raids and wars to capture women for 
wives were not a feature of Ona culture. Forcible abductions of 
women from their husbands, by men of influence and power, occurred 
occasionally, usually more or less by agreement and understanding 
with the woman herself, sometimes with the help of her relatives. 

Boys married only after passing through the kloketen initiation 
rite; girls, after first menses. According to Gusinde's estimate (1931, 
p. 311), the majority of young men married before they were 20 years 
old ; the girls, between 15 and 19. There was no child betrothal proper. 

In the case of first marriages, there was a formal betrothal rite 
which made known to the tribesmen the couple's intention to marry. 
The boy, after receiving assurance of the approval of the girl's parents, 
presented her in the presence of others with a specially made small 
bow, while she, in token of definitive acceptance, gave him a specially 
made wristlet of six-strand plaited sinew. Both painted their faces 
with a special design. 

For all weddings, first or later, bride and groom painted their faces 
with lines of black dots diverging down vertically from the eyes over 
the cheeks. The wedding feast took place at the bride's father's hut. 
Couples commonly remained a while after marriage with the bride's 
people, but then almost without exception went to live permanently 
with the groom's people. 


As a rule, monogamy prevailed. A small minority of the men had 
two wives ; a very rare one, three. In one historic case, Kausel, a famous 
shaman, had five or eight wives. Prestige and dominance drives en- 
tered into his polygyny, as they did sometimes in other cases. Public 
opinion disapproved even bigamy, except on grounds of need, such as 
the first wife's incapacity due to age or illness. Taking more than 
two wives was in all cases disapproved. Usually only older men had 
more than one wife. Polygyny was often sororal. The levirate, 
quite similar in most respects to that of the Yahgan (p. 92) , prevailed. 
In polygynous families, each wife usually had her own separate hut, 
and the first one was head wife. 

Practically identical in-law avoidances were observed among the 
Ona, as among the Yahgan (p. 93). 

In theory, the man was distinctly the head of the family and his 
wife as distinctly under his orders. In practice, she seems to have 
had a respected status both in the family and in the community and to 
have enjoyed not only affection but also a large measure of independ- 
ence. She was neither a slave nor a drudge. 

Breaches of marital fidelity occurred, but apparently not with 
marked frequency. The offended husband or his kin were more apt 
to wreak revenge on his wife's paramour than on her (Gallardo, 
1910, p. 220). 

Divorce occurred but rarely, and even then almost exclusively 
where the couple's children were grown up and married. In general, 
public opinion was against divorce. The more common ground was 
bad treatment of the wife by the husband; her relatives would try 
to patch up the matter and to get him to behave better ; if he persisted, 
they would uphold her in her fiight from him. 

Ona kinship terminology distinguishes paternal and maternal kin 
in the first generation both from the parents and from one another, 
and siblings from more remote kin (cf. Lowie, 1933). 

All dependable sources are agreed that the aged were respected 
and well treated. 

Political life. — The biological family was the basic social unit. 
Each family was for most practical purposes an independent socio- 
political unit, although forming an integral part of the larger 
extended kinship groups, to be mentioned presently. The real 
authority within the whole Ona tribe rested with the father of the 
individual biological family. No man recognized authoritative 
headship of or accepted orders from any other. 

There were no chiefs, no ruling groups or castes of any kind. 
Likewise there were no social classes, no sibs, and, unless the body of 
men who had passed through the kloketen rite could be called such, 
no secret societies or other organized groups. 

V0I-.1] THE ONA — COOPER 117 

Next in size to the biological families were the extended families, 
39 of them in all, each independent and each with its own separate 
well-defined territory within the total Ona habitat. These extended 
families were paternally constituted. Children belonged to the 
lineage of the father. A young man on marrying a wife from a 
kinship group other than his own brought her back to his own family 
territory and there remained. If he died, she more commonly went 
back to her own kin and territory. Practically all the residents, 
therefore, within any one of the 39 divisions were related by blood 
or marriage. 

Each of these localized families or kinship groups recognized the 
moral leadership of one of the elder men. He could hardly be called 
chief. He had no real authority. The office was in no sense heredi- 
tary. He would not have to be a shaman. He was well versed in 
tribal traditions and customary law, and spoke often of them. His 
influence was persuasive, not coercive. For acceptance of his counsels 
he counted on the general respect for elders and for established 
customs. The members of the localized extended families had mutual 
loyalty, and clung together particularly in revenge expeditions and 

As previously noted (supra. Introduction), the whole Ona group 
was divided into three broad sections: the Haush^ on the one hand; 
and, on the other, the Northern and Southern Shelknam. Each of 
these three divisions recognized a certain internal solidarity and 
loyalty, and between the Northern and Southern Skelhnam^ at least, 
there was an undercurrent of bad feeling. But beyond this, the 
divisions had no political significance. 

Warfare and disputes. — There were no established public pro- 
cedures for determining criminal guilt and for inflicting punishment. 
The Ona were strongly given to revenge and were outspoken in their 
anger at a taint of honor or rights. There were no wars in which 
large numbers took part. Most group fighting was carried out by 
from 8 to 20 men on each side, each party commonly composed of 
relatives harking from a given extended family territory. The three 
chief causes of feuds and hostilities were murder, exploitative tres- 
pass on family territory, and suspicion of malicious witchcraft in 
cases of illness or death. 

In preparing for battle the men rubbed their bodies with red 
earth as camouflage and went into the fray singing their war song. 
There was no torture of captives, nor, for that matter, any purposive 
taking of captives, although an occasional woman of the losers fell 
into the hands of one of the victors. 

Where the cause or injury was of minor nature, especially in case 
of calumny and slander, conflicts were settled more by rough wres- 


tling matches or by a duel with bow and arrow. The women, too, 
sometimes engaged in tongue-lashing duels. 

In the peace-making rite described by Lucas Bridges (1938), each 
man of one party gave a chosen antagonist of the other five arrows 
with the heads removed and the shafts bound with sinew or hide 
around them to form a button the size of a cherry about one-half inch 
from the distal end in order to prevent it from penetrating too far, 
then came running and dodging toward him, while the latter shot 
the arrows at him, from a distance of about 70 to 90 yards (63 to 81 
m.) to less than 40 yards (36 m.). The roles were then reversed. 
After all men members of the two bands had gone through this modi- 
fied dueling once, the women of the two bands went fishing together, 
the young lads wrestled in friendly fashion, and amicable relations 
were resumed. 

Etiquette. — Cleanliness was admired but not strictly practiced. 
Bathing in sea or stream was not in vogue. Morning ablutions 
were commonly reduced to washing the eyes with a little water or 
snow. A powdered earth or powdered dried tuco tuco liver was 
sometimes rubbed over the body as a cleanser. Wlien visitors ap- 
proached, the mother usually hastened to give a quick washing and 
powdering to herself and her children and to tidy up the hut a little. 

Hospitality to a guest was given as a matter of course. A guest 
on entering kept silent, without looking around curiously, and only 
after a while began to tell his story. Eating gluttonously or hastily, 
especially when on a visit, was disapproved. 

Kissing, practiced only between certain close relatives and young 
married couples or lovers, was done, not lips to lips, but by pressing 
lips to the head, cheek, or arm of the other, with slight suction. 

It was bad form to mention the names of neighbors, and partic- 
ularly to mention the names of the deceased in the presence of their 
relatives. (For further details on etiquette, see Gusinde, 1931, pp. 


Ownership. — ^^Vhile the Ona claimed exclusive right to their whole 
habitat as against outsiders, the whole Ona country was divided into 
39 distinct territories, each of which was held exclusively by a dif- 
ferent paternal extended family. Such an extended family ranged in 
size from about 40 to 120 persons. The territory belonged to the 
family as such. Each man of the family had the right to hunt on it 
wherever he chose. None of this family land could be alienated. 
Exploitative trespass on it by nonmembers of the family was deeply 
resented and was looked upon as ground for bloodshed and even war. 
Hunters from other families and territories could be received as guests 
and could hunt with and at the will of the members of the particular 


extended family. Such a guest, if short of food or of other raw 
material which he needed, would ask such permission and only in 
the rarest cases would be refused. A son inherited such rights of 
tenure and hunting from his father automatically without any partic- 
ular formality. Owing to such paternal succession and to patrilocal 
residence, the group exploiting any one of the 39 divisions was made 
up exclusively or dominantly of kin. The one major exception to such 
exclusive territorial rights of exploitation was the finding of a stranded 
whale ; any members of the whole Oifm tribe could come and partake 
of such, although certain prior rights accrued to the members of the 
territory on which the whale was found, Clothing, adornments, 
weapons, tools, baskets, playthings, and the like were owned as per- 
sonal property by women and children as well as by men. 

Property was acquired through occupation, labor, donation, and 
barter. Barter was carried on without any kind of currency; there 
was no barter by exchange of presents. Acquisition by inheritance 
was practically lacking; all an individual's personal belongings were 
burnt at his death, except his dog, which was given to some relative 
or friend. 

Stealing from fellow Ona was severely reprobated, and was actually 
very rare. Theft of goods led to boycotting and loss of caste, while 
trespass on another family's hunting territory led to fights and 
bloodshed. The stealing of sheep from White ranchers who had 
driven the Ona from their fatherland was regarded by the latter in 
another light. 

Labor. — There vv-as no slavery or slave labor, and very little labor 
in common. Nor were there any craftsmen who made their whole 
living by specialized trades, although some expert bowyers received 
compensation for their products. 

Within the province of the man fell the following duties : Hunting, 
fishing with the large net, stripping flesh and blubber from stranded 
whales, skinning animals, making his own weapons and containers, 
and bringing in heavy logs for the fire. Among the woman's chief 
duties were: Caring for the younger children, gathering shellfish, 
small fish, fungi, and plant food, fetching drinking water, tending the 
fire, cooking, looking after the hut in general, dressing skins, making 
baskets, sewing, and carrying the household impedimenta on the march. 

There was no incentive to accumulate wealth, and no prestige at- 
tached to possession of wealth. 


Childbirth and infancy. — The Ona were quite aware of the rela- 
tion of coitus to conception; conception and foetal development were 
believed to demand repeated coitus. No contraceptives or abortives 


were known or used, and there is no clear evidence of infanticide. De- 
livery was in a half-sitting position. After delivery there was no 
prescribed bath in the sea or stream for mother or child. The mother 
often washed her whole body with wet clay. After delivery she ab- 
stained for about a month from certain foods, while the father ate 
lightly ; but there was no couvade. The navel string, dried, was put 
in a small pouch ; when the child was able to walk alone, the father 
caught a certain small bird, and the child tied the pouch around the 
bird's neck; the father then put the bird in the hands of the child, 
who let the bird loose to fly away; every bird of this species would 
then protect the child (Gusinde, 1931, pp. 377-378). The newborn 
child was placed in a sort of baby sack made of a rolled bit of hide 
lined with furs; a special eyeshade for the child was used; about the 
end of the third month he was placed in a ladder- type cradle (pi. 38, 
bottom, left). Children seldom cried. They were nursed whenever 
they indicated desire to do so. There was no naming feast; names 
usually became attached to the child from some bodily characteristic. 

Education. — Elders frequently exhorted children to socially recog- 
nized standards of childhood behavior, going into minute details 
thereupon, and proposing motivations of self-regard, family and tri- 
bal pride, threats of shortened life, and sometimes the will of Temau- 
kel, the Supreme Being. The sexes were kept separate and watched 
vigilantly from very early years. 

Girls' puberty. — At her first menses the girl for several days fasted 
rather rigorously, kept quietly in her father's hut, painted her cheeks 
under the eyes with thin white vertically diverging lines, and was 
given much counsel on her duties as maid, wife, and mother. 

The kloketen initiation and men's rite. — This rite, participated 
in exclusively by the men and adolescent boys, was the most impor- 
tant Ona social and religious function. Two basic concepts underlay 
it. First, it was a male device to keep the women in subjection by 
supernatural hocus-pocus, insofar corresponding to the Yahgan kina 
rite; second, it was a boys' initiation ceremony and training course, 
and insofar correspond to the Yahgan ciexaus (p. 98) rite. 

The myth back of the kloketen rite was an elaborate one, quite sim- 
ilar in all essentials to the one back of the Yahgan kina rite (q. v.), 
describing how the men turned the tables on the previously dominant 
women. A special large conical hut was erected at the farthest bor- 
der of an open space, across which at a distance of 180-200 paces were 
the camp tents. The women and uninitiated children were rigidly 
barred approach or access to the kloketen hut. The father of the oldest 
of the candidates was by right the leader of the ceremony ; these had 
to be of postpubertal age. The rite was given from time to time as 
occasion offered or demanded, and lasted sometimes as long as 4 to 10 
months, or even longer. 

Vol. 1] 


In accordance with the double objective of the rite as a whole, two 
parallel sets of activities characterized it. 

First, previously initiated and adult men impersonated various sup- 
posed spirits, painting their bodies in different ways and wearing 
conical or conoidal masks of bark or hide, and would issue from the 
large hut, dance, posture, and call in the sight of the women, and 
threaten them with punishment if they did not obey the men. The 
women are said to have believed implicitly in the reality of the sup- 
posed spirits ; the men, of course, did not, and the boy candidates were 
soon told of the skulduggery involved, with the strict admonition under 
dire threats not to reveal the facts to the women or other noninitiates. 

Second, for the duration of the rite, the boy candidates stayed at 
night in the large hut, had to do with little sleep and little food, to 
talk little, to assume a cramped sitting posture, and to make long travels 
afoot. They were further given long and intensive instruction and 
training in their vocational as well as their social obligations and 
responsibilities (pi. 38, top^ right). 

The rite concluded without a formal feast. The young candidates 
were simply ushered back to their mothers' tents, camp was broken, 
and the families dispersed for their hunting. 

The shamans entered quite prominently into the rite in connection 
with the supposed spirits. Temaukel functioned therein only slightly, 
chiefly in connection with the inculcation of social duties. Only by 
going through the kloketen rite could a boy attain full-fledged member- 
ship in the tribe. 

Death observances. — Death was believed to be due either to natural 
causes such as old age, accident, murder, or war, or to machinations of 
a shaman. But in the last analysis it was always the Supreme Being, 
Temaukel, to whom death was attributed. 

Mourning was expressed by body painting with charcoal, wailing, 
scarifying, and tonsuring. There were quiet complaints against 
Temaukel for his part in the death of the deceased, but not the wild, 
demonstrative ones of the Tahgan. There was no clearly institution- 
alized general mourning rite. 

There was no cremation. The body was rolled and lashed in fur 
mantles, at full length, and was interred in supine posture. 

After a death, the camp site was for a long time avoided. The name 
of the deceased was not mentioned, at least for a couple of years. 
There was a marked fear of human bones. 

Future life. — The soul (kaspi) at death went to Temaukel at his 
abode beyond the stars. Nothing in detail was known of its condition 
or fate there, which was the same for all regardless of moral behavior 
here on earth. The kaspi never returned, and there was no concept of 
metempsychosis. The shade of a dead person ("men") might come 


back in dreams. (On souls of dead shamans, cf. infra under 


Ona esthetic culture may be described better in negatives than in 
positives. As among the Yahgan^ esthetic development was extremely 

Art. — No realistic carving, painting, or drawing was done. Design 
was confined to the simple geometric patterns of face and body 

Gaines and sports. — Among grown-up men the most popular 
sports and games were: "Wrestling, foot races, archery duels, and 
a contest in which each of two rows of men tried to push the other 
back. Less popular were the ball game, like that of the Yahgan, 
and the throwing of burning faggots at one another by two rows 
of men. 

The chief boys' games and plays were : Practicing with bow and 
arrow and with sling; aiming to shoot an arrow through a grass 
ring as it was rolled along; shooting, with bow, sticks or old headless 
arrow shafts lighted at one end; swinging head down by bended 
knees. Popular games with girls were: Dolls, playing house, hide 
and seek, tickling one another, swinging, playing ball, forming a 
circle and running and springing at the same time. Young infants 
were given a sort of rattle made of five mussel shells, perforated and 
strung on a bit of sinew. 

Gambling was absent ; so, too, were games with complicated rules. 

Young fellows showed their power to endure pain by placing a 
bit of glowing coal on their forearm until it burnt them rather 

There were no alcoholic beverages and no tobacco or substitute 
therefor. Narcotics were totally lacking. Actually the Onu were 
one of the few primitive tribes who did not take kindly to the White 
man's intoxicants. 

Music. — Songs, while rhythmic, were very simple and monotonous. 
For that matter, about the only songs sung were connected with 
shamanistic and kloketen rites and with war. The Ona were not 
accustomed to free recreative singing. Musical instruments were 
completely absent. 

Dancing. — Apart again from ritual dances, there was very little 
recreative dancing, and symbolic dances were entirely absent. 


As with the Yahgan, the religious life of the Ona revolved pri- 
marily and almost exclusively around theism and shamanism. All 
in all, shamanism bulked larger and theism smaller in religious 


consciousness and life among the Ona than they did among the 
Tahgan. About the only traces of Ona shamanistic cult were the rela- 
tionships of the souls of dead shamans to the living medicine men. 
Shamanism itself was predominantly built upon animistic concep- 
tions. Certain minor omens and taboos not directly associated with 
either theism or shamanism were prevalent; for instance, if guanaco 
meat was wantonly wasted, the guanaco would be angry and the 
guilty hunter would kill no guanaco for a long time. But such 
observances appear to have had minor importance in Ona religious 
life. The kloketen rite previously described had certain distant 
relationships with theism and closer ones with shamanism, but was 
in the main more a social than a religious ceremonial. 

Theism. — The Ona had a very clear belief in a Supreme Being 
whom they called Temaukel. They seldom mentioned his name; 
instead they would refer to him as "That One There Above" or "The 
One in Heaven." He lived above the stars, far from the world and 
in most respects was rather indifferent to worldly affairs. He took no 
part in men's doings except to punish the individual by inflicting 
death on the group by sending epidemics. It is doubtful if he was 
the creator of the original unformed universe ; Kenos, the Ona''s first 
ancestor, was commissioned by Temaukel to put the universe in shape. 
Temaukel had no body, no wife or children, was the most powerful 
being, and always existed. In a broad sense he was the author and 
overseer of the socio-moral order, the ultimate originator of customary 
law, and the final sanctioner thereof. 

Punishment was inflicted by Temaukel on the evil-doer only in this 
life, through early death. In general, while Temaukel thus had some 
dynamic relation to man and to the social order, in many respects he 
had the characteristics of an otiose High God. He seems to have 
entered much less intimately into the daily life of the Ono, than did 
the Yahgari's Supreme Being into theirs. 

There was no set ritual connected with Temaukel and no priest- 
hood. The Ona had a very deep sense of respect for him. They 
prayed to him, particularly in cases of very grave illness, but without 
the numerous formulae such as the Yahgan used. Altogether the Ona 
seem to have prayed to him much less than did the Yahgan to their 
Supreme Being, and prayers of thanks were either very rare or 

Two simple sacrifices were offered. When a man or woman wished 
to take something to eat late at night, he or she would first take a bit 
of meat and throw it out of the hut, as an offering to Temaukel, saying : 
"This is for the One Above." During a tempest or snowstorm, a 
woman would sometimes throw out a bit of glovv'ing coal, as an offering 
to Temaukel to bring better weather. 


Shamanism. — Shamans (xon, yolion), mostly men, seem to have 
played an appreciably more important part in Ona religious and social 
life than in Tahgan^ and to have been on the whole more feared. 

The call to the office came most generally in dreams, in which the 
spirit of a deceased medicine man appeared to a person, invited him 
to seek the vocation, and, finally, transferred to him his own special 
song and power. Training for the craft, commonly given privately 
by a shaman father to his son, lasted 2 or 3 years. There was no 
public group training institute like that of the Tahgan; the Ona 
peshere, shamans' assembly, held for 5 days in a special large conical 
hut, w^as more a social gathering, which, however, had also the purpose 
of recruiting new candidates. There was no society or organization 
of medicine men ; each worked quite independently, and very commonly 
in deadly rivalry with and antagonism to his fellow shamans. 

The shaman cured, influenced weather and hunting, helped his group 
in their warlike pursuits, and so forth. Curing procedures included 
extraction from the patient's body of the small object, often an arrow- 
head, responsible for the illness. One of the most frequent, if not 
the most frequent, task of the medicine man was to wreak evil upon 
his own or his clients' enemies. His part in the kloketen rite has been 
previously mentioned. 

In the exercise of his profession, he did not call upon Temaukel 
for aid. The real source of his power was the spirit of the deceased 
medicine man who worked in and through him. 


The more important mythological and folklore cycles were those 
concerned with the adventures and deeds of: Kenos, the first man, 
agent of Temaukel, who gave the Ona their land; K'aux, the mighty 
hunter who divided their land into the 39 hunting territories and 
assigned one to each family; Kwanyip, the hero who overcame the 
malevolent Chenuke and the giant cannibal, Chaskels; North and 
South and their struggles with each other for mastery; Sun and his 
wife. Moon (part of the story concerned with the legendary early ma- 
triarchate, mentioned previously) ; the mythical ancestors of the Ona; 
the primeval manlike beings who later turned into mountains, lakes, 
rivers, and the like. Explanatory folk tales were numerous. The 
Ona flood story does not seem to have been part of any of the above 
cycles. (Details in : Gusinde, 1931, pp. 568-696 ; Cojazzi, 1911, pp. 31- 

No cult of these mythological beings existed. Temaukel did not 
enter except very indirectly (in the case of Kenos) into myths or 


The Ona had a very definite tradition that their ancestors came 
afoot to what is now the tribal land, from the north beyond the 
present Strait of Magellan, which was formed after their arrival as 
the result of a great cataclysm. 


Ona technology was, like that of the Yahgan, very simple. Some 
of the products, however, such as the bow and arrow, were of con- 
summate workmanship. 

Standard weights and measures were absent. So, too, were such 
means of communication as knotted cords, notched sticks, and travel- 
ers' camp signs. Smoke signaling was common. 

Two chief seasons were recognized, winter and summer, with two 
minor transitional ones, spring and fall. Winter included six 
"moons"; summer was divided into egg-laying, hatching, guanaco 
pregnancy, young guanaco, and molting periods. 

Herbal curatives were lacking. Massage was a common procedure 
in minor indispositions. For lung ailments and coughs, a piece 
of guanaco bezoar (called in Ona "the guanaco's fire-making ap- 
paratus") was ground to powder, put in a mussel shell with water, 
heated over a fire, and drunk (Gusinde, 1931, pp. 712, 1120). Crude 
splints were used for broken arms and legs. 

The Ona^ prior to European influence, had names only for numbers 
up to 6 and for 10 (Lothrop, 1928, p. 50, data from the Bridges 
brothers), or only for numbers up to 5 (Gusinde, 1931, p. 1107). 

For bibliographic references, see page 109. 


By John M. Cooper 


The section of the Pampa which here interests us (map 1, Nos. ID, 
IE, IF; map 2) extends about 600 miles (960 km.) north to south 
from about a line between Cordoba and the mouth of the La Plata to 
a line between the Rio Colorado and the Rio Negro (pi. 3, 'bottom, 
right; pi. 4, toy, left), where Patagonia begins, and thence stretches 
about 1,000 miles (1,600 km.) from north to south to the Strait of 
Magellan and the isthmus connecting Brunswick Peninsula with the 
mainland. The Pampa is a low-lying plain, nowhere over 1,000 feet 
(305 m.) above sea level, except for the Sierra del Tandil and Sierra 
de la Vent ana in southern Buenos Aires Province. Apart from the 
low coastal belt, Patagonia is mostly a broken tableland, one to five 
thousand feet above sea level (pis. 1 and 2) . 

Average temperatures at Buenos Aires, near the northeastern limit 
of the Pampa, are 48.9° F. in July, the coldest month, and 73.6° in Jan- 
uary, the warmest month; at Choele-Choel, near the border line be- 
tween the Pampa and Patagonia, 45.1° and 75.4°; at Santa Cruz, 
in far southern Patagonia, 35.2° and 58.6° (cf. New York City, 30.6° 
in January and 73.5° in July). The Pampa is marked by frequent 
steady-blowing high winds; Patagonia, by still more frequent blus- 
tery violent winds from the west and southwest. 

The eastern, or Humid Pampa, is, or was, treeless grassland (pi. 3, 
top, right, and hottom, left; pi. 4, top, rights ; the western or Dry 
Pampa (pi. 3, top, left), xerophytic scrub-tree and bush land; most 
of Patagonia has cover largely like that of the Dry Pampa, but con- 
siderable grassland especially in the western part. Along the pied- 
mont and eastern slopes of the Andean Cordillera flanking the Pampa 
and Patagonia to the west, is a broken forest belt (pi. 4, hottom, left 
and right) constituting an extension of the Antarctic flora with its 
beeches and other characteristic trees and shrubs. (For fuller details 
on environment, cf. : Jones, 1930; James, 1942.) 

Of the land fauna, the most important from the native standpoint 
were the guanaco {Lama glama guanicoe: Cabrera and Yepes, 1940, 



p. 257) and the rhea {Rhea americana in the north, R. darwinii in the 
south) (pi. 1). Guanaco more commonly go in small herds consist- 
ing of an adult male and 4 to 10 females; sometimes, in small herds of 
young males ; less commonly, in larger herds up to about 100 head, or 
in ones or twos. Communal hunting was consequently more usual ; 
hunting singly, less so. 


Notwithstanding the notorious complexities and obscurities of 
Patagonian and Pampean tribal nomenclature and distribution, cer- 
tain simple broad facts stand out quite clearly, as amply established 
by the evidence. Since the early 18th century, at least three distinct 
linguistic families have been determined for the area: Araucanian, 
Puelchean, and Tehuelchean {Chon). The peoples speaking these 
languages have been quite consistently described as respectively short- 
statured, fairly tall, and very tall — characterizations borne out by 
more exact measurements, particularly of the first and third. The 
cultures, too, of the three peoples can, in spite of much mutual bor- 
rowing and much underlying similarity, be readily distinguished — 
the Araucanian versus the Tehuelche very clearly, the Puelche versus 
the Araucanian and Tehuelche less clearly. Taking this well-estab- 
lished broad triple division as a starting point, we can approach more 
closely the Patagonian-Pampean confusion with less fear of leaving it 
at the end more confounded that it was ; at the worst we can fall back 
to our starting point. 

The Araucanians. — Slight infiltrations of Araucanian blood and 
culture across and down the Andes onto the eastern foothills and 
plains had taken place during the 17th century, and a little probably 
even in the 16th. But the major swarming of the Araucanians cut 
over Neuquen and the Pampa got under real headway only in the 
early years of the 18th. The early piiion-eating "PweZcAe" or 
"P^AwencAe" of the high cordilleran valleys, who are from time to time 
mentioned in the Chilean documents of the 16th and 17th centuries, 
may have been non- Araucanian in speech, but there is an even chance 
that they or a section of them were Arau^anian-^^^oking. At any 
rate, from at least the time of Pietas (1846, p. 499), they were clearly 
Araucanian in speech, and from at least the beginning of the 19th 
century, they, or the peoples who then lived near where the early 
Pehuenche had lived, were thoroughly Araucanian in culture. (Cf. 
De la Cruz, 1835; Poeppig, 1835-36.) 

In view of the foregoing facts, the Argentine Araucanians and 
the early '■'■Pehuenche-Puelche'''' of the cordilleran Araucaria forest 
will be described in volume 2 of the Handbook, under Araucanians^ 
and will be given no further direct treatment in the present article. 


The Tehuelche. — The name (etymology uncertain) was first used 
by the Jesuit missionaries of the middle 18th century, has many vari- 
ants, and has at times been applied to tribes (cf. infra under Puelche) 
other than the one known to modern anthropology as the Tehuelche. 

The chief variants of ''Tehuelche" are: Tuelohe (Camafio, 1937, p. 114); 
Toelchi (Cardiel, 1930, p. 247) ; Toelche (Cardial, 1938, p. 141) ; Tewelche 
(Milanesio, 1S98, p. 38) ; Thehuelche (Beauvoir, 1915 p. 183) ; Theguel-che (Berg, 
1875, p. 371) ; Teguelche (Piedra, 1837, p. 77) ; Tehuelci (Borgatello, 1924, 
p. 12, Italian c) ; Tuehelche (Milanesio, 1898, p. 38) ; Toelchu (Cardiel, 1930, 
p. 252, Strobel, 1922, pp. 74-75) ; Tuelchu (Camafio, 1937, p. 114) ; Thuelchu 
(Sanchez Labrador, 1936, p. 29; Dobrizhoffer, 1822, 1: 131) ; Tehuelhet (Falkner, 
1774, p. 102) ; Tehueleto (Villarino, 1837, p. 88) ; Chehuelchu, Cheuelchu (Muuiz, 
1917, pp. 203, 212) ; Tcheouelche (Guinnard, 1864, p. 63) ; Chequelcho (Lista, 
1879 a, p. 75; 1879 b, p. 73) ; Tehuillche (Hale, 184G, p. 651). 

The designation Patagoni, first given to the Tehuelche by Magellan in 1520 
(Pigafetta, 1906, 1 : 60), appears frequently in the later sources. 

The Tehuelche called themselves Choanik (Gardiner, 1852, p. 23) ; Tchonek 
(Musters, 1872, p. 194) ; Choonke (Lista, 1879 b, p. 73) ; Tonic or Tsonik 
(Claraz, 1896, pp. 524-525) ; Chonqui (Cordovez, 1905, p. 32 — so called by 
Chileans). The name is derived from the Tehuelche word, tsonik ("people," 
Claraz, 1896, p. 525), tsunke ("people," Ameghino, C, 1913, p. 260), choonke 
("indio," Lista, 1879 a, p. 81), chonk ("h ombre," Beauvoir, 1915, p. 184), 
(ichontk ("hombre," Lehmann-Nitsche, 1913, p. 260). Tsoneca (Schmid, 1912; 
Musters, 1871, p. 183) tsoneka (Moreno, 1879, p. 376), tzoneka (Lista, 1879 b, 
p. 75), occur as the name for the Tehuelche language. 

The Tehuelche, especially the southern ones, also called themselves Ahoni- 
canka (Musters, 1872, p. 194) ; Ahonnekenke, Ahonekenke (Moreno, 1879, 
pp. 226, 376), Adniken, A6nik(e)nk(e)n (Spegazzini, 1884, p. 226), Aonukiin'k, 
Aoniko-tshonk (Lehmann-Nitsche, 1913, p. 219) ; Aonikenke (Beauvoir, 1915, p. 
183), Aoeni Kiink or Kenk (Harrington, 1943, p. 3). Harwaneki, Hawaneki 
(Gardiner, 1852, pp. 22, 24), Haveniken (Virchow, 1879, p. 19U), Hauaniker-Tsonik 
(Claraz, 1896, p. 525) appear to be variants of the preceding. DOrbigny (1835^7, 
2:95) has Inaken for the southern Tehuelche (cf. Tehuelche nuken—"homhre," 
Outes, 1913 a, pp. 488-489; /(oo/ien = "hombre," Ameghino, C, 1913, p. 260). 

The southern Tehuelche called the northern Tehuelche Payni-ken (Gardiner, 
1852, p. 22) ; Paignk(e)nk(e)n (Spegazzini, 1884, p. 226), Pa'dnkunlc, Pa'anko- 
tshonk (Lehmann-Nitsche, 1913, p. 219). 

To denote the whole tribe, including both its northern and its 
southern division, we are using in the present article the term 
Tehuelche, since this term or some variant thereof has been more 
commonly accepted for the last two centuries. 

Since the middle of the 18th century, two main divisions of the Tehuelche, 
each with its own dialect, have been recognized. To the Jesuit missionaries of 
the time these divisions were known as the Tehuelche "de a cavallo," or northern 
division, who had horses and who lived in the Rio Negro Colorado and Rio Negro 
country, and the Tehuelche "de a pie," or southern division, who lacked horses 
and who occupied the region south of the horse Tehuelche as far as the Strait 
of Magellan. These southerners were included by Falkner in his Yacana-cunnees 
("foot people": Falkner, 1774, p. Ill; Lehmann-Nitsche, 1914, pp. 229-230; cf. 
Cooper, 1917, p. 86). 
583486 — 46 9 


A similar division into northerners and southerners is recorded consistently 
in our 19th century sources (D'Drbigny, 1835-47, 2 : 95; Cox, 1863, p. 165 ; Musters, 

1871, p. 70 ; Lista, 1879 a, p. 75, 1879 b, p. 74 ; Spegazzini, 1884, p. 226) . According 
to Lehmann-Nitsche (1913, p. 219), the northern and southern Tehuelche were 
called by the southerners PWdnkun'k and AdniikurCk respectively. 

In the 18th century the two divisix)ns spoke dialects differing so widely that 
members of one division could only with difficulty, if at all, understand those 
of the other (Sanchez Labrador, 1936, p. 30; Hervas, 1800-05, 1 : 184). According 
to our more recent sources from Cox on, dialectic differentiation, though ap- 
preciable, was less marked. There was also a third dialect, Td'uiishn (T^uesh, 
T^huesh, T6hueshen, T^uesson, TdhuesJienk, The-ushene, De-ushene). This dia- 
lect, according to Outes, was spoken long ago, and in 1905 was still spoken by 
some of the oldest Tehuelche in addition to the usual Tehuelche language (Leh- 
mann-Nitsche, 1913, p. 238 ; Outes, 1905, p. 249 ; cf . Hunziker and Schmid, in Outes, 
1928 a, pp. 273-274). In 1891 the Td'uiishn dialect was still spoken by older men, 
but was not understood by the younger re7meJc/ie-speaking generation (Bur- 
meister, C, 1891, p. 280). Tehuelche with its dialects constitutes, together with 
Ona and its own dialects, the independent Chon linguistic family. 

Since the middle of the 18th century, the northern boundary of the Tehuelche 
has pretty consistently been put at or around the Rio Negro ( Sanchez Labrador, 
1936, p. 30; Cardiel, 1938, pp. 141-142; Hervas, 1800-05, 1:134; Viedma, 1837 b, 
p. 79; D'Orbigny, 183&-47, 2:95; 212, north to 40° S. lat. ; Spegazzini, 1884, p. 
226; Outes, 1905, p. 241; Lehmann-Nitsche, 1913, p. 230), To be more exact, the 
territory of the Tehuelche in historic times appears to have extended over the 
whole of Patagonia from the Rio Negro and its affluent, the Rio Limay, to the 
Strait of Magellan and the isthmus connecting Brunswick Peninsula with the 
continent. In the middle 18th century, the Tehuelche may have extended on the 
Atlantic side, at least as casual occupants, a little farther north than the Rio 
Negro, to the Rio Colorado, to judge from the reports of Cardiel (1930, p. 272) 
and Sanchez Labrador (1936, p. 30). In the second half of the 19th century, 
ArcMccman-speaking peoples extended down the Andean piedmont some dis- 
tance south of Lake Nahuel-Huapl and the Rio Limay. (Musters, 1871, map; 

1872, p. 195; cf. Cox, 1863, pp. 94, 164, and La Vaulx, 1901, map and passim.) 
The dividing line between the horse and foot Tehuelche on the Atlantic side in 

the middle 18th century was about 100 leagues south and west of the Rio Negro 
(Cardiel, 1922, p. 63). The dividing line between the great northern and south- 
ern hordes in the second half of the 19th century was the Rio Chubut according to 
Cox (1863, p. 165) and Lista (1879 a, p. 75; cf. Lehmann-Nitsche, 1913, p. 230), 
the Rio Santa Cruz according to Musters (1872, p. 194; cf. Spegazzini, 1884, p. 

Tehuelche population. — Population data on the Tehuelche are very unsatis- 
factory. As regards particular groups of the Tehuelche, Barne (1836, 5:21) 
estimated at 1,400 the number of Indians at Port San Julian in 1753; Bourne 
(1853, p. 59), at about 1,000 the band with whom he traveled in 1849. As regards 
the whole Tehuelche tribe, the estimates in our records are the following : Viedma 
(1837 b, p. 79) , 4,000 souls, in 1780-83 ; Muniz (1917, p. 213), less than 4,000 able to 
bear arms, in circa 1826 ; D'Orbigny (1835-47, 2 : 97 ; 4 : 192) , 8,000 to 10,000 souls, 
in 1829; Fitz-Roy (1839, 2: 131), four groups of about 400 adults each, with a 
rather large proportion of children, and with women outnumbering men three to 
one, in 1833; Coan (1880, p. 171), about 1,000 souls, in 1833-34; Gardiner (1852, 
p. 22), 9,000 to 10,000 souls, in 1842; Cox (1863, p. 166), about 6,000 souls, in 


1862-63; Musters (1871, p. 184; 1872, p. 204), not over 1,500 souls, about 1,400, in 
1869-70; Berg (1875, p. 371), 200 [2,000-?] souls, in 1874; Lista (1879 a, p. 75), 
about 500 warriors, 2,000 to 3,000 souls, in 1878-79; Roncagli (1884, p. 768), 300 
[warriors-?], in 1882; Spears (1895, p, 159), perhaps about 500 souls, in 1894, 
according to gaucho informants; Hatcher (1903, p. 262), doubtful if over 500 
left, in 1896-99; Borgatello (1924, p. 134), at most 1,300 to 1,500 souls. Of the 
foregoing writers, probably Viedma, Muiiiz, Fitz-Roy, Musters, and Borgatello 
were best situated to learn the facts. 

Detailed data on the Tehuelclie are given by Reiher (1920, p. 115) as of 1913-14, 
for the Tehuelche then living on the reserve in Santa Cruz territory : 35 men, 40 
women, 17 boys, 15 girls — of whom 4 were non-Indians, and about 50 of the 
rest were full-blooded Tehuelche. The present writer has not found it possible 
to obtain statistics on the number of Tehuelche surviving today (1943). 

In 1829 the population had become reduced by one-half since the smallpox 
epidemic of 1800-12, according to D'Orbigny (1835-47, 2:97). Borgatello (1924, 
pp. 133-136) attributed the modern decline in numbers to wars with the Whites, 
smallpox, and alcohol. Reiher (1920, p. 118) called attention to the widespread 
incidence of pulmonary diseases at the time (1913-14) among the reserve 
Tehuelche, and believed that change of diet, from meat and plant food, to meat, 
biscuit, and marmalade, had been largely responsible. 

Before passing on to consideration of the Puelche^ four minor groups 
of Indians found in Patagonia or adjacent thereto call for brief at- 
tention : Ona and Alacaluf^ Caucahue^ Euilliche Serrano, and Poya. 

Ona and Alacaluf. — Falkner's Yacana-cunnees were described by 
him as tall people living on both sides of the Strait of Magellan, those 
on the south side being obliged to cross the Strait in order to com- 
municate with the Tacana cacique, Tamu, Falkner's friend (Falkner, 
1774, pp. 91-93, 111 ; discussion in Cooper, 1917, p. 86, cf. pp. 195-196). 
King (1839, 1: 104, 113) in 1827-28 saw a Fuegian [Onaf] Indian 
among the Tehuelche of Gregory Bay. Coan (1880, pp. 103, 127, 171) , 
who spent about 21/2 months with the Tehvslche in 1833-34, very 
definitely reported that one clan in southern Patagonia was largely 
made up of Indians from Tierra del Fuego and spoke a dialect 
different from that of the other TehueUhe. Gardiner (1852, pp. 21- 
24) found a number of Fuegians, apparently 0?ia, mixed with or re- 
siding among the southern Tehuelche (cf. also Gardiner and Hunt, 
1852, pp. 31, 33, 35, 40). Spears (1895, p. 129) also stated that a con- 
siderable number of Ona had been found in Patagonia and were still 
there. Likewise, Spegazzini recorded (1884, pp. 233, 235, 237) the 
presence of Fuegians Wna'^A among the Tehuelche. It seems fairly 
clear, from these sources, particularly Falkner, Coan, Gardiner, and 
Spears, that an appreciable migration of Ona across the Strait of Ma- 
gellan into Tehuelche territory occurred in the last couple of centuries. 

Moreno (1879, p. 378) referred to the capture of Alacaluf women by 
theTehuelche; Dumont d'Urville earlier (1842, 1 : 51, 156, 265-266), of 
Alacaluf children. The Huaicuru mentioned by Cox (1863, p. 165) 


may also have been Alacaluf; the Gudicaro vocabulary gathered by 
Lista (1896, p. 41) from a Gudicaro medicine man living among the 
Tehuelche is Alacaluf an. 

Caucahue. — In the early Chilean chronicles from 1641 on, the tri- 
bal denomination Caucahue {Caucau^ and other variants) occurs spo- 
radically, as applied in the most confusing manner, sometimes to short 
or medium-statured Indians of the western coast archipelago, at other 
times to "gigantic" Indians of the mainland. (Cf. details in Cooper, 
1917, passim.) Our most detailed account of the latter tall type is 
that of Pietas (1846, pp. 503-504) . He described the Caucahue^ one of 
whom he had seen, as "gigantic" in stature, living south of the Chono^ 
between the Cordillera and the Golfo de los Evangelistas, and speaking 
a language unknown to any one in Chiloc. It is quite possible that 
these tall '''■ Caucahue''' were Tehuelche, but by no means certain. They 
were very expert in the use of a heavy throwing club. (Cf. also Mor- 
rell, 1832, pp. 100-101, on "Co^^caw" met by him in the Guaianeco 
Islands in 1923.) 

Huilliche Serrano. — It is quite possible, too, that the Huilliche 
Serrano of the Chilean chroniclers were Tehuelche^ or perhaps Puelche, 
to judge from their tall stature as compared with that of the Arauca- 
nians and from their geographical location. (Cf. original data as- 
sembled from sources by Latcham, 1929-30, 64 : 218-220. ) But our in- 
formation upon the Huilliche Serrano, as upon the tall Caucahue, is too 
meager to justify any but the most tentative surmises as to their ethnic 

Poya. — As regards the Poya {Pouya, Pogya) we are a little better 
off. (Cf . original source data assembled in : Latcham, 1929-30, 64 : 220- 
222 ; more fully, Vignati, 1939 a ; Fonck in Menendez, 1900, passim, and 
esp. p. 319, on "Pw^ZcAe"^ probably Poya.) They should not be con- 
fused with the Araucanian-s,^Q,?ikmg Poyo or Payo. (Cf. Cardie], 
1938, p. 141 ; E. Simpson, 1875, p. 104.) The Poya were described by 
three of our four chief sources as big bodied. They spoke a non- 
Araucanian tongue. They lived in the general region of Lake Nahuel- 
Huapi, to the south or southeast thereof. Cardiel (1938, p. 141) seems 
to class the Poya as a branch of the foot Tehuelche. The Poya made 
an intoxicating beverage from a wild fruit called by them muchi (Oli- 
vares, 1874, p. 511; Menendez, 1900, p. 412) ; muchi is the Tehuelche 
name of the fruit of the DvA)aua dependens, called huingan by the 
Araucanians, and eaten by the Tehuelche (Cox, 1863, p. 211). Vig- 
nati (1939 a, p. 237) has called attention to the custom of septum per- 
foration, certainly unusual in these parts, attributed independently 
to the Poya by Florez de Leon (1898, p. 256) and to the early Tehuelche 
by Fletcher (Drake expedition, 1578 : see Fletcher, 1854, p. 50). The 


identification by Vignati (1939 a, p. 237) of the Poya supernatural 
being, ChechuelU {Ghahuelli: Olivares, 1874, pp. 511, 514, 516, 519) 
with the Tehuelche being called Cheleule (Pigafetta, 1906, 1: 60, 78; 
Outes, 1928, b, p. 380) appears less convincing. 

All in all, there seems to be fairly good evidence, although far from 
decisive, that the Poya were Tehuelche. In view, however, of certain 
cultural peculiarities of the Poya^ as well as of their still somewhat un- 
certain linguistic affiliation, we shall devote a special short section to 
them in our treatment of Patagonian-Pampean culture. 

The Puelche. — The name by which the Puelche call themselves is 
Genakin (Hunziker, 1928 b, p. 277, '•''Genacin^'' c=^k), from gena, 
"gente, pueblo, nacion" + — ki7i (?). Variants are: Gennacken 
(Moreno, 1879, p. 220), Gennaken^ Genakenn, Guiiuna Kune, Gilniina 
Kune (Harrington, 1933-35, 1943). In the present article we are 
using for the Genakin the name Puelche, as the one best known and 
longest established in anthropological literature. 

Tbe name Puelche {Puelcho, and other variants) is from Araucanian ("east- 
ez-n people" ) . It was first used in our sources by the Chilean chroniclers to de- 
note various groups living in or near the higher cordillera or on the plains to the 
east — the people later known as Pchiienche (the pinon-eaters of the high cordil- 
leran valleys), or the plains people in general east of the Chilean Cordillera, or 
sections thereof. Later it was much used by Chilean Araucanians and Whites 
for the Araucanians who spread out over the Pampa. In these senses the name 
usually either excluded the people known to modern anthropology as the Puelche 
or else included other peoples as well. It was from the beginning a geographical 
rather than a strictly tribal name, and remained so down to recent times. Hence 
the unending confusion in its use. 

In the middle 18th century, Puelche began to be used by the Jesuit missionaries 
(of. Lozano, 1924, p. 297 ; Sanchez Labrador, 1936, pp. 28-30) for one of the main 
ethnic groups of the Pampa, south and southwest of Buenos Aires, particularly 
those Indians living around the Sierra del Tandil and the Sierra de la Ventana. 
the Rio Colorado, and beyond to the Rio Negro and toward the Andean Cordillera. 

These same Puelche were also known to the Spanish of Buenos Aires as Ser- 
rano or Montaueses, on account of their mountain habitat and meeting place 
(Lozano, 1924, p. 297 ; Strobel, 1924, p. 442 ; Sanchez Labrador, 1936, pp. 29-31 ; Car- 
diel, 1922, p. 62, and 1930, pp. 245-247), Cerrano (Querini, 1922, p. 64), and like- 
wise were called Peguenche by Sanchez Labrador (1936, p. 30 — a possible mis- 
print or author's slip). Camafio (1937, p. 114) used the name Puelche for the 
J.raMcania7f-speaking peoples of the Pampa; Falkner (1774, pp. 99-100), in a 
much wider and geographic sense, for all the eastern Pampa and Patagonia tribes, 
regardless of language — the Taluhet, Diuihet, Chechehet, and Tehuelhet — from 
C6rdoba and Buenos Aires to the Strait of Magellan; Poeppig (1835-36, 1:464), 
for the Patagon east of the Andes from 37° S. lat. to the Strait. 

Other names by which the non-Araucanian, non-Tehuelchean Indians of the 
Pampa have been known are Pampa and Tehuelche of the North. Pampa was 
so used by Donavidas (1903, p. 365), Lozano (1873-74, p. 431), Camaiio (1937, p. 
114), Cox (1863, p. 165), Musters (1871, pp. 70, 304), La Vaulx (1897-98, p. 84), 
and Milanesio (1898, p. 38)— by the last four at least, to denote the Puelche 


proper. Pampa was also used for the Indians adjoining the Huarpe and extend- 
ing to the Atlantic coast (Ovalle, 1888, 12:177-179) ; for some of those in the 
vicinity of Buenos Aires (Vasquez de Espinosa, 1942, p. 693; Querini, 1922, p. 
64; Sanchez Labrador, 1936, p. 29) ; and in a broader sense, to include all Pampa- 
dwelling tribes, regardless of language, by Sdnchez Labrador (1936, p. 29) and 
Dobrizhoffer (1822, 1:130), both of whom consider the name a geographic one, 
not an ethnic one. The name Tehuelche of the North was used for Puelche by 
Cox (1863, p. 165). 

Thei-e are still other complications (cf., e. g., Lehmann-Nitsche, 1923 a, p. 26), 
but the foregoing are the main ones. Lehmann-Nitsche (1923 a) endeavored to 
interpret and identify the units in Falkner's elaborate system of tribal sub- 
division and nomenclature, but most of the system defies exact analysis, even 
if Lehmann-Nitsche's Met language be accepted as proven. Falkner was cer- 
tainly mistaken as regards some units of his system ; but separating all fact from 
all error in it is a well-nigh hopeless task, at least in the present state of our 
knowledge. The Falkner problem, like a good many others connected with 
Pampean linguistics, culture, and nomenclature, will be solved, if ever, only by 
intensive field work in the culture and linguistics of surviving Indians in southern 
Argentina, with perhaps a little help from still hidden and unpublished archival 

About the same may be said of the Eet family which Lehmann-Nitsche (1923 a) 
believed he had isolated, as a fourth linguistic family spoken on the Pampa in the 
18th century, in addition to Araucanian, Tehuelchean (Chon), and Puelchean. 
With great skill and originality, he drew upon both the literature, especially 
Falkner, and upon his own linguistic field work, to support his thesis, and was 
able to present a very respectable amount of evidence for it. Falkner's use of 
the nomenclatural ending het, as meaning "people," is certainly suggestive of the 
existence in his time on the Pampa of a language that was neither Araucanian 
nor Tehuelchean nor Puelchean. Nor could Lehmann-Nitsche identify from field 
studies or the sources a certain number of words in Falkner as belonging to any 
one of these three tongues; and so concluded, if the present writer interprets 
his pi'ocedure correctly, that they belonged to the Het family. 

But on the other hand, it seems strange that if there had been such a fourth 
family language in use at the time, nothing explicit should have been written 
about it in the numerous extant letters and reports of the missionaries who had 
direct personal contact with the Indians of the area or who had been in close 
touch with others who had had such contact. Camano, whom FGrlong (1938 a, 
p. 37) calls "el mas notable lingWista" among the Jesuits of the Rio de La Plata 
region, makes no reference to such a fourth family, nor does Sanchez Labrador ; 
nor does Hervas, who drew upon the knowledge of Jesuit missionaries acquainted 
with the region and with its peoples. On the contrary, they imply that there were 
three and only three family languages spoken in the area of the Pampa south and 
southwest of Buenos Aires down through Patagonia to the Strait. Then, too, 
the data from Falkner, arresting though they may be, are nevertheless rather 
meager, where there is question of positing a whole new linguistic family. And 
Falkner's work, in other respects, is open to much justified criticism on the score 
of looseness. 

Querini (1922, pp. 64-65) recorded that the Pampa of the missionary foundation 
of the Reducci<3n de la Concepcion, established in 1740 near the mouth of the 
Rio Salado about 100 miles southeast of Buenos Aires, and the Serrano of the 
Reduccion de Nuestra Sefiora del Pilar, established in 1747 farther south near the 
present Mar del Plata, had each their own language. This might suggest two 


non-Araucanian, non-Tehuelchean languages spoken in the region south of 
Buenos Aires. But Strobel, who had some practical knowledge of the languages 
concerned (Ftirlong C, 1938 a, pp. 88, 96, 98), stated (1924 (1740), p. 443) : ". . , 
the language of the Serranos . . . differs from that of the Pampas, as German 
does from Flemish." He also had remarked just previously that the Serrano "are 
kin of our Pampas Indians, since ties of blood bind them together." Strobel's 
testimony suggests the interesting possibility — it cannot be called more — that the 
Het tongue, if it existed at all as a separate linguistic entity, may have been one of 
the two related languages referred to by Querini and Strobel. 

All in all, as the evidence stands at present, it would seem wiser to reserve 
judgment on the question of the Het family. We can only express the hope that 
the urgently needed field studies may still be made to clear up this as well as 
other pending problems of Pampean and Patagonian anthropology. 

Field work cannot help, but possibly existing archival material might help, 
in clearing up another problem of the area, namely, the relation of the Puelche 
to the Querandi. We may best approach this problem by starting with the better 
known and working toward the less well known. 

Our first definitive linguistic identification of the Puelche comes from the short 
vocabulary thereof gathered and published by D'Orbigny. At the time of his 
8-month stay in the lower Rio Negro region in 1829, the Puelche, according to 
him, had their habitat between the Rfo Negro and the Rio Colorado, between 39° 
and 41", where they had resided "for more than a hundred years previously," 
but especially on the banks of the Rio Colorado (D'Orbigny, 1835-47, 4:221). 
This would place them in the area as far back as the first half of the 18th century. 
According to the Jesuit missionaries (cf. supra), in the middle 18th century this 
area was inhabited chiefly by non-Araticanian non-Tehuelchean "Serrano" or 
"Montaneses," known also at the time as "Puelche." The identity of both habitat 
and name establishes a fair probability, at least, that the mid-18th century "Ser- 
rano" were Puelche, that is, Qenakin proper. 

Further, according to the previously cited explicit testimony of Strobel, who 
from his first-hand contact with the peoples concerned and from his knowledge of 
their languages was certainly in a good position to know what he was talking 
about, the "Serrano" tongue was of the same linguistic family as that of the 
"Pampa" of Buenos Aires, that is, of the Indians living north of the Serrano and 
nearer to Buenos Aires. These "Pampa" would therefore have been Puelche- 

Finally, there are some fairly good reasons for thinking that these "Pampa" 
of Buenos Aires and vicinity were no other than the Indians earlier known as 

As far back as the middle 18th century the "Pampa" of the Buenos Aires region 
were explicitly identified by Lozano (1924, p. 296), with the Querandi: 

"The nation of the Pampas was called at the time of the Conquest Querandies, 
and dominated all the region that Buenos Aires now occupies, extending their 
power toward the south and the west." 

(Cf. also: Lozano [ca. 1745] 1873-74, p. 431; Hervds, 1800-05, 1:131.) This 
explicit report is corroborated by the less explicit statement of his contempo- 
raries and confreres, Querini and Camano. According to Querini (1922, p. 64), 
who with Strobel founded the Reduccion de la Concepcion among the "Pampa" 
in 1740, these Indians were "nomadic people who from the first entrance of the 
Spaniards upon the conquest of these provinces gave them [the Spaniards] much 
trouble." According to Camaiio (1937, p. 114) : "The Pampas have always been 


known in Buenos Aires, and in C6rdoba ; they traded with the Spaniards ; they 
worked as hired laborers on the Spaniards' country estates." 

In how far may we accept these statements as they stand? On the one hand, 
Lozano was, many years later, taken sharply to task by Camaiio (1937, p. 114) for 
certain grave misconceptions regarding the ethnic relations of some of the 
Indians around Buenos Aires. On the other hand, as regards the point under 
discussion, Camafio is in agreement, as far as he goes, with Lozano. Then, too, 
Lozano, as official historian of the Jesuit missionary province of Paraguay, in- 
cluding the Pampa, had at his command a wealth of archival material. Further, 
Lozano, Querini, and Camafio were all in personal touch with their missionary 
confreres as well as with the colonists of the area. Lozano and Querini had 
come from Europe to Buenos Aires and Cordoba as early as 1717. Lozano was 
at Cordoba from 1717 to 1723 or 1724, and at Santa Fe until the end of 1727. 
Querini was at C6rdoba for some years from 1717 on and was then transferred 
to Buenos Aires, where we find him in 1729 (Furlong C, 1980, pp. 8-24; 1938, pp. 
87-88). In the encomienda list of the jurisdiction of Santa F6, drawn up at 
Buenos Aires in 1678 by Gayoso (1897, pp. 176, 178-179), a number of the Santa 
Fe encomienda Indians of the time were designated as Querandi. At least some 
of these Querandi must have survived some years, until toward the end of the 
century or beyond — within a couple of decades of the 1710's and 1720's. Lozano 
and Querini, therefore, were reporting, not a nebulous tradition harking from 
the remote past and about a distant people, but one concerning an Indian group 
in close contact with the colonists, as is clear from Camaiio's statement, and well 
known to and personally remembered by colonists still living in Lozano's and 
Querini's day. 

Then, too, the territory earlier ascribed to the Querandi was about the same 
as that occupied in the middle 18th century by the "Pampa." (Cf. for Querandi 
Rui Diaz de Guzman, 1835-37, pp. 10-11 ; reprint in full of source material in 
Lothrop, 1932, pp. 197, 201-204, 213 ; detailed discussion of habitat by Canals Frau, 
1941; for "Pampa," sources cited infra.) The Querandi were described by the 
early writers as a numerous people; Schmidel (1567, 2 verso, cf. 3 recto) reported 
a population of about 8,000, not including women and children, in 1535 around 
what was later the site of Buenos Aires. There is evidence of wars and pes- 
tilences in the area, but of none so severe as to lead to total extinction ; in fact, 
Querandi certainly survived until 1678, as previously noted, and no doubt 
until at least near the end of the 17th century. They were driven from the 
gates of Buenos Aires in 1580, but in the 17th and far into the late 18th century 
there was abundant food on the Pampa in the form of feral horses and cattle as 
well as of wild game. The culture attributed to the Querandi agi'ees in prac- 
tically all diagnostic respects with that of the later "Pampa" of Buenos Aires. 
The Querandi were described as taller than the Germans but not so tall as the 
Tehuelche, a description which, so far as it goes, tallies with that given in 1772 
by Sanchez Labrador (1936, p. 31) of the "Pampa." Archeologically, there is 
indication in the Querandl-Pampa region of only minor cultural differences. 
(Cf. Archeology of the Pampa, present volume.) And the disappearance of the 
name Querandi from contemporary literature, after the last part of the 17th 
century has no particular importance for our problem. The name was one 
derived from Guaranl (Outes, 1897, p. 27), not one the Querandi called tliem- 
selves; while, according to Vdsquez de Espinosa (1942, p. 693), writing in 1628 
or 1629, the bolas-using Indians some 16 leagues from Buenos Aires — from the 
location, more probably Querandi — were those early called Pampa. (Cf. also 
Canals Frau, 1940-42, pp. 37-38, on "que" in caciques' names in Garay's reparti- 
miento of 1582 as possibly equivalent to Puelche "ken,") 


In the foregoing chain of evidence — Puelche^ Serrano = Pampa = 
Querandi — the second link is the strongest, the first and third less 
strong. While a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, the evi- 
dence does appear to give some fairly good ground for the identifica- 
tion of the Querandi as /^weZcAe-speaking. But in any case, there is 
no positive scientific ground whatever, as our evidence stands at pres- 
ent, for assuming that Querandi was a distinct linguistic family. 

Puelche territory. — What territory and population we attribute 
to the Puelche prior to D'Orbigny's time, 1829, will depend largely 
upon the view we take of the Ret and the Querandi-''^'''' 
''''Serrano''' -Puelche problems. 

To his i/e^speaking Indians of the Pampa of the mid-lSth century, Lahmanu- 
Nitsche, relying mostly on Falkner, ascribed chiefly the belt inland from and 
flanking the Atlantic coast from near the Rio Negro to well north of the Rio 
Colorado (19::3 a, pp. 49, 00, map opp. p. 18). 

In the early 17th century, the Querandi territory appears to have included 
roughly about what we know today as the Humid I'ampa. (Cf. Rui Diaz de 
Guzmau, 1835-37 ; Lothrop, 1932 b; and especially Canals Frau, 1941 b, previously 
cited.) The "Pampa" of Buenos Aires occupied the regi.on south and west 
of the city and its adjacent hacienda belt in the 17th and mid-lSth centuries (cf. 
sources cited supra). In the middle ISth century, the "Senan(j" lived south 
and southwest of the "Pampa" around the Sierra del Tandil and Sierra de la 
Veutana, and extended down as far as the Rio Negro and as far west as the 
foothills of the Andes (Cardiel, 1922, p. 63; Sanchez Labrador, 1936, pp. 29-30; 
cf. Lozano, 1924, p. 296), with a chief center on the Rio Neiniuen or Rio Limay 
west of their junction. (Cf. Cardiel's 1747 map in Furlong-Outes, 194U; Falkner, 
1774, pp. 20, 80, and map.) 

Our earliest definitive location of the Puelche is that given by D'Orbigny (cf. 
supra) for the year 1829, between the Rio Negro and the Rio Colorado, especially 
the latter region. C^ox (1863, p. 165) located one baud of Puelche at the mouth 
of the Rio Negro; other Puelche, mixed with Argentine Arauconiau.s, in the 
west from the Rio Limay to the Rio Chubut. Musters (1871. p. 70; 1872. p. 194) 
in 186.9-70 found Puelche between the RIos Negro and Chubut, while several 
clans were living on the plains north of the Negro; from these centers they 
raided up as far as the province of Santa Fe as well as to (Mi-iloba and Mendoza. 
Moreno (1879, p. 445) found at the mouth of the Santa Cruz River a camp made 
up mostly of Puelche. 

Thus a southerly drift of the Puelche occurred after the time of D'Orbigny, a 
continuation, if our provisional identification of the Puelche with the Querandi 
be correct, of an earlier southerly drift that probably began with the founding 
of Buenos Aires in 1580 and with the establishment of regular lines of land 
comnuinication between Buenos Aires and Santa Fe, Cordoba, and Mendoza. 

Puelche population. — Population statistics for the early Puelche ai-e none too 
definite. The Querandi were consistently described as a numerous people — more 
than 3,000 adult males in 1535, if we can accept Schmidel's statement. By the 
middle of the 18th century, we get much lower numbers. Cardiel's Serrano, 
probably Puelche, numbered in all only 100 to 200 men able to bear arms (1922, 
p. 63), but it is not clear whether this number includes all the then existing 
Puelche. Lozano (1924, p. 296) calculated the number of "Picanche" in the 
provinces of Tucuman and Cuyo, some of whom were probably Puelche, at 70 
families in all. SAnchez Labrador (1936, p. 43) stated that the "Pampa" of 


Buenos Aires Province numbered about 400 families of an average of 5 persons 
each, while in the C6rdoba and Tucumdn districts there were only 50 families; 
but perhaps not all of these were Punlche. 

D'Orbigny (1835-47, 2:208, 4:12) estimated the population of the Puelche 
in 1829 at 500 or 600 souls. Musters (1872. p. 205) believed that the number 
of Puelche south of the Rio Negro numbered "perhaps under six hundred." In 
1915-16. 10 to 12 Puelche still sui-vived In the lower Rio Negro region (Lehmann- 
Nitsche, 1924 a, p. 8). A few "Pcnnpa." by which are apparently meant Puelche, 
were living around 1925, according to Fasulo (1923, pp. Ill, 114, 141), in Neuqu^n 
and the western part of La Pampa Territory; and a few Puelche, at least 10, are 
still living in Chubut Territory (Harrington, 1943, p. 3). 

Recurrent epidemics of smallpox, in the early (Lozano, 1924, p. 296; Falkner, 
1774, pp. 98-103), middle (Querlni and Strobel, 1924, p. 444), and late (D'Orbigny, 
1835^7, 4:221) 18th century, largely accounted tor the great reduction in 
Puelche population during the period. Loznno (ibid.) also mentions the part 
played by murders Goiiimitted dui'lng drunken brawls; various writers, wars 
with Whites and Indians; D'Orbigny (ibid.), daily attacks by the Argentine 
Aravcanians. No doubt there were other causes, but we lack specific information 


The post-Magellanic history of the Patagonian and Pampean 
hunters may be divided into three main periods: an early one, 1520 to 
circa 1725, from first White contact to the Araucanian invasion and 
the acquisition of the horse; a later one, circa 1725 to 1883, the date of 
the closing of tha military campaigns which finally broke the power of 
the Indians of the Pampa and drove many or most of the survivors 
south and southwest of the Rio Negro; the recent one, 1883 to date, the 
era of decline. In the present paper we shall for convenience refer 
to the natives of these periods as the "early" {Tehuelche, Puelche^ and 
so forth), the "later," and the "recent," respectively. 

Early period, 1520-ca. 1725. — First European contact with these 
southern hunters was that of Magellan (narratives of Pigafetta, 
Maximilianus Transylvanus, Albo, Herrera) in 1520 with the 
Tehuelche at Port San Julian on the Atlantic coast of Patagonia. 
During the following 150 years, eight other expeditions encountered 
the Tehuelche: 152(i, Loaisa (narratives of Urdaneta, Oviedo) ; 15:55, 
Alcazaba (Mori, Vehedor) ; 1558, Ladrillero; 1578, Drake (Cliffe, 
Cooke, John Drake, Famous Voyage, Fletcher, Nuno da Silva, World 
Encompassed) ; 1580, 1584, Sarmiento (Sarmiento, Hernandez) ; 1586, 
Candish (Pretty); 1599, Noort; 1670, Narbrough, and Wood. 
Earliest contact with the Querandi, farther north, who may have 
•been the ancestors of our modern Puelche (cf. supra), was Sebastian 
Cabot's (Ramirez, Cabot, Oviedo) in 1526. (See details, Lothrop, 
1932, pp. 201-202.) 

Meanwhile, the Spaniards in Chile were in sporadic touch from 
the 1540's on with the Pampean and Patagonian hunters nearer the 
Andes, whom they called "PweZcAe," "Po^/a," and ^^Patagon.^^ Such 


contact was: Economic, through trade and encomienda labor 
(Resales, 1877-78, 1:469); military, through expeditions to and 
raids by ^'■Puelche'\' missionary, a little by Rosales (one or two visits 
between 1650 and 1653), more by Mascardi, 1670-73, and his suc- 
cessors, 1703-14, at Lake Nahuel-Huapi. (Cf. details and sources 
assembled by Fonck, 1900 ; Latcham, 1929-30 ; and Vignati, 1939 a.) 

All these relationships, however, have netted us very meager an- 
thropological information, and for the peoples of the heart of the 
Pampa region practically none. 

Later period, ca. 1725-1883. — The beginnings of this period in the 
first half of the 18th century were marked by three very significant 
events : the deployment of the Araucanians out over the Pampa, the 
acquisition of the horse by the Patagonian and Pampean tribes, and 
the founding of the Jesuit missions among them. 

The deployment of the Araucanians^ begun before the close of the 
17th century, gathered great headway shortly after the opening of 
the 18th, and carried them almost to the gates of Buenos Aires. In 
the same period, owing apparently in large measure to Araucanian 
influence, the Patagonian and Pampean tribes, previously foot Li- 
dians, took to horsemanship, and also began to be profoundly in- 
fluenced by general Araucanmn culture. 

As for the Tehiielche^ after 1670, when seen as foot Indians by Nar- 
brough and Wood at Port San Julian, there is a long gap of 71 years 
in our sources. When next seen, in December 1741, near the eastern 
end of the Strait of Magellan by Bulkeley and Cummins, they were 
riding horses. With the horse came many other new cultural traits 
(Cooper, 1925, pp. 408-409). The chief explorers (with dates of con- 
tact) to whom we owe first-hand data on the Tehuelche until the close 
of the period are : 

Eighteenth century: Morris, 1742-43; Cardiel and Quiroga, 1746 
(Lozano, in de Angelis, 1836-37, vol. 1) ; Barne, 1753; Byron, 1764; 
Wallis, Carteret, 1766; Duclos-Guyot, 1766 (m Pernety, 1769, vol. 2; 
660-662) ; Bougainville, 1766, 1767; Juan de la Piedra, 1779; Viedma, 
1780-83; Vargas Ponce, 1785; Tafor, Pineda, Peiia, 1789; Coleman, 
1793 (?). 

Nineteenth century : Muiliz, ca. 1826 ; D'Orbigny, 1829 ; Fitz-Roy, 
1833 ; Coan, 1833 ; Wilkes, Hales, 1839 ; Gardiner, 1842 ; Bourne, 1849 ; 
Cox, 1862-63; Musters, 1869-70; Berg, 1874; Moreno, 1874, 1876-77; 
Beerbohm, 1877; Lista, 1878-80; Roncagli, 1882; Spegazzini, ca. 1884. 

The list is long, but the data are relatively scant. 

The missions of the Jesuits to the peoples of the Pampa south of 
Buenos Aires, 1740 to 1753, gave us a considerable volume of an- 
thropological information on the mixed Puelche and Araiicanian- 
speaking peoples of the Pampa proper and, to a lesser extent, on the 
Patagonians. In the writings of Fathers Dobrizhoffer, Lozano, 


Cardiel, Quiroga, Strobel, Camafio, Kejon, Garcia, Querini, and par- 
ticularly Falkner and Sanchez Labrador, we get for the first time an 
insight into the cultural and linguistic lay of the Pampean area and 
into its relations with the Patagonian and Armcanian. (Most of 
cultural data are given in Sanchez Labrador, 1936; Falkner, 1774; 
Pennant, 1788; and Furlong Cardiff, 1938 a). 

Some very valuable anthropological information also was contrib- 
uted by the 19th-century Protestant missionaries: Coan, 1833-34; 
Gardiner, 1842, 1845; Schmid and Hunziker, 1859-63. (For details, 
cf.: Gardiner, 1852; Marsh and Stirling, 1874; Coan, 1880; Outes, 
1926 b, 1928 c.) 

The period came to an end with the military campaigns under Gen- 
erals Julia Roca and Conrado Villegas in 1879-83, which completely 
defeated and disorganized the Indian confederates, cleared the Pampa 
region almost entirely of its Indian inhabitants, and drove most of the 
survivors beyond the Rio Negro and into Neuquen. 

Recent period, 1883 to date. — Settlers, following the frontier, 
have taken up most of the country from the northern limit of the 
Pampa to the Strait of Magellan. The surviving Indians are found 
scattered here and there in small groups, mostly south of the Rio 
Negro. The process of Europeanization has been in full swing; the 
native culture has largely been replaced. Relatively very little field 
work has been done among the survivors during the last 60 years. 
The Salesian missionaries. Fathers Milanesio (1898, 1917) and Bor- 
gatello (1924), have given us some new light direct from the toldos of 
the natives. A great deal of attention has been devoted by a corps of 
Argentine scholars — Canals Frau, Fiirlong C, Lehmann-Nitsche, 
Outes, Serrano, Vignati, and others — and by Fonck and Latcham 
of Chile, to critical surveys and interpretations of published and 
manuscript data, a work still in active progress. 

Selected annotated lists of the more important of our very numer- 
ous first-hand sources on the culture of the Tekuelche, Poya, and 
Puelche will be given infra under Culture at the beginning of the 
sections on the culture of the respective three tribes. 

There are few more urgent tasks facing anthropological science 
than thorough studies, as thorough as possible under the circumstances 
of native cultural disintegration, of the surviving Tehuelche and 
Puelche^ studies made directly in the field, from information that 
may probably still be gotten from older members of the fast-dwin- 
dling remnants of these once numerous and powerful tribes. 


Our cultural data are fullest and most clearly identified for the 
Tehuelche. whose culture will be treated first. Next will follow a 


short account of the Poya. Finally, we shall deal with the culture of 
the Puelche. 

In the case of the Puelche^ were we to confine ourselves to those 
data which are unmistakably and beyond all possibility of doubt at- 
tributable to people speaking the Puelche language, we should have 
to rely almost exclusively on D'Orbigny's extremely brief account. 
For reasons previously given, we seem to be on fairly safe ground in 
concluding that the Puelche of D'Orbigny's day were the linguistic 
descendants of Sanchez Labrador's ^^ Puelche''^ (^^Pampa^'' ''''Serrano'''') 
six or seven decades earlier. If not the linguistic descendants, they 
were almost certainly the cultural ones. We shall use, therefore, the 
data from Sanchez Labrador, where we can be sure he is speaking of 
cultural phenomena peculiar to his and our Puelche or shared by them 
with the contemporary Tehuelche and/or Argentine Araucanians. 

For those who hold with Lelimann-Nitsche to the former existence 
of a Het family on the Pampa, what we shall describe as Puelche cul- 
ture would connote, so far as the description rests on data from San- 
chez Labrador, Het culture or Het-Puelche culture. 

Less use can be made of Falkner than of Sanchez Labrador, as the 
former gives fewer details and discriminates less between Arau^anian, 
Tehuelche, and Puelche cultural features. 


On Tehuelche culture the very early sources prior to 1670 yield 
only the most meager information, and this almost exclusively regard- 
ing the more obvious elements of material culture. About the best 
of these early sources, such as they are, are Pigafetta (1906) and 
Fletcher (1854). 

The most important later sources are Viedma (1837 b) and Musters 

Next in importance to these last three publications may be listed : 
Borgatello (1924), Bourne (1853), Coan (1880), Moreno (1879), 
Mufiiz (1917), and D'Orbigny (1835-47). Some good material is also 
found scattered through the works of: Cox (1863), Falkner (1774), 
Fitz-Koy (1839, dependent largely on Falkner), Gardiner (1852), 
Lista (1879 a, 1879 b). Pennant (1788, data derived from Falkner in 
England), Reiher (1920),Roncagli (1884), Sanchez Labrador (1936), 
and Spegazzini (1884). On the linguistic relations of the Tehuelche^ 
Lehmaim-Nitsche (1913) is basic, while Cardiel (1938) and Camafio 
(1937) were important pioneer contributors. 

Where it is possible or advisable to distinguish between the culture 
of the foot Tehuelche before 1670 and that of the horse-using Tehuelche 
after 1741, in the following account of Tehuelche culture the terms 
"early" and "later" will be used respectively. 



Food. — The chief foods of the Tehuelche were guanaco and ostrich 
meat, the latter being generally preferred as less lean. Armadillos, 
skunks, tuco tucos {Gtenomys sp.), and huemuls were also eaten (Ron- 
cagli, 1884, p. 771; Ibar Sierra, 1879, p. 54), but dogs were not (Fitz- 
Roy, 1839, 2: 150). Grease, fat, and marrow were delicacies, as were 
also ostrich eggs. The later Tehuelche, ordinarily at least, avoided fish 
(Coan, 1880, p. 60; D'Orbigny, 1835-47, 2 : 100; 4: 101 ; Bourne, 1853, 
p. 147; Musters, 1871, p. 201 ; Ibar Sierra, 1879, pp. 54-55 ; Borgatello, 
1924, p. 16) , not, apparently, from magico-religious motives ; but near 
the coast the early Tehuelche consumed fish and mollusks (Oviedo, 
1851-55, 2 : 40, 43, 45) , the later Tehuelche some shellfish (Gervaise, in 
Dumont d'Urville, 1842, 1 : 278). 

Wliile meat was the basic diet, considerable quantities and varieties 
of plant food were eaten. By the early Tehuelche certain roots, "re- 
sembling parsnips," were eaten raw or cooked, and made into flour 
(Pigafetta, 1906, 1: 50, 60, 78; Oviedo, 1851-55, 2 : 40, 43, 45) ; by the 
later Tehuelche, roots, roasted and made into flour; "wild potatoes," 
dug up from underground and eaten raw or cooked ; seeds, "like mus- 
tard," ground between two stones; "a kind of spinach" and a few other 
plants; "wild dandelions"; barberries, wild currants, strawberries, 
piiioes {Araucaria sp.), apples (Juan de la Piedra [1779], 1837, 5: 77; 
Coan, 1880, p. 119; Dumont d'Urville, 1842, 1: 154-155, 279; Schmid, 
1912, p. 24, with native names of six or seven roots and plants eaten ; 
Musters, 1872, p. 199; Spegazzini, 1884, p. 238; Vignati, 1936, p. 598: 
cf . Spegazzini, 1884, p. 238 ; Outes, 1905, p. 253 ; and especially Vignati, 
1936, p. 598, and 1941, for botanical identifications). The later Te- 
huelche chewed the gum which exuded from the incense bush (Musters, 
1872, p. 199 ; Schmid, 1912, p. 28 ; Spears, 1895, p. 159 : cf . details of 
method of chewing in Hudson, 1926, pp. 125-126), as a pastime and 
dental cleanser. According to Vignati (1936, p. 602), some of them 
chewed the leaves of Chuguiraga avellanedae "como excitante 

The Tehuelche practiced no agriculture at all, and the early 
Tehuelche had no domesticated animals except the dog. They seem 
to have had at least two kinds of native dog, a larger long-haired one 
and a smaller one somewhat resembling the Scotch terrier (Cabrera, A., 
1934, pp. 88-91 ; Spegazzini, 1884, pp. 232-233 ; Allen, 1920, pp. 476- 
478) ; a third kind, resembling the greyhound, was probably a cross 
between the Spanish galgo and the first of the above two (Cabrera, 
A., 1934, pp. 88-91). The smaller dogs were used mostly as pets, the 
larger ones in hunting. 

Horses. — The horse was introduced after 1670, and before 1741, 
probably some time around 1725, from the Argentine Araucanians, 


or perhaps, as D'Orbigny appears to have believed (1835-47, 2: 100), 
from the Puelche. Its introduction was accompanied and followed 
by very great changes in general Tehuelche culture (Cooper, 1925, pp. 
408-409, details), including the addition of horse meat to the diet. 

Hunting. — The early Tehuelche used tame young guanacos as 
decoys in hunting guanacos (Pigafetta, 1906, 1 : 52; Mori, [1535], 1889, 
p. 320), and rhea plumage as head and body camouflage to approach 
within killing distance of rheas. Fletcher (1854, pp. 41-42) re- 
ported the use of nets in rhea hunting. Later Tehuelche hunters com- 
monly scattered, circled, and closed in to hunt the guanaco and the 
rhea (pi. 40, top) ; in the drive, pumas were often caught in the circle 
and killed (pi. 40, hottom). The dogs were of great aid in hunting. 
Our sources mention no snares or deadfalls as used for any animals. 
(For details on hunting, cf. Schmid, 1860, pp. 363-364, 366, and Outes, 
1928 d.) 

Food preparation and storage. — Jerked guanaco meat, dried or 
smoked and pounded, was mixed with rhea or other grease to make 
pemmican, which was stored for use in winter or in stormy weather 
(Coan, 1880, p. 84). Fat, marrow, and internal organs of guanaco, 
such as livers, lungs, kidneys, and hearts, were commonly eaten raw ; 
otherwise food was roasted or baked — later boiled in iron pots. Meat 
was often eaten only slightly roasted. Heated stones were put in split 
rhea, young guanaco, armadillo, and skunk carcasses, and the car- 
casses were then sewn up and placed on the fire to roast (Coan, 1880, 
p. Ill; Moreno, 1879, p. 254). One end of the rhea egg was punc- 
tured, a little of the white taken out, and the egg set vertically on a 
slow fire to cook (Moreno, 1879, p. 359). Salt was mixed with blood, 
or used for seasoning meat. The blood of freshly killed guanaco was 
drunk raw (Coan, 1880, p. 119 ; Bourne, 1853, p. 71) . A nonf ermented 
drink was made of barberry juice. Mate, of later introduction, was 
very popular. 

As food receptacles and eating utensils were used: Valves of 
mollusks as drinking cups, and, in one early instance (Oviedo, 1851-55, 
2 : 41) "skin," as among the Ona (p. 113) ; in later times, wooden plates 
and platters, bladders as water containers, wooden or horn spoons, and 
armadillo shells as broth platters. There were no stated mealtimes. 
The Tehuelche avoided gluttonous eating. 


Permanent villages were lacking. Some use was made of caves 
as dwellings in parts of prehistoric Patagonia, perhaps by Tehuelche. 
A skin windbreak very like the modern Ona one (p. 110) was ap- 
parently used by some of the early Tehuelche (Oviedo, 1851-55, 2 : 41, 
1 ; cf . Ladrillero, 1880, p. 499, and Cooper, 1925, pp. 


414-415), but the skin tent with the two compartments as described by 
Maximilianus Transylvanus (1523, p. Av) suggests more the typical 
Tehuelche toldo of later times. This typical toldo (pi. 37, lottom; pi. 
38, hottom, right) was made of three or more rows of stakes, diminish- 
ing in height from front to rear, and covered with guanaco skins sewn 
together and smeared with a mixture of grease and red paint. The 
inmost section was divided by skin screens into compartments, each 
married couple having their own compartment. The open side, facing 
east (to leeward), was sometimes, in winter or in bad weather, nearly 
closed with other skins. The fire was made near the center of the open 
side, a little within. Skins laid on the ground were used to sleep upon ; 
covers were also of skins The toldo, according to Spegazzini (1884, 
p. 230) usually housed a man and his entire family, or an extended 
family consisting of grandparents, children, and grandchildren, with 
their wives and offspring ; while sometimes each of a man's wives and 
sons had a separate toldo. Apart from special gatherings, camps did 
not contain more than about 20 toldos; more commonly they con- 
tained fewer. 


Clothing. — The early Tehuelche men wore a pubic covering, 
later superseded by the chiripa, and some at least tied up the penis by 
the prepuce to their belt. (Ladrillero, 1880, p. 498; cf. Pigafetta, 
1906, 1:60; Noort, 1905, p. 191.) The early skin moccasinlike foot- 
wear, with hay stuffing, gave place among the later Tehuelche to the 
bota de potro (fig. 18, e) made from the dehaired skin of a horse's 
hock or of the leg of a large puma (Lehmann-Nitsche, 1916 b, 1918, 
1935) . In one post-Columbian burial in Chubut Territory were found 
two exceptional types of clothing, a piece of shell-disk spangled mantle 
and a sandal (Vignati, 1930, pp. 12-19, cf. citations, pp. 20-32, of 
sources on mantles and footwear). Guanaco-skin overshoes were 
sometimes worn (Musters, 1872, p. 196). Men's other garments were 
(pi. 39, top) : A mantle of sewn skins of young or unborn guanaco, 
or of skunk, fox, or wildcat ( Viedma, 1837 b, p. 68 ; Mufiiz, 1917, p. 214 ; 
Musters, 1872, p. 196) , reaching to or below the knee, secured by a belt, 
painted with polychrome geometric designs (fig. 19; cf. Lothrop, 
1929), ordinarily worn with the hair inside, but sometimes in hot 
weather with the hair outside (Coan, 1880, p. 75) ; a woven woolen 
fillet ; sometimes a poncho. The women's dress (pi. 39, top) consisted 
of: An apron pubic covering (cf. Vignati, 1931 e) ; an undergarment 
reaching from the armpits to the knees ; a mantle like the men's, but 
fastened at the breast or shoulder ; the bota de potro, when on horse- 
back ; sometimes a flattish straw hat. 


Figure 18. — Tehuelche arms and instruments, a, Saddle and stirrup ; b, bridle ; c, girth ; 
d, spurs ; e, boots with spurs ; /, adz ; g, scraper ; h, musical bow ; i, ostrich bolas ; 
;, guanaco bolas ; k, bola perdida ; I, pipe. (After Musters, 1871, opposite p. 166.) 



Ornaments. — ^Adornment may be summed up as follows : Head de- 
formation, perhaps not intentional. Pegs of wood or bone, 3 to 4 
inches (7.5 to 10 cm.) long, in the perforated nasal septum and lower 
lip (single early report, Drake expedition, 1578, in Fletcher, 1854, p. 
60 ; of. Poya culture, infra, and archeological data in Lelimann-Nitsche. 
1924). Hair: Early, men tied hair ends up with fillet, and wore 
tonsure; women, later, coiffure in two braids, also false hair (King, 
1839, 1:18; Beerbohm, 1879, pp. 90-91); brush comb (cf. illustr., 
Outes and Bruch, 1910, p. 122) ; facial and bodily depilation with shells. 
Tattooing by puncture method, on forearm (Musters, 1872, p. 197) ; 
formerly in other parts. Smearing body and face with grease ; earlier, 
also with white earth (Ladrillero, 1880, p. 498) . Painting : Body and 
face, various colors — white, black, red, yellow. Face painting with 
black on the march or on cold days to protect skin (Viedma, 1837 b, 
p. 81). Personal adornments (pi. 39, top): Men — earrings, objects 
of silver, brass — earlier, bone, stone, and shell necklaces, and feathers ; 
women — ^brooches, including topu type, earrings (often of Araucanian 
quadrangular or circular plate type), bracelets, finger rings, neck- 
laces, etc., of harmnered silver — earlier, necklaces like men's. 


The Tehuelche had no dugouts or canoes, so far as ever observed, al- 
though they may possibly have had means of ferrying across the 
Strait of Magellan to the Ona country (cf . supra Introduction) . They 
did use, at least the later Tehuelche, a crude type of coracle or bull boat, 
made of hides for ferrying themselves or their impedimenta across 
rivers (Bourne, 1853, pp. 133-134; Moreno, 1879, pp. 256-257). 

With the horse (see supra) came saddles, stirrups, including the toe- 
stirrup (fig. 18, a-d; Viedma, 1837 b, p. 69 ; Coan, 1880, p. 68) , wooden 
bits, and double-goad spUrs (Musters, 1871, pp. 167-169, cuts). The 
women sometimes rode astride (Macdouall, 1833, p. 79), but usually 
seated high on the horse's back, with their feet resting on its neck. The 
Tehuelche, when hunting over rocky terrain, often put hide shoes on 
their horses as a hoof protection (Musters, 1871, p. 130). 

At the time of Viedma's sojourn at Port San Julian in 1780-83, one 
band of Tehuelche south of the Rio Santa Cruz, who had lost nearly all 
their horses as the result of a raid by the Port San Julian band, were 
using dogs to carry their toldos (Viedma, 1837 b, p. 68) — the only re- 
corded instance of Tehuelche use of dogs as pack animals. 


Weaving. — No basketry is reported. Fillets were woven, but we 
have no details on the technique. The later Tehjuelche used an up- 
right loom for weaving guanaco-wool blankets (Coan, 1880, pp. 193- 






"""Will '"■ 

I Yellow ^^ Greon ^T^ Blue |[mBlacK 

Figure 19. — Designs from Tehuelche guanaco robe, o^ three-border pattern ; 6, corner ; 
c, one-border pattern ; d, centers ; e, f, one-border patterns ; g, h, corner patterns ; 
i, j, three-border patterns. (After Lothrop, 1929, figs. 8 and 9.) 


Pottery. — The early TehuelcKe used very simple and crude pottery 
(Pigafetta, 1906, 1: 50), and pottery occurs archeologically far down 
the Atlantic coast and inland in Tehuelehe territory (present volume, 
p. 20; Lothrop, 1932 b, pp. 194^196) ; but again there is no informa- 
tion on process of manufacture. Fitz-Koy (1839, 2 : 172) reported pot- 
tery absent from the TeJmelche of his day. 

Miscellaneous. — The Tehuelche did excellent lasso plaiting and 
saddlery work, and, after the early 19th century, very creditable silver- 
smithing (Muniz, 1917, p. 214; Bourne, 1853, p. 97, cf. 96). 

Skin dressing. — In dressing skins, the women first pegged them 
down to sun-dry them, then scraped them with flint, agate, obsidian, 
or glass scrapers. The scrapers (fig. 18, g) are hafted by lashing the 
blade to a bent split sapling (cf. illustr., Outes and Bruch, 1910, p. 121) 
or by setting it transversely in a block of wood. The skins were next 
smeared with grease and liver, were kneaded into a pulp, and were 
softened by hand until quite pliable. A soft-grained stone was also 
used for scouring. In sewing, an eyeless needle or awl, later made of 
an iron nail, and thread of guanaco or rhea sinew were used. (On 
Tehuelche skin dressing, cf . : Lothrop, 1929 ; Bourne, 1853, pp. 98-99 ; 
Guinnard, 1864, pp. 68-69; Roncagli, 1884, p. 778; Hatcher, 1903, p. 
269. Our most detailed account is Kermes, 1893, pp. 209-210, for 
'■'■Pampa''' Indians apparently of Rio Negro, probably including Teh- 
uelche; he records dehairing with ashes.) 

Skin bags were made for holding water (Coan, 1880, p. 53 ; Gardiner 
and Hunt, 1852, p. 89; Bourne, 1853, p. 82), paints, etc. Knives were 
earlier made of stone, and such were still used in the middle 18th cen- 
tury (Sanchez Labrador, 1930, p. 75). A small hand-adz was used in 
woodworking (fig. 18, // cf. Musters, 1871, pp. 168, 170). 

Weapons. — The chief hunting and fighting weapon of the early 
Tehuelche was the bow and arrow, which finally went out of use in the 
first half of the 19th century (Morrell, 1832, p. 84; Fitz-Koy, 1839, 
2 : 149) . The bows are described both as long and as short, with 
guanaco sinew string ; arrows, with cane shafts, heads of stone or bone, 
and three feathers (Oviedo, 1851-55, 2: 40), carried originally in the 
hair, fillet headdress, or belt instead of a quiver. D'Orbigny (1935-47, 
2:116-117) reported bows 3 feet (90 cm.) long, some use of skin 
quivers, and slings. The bolas, of the one-, two-, and three-balled 
types (fig. 18, i, ;', k), began to replace the bow and arrow at the time 
of the adoption of the horse. The lasso, too, was of later introduction. 

The lance, bola perdida, European weapons, and armor are discussed 
below, pp. 153-154. 

Fire making. — Ordinarily fire was made by the drill method. Fire 
making by percussion is recorded by two observers, Coan (1880, p. 50) 
with two pebbles and Spegazzini (1884, p. 232) with two flints — the 
former case possibly due to immigrant Ona influence (cf. supra). 


Fitz-Koy (1839, 2:172) reported that the Alacaluf traded pieces of 
iron pyrites, used for striking fire, to the Tehuelche. 


Marriage and the family. — Direct information is available only 
for the later Tehuelche; our chief information on the domestic culture 
of the later Tehuelche comes from Sanchez Labrador, Viedma, Fitz- 
Roy, Musters, and Spegazzini. 

Premarital chastity was seemingly rather strictly observed by girls. 
They were free to choose their husbands. Fitz-Roy (1839, 2 : 152) re- 
ported that sometimes girls were betrothed while very young [child 
betrothal ?] . Boys married around the age of 20 ; girls from 15 to 18 or 
so. The groom gave presents to the bride's father or parents; these 
presents were in some measure at least a bride-price; the father or 
parents of the bride also gave presents of equal value, which in case 
of later separation were the property of the bride (Musters, 1871, pp. 
177-178; 1872, p. 201). The girl was brought by her father or the 
groom to the latter's toldo, where a wedding feast was given, including 
mares' meat. It was unlucky for any of the offal or meat of the 
mares to be eaten by the dogs. The shaman sang and gave advice at 
weddings. Residence was generally patrilocal. According to Viedma 
(1837 b, p. 74), a "cacique" always married the daughter or sister of 
another cacique. 

Marriage was mostly monogamous. Some men, however, had two 
wives; rarely three in the later 19th century, but earlier some had 
"four, five, or even more" (Fitz-Roy, 1839, 2: 152), and even five to 
eight (Sanchez Labrador, 1936, p. 73). No polyandry is reported 
(however, see Poya, p. 160) ; nor is either the sororate or levirate. 

Wives were generally well-treated as well as loved. Wife beating 
was very rare. Adultery was not uncommon; in case of unfaithful- 
ness on the part of a wife, her paramour suffered the penalty, not she 
(Viedma, 1837 b, p. 74). Divorce was uncommon, being usually 
sought by the wife. A man was not allowed to look toward his father- 
in-law when in conversation with him (Musters, 1871, p. 184). The 
aged were respected and well cared for. 

Etiquette. — Proper names were not mentioned (Bourne, 1853, p. 
150). Hospitality was the rule, to traveling strangers as well as to 
friends. Certain formalities were observed when two parties ap- 
proached and came together, including answers to the host's questions 
before delivering a message (Musters, 1871, pp. 184-185). The rela- 
tive absence of formalities on entering a tent (Moreno, 1879, p. 226) 
contrasted with Araucanian estiquette in this regard. 

Cleanliness of body was considered desirable, and bathing in the 
river was common ; there was also a certain ideal of toldo cleanliness ; 


but in neither case did practice measure up to ideal, to judge from the 
abundance of body vermin and from descriptions of toldos. Body 
lice were commonly eaten. 


Our best source on political life is Viedma. Musters, D'Orbigny, 
and Borgatello rank next in order as sources. 

There were no sibs, no secret or other societies, and no ruling caste 
or marked social stratification. 

The band. — The basic Tehuelche economico-political unit was the 
band, each with its own headman. There was no peace-time para- 
mount chief of all the Tehuelche, or of either of the two great di- 
visions, northern and southern. According to Fitz-Roy ( 1839, 2 : 131 ) , 
the Tehuelche of his time were divided into four groups or bands of 
about 400 adults each, each band under its own headman. D'Orbigny, 
however, who made his observations in 1829 just 4 years prior to 
Fitz-Eoy's visit, states that the Tehuelche were divided into a great 
number of bands (1839, 2 : 97-98) — a statement that is in closer agree- 
ment with most of our earlier and more recent sources. 

To judge from our scattered data, these bands were usually, though 
not always, small. In 1749 there came to Pilar mission three Tehuelche 
caciques with 80 toldos, each toldo sheltering 3 or 4 families, and the 
families averaging 5 persons each (Sanchez Labrador, 1936, p. 119) — 
thus, about 400-530 souls on the average per cacique. One band met 
by the Malaspina expedition in 1789 had CO members in all (Lehmann- 
Nitsche, 1914, p. 8). Other estimates are: At most 30 to 40 families 
per band (D'Orbigny, 1935-47, 2:97) ; 5 to 30 families (Spegazzini, 
1884, p. 229) ; never more than 20 toldos found in one camp (Bor- 
gatello, 1924, p. 20) ; and one large band, Mulato's, with over 500 
persons (ibid., p. 134). 

Some insight into the composition and functions of the band may 
be derived from Fitz-Roy, D'Orbigny, and later writers. Each of 
Fitz-Roy's four bands had its own cacique or headman, and each 
claimed "a separate though ill-defined territory" as its exclusive hunt- 
ing ground ; at times all four bands would foregather in one place ; en- 
croachment by members of one band on the hunting ground of another 
led to battles (Fitz-Roy, 1839, 2 : 131) . Each tolderia had its own ter- 
ritory, two or three of them on the banks of the Rio Negro (D'Orbigny, 
1835-47, 2: 98). Bands were made up of related or friendly families 
(Spegazzini, 1884, pp. 228-229). Each small band was composed of 
relatives and friends; each claimed exclusive hunting rights on its 
own territory, trespass being cause for war, and the most frequent 
cause (Borgatello, 1924, pp. 19-20). 


Much clearer insight into the composition and functions of the 
band comes from Viedma. Each cacique or headman had "a deter- 
mined territory under his jurisdiction, no Indian of his group can 
enter the territory of another headman without seeking the permis- 
sion of the latter." Trespass without such permission was one of 
the chief causes of war. An Indian of one band wishing to pass 
through or tarry in the territory of another band, had to make three 
smoke signals and await the answering signals before entering such 
territory. If consent was not given by the cacique, he was com- 
manded to depart forthwith. Trespass without such formality was 
interpreted as evidence of bad faith, and resort was had to arms 
(Viedma, 1837 b, p. 73). 

Some idea of the size of band territories is given by Viedma. On 
the Atlantic coast between Puerto de Santa Elena in 40° S. latitude 
and Cabo Virgenes at the eastern end of the Strait of Magellan near 
52° S. latitude, in all a distance as the crow flies of about 850 miles, 
there were in 1780-83, according to Viedma (1837 b, pp. 65-68), six 
bands with their respective headmen. The territory of the northern- 
most of these extended from Puerto de Santa Elena to Puerto de San 
Gregorio in 45"4' S. latitude, about 350 miles north to south; the other 
five averaged about 100 miles of coast each. How far these territories 
extended inland Viedma does not explicitly state, but presumably well 
back toward, or perhaps even to, the foothills of the Andes. 

The following passage, highly significant for the unique insight it 
gives into band composition and family land tenure, needs to be 
quoted in its entirety. 

The cacique is under obligation to protect and aid the Indians of his juris- 
diction and territory in their necessities. In this respect he is the more esteemed, 
has a greater following among them, and is preferred as a cacique, who is more 
ready to aid them, more liberal, and more intelligent in the chase. For if he 
lacks these qualifications, they go off and seek another cacique who does possess 
them, leaving him [their previous headman] alone with his relatives, and ex- 
posed to continual invasions from neighbors: although that -family does not 
thereby lose its right to the [its] territory [italics ours], and in the course of 
time there will ordinarily be some other person who will reestablish the tolderia 
which his father, grandfather, or brother has lost through misfortune or mis- 
conduct. When the cacique grows old and for lack of vigor cannot fulfill the 
obligations of his oflSce, he relinquishes the command to his successor, [Viedma, 
1837 b, p. 74.] 

A tolderia may be composed of four, five, or more families, each 
family consisting of a man, his wife and children, and his relatives ; 
this man, who is head or chief of the family, is a sort of subaltern 
cacique, a subaltern of the cacique who has general charge of everyone 
and who has right of ownership of the territory (Viedma, 1837 b, 
p. 76). 


The foregoing citations speak for themselves. Attention may 
merely be called in passing to three points, particularly in the pas- 
sages from Viedma — the fluidity of band membership, the kinship 
nucleus of the band, and the system of family hunting grounds very 
similar to that prevalent among the linguistically related Chon-speak- 
ing peoples, the 07ia. (Cf. also on this third point, Krickeberg, 1934, 
pp. 3.31-332). 

The headman's chief function in peacetime, in addition to the func- 
tions mentioned in the preceding paragraphs, was to harangue the 
band each morning and voice the day's agenda as regarded hunting 
and traveling. (For a text example of such a hunting exhortation, 
see Hunziker, 1928 a.) He had practically no authority to issue 
orders; nobody would have obeyed him. Nor did he act as authori- 
tative judge in disputes. The average Tehuelche^s attitude appears 
to have been that of Musters' Indian, Cuastro, who with his dying 
breath shouted out: "I die as I have lived — no cacique orders me" 
(Musters, 1871, pp. 80-81, 184). The headmanship was usually, but 
not always, hereditary, from father to son. 

Disputes. — There was no set judicial procedure. Conflicts be- 
tween men of the band were commonly settled by fist fights, or else 
with the bolas, the disputants in the latter case being corseleted and 
helmeted; between women, by tongue lashings, hair pulling, and club- 
bing (Viedma, 1837 b, p. 81) ; Muhiz, 1917, pp. 212-213) ; often before 
an interested gathering of their fellow tribesmen and tribeswomen, 
who abstained from interfering and greatly enjoyed the spectacle, 
so Viedma (1837 b, p. 81) informs us. 

Bloody feuds between bands, occasioned by trespass, horse or wom- 
an stealing, or other causes, were common. The 7'ehuelche were far 
from being pacifists, but rather the contrary. The various bands 
would sometimes unite, in loose temporary or more lasting confedera- 
tions, against common enemies — the Argentine Araucanians, the 
Puelche, or the Whites. The leaders had considerable influence, de- 
pending, it would seem, a great deal upon their abilities and 

The chief fighting weapons of the later Tehiielche (on the w^arlike 
pursuits, and for that matter on the whole political culture of the 
early Tehuelche, we have practically no information) were the long 
lance and the bolas, especially the bola perdida, to which were added, 
when obtainable, metal swords and knives of Spanish provenance, 
and guns and pistols. D'Orbigny (1835-47. 2:117) mentions a 
"dard" [javelin? for hunting?], and Sanchez Labrador (1936, p. 45) 
states that when an enemy could not be reached with the lance as held 
it was sometimes thrown at him. Hei'.vy coats of multiple hide and 


helmets of bullhide were worn in battle. Fitz-Koy (1839, 2 : 147) re- 
ports use of a shield of hides sewn together. Fighting was unorgan- 
ized, of the individualistic pattern, with much use of surprise and 

Captives were taken, especially women and children. There was 
no torture of prisoners. Cannibalism — avengeful, gastronomic, mag- 
ical, or other — was absent. 

Mercy killing occurred in the form of premature interment, in some 
cases where hope of recovery had been given up (Sanchez Labrador, 
1936, pp. 56-57). The useless were sometimes abandoned when the 
band had to be on the move (D'Orbigny, 1935-47, 2: 190). 


Ownership. — On land tenure, see supra under Political Life. 
Ownership of personal property by male and female children, from 
infancy, was distinctly recognized (Musters, 1871, p. 177). Currency 
was absent. Barter was common, with other Indian groups and with 
Whites. Barter by exchange of presents, or something very much 
like it, occurred (Musters, 1871, pp. 155-156, 242-243). The property 
of a person was usually buried with him or burned at his death, so 
there was not much, if any, acquisition of property by inheritance. 
The Tehuelche are reported to have been very honest among themselves. 
The killers of guanacos and ostriches had certain prior rights to speci- 
fied parts thereof, but game food was customarily shared generously 
with others. 

Labor. — A woman who made a skin mantle for a bachelor might 
expect some compensation (Musters, 1871, p. 171). Captives some- 
times were kept in sort of drudge slavery (Fitz-Roy, 1839, 2 : 153 ; 
Spegazzini, 1884, p. 237). 

Men's chief tasks were: Hunting, fighting, breaking and training 
horses, making saddles, harness, lassos, and pipe bowls, and doing 
most of the work of silversmithing. Women's chief tasks were : Car- 
ing for the children and the toldo, fetching wood and water, cooking 
and preparing food, caring for the impedimenta on the move, dress- 
ing, sewing, and painting skins, making clothing, and weaving fillets. 

Childbirth and infancy. — All statements on birth, infancy, and 
education here refer to the later Tehuelche. 

Shortly after birth the child was smeared with damp gypsu;m 
(Musters, 1871, p. 176). According to Moreno (1879, pp. 445^46), 
marital abstinence was practiced from conception until about a year 
after birth. Prichard (1902, p. 92) states that children's heads were 



[B. A. E. BULL. 143 

SO bandaged as to produce [intentionally?] flattening of the back of 
the skull. Two types of cradle were used: a flat cradle, apparently 
of ladder type (Vignati, 1938 a, pp. 73-74), to which the infant was 
tied, and which could be swung from the roof of the toldo by means 
of thongs attached to its four corners; a curved wicker cradle (fig. 20) 
placed, with the child in it, on the horse's haunch behind the mother 
when she traveled horseback (cf. Vignati, 1938 a, for details) . Parents 
were often known by the name of their child (Musters, 1871, p. 177). 

-Tehuelche child's cradle for use on horseback, 
p. 169.) 

(After de la Vaulx, 1901, 

At the birth of a child, wealthy parents summoned the medicine man, 
who painted himself white and bled himself in the temple, forearm, 
or leg with a bodkin ; a special tent, the "pretty house," was erected ; 
mares were slaughtered and a feast held; toward evening, a fire was 
lighted in front of the pretty house, and to the accompaniment of 
drum and musical bow, the men, wearing ostrich plumes on their 
heads and a bell-studded strap from shoulder to thigh, danced four at 
a time (Musters, 1871, p. 176; 1872, pp. 199-200). A horse was killed 
at the eruption of a child's first teeth (Viedma, 1837 b, p. 78). If a 
child hurt itself playing, a "pretty house" was erected, mares were 
slaughtered, and a feast dance were held (Musters, 1872, pp. 201-202). 


Education. — Children were indulged and seldom corrected. 
Whether the Tehuelche ever had the Elel bugaboo rite (cf . infra under 
Puelche, Education) is uncertain. Gusinde (1926 a, p. 310; 1931, p. 
1083) was told by the Tehuelche of the upper Kio Gallegos, to whom he 
paid a very brief visit in 1924, that they had a rite called, as among the 
Ona, kloketen ; the rite was held in a tent covered with guanaco skin, 
and face covers of feathers were used instead of the Ona masks. Field 
work on the point here raised is imperative, to gather details, and to 
determine, if possible, whether this rite is an ancient Tehuelche one 
or one introduced more recently by immigrant Ona. (Cf. supra In- 
troduction, on Ona immigration into Patagonia.) 

Girls' puberty rite. — The Tehuelche had a simple puberty rite for 
girls. This first menses rite, as described in detail by Musters from 
personal observation (1871, pp. 76-78), followed the general pattern 
of the birth rite as regards painting and bleeding by the medicine 
man, erection of the "pretty house," slaughter of mares with feast, 
evening bonfire, dancing in fours by plumed and girdled men to in- 
strumental accompaniment (pi. 39, bottom). The main differences 
were : The girl was placed in seclusion in the "pretty house," and the 
old women sang while the men danced. 

D'Orbigny (1835-47, 2:177-178) describes the Tehuelche first 
menses rite as consisting chiefly of greetings to the girl by all of the 
tribe, of the distribution of horse meat by her to them, and of ablutions 
by the girl in the nearest stream with only her mother and other female 
relatives and the female shaman present. Viedma (1837 b, p. 78) 
noted the slaughter of a horse at first menses; Pena (1789, ed. Leh- 
mann-Nitsche, 1914, p. 11), the seating of the girl in a public place, a 
dance around her, and the sacrifice of a mare; Lista (1879 b, p. 83), 
a feast lasting several days, a dance around a bonfire, and libations ; 
Cordovez (1905, p. 47), tent(s) painted red. 

Muniz (1917, p. 205) reported two small huts, with the girl seated 
in one, and a young man with the title of "king" armed with a whip 
and bolas, who castigated the men or women who executed poorly the 
dance around the fire between the two tents. Muniz ascribed this 
rite to the Pampean Indians in general, not specifically to the 
Tehuelche. The role of the "king" in it suggests that it may have 
been exclusively Puelche^ or else Tehuelche influenced by Puelche. 
(Cf. Elel first menses rite, pp. 165-166.) 

Marriage. — See page 149. 

Death observances. — The most common form of disposal of the 
dead in the Patagonian area was cairn burial on a hilltop, the body 
resting on the surface of the ground with knees to thorax; other 
forms were sand interment and cave and crevice disposal. Some 
belongings were buried with the dead. 


The more common later form of disposal was interment in a sitting 
posture, the body enveloped in a hide roll or mantle, the deceased's 
belongings or most of them being burned. (Peiia, 1914, p. 11 ; Muiiiz, 
1917, p. 213; Gardiner, 1852, p. 23; Musters, 1871, p. 178; Roncagli, 
1884, p. 779; Spegazzini, 1884, p. 236; Borgatello, 1924, pp. 22-23.) 
The deceased person's horses were killed, and the skin of one or more 
of them stuffed with straw and set up at the grave (Lozano [Cardiel 
and Quiroga, 1747] 1836-7, pp. 16-17, and later sources) . Some placed 
food in the grave, others did not (Viedma, 1837 b, p. 78). Poles with 
banners were also put up at the grave. Killing of the dead person's 
dogs and other animals was common. Viedma (1837 a, p. 47; 1837 b, 
p. 77) reports a case of turning over the corpse to the old women for 
secret burial. 

As mourning rites, the women wailed, scratched their faces and 
gashed their cheeks (Viedma, 1837 b, p. 77), and cut their hair or 
ends of it and threw them into the fire, while, according to Gardiner 
(1852, p. 23) the surviving male relatives cut gashes in the calves of 
their legs. The widow painted her face black. The name of the dead 
was not mentioned. According to Viedma (1837 b, pp. 77-78), in 
his day, mourning, in the case of a young person or of one in robust 
middle age, continued 15 days, with 1 day of mourning each succeed- 
ing moon and 3-day mourning at the first anniversary; but on the 
death of an aged person, only a broken-down horse was killed. 

Future life. — Very meager data are found in our sources. Belief 
in a future life is clear ; the rest obscure. According to Viedma ( 1837 
b, p. 78), when an aged person died his soul just passed on, while 
when a young and robust person died, he (his spirit) was retained 
below the earth until such time elapsed as would have brought him 
to old age had he lived, and then passed into the first child born. 
According to Coan (1880, p. 172) and Borgatello (1924, p. 22), the 
lot of the good and evil differed in the future life. 


See pages 153-154. 


Art. — Geometric designs (fig. 19) of considerable complexity were 
painted in red, yellow, green, blue, white, and black on mantles. (Cf. 
Lothrop, 1929, for details and affiliations.) Crude zoomorphic and 
other pictographs {Tehuelchef, or -pToto-Te/melche?) occur in 
Tehicehke territory. 

Games and gambling. — The later Tehuelche were very fond of 
horse-racing, a ball game (the Araucaniun pillma), dice (Spanish), 
and card playing (Spanish) ; and Coan (1880, pp. 77, 153) reported 


hockey (no doubt, Araucanian) . The Tehuelche did a great deal of 
recreational swimming and diving, at which they were very proficient. 
They, even the women, were greatly addicted to gambling at horse- 
racing, dice, and cards. 

Music and musical instruments. — Songs were without words. 
The early Tehuelche used a bark rattle hung to the girdle when danc- 
ing (Fletcher, 1854, p. 50) ; the later people used a rattle of dried 
bladder or hide, a skin-covered drum, the musical bow (fig. 18, A), and 
(Musters, 1871, p. 77) a flute of guanaco thighbone (probably the 
long bone used with the musical bow). The bull-roarer and trumpet 
were absent. (For details on Tehuelche musical bow and songs, see 
Lehmann-Nitsche, 1908 a, and Fischer, 1908.) 

Tobacco and alcoholic beverages. — Gambling, smoking, and alco- 
holic beverages were absent from early Tehuelche culture, before the 
18th century, but later were passionately indulged in (fig. 18, I). A 
favorite procedure among smokers was to lie prone on the ground 
and to swallow the smoke in order to produce temporary intoxica- 
tion. (Carteret, 1770, p. 23; Coan, 1880, p. 216; details in Bourne, 
1853, pp. 94^95.) Many Tehuelche in Musters' time did not smoke 
or drink at all (Musters, 1872, p. 199) ; some did not smoke in Prich- 
ard's time (1902, p. 101) . Tobacco was commonly mixed with calafate 
{Berberis sp.) wood shavings for smoking (Prichard, 1902, p. 100). 

Recent Tehuelche held an eating and drinking feast, called malon, 
with dancing, during which they sang and struck their mouths 
rhythmically with the palms of their hands to break the song, and 
often with bloody fighting before the feast closed (Borgatello, 1924, 
pp. 20-22). 


Our information on Tehuelche religion is extremely meager, super- 
ficial, and vague. Great confusion, not to say contradiction, reigns, 
as a result partly of cultural mixture in the Patagonian and espe- 
cially Pampean region, partly of failure on the part of some otherwise 
excellent first-hand observers to distinguish exactly between tribe and 

From out of the welter there seems to emerge pretty clearly the 
conclusion that the Tehuelche believed in a Supreme Being, looked 
upon as in general benevolent and good, but rather aloof and otiose. 
(See esp. Viedma, 1837 b, pp. 75, 79; Musters, 1871, p. 179; 1872, p. 
202; Borgatello, 1924, p. 22.) Whether he was the Maker or moral 
law-giver is not clear, nor have we evidence of any cult, at least in 
the way of public rites. The more commonly occurring names by 
which he was known, although some of these may not be Tehuelche^ 
are: Guayava-cunnee {Tehuelhet, Falkner, 1774, p. 114, "lord of the 
dead") ; Soychu {Tcihihet and Diuihet, ibid.; Patagon, Dobrizhoffer, 


1822, 2 : 90, who also gives soychuhet, for "men that dwell with God 
beyond the world"; Tehuelche, Sanchez Labrador, 1936, p. 65, and 
Hervas, 1800-1805, 1:133) Setebos (Pigafetta, 1906, 1:56, 60, 78), 
Sesom or Seso (Moreno, 1879, pp. 239, 387) ; Kek-a-once, Tehur (Gar- 
diner, 1852, pp. 23-24) ; Maiph (Beauvoir, 1915, pp. 180, 189, "espi- 
ritu bueno," "sombra") ; Maipe (Borgatello, 1924, p. 22) . The reitera- 
tion of the idea that the dead go to the Supreme Being after death is 
suggestive of the similar Ona conception, as is also the relative aloof- 
ness of the Tehuelche deity. 

Evil happenings were attributable to an evil spirit or evil spirits, 
known under the names of Cheleulle, Cheleule (Pigafetta, 1906, 1 : 60, 
78), Atskannakanatz (Falkner, 1774, p. 116), Achekenat-kanet (D'Or- 
bigny, 1835-47, 4 : 220, "good and evil") ; Agschem (Moreno, 1879, pp. 
235, 416), Valichu or Gualichu (Sanchez Labrador, 1936, p. 66; Mus- 
ters, 1871, p. 180; Borgatello, 1924, p. 22), Camalasque (Viedma, 
1837 b, pp. 75-76), Kerenk(e)n (Spegazzini, 1884, p. 237) Kerrkenge 
(Moreno, 1879, p. 387), Kakenga, Kubejeken (Outes, 1913 a, pp. 
486-487, "dios") ; Jasemel (Peila, 1914, p. 11, "un Dios"). Gualichu 
is a non-Tehuelchean and non-Araucanian word. A good deal of 
Tehuelche religion seems to have consisted in propitiating and hold- 
ing at bay these malevolent spirits, although some of them were ap- 
parently benevolent guardians of the Tehuelche. The best piece of 
rhea meat and the first bottles of liquor were offered to Walichu (Lista, 
1879 a, p. 77). 

Certain miscellaneous observances of a magico-religious nature 
have been recorded in fragmentary form. The new moon was given 
a salute with low muttered words (Musters, 1871, p. 179; 1872, p. 203). 
The cry of the nightjar over the camp or the toldo was an omen of 
sickness or death (Musters, 1871, p. 182; 1872, p. 203). It was taboo 
to injure nightjars (Musters, 1872, p. 203) and to take young half- 
fledged hawks from the nest (Coan, 1880, p. 113). Hair clippings 
could be used in black magic ; when camp was broken, everything not 
taken away was burned lest some enemy should get hold of the article 
and do harm to the previous possessor of it (Moreno, 1879, p. 239). 
A lunar eclipse was attributed to Gualichu entering the moon and 
breaking it up; the people then would spit at the moon and throw 
stones at it to drive the evil spirit away (Borgatello, 1924, p. 22). 
On starting to smoke, the smoker would blow a puff toward each of 
the four cardinal points and mutter a prayer (Musters, 1871, p. 174; 
1872, p. 203). At marriage feasts, great care was taken lest the meat 
or offal of the animals slaughtered therefor was touched by the dogs, 
as this would have been unlucky ; at the shaman's child-curing rite, 
in which a white mare was killed and eaten, care was taken that no 
dogs should approach (Musters, 1872, pp. 201-202). On the occasion 


of sickness, the evil spirit was driven away by firing off guns and 
revolvers, by throwing lighted brands into the air, and by beating 
the backs of toldos with lance shafts or bolas (Musters, 1872, p. 203; 
Lista, 1879b,p.76). 


There were both male and female shamans. Transvestite shamans 
were reported absent in the middle 18th century (Sanchez Labrador, 
1936, p. 52), but appear later, in the early 19th (Coan, 1880, p. 158; 
D'Orbigny, 1835-47, 4 : 220) . The ordinary curing procedure included 
sounding of drum and calabash (Sanchez Labrador, 1936, p. 127) or 
hide rattle (Coan, 1880, p. 153), and sucking out some small material 
object as the cause of the disease. The modern shamaness described 
by Borgatello (1924, p. 128) used a hand-drum in her curing rites. 
If the patient died, the shaman was very apt to be killed by the be- 
reaved relatives. 

The arrow-swallowing trick, observed by the Magellan expedition 
in 1520 at Port San Julian (Pigafetta, 1906, 1:58; Oviedo, 1851-55, 
2 : 10) and by the Sarmiento expedition in 1584 near Cape San 
Gregorio in the Strait of Magellan (Sarmiento, [1579], 1895 b, p. 320; 
of. Hernandez, [1620], 1895, p. 358), but not reported by any later 
observers, may have been from a shamanistic repertoire, although 
Pigafetta considered it a remedy for pain in the stomach. The per- 
former, after removing the arrowhead, stuck the shaft down his 
throat to his stomach, and then withdrew it. 


Our data on Tehuelche mythology and folklore are extremely 
meager. In the very brief cosmogonic note given us by Musters (1871, 
p. 179) , the good spirit created the Indians and animals, and dispersed 
them from a place called "God's-hill." In Borgatello's account (1924, 
pp. 129-130) , Heller, son of the sun, who also was called by this name, 
was the one who created the Tehuelche and gave them their land of 
Patagonia, and it is to Heller that the Tehuelche go after death. In 
the short Heller cycle, as reported by Borgatello, occur the Achilles 
and the magic flight motifs. Lista (1879 b, pp. 75-76) reported a 
Tehuelche flood story. 


No weights or measures are reported. Smoke signaling was much 
used; Borgatello (1924, p. 19) lists four distinct conventional signals. 
According to Sanchez Labrador (1936, p. 56), it seems that the Te- 
huelche and Puelche, in contrast to the Araucanians, did not use 
herbal curatives, but in the 19th century the Tehuelche made some 
use of them. (Fitz-Koy, 1839, 2:155; Musters, 1871, pp. 181, 183; 


Lista, 1879 b, p. 76; Roncagli, 1884, p. 776; Spegazzini, 1884, p. 237.) 
Bloodletting was commonly resorted to. The resin of Schinus DvA}aua 
dependens) was chewed for health purposes (Mufiiz, 1917, p. 214; of. 
Pineda, 1914, p. 9) . Guanaco bezoars were utilized for medicinal pur- 
poses (Musters, 1871, p. 126; King, 1839, 1:117, for bowel com- 
plaints). Like the Puelche and the Araucanians, the Tehuelchc had 
numbers for "100" and "1,000" taken from Quechua. 


Most of our extremely fragmentary data on Poya culture are de- 
rived from Diego Florez de Leon (1898), Geronimo Pietas (1846), 
Miguel de Olivares (1874), Gomez de Vidaurre (1889), and Menen- 
dez {in Fonck, 1900). The main passages from the first four are 
reproduced in full and their anthropological content critically dis- 
cussed and interpreted by Vignati (1939 a ; cf. also Latchman, 1929-30, 

Subsistence activities. — Food consisted of animals, birds, and 
certain roots from which a flour was made; later, beef. The two 
earlier sources, Florez de Leon and Pietas, made no mention of agri- 
culture; Olivares (1874, p. 511) stated that the Poya had "a little 
grain" [cultivated by them?]; Menendez {in Fonck, 1900, p. 319), 
that the "Puelche" [probably Poya] of Lake Nahuel-huapi in 1792 
had some quinoa, wheat, and barley, that they did not cultivate the 
ground, but that they used to throw seeds on the ground along 
streams and what came up was gathered by the first who came along. 

Skin bags served as water containers. An alcoholic beverage was 
made of wild fruits. 

Hunting and fighting weapons were the bow and arrow and bolas. 
Dogs were used in hunting. Horses and cattle were early introduced. 

Shelters. — Tents were of skins. 

Clothing and ornaments. — Clothing was made of guanaco, fox, 
and ostrich skins, and included a large mantle and a smaller pubic 
covering. One Indian, from inland, met by Florez de Leon, "had his 
nose pierced like the people of Peru" (1898, p. 256) — no doubt, with 
his septum pierced. 

Transportation. — Inflated guanaco skins were used in crossing 
rivers on horseback. 

Social and political life. — Not only polygyny, but also polyandry 
was permitted (Olivares, 1874, p. 511; Vidaurre, 1889, p. 301) ; when 
one husband went away hunting, the other took his place. According 
to Olivares (1874, p. 512), sodomy was practiced; so, too, father- 
daughter incest (ibid.), though not approved by public opinion. 
Each band had its own headman, with persuasive rather than 
mandatory powers. 

Plate 33.— Yahgan life and manufactures, a. Masked Kina spirit (after Gusinde, 1925 a, Rg. 4); b, domed 
tiut (after Hyades and Deniker, 1891, pi. 20); c, coiled basket (courtesy Museo Etnograflco, Buenos Aires); 
d, bark masks used in Kina rite, height of taller 27 in., or 68.5 cm. (after Lothrop, 1928, fig. 92); e, bark 
bucket, height 12K' in., or 31.7 cm. (after Lothrop, 1928, fig. 55); f, pubic covering, width 9 in., or 23 cm, 
(after Lothrop, 1928, fig. 44). 



. Yahga 


n territory and canoes. Top: Forest snow scoui'. Xavariii" Islanrl, (Courtesy Junius 
Mission Station, Rio Douglas, Xavarino Island. (Courtesy Kollo H. Beck.) 


^,. .v-.V<jl 




Plate 3(i.— Yahgan spear throwing. Typical posture. (After Hyades and Deniker, 1891, pi. 1.) 


.ATK .i7 Ona and I'ehuelohe shelters. /(./ Mo.l.ldl I thiiilcht U>l<U> Hattoin M 
shelter. (Courtesy American Museum of Natural History.) 

Plate 38.— Ona and Tehuelche culture. Top (left): Ona man. (After Outes and Bruch, lyiu. tig. 132.; 
Top (right): Ona men, painted for Kewanix dance, an all-day recreative interlude during Kloketen rite. 
No masks are worn in this dance and women take part. (After Gusinde, 1925 a, fig. 2.) Bottom (left): 
Ona cradle, length 30 in., or 76.5 cm. (After Lothrop, 1928, fig. 13.) Bottom (right): Tehuelche toldo, 
Province of Santa Cruz. (After Outes and Bruch, 1910, fig. 114.) 

Plate :j<.). Tehuelche costume and ceremony. Top; Clothing and adornnicnl (Aflcr d'OrJiigny, 1847, 
costumes. No. 1.) Bottom: Girls' puberty rite dance hold by firelight. (After Musters, 1871, opposite 
page 175.) 

'LATE 4U. -Tehuelche hunting. Tajj: (uii 
opposite page 64.) Bottom: Guanaco hi;nt 

hunt, in 
'Waki killinca puma. 

Kio Chic< 
(After Muster 

tcr ,Mu.-;;rr.N 
1^71, fiunlispi( 


Religion. — Of Poya religion we are merely told that there was a 
belief in a superior being called Chahuelli or Chechuelli (Olivares, 
1874, pp. 511, 514, 516, 519), who could do good or evil to people. 
Olivares compares him (and/or it) to the Araucanian huecubu (1S74, 
p. 511). 

Curing. — Bloodletting was medicinally practiced. 


The bulk of our information on Puelche culture is derived from 
Sanchez Labrador (1936), Falkner (1774), and D'Orbigny (1835-47, 
4 : 221-223, and esp. 2 : 266-272) . If and how far the description by 
Ovalle (1888, pp. 178-179) of ^'Pampa'^ culture refers to the Puelche 
is doubtful. Very frequently Sanchez Labrador and Falkner, espe- 
cially the latter, give rather detailed cultural data for tribes of the 
Pampa and vicinity in general, without specifying any particular 
tribe, Puelche or other. D'Orbigny clearly distinguishes between 
Puelche and others, but gives few details on Puelchean culture, dis- 
missing, for instance, practically the whole of material and social 
culture with the statement that Puelche culture was in these phases 
like Tehuelche and Argentine Araucanian. In the following ac- 
count we shall confine ourselves to those data that can clearly or 
with reasonable probability be assigned to the Puelche as such — not 
an easy task, since by D'Orbigny's time and even Sanchez Labrador's 
and Falkner's time great acculturation with Araucanian and 
Tehuelche culture had taken place. 

If Lehmann-Nitsche's theory of a fourth Pampean language, the 
Het family, spoken, he believed, by Falkner's Chechehet of the southern 
Buenos Aires Province region, and by some of the Dluihet, should turn 
out to be fully validated, then it would be imperative to draw a dis- 
tinction between the culture of the Het peoples and that of the Puelche. 
Lehmann-Nitsche, for example, considered that gualichu, the name 
for the evil spirit (s), was of Het provenance. At present, however, 
even though we accept the Het hypothesis, thsre is very little of Pam- 
pean culture that can be assigned specifically to the Chechehet or Het- 
speaking peoples. In the following summary of Puelche culture, only 
at a point here and there will the possibility be considered that a given 
cultural trait assigned to the Puelche may actually have been Het 
instead. This approach is not all that might be desired, but appears 
to be the most satisfactory one under present limitations of space and 

Scattered through the early Chilean sources, such as Rosales and 
the Proceso Criminal de 1658, are certain sparse data on the culture 
of the nomadic hunting peoples living at the time in Pampean terri- 
tory, often called in these sources by the generic geographic name of 

583486 — 46 11 


^''PuelcKe^'' and sometimes hunting in territory that around the middle 
of the 18th century may have been true Puelche country. In general 
the relation of these '■'■Puelche''' of the early Chilean sources to our 
modern Puelche is difficult to determine ; at best we get a reasonable 
surmise in some cases as to identity, more frequently not even that. 
It seems best, therefore, to omit most of these Chilean data. 

The culture of the Querandi^ who may well have been Puelche^ is 
treated elsewhere in this volume (pp. 180-183). 

All cultural attributions in the following account refer to the later 
Puelche^ that is, from the middle 18th century on. Prior to that date 
Puelche culture is for all practical purposes a complete blank, or, even 
if we use the Chilean data, a nearly complete one. 


Food. — In the middle 18th century, the staple food of the Puelche 
was horse meat. When meat was abundant, only the ribs, loins, and 
shoulder would be eaten. Grease and fat were especially appreciated. 
Lice were eaten. Among the Puelche met by D'Orbigny (1835-i7, 
4:101) fishing was not practiced. 

The Puelche had no agriculture, and originally no domestic animals, 
except the dog. They must have acquired the horse somewhere around 
the early 18th century ; it is unlikely that they had it earlier. 

Hunting weapons. — Wild horses were hunted with bolas and lasso 
in Sanchez Labrador's time (1936, p. 34). D'Orbigny's Puelche also 
used the bow and arrow, and the lance — the latter in fighting, the 
former probably both for hunting and for fighting (1835^7, 2:223; 
4: 196). The Puelche known to Musters (1872, p. 205) were experts 
in the use of the sling. 

Huts were of horse skin on a wooden framework of thick poles. 
The ground plan was quadrangular. The roofing was of many skins 
sewn together with horse sinew, and put up with the hair outside. 
There were two doors, to east and west, or to north and south respec- 
tively (Sanchez Labrador, 1936, pp. 37-38). Puelche huts were, 
according to D'Orbigny (1835-47, 2:269), just like those of the 


Clothing. — The common people, both men and women, wore 
square mantels of horse skin, scraped, softened, and painted, with the 
hair left on. Prominent individuals used mantles of guanaco, fox, 
or otter skin. The men wore as a pubic covering a triangular piece 
of horsehide about 8 inches (20 cm.) each side, attached to the waist 


with thongs, a third thong passing between the legs and tied to the 
other two ; the women, an apron hanging from the waist to the knees. 
In warm weather the mantle was left off (Sanchez Labrador, 1936, 
pp. 35-36). The Puelche of the Rio Negro in D'Orbigny's time 
dressed like the Tehuelche (1935-47, 2: 269). 

Adornment. — Facial depilation and body painting in various colors 
were customary. No deformation or mutilation of any kind is re- 
corded, not even ear piercing; nor is tattooing. To what extent the 
various personal adornments of women and girls, as listed by Sanchez 
Labrador (1936, p. 36-37), were of Arcmcanian or other introduc- 
tion, cannot be determined. The feasting and weeping at hair cutting 
(ibid. pp. 76-77) may also be of non-Puelche origin. Rio Negro 
Puelche adornment as observed by D'Orbigny (1835-47, 2:269) was 
like Tehudche. 


No type of watercraft is reported for the Puelche. On horseback, 
the women sat, not on a saddle, but on a high blanket-covered seat. 


No basketry is recorded, and no pottery making. In Sanchez Labra- 
dor's day, the Puelche women did no weaving; woven ponchos and 
mantles were bought from the Argentine Araucanians by the Puelche 
to trade with the Spanish (1936, p. 40) ; but they were beginning to 
learn weaving in D'Orbigny's time (1835-47, 2 : 269; 4: 223). 

Flint knives and hafted flint scrapers were used. 

Weapons included bolas, lassos, bows and arrows, lances, and slings 
(p. 162) ; armor was also used (p. 164). 


The Puelche had no sibs, no secret or other societies, no marked 
social stratification, no ruling caste. The points mentioned infra 
under Marriage and Family, viz, preference for marrying children of 
headmen to children of headmen, and the holding of captive "slaves," 
indicate rudimentary stratification. 

Marriage and family. — The bride-price, consisting of objects of 
considerable value, was given over to the bride's people, and distributed 
among them according to degree of kinship. The bride was then 
brought to the groom's tent. Monogamy was the general rule, except 
for headmen who would have two or three wives ; one chief, the famous 
Cacique Bravo (Cangapol), had seven (Sanchez Labrador, 1936, 
pp. 71-73). Sometimes a man married his brother's didow (Camaiio, 
1937, p. 115), but there does not seem to have been any mandatory 
levirate. Headmen liked to marry their daughters into the families 


of other headmen. Divorce was uncommon ; its occurrence was mostly 
among newly-wed couples. According to D'Orbigny (1835-47,2:270), 
adultery was punishable with death, but could be compounded by pay- 
ments; there were many concubine slaves taken from enemies. (De- 
tails on marriage in Falkner (1774, pp. 124-127) refer no doubt in part 
to the Puelche, but here, as in most other sections of his treatment 
of culture, he does not distinguish suflSciently to permit confident use 
of his data as applicable to Puelche culture.) 

Etiquette. — Nothing is specifically known. The Indians of the 
Pampa like those of Patagonia used to bathe in the river or lake of 
mornings before sunrise (Sanchez Labrador, 1936, p. 49). 


The band. — The Puelche appear to have been broken up into rela- 
tively small bands, each with its own headman. The five bands who 
in Cardiel's time (1922, p. 63) made up the Puelche as known to him 
totaled in all only 100 to 120 warriors — probably about 100 to 120 
persons per band. The headmen had to be good orators and good 
warriors; they had no authority to command the members of their 
band. There was no paramount chieftain for peacetimes. 

Warfare and disputes. — ^Warfare was the common thing. The 
lance, sometimes thrown when the enemy was out of thrusting reach 
(Sanchez Labrador, 1936, p. 45; cf. Azara, 1809, 2 : 46), was the chosen 
weapon ; the bolas were also important in warfare ; few used the bow 
and arrow in the middle 18th century, as it was considered cowardly 
to do so (ibid., p. 46). Hide coats and helmets served as defense 
arms. Face and body were painted on war expeditions. 

"Within the tribe conflicts were settled by private action, without 
intervention of the headman. 

Mercy killing by premature interment in cases of hopeless illness 
was practiced. Cannibalism is not reported. 

The peoples of the higher Andean Cordillera and the trans-Andine 
plains were persistently reported by the early Chilean writers to have 
used poisoned arrows (Gonzalez de Najera, 1889, pp. 6, 96; Rosales 
[1674] , 1877-78, 1 : 239) . But whether these reports are fully depend- 
able and whether they concern the ancestors of our Puelche are points 
that cannot be decided with confidence. (Cf. discussion by McClaf- 
ferty, 1932, pp. 41-42.) 


Practically nothing is known of economic culture. Active trade 
was carried on with other tribes and with the Spaniards. Food was 
generously shared, but the giver of one day would be the receiver 
of other days. The "concubine slaves" mentioned by D'Orbigny 


(1835-47, 2 : 270) may have represented drudges or adopted wives or a 
combination of both ; he gives no details. 


Childbirth and infancy. — After delivery, the mother bathed in a 
lake or stream. The medicine man was called in to massage and breathe 
on the newly born child in order to give it strength. The couvade 
obtained in very full but simple form : When the child was born, the 
father took to his bed — for how long, Sanchez Labrador does not say, 
nor does he give further details (1936, p. 73). D'Orbigny merely 
states (1835-47, 2:270) that birth observances were nearly the same 
as among the Argentine Araucanians. 

Puberty rites. — There is no mention of a boys' initiation rite. 
Sanchez Labrador, however, gives (1936, pp. 67-71) rather minute 
details on the Elel first menses rite which, he states, was observed by 
the Puelche and Tehuelche, but not by the other Pampean {Arauca- 
niam) peoples. The Araucanians of Chile, as distinct from those east 
of the Andes, had no girls' puberty rite, so far as we know. The 
Tehuelche first menses rite, as described by Musters, D'Orbigny, and 
Peiia, has little in common with the rite which Sanchez Labrador de- 
scribes. There is, however, a definite though only fractional resem- 
blance between the Elel rite and the rite of the "Pampean Indians" 
[including the Tehuelche fl as Muiliz records it. (Cf. supra, p. 155.) 
There is thus ground for suspecting that the Elel rite in its specific 
characters is not an original Tehuelche one, that the Muniz instance 
may represent an intrusion into Tehuelche culture from a foreign 
center, and that the Elel rite is the native ^'•Pamya''' form, presumably 
the native Puelche one. 

At the first two menses of the daughter or other relative of a head- 
man, a large toldo covered with painted horsehides was erected, and 
decorated lances stuck upright around and within it. With a drum 
formed of a brass pot, the people were summoned. One of the older 
and most respected men made a speech, at the end of which he ap- 
pointed one of the most valiant Indians to play the part of Elel, the 
chief of the evil [ ?] spirits, as Sanchez Labrador calls this being. The 
Indian took flight but was pursued and retrieved. He was clothed 
in a special decorated mantle and a feather headdress, his face was 
painted in various colors, and he was assigned six young unmarried 
fellows as pages and guardians. Behind the large tent another was 
put up in which four old hags stayed day and night, keeping up a 
continuous wailing. Still another tent served as kitchen. 

Throughout the three weeks or month of the rite, the girl remained 
hidden in the large tent, only going out alone to seek roots and fruits 
("frutillas" [strawberries ?] ) on the Pampa. Both she and Elel fasted 


rigorously, although he was allowed to drink plenty of fermented 
chicha. Elel had authority to command any one to do his bidding. 
No one spoke to him directly, but only through his pages. Toward 
the end he got angry (or pretended to), and bade the people gash 
themselves, and he would beat them; those beaten considered it an 
honor. He would give orders to capture individuals and then demand 
a ransom. There were sports, and a dance by nude Indians deco- 
rated with feathers and two horns on their heads and with a tail 

Finally Elel escaped, and ate his full, while the others had to fast 
8 days on only roots and fruits ; if they did not, Elel would castigate 
them. So ended the Elel rite. (Sanchez Labrador, 1936, pp. 67-71.) 

Tliis same being, Elel, entered also into the native educational 
system, apart from the first menses rite. Once or twice a year, the 
headman would order one of the young unmarried men to dress up 
as Elel with tiger skins and with painted face, and to go around to 
all tents and make as if to snatch away the young boys. These would 
flee to their mothers for protection. Parents did not punish their 
children, but if the latter were bad or would cry too much, they 
would be threatened with Elel, and the parents would tell them they 
would not defend them when he came for them (Sanchez Labrador, 
1936, p. 74). 

Death observances. — Our chief sources are Sanchez Labrador 
(1936, pp. 41, 50, 56-63), Falkner (1774, pp. 118-120), and D'Orbigny 
(1835-47, 2 : 270; 4: 112, 223) ; and for comparison, Rosales (1877-78, 
2 : 98) on burial customs in the Cuyo province. D'Orbigny gives only 
the most meager details; Sanchez Labrador and Falkner give con- 
siderable information, but only in certain points specify what is 
peculiar to the Puelche. Furthermore, it looks as if even as early as 
the middle of the 18th century there had occurred a great deal of 
acculturation with Araucanian burial customs. 

Disposal of the dead. — The favorite Puelche burial was probably 
that in caves in the hills, the body deeply flexed, knees to face, and 
enveloped in the mantle. The personal property, such as weapons 
and adornments, of the deceased person was buried with him; his 
horses and dogs were killed; his hut was burnt to the ground. If 
death occurred far from the mountains, the body might be disposed 
of on the plains. In some cases at least, it seems that if death occurred 
far off from the hills, the flesh was stripped from the bones and the 
bones transported thither later. Bone stripping also occurred among 
the Cuyo Province Indians of the I7th century, according to Rosales : 
On the first anniversary after death, the bones of the deceased were 
disinterred, and after the flesh was stripped off them, they were 
painted yellow and other colors, were carried around in saddle bags 


on a horse from camp to camp, and were deposited in a special hut at 
each camp (Kosales, 1877-78, 2 : 98 ; cf . Vignati, 1937 a, on polychrome 
painting of archeological crania in southwest Buenos Aires Province) . 
Whether secondary burial was part of earlier uninfluenced Puelche 
culture, cannot well be determined. 

Pouring some of the first chicha of the year on the bones of the dead, 
a custom reported for the Puelche by Sanchez Labrador (1936, p. 63), 
was perhaps of non-Puelche origin. The Puelche did not cremate. 


A kettledrum was used, and clothing was painted. "We lack, how- 
ever, detailed data on esthetic culture that can be with confidence 
attributed to the Puelche. 

Sanchez Labrador (1936, pp. 39-43, 46-49) mentions the following 
items as characteristic of the Pampa Indians in general: Target 
shooting with toy bolas as boys' play; dolls, jacks, and hop-scotch as 
girls' play ; a ball game resembling Araucanian pillma as men's play ; 
a simple football game as women's play; heavy gambling with dice 
and cards, introduced by Spanish captives, indulged in by men, and 
gambling with dice, at least, by women too ; use of the native chicha 
from algarroba beans or from apples, and of spirituous liquors 
acquired from the Spanish, with a great deal of intoxication. Pre- 
sumably, the Puelche would be included in these generalizations. If 
so, non-Puelche influence is obvious in some of the items. Whether 
the early Puelche had a native intoxicant of their own is not clear. 

Sanchez Labrador and Falkner have given us considerable informa- 
tion on religion and shamanism among the tribes of the Pampa, but 
very little of this information can with confidence be specifically 
attributed to the Puelche. 

According to D'Orbigny (1835-47, 2:270), the Puelche of his day 
believed in a beneficent being who gave them all they desired with- 
out their praying for it, and also in an evil spirit called Gualichu 
or Arraken who sent sickness and death. Hunziker (1928 b, p. 276) 
includes in his Puelche vocabulary Atgezual as meaning "el Gran 
Espiritu"; Hale (1846, pp. 654, 656), Anau-kanitan and Sies, "God," 
and Anau-kasitan, "evil spirit"; Milanesio (1898, p. 22; 1917, opp. 
p.6),Tukutzual, "God." 

As for the Puelche of the middle 18th century, Sanchez Labrador 
states (1936, pp. 64, 66) that they had no belief in God, but that they 
did believe in an evil being or beings, Balichu, and in a prince of 
them called Elel, who caused all sickness, death, tempests, and so 
forth; Falkner (1774, p. 114) states in a general way that "these 


Indians [of the Pampa] believe in two superior beings, the one good, 
the other evil," Soychu (see supra, p. 157) may have been a 
Puelche name for the deity or one of the deities (cf. Falkner, 1774, 
p. 114) ; Gualichu may also be a word of Puelche origin ; Lehmann- 
Nitsche (1922, pp. 28, 33) considered that both words were from his 
Het tongue; but the point is quite uncertain. With the meager evi- 
dence we have, all that one can do is to present the foregoing facts 
and let the reader draw his own conclusions. 

At full moon, there was excessive rejoicing, and the moon was asked 
for strength (Sanchez Labrador, 1936, pp. 65-66). 


Here, too, it is impossible to say in how far as a rule the generalized 
statements in Sanchez Labrador and Falkner apply to the Puelche. 
Sanchez Labrador, however, does specifically (1936, p. 52) ascribe 
transvestite shamans to the Puelche — men who dressed like women, 
cooked and fetched water, and stayed with the women. Shamans were 
very much feared. They were called, according to D'Orbigny (1835- 
47, 2: 270), calmelache (a name very similar to the name camalasque, 
which Viedma [erroneously?] attributes to the evil spirit of the 
Tehuelche; see supra, p. 158). 


Available data are excessively meager. Sun was the elder brother, 
Moon the younger brother; Moon was not so intelligent as Sun (Leh- 
mann-Nitsche, 1919 a). There was a tradition of a very high tide 
(Lelimann-Nitsche, 1919 b) and also of a flood. After the flood which 
covered all the earth except the Sierra de la Vent ana, the peoples 
came out of caves in the mountains and the world was populated again 
(Sanchez Labrador, 1936, p. 66 ; cf . Vignati, 1938 b) . 


Sanchez Labrador (1936, p. 56) rather clearly implies that the 
Puelche used no herbal curatives. One can count up to 100,000 in the 
Puelche language, but all numbers from 99 up, including, of course 
"100" and "1,000," are from Quechua. 


For bibliographic references, see pages 138-139. 


By Salvador Canals Frau 

The Huarpe were the aborigines of Cuyo in the middle of the 16th 
century at the time of the Spanish Conquest (map 1, No. 2). Cuyo 
archeology and historical documents show that before the Conquest 
a large section of the country had been more or less influenced by 
Tiahuanaco, Ghincha, and Inca cultures of the Andes. 


Duriug the historic period, the Huarpe occupied all the broad area between 
the Jachal-Zanjon River on the north and the Diamante River on the south 
(lat. 33° S., long. 68° W.). Their domain also included the mountains 
known as Sierra de San Luis in the east. 

The Huarpe territory (map 2) was bounded on the west by the Andes; on 
the north by the Diayuita; on the east by the ComcGldngon and Pampa; and on 
south, first by the Puelche of Cuyo, and during and after the 18th century, by 
the araucanized Pehuenche. 

The number of Huarpe cannot have been very great because of the barrenness 
of their land and the rudimentary nature of their agriculture. Consequently, 
certain estimates made by apologists of missionary achievements concerning the 
great density of their population must be relegated to the realm of fantasy. The 
original small number of the Huarpe was further decreased when many of them 
were sent during early times to Chile to meet the need for industrial labor, 
resulting in their early extinction, probably during the first part of the 18th 
century. After this period, only a few of very mixed strain existed in remote 
areas, such as on the Guanacache Lagoons, or in special settlements. 

The Huarpe language has two distinct known dialects. Father Luis de 
Valdivia, who published grammatical rules and vocabularies of both, calls that of 
the Huarpe of San Juan, Allentiac, and that of Mendoza, Millcayac. 

With these two dialects. Rivet established his Allentiac linguistic family, which 
has generally been accepted. But the fact is that the Puelche of Cuyo, the early 
neighbors' of the Huarpe to the south, and the early Pehuenche of Neuqu6n must 
also have spoken dialects related to these. These two ethnic groups, likewise, 
resembled the Huarpe in physical characteristics. The same is true of the Come- 
chmgon of the C6rdoba Mountains and of the eastern part of San Luis, who also 
had a similar culture. Thus it becomes necessary to group the Allentiac, the Mill- 
cayac, the Puelche of Cuyo, the Pehuenche, and the known Comechingon dialects 
with the Heniu and the Camiare in a single linguistic family which might be 
called Huarpe-Comechingonan and which would cover the entire area from the 
Jachal-Zanjon River to Lake Nahuel-Hnapi, from the Cordillera to the C6rdoba 



Physical type.— The physical type of the Huarpe is known from early chron- 
iclers' descriptions and from some archeological finds. Judging from these data, 
the Huarpe were rather tall, thin, dolichocephalic, and darker and more hairy 
than neighboring Indians. 

Father Reginaldo de Lizarraga, who crossed the Cuyo region in his long 
overland trip from Peru to Chile in 1589, tells us that they were tall and thin, 
wherefore they appeared to him "badly proportioned" and "gaunt." 

Thirty years later, about 1618, Father Ovalle, another chronicler who visited 
the same region, attributed to the Huarpe the same tall, thin stature, describing 
them as "tall as bean poles" and "very thin and austere." Not even the women 
were an exception to this rule, for when the author was composing his work in 
Rome in 1646, he recalled never having seen women so tall and thin in any other 
tribe of Indians. Clearly, this Chilean author could not have seen many native 

Unfortunately, very few anthropological remains have been found in the 
region to date. The majority of finds belong to the precordilleran area of the 
northwest where, in ancient times, the Peruvian cultures prevailed; or to the 
southern region, which in the 18th and 19th centuries was inhabited by the Arau- 
cano; in general, they are found outside the limits of the Huarpe. Furthermore, 
both the Peruvians and the AroAicano are usually included in the same Andean 
racial type, which is short of stature and brachycephalic, that is, entirely differ- 
ent in appearance from the Huarpe. Nevertheless, certain finds verify the chron- 
iclers' description of the Huarpe: Some skulls and long bones from San Juan 
studied by Ten Kate (1896), others described by Constanzo (1942), certain finds 
from Viluco in Mendoza, and others from isolated sites, part of which are 

The relative scarcity of human remains belonging to the rather tall, thin type 
seen by the chroniclers can be explained by the fact that the extremely dry, flat 
Cuyo area permitted habitation only along rivers and lakes or where irrigation 
of the land was possible. In early times the European colonists occupied the 
same places and, through developing farm land, which is still used, destroyed 
many native burial grounds or covered them with crops. 

As archeological traces of Huarpe culture are also very scarce, doubtless for 
the reasons given above, we must utilize historical data, which cannot always 
be verified by archeology. 



The Huarpe economic system was based on cultivation wherever it 
was possible ; in some areas irrigation was carried on with elementary 
technical means ; in other areas the moisture of the ground was suffi- 
cient for crop germination and growth. The Huarpe also fished in 
the rivers and ponds, hunted, and collected plant foods, especially 
algarroba. From the marsh lands, they, like other South American 
peoples, obtained the edible roots of cattail (totora) reeds. 

Certain early documents prove that these Indians used various irri- 
gation canals that still exist in the Mendoza area. The Spaniards 
evidently did no more than widen the aboriginal canals, make new 
ones, and improve and increase the system of drains. 

Corn is the only vegetable which we are certain the Huarpe culti- 
vated. According to an early document, the conquistador, Pedro del 

Vol. 1] 


Castillo, upon reaching the Cuyo region to found the first city, Men- 
doza, was greeted by chiefs who brought him, among other gifts, 
tender ears of corn which, naturally, they had raised. Historical 
documents frequently refer to the "cornfields" of the Indians. We 
also know of numerous bed-rock mortars, as well as many conanas, or 
portable mortars, with their corresponding pestles. 

For animal food, the Huarpe hunted rhea, guanaco, and deer, 
which abounded in Cuyo territory, and aquatic birds. Ancient 
chroniclers tell of curious methods of catching both animals and birds. 
For example, hunters followed guanaco on foot to tire them, or, with 
their heads covered with a gourd, waded into the water up to their 
necks, in order to catch the birds that swam among other dry gourds 
which had previously been thrown into the water. 


The Euarpe dwelling was not uniform throughout the entire region 
but varied according to the locality. The Indians who lived on the 
shores of lakes built semisubterranean dwellings. In the mountainous 
region they built houses of pirca, that is, of stones laid together with- 
out mortar. On the plains they generally constructed dwellings made 
with a framework of sticks, and walls of cane or of bundles of reed 
grass, sometimes covered with a thin layer of mud. Dwellings of 
this type are still seen in the country and are known as "dwellings of 
quincha." There are, however, no archeological or historical data 
which support the claim often made in modern accounts that the 
Euarpe used skin tents (toldos). Toldos were used by the people 
living on the Pampa or by other tribes farther south. 


We are familiar only with men's clothing, which consisted of a long 
shirt, which was either sleeveless or had short sleeves. This garment, 
which the Spaniards called the camiseta, is common to the Andean 
peoples. Both sexes wore their hair long. 

Women painted certain parts of the face green and used necklaces 
of different materials. One necklace which was dug up in the Desa- 
guadero zone consists of many small, finely carved mollusk-shell 
disks. Feather ornaments were very common, especially for 


Historical documents state that children slept in a sort of cradle, 
the exact shape of which is not known. On journeys, women carried 
these cradles on their backs by means of a broad strap passing over 
the forehead. 



[B. A. E. Bdi,!.. 143 

A characteristic Huarpe culture element is the balsa raft made by 
tying together several bundles of totora reeds. These were used to 
travel the numerous rivers and lagoons. It is the same type as that 
of the Uro of the Titicaca region. Today it is still used on the 
Guanacache Lagoons (fig. 21). 

FiouBB 21. — Totora balsa, Guanacache Lagoons. Top: Balsa, full length and cross section. 
Bottom: Detail of end of balsa. (After M^traux, 1929, p. 4 and fig. 5.) 


Archeological remains of Huarpe manufactures are, with the excep- 
tion of ceramics, very limited, but historical data supplement our 

The discovery of plain and unadorned spindle whorls of clay and 


how to weave. This is corroborated by their use of the classic Andean 
shirt. But we have no specimens of their textiles and do not know 
their technique of weaving or whether it was done by the men or the 

Huarpe ceramics are in general of good quality and include not 
only everyday pottery, but vessels of superior type and decoration. 
The shapes are as a whole characteristic of the Andean area, al- 
though some appear to be peculiar to the Huurpe region. One form, 
for example, is a small, subglobular jar some 5 inches (13 cm.) high and 
equally wide, with a single handle attached to the rim. Usually deco- 
rated with black and red designs, both its form and ornamentation are 
subdued yet beautiful. Another ceramic type which appears to be 
characteristic of the Huarpe is a vessel in the shape of a broad drum, 
known as a "kettledrum" (timbal). It is about the same size as that 
of the small jars, but its largest diameter is at the mouth. Its decora- 
tion is different, but the colors are usually the same. The shape of this 
jar is generally considered to be a Tiahuanacan trait, and its presence 
in Cuyo suggests past influences from that ancient culture. 

Historical references show that the Huarpe were true masters of 
the art of basketry, producing even vases and tightly woven drinking 
cups. Even today, the few very mixed descendants of the ancient 
tribe, living secluded in the lagoon area of Guanacache, make beautiful 
baskets of the type known as workbaskets (fig. 22). These are still 
decorated, as in ancient times, with woolen tufts dyed different colors. 
On various potsherds found in different parts of the Huarpe area are 
impressions of twined baskets, the technique which is used today in 
making workbaskets. 

The Huarpe weapons were the bow and arrow. We do not know 
the shape or other characteristics of the bow, but historical documents 
indicate that it was about 5 feet 4 inches (165 cm.) long and that the 
arrows were 2 feet 10 inches (85 cm.) long, which is longer than the 
Andean and Pampean bows and arrows. Numerous specimens of stone 
arrowheads, with or without stems, can be found in the region. 

Skin work and featherwork was carried on intensively by these 

Finally, we might mention the discovery of other cultural remains, 
such as stones perforated for slingshots, lip plugs (tembetas), etc., 
although we know nothing of their use by the Huarpe. 


We know very little of Huarpe social organization. The family 
was based on patrilineal rights and consisted of the husband and 
one or more wives acquired through purchase. Historical data show 
that Huarpe practiced the levirate, that is, the custom whereby the 


FiGDRE 22. — Guanacache twined basketry details. Top: Border. Center: Section of 
Bottom: Base. (After M^traux, 1929, pi. 2.) 

VOL. 1] 


wives and children became the dependents of the deceased husband's 

A certain number of families formed a group under the control of 
a chieftain. It seems that each group possessed its own special farm 
lands, some of which were called the "cornfields" (maizales) after the 
vegetable raised on it. Other larger, unirrigated fields were called 
the algarrobales. Ancient documents have numerous references to 
the maizales and algarrobales of the Indians. 


The only musical instrument mentioned is the drum, but its shape 
is not known. 

Periodically the Huarpe celebrated drunken festivities, to which 
people of neighboring villages were invited. For 3 or 4 days and 
nights without sleeping, men danced and drank in a round hut built 
for the purpose. The women, being forbidden to see their husbands 
drinking, remained outside the hut. At these bacchanals there was 
usually a "devil" in the form of man or animal who appeared when 
an old man, surrounded by dancers, played the drum. The devil 
scratched the children's heads until blood flowed. In an official docu- 
ment of 1600, the senior constable of Mendoza was ordered to stop 
these revelries because of the harm suffered by the Indians during 


"We know somewhat more of their spiritual culture. 

The Huarpe god was called Hunuc Huar (the root, huar, is the 
same in the tribal name). This god, who they imagined dwelt in the 
Cordillera, was feared and respected. During rituals, the Indians 
made him offerings of chicha, corn, and other things. 

In addition to Hunuc Huar, they also worshiped the sun, the 
moon, the morning star, and the hills. 

The dead were buried to the accompaniment of songs and dances. 
With the deceased they placed his personal belongings and food and 
drink for the long journey. 

Initiation rites were apparently limited to men. According to the 
account of a missionary who lived among the Huarpe and knew their 
language, a shaman scratched the scalp of the initiates, collected in 
his hand the blood from the wound and cast it to the wind. The 
initiates were then subjected to a prolonged fast. 


Boman, 1920 ; Canals Frau, 1938, 1941 a, 1942 a, 1942 b, 1943, 1944 ; Constanzfi, 
1942; Lizdrraga, 1916; M6traux, 1929; Ovalle, 1888; Resales, 1877-78; Techo, 
1897 ; Ten Kate, 1896 ; Torres, L. M., 1923 ; Valdivia, 1607. 




The great tidal estuary known as the Rio de la Plata, more than 
150 miles wide at its mouth, is cut by lat. 35° S. and, therefore, 
lies approximately at the same latitude as the southern tip of Africa. 
Two vast river systems, the Uruguay and the Parana, pour their 
waters into the Rio de la Plata. 

The Parana River rises far to the north, at about lat. IG^SO' S., 
near the Federal district destined to contain the future capital of 
Brazil. Hundreds of miles above its mouth the Parana begins to 
deposit its burden of silt to form innumerable and ever-varying is- 
lands, while from the city of Santa Fe downstream the eastern bank 
is a wide alluvial plain, swampy in character, cut by a thousand 
arroyos and intersecting canals. Opposite Constitucion, about 124 
miles (200 km.) from the Rio de la Plata, the Parana River splits 
into two main branches, and from here to the river's mouth extends 
the Delta. 


The Indians who once inhabited the Parana Delta (map 1, No. 3; 
map 2) and its adjacent shores and the banks of the Rio de la Plata 
fall into three categories: (1) On the islands at the mouth of the 
Parana lived Guarani Indians, relatively short in stature and thick- 
set, cannibals, agriculturists, fishermen, and hunters. (2) On each 
shore of the Rio de la Plata lived the Querandi and Gharrua^ pri- 
marily nomadic hunters and fishermen, ignorant of agriculture, tall, 
and warlike. (3) Upstream from the Guarani in the Delta country 
there dwelt a number of smaller tribes intermediate in culture : The 
Minuane (Gilenoa), Taro, Bohane, Ghana, Ghund-Mbegud, Ghand- 
Timbu, Mhegud, Timbu, Carcarand, Gorondd, Quiloazd, and Golastine. 
Physically and linguistically the relationship of this last group seems 

583486—46 12 177 


to have been with the Uhamia and the Guaicuru to the north; cul- 
turally, they show much the same basic pattern, but they had acquired 
certain Chiarani traits, such as permanent villages and agriculture. 
The nomenclature, geographical distribution, and linguistic affilia- 
tion of all these groups are mixed and uncertain. 


The Parana Delta and adjacent plains did not witness the rich 
conquests or great feats of arms such as took place in other parts of 
the New World. Hence the literature describing its discovery and 
the natives who dwelt there is scanty and lacking in detail. Three 
primary sources may be recognized. Firstly, there are the records of 
the explorers of the 16th century and the contemporary historians. 
Secondly, we have the 18th-century writings of the Jesuit missionaries, 
who both described the surviving Indians and compiled general 
histories. In addition, there are the earliest scientific travelers such 
as Azara (1809) and D'Orbigny (1835-47) , who, with personal knowl- 
edge of the last remnants of the aborigines, published their observa- 
tions in the beginning of the 19th century. All subsequent studies 
must be based on these sources. 

No single volume contains complete material for interpreting native 
life in the Parana Delta. Collections of documents, however, have 
been published by de Angelis (1910) , Lothrop (1932 b) , Medina (1897, 
1908 a, 1908 b) , Outes (1897, 1899, 1910, 1913 b, 1917 b) , Ruiz Guinazu 
(1915), and Torres (1903, 1911). 


Study of historical sources indicates that the Indians dwelling on 
the shores of the Rio de la Plata and the lower Parana River con- 
sisted primarily of plainsmen related to the Guaicv/m. Into their 
midst had come an invading band of Guarani, under whose influence 
the culture of some of their neighbors had been modified. The inter- 
play of cultural features is summarized in the accompanying table, 
which combines both historical and archeological data. It should be 
noted that the blank spaces indicate absence of information rather 
than absence of a cultural trait. 


Table 1. — Cultural traits of tribes inhabiting the Rio de la Plata Littoral and 

Par and Delta ^ 


Cultural traits 
























Lip plug . 















Mat windbreak. 









Spear thrower 


Bolas - 










Head trophy 







1 +, present; 0, absent. 


The '"'■Guarani de las islas" {Ohandris^ Chandules) inhabited the 
southern side of the Parana Delta from the islands of the Rio de la 
Plata to within a dozen leagues of the Rio Carcarana (lat. 35° S., long. 
58° W.)- Thus they constituted the southernmost enclave of a very 
large and widely distributed linguistic family. Although mentioned 
by all the early explorers, surprisingly little description of them is 
available, and they appear to have become extinct before the end of 
the 17th century. 


The Guarani of the Parana Delta cultivated maize and calabashes, 
and hence they mark the southern limit of agriculture on the eastern 
side of the continent. In addition, they ate much fish, which they 
dried in the sun, and, when they could get it, they consumed human 


Guarani houses were thatched. Their villages apparently were 
permanent, because in the repartimiento of Buenos Aires (1582) 
"houses of the Guwranis''' near Corpus Christi are spoken of as a land- 



Lozano (1873-74) describes them as "very elegant Indians, though 
ugly on account of the colors with which they make themselves look 
formidable, and they adorn their shameless nudity and heads only 
with beautiful feathers." Eamirez (1897) speaks of plates and ear- 
plugs of gold and silver, and Caboto (1908) mentions "a headdress with 
certain plates of gold and copper, and some low grade silver," but 
these metals must have been obtained by trade with other regions for 
none is to be had locally. 


Their canoes are said to have been well made, and they propelled 
them with long paddles. 


Of their weapons, we have only the statement of Oviedo y Valdes 
(1851-55) that they used bows. 


We know nothing about their social organization, except that the 
repartimiento of Buenos Aires lists 12 caciques, each perhaps being 
the head of a village. In general, they are spoken of as constantly at 
war with all their neighbors, brave in combat, but exceedingly 


The Qiterandi Indians before the Conquest wandered over the Pam- 
pa between Cabo Blanco on the Atlantic coast and the mountains of 
Cordoba (lat. 35° S., long. 60° W.). Just what happened to them 
after the Conquest is not entirely clear, so that it may be well to review 
briefly their history. 


In 1536 they fought a drawn battle with the troops of Pedro de 
Mendoza, at which the historian Schmidel (1903) was present. In 
1580 they formed part of an alliance defeated by the second founders 
of Buenos Aires under Juan de Garay, but their name does not appear 
in the repartimiento signed by Garay 2 years later, although Diaz de 
Guzman (1914) states that they were then divided among the victors. 
In 1583, under the cacique Guren or Manua, they attacked and slew 
Garay as he slept while on his way up the Parana River to Asuncion. 
In consequence, several Querandi chiefs were brought to trial in 1585. 
Soon afterward, however, they combined with Mhegud, Quiloazd, and 
Gitarani in an attempt to win back the region from its conquerors. In 
1678 the name of this people appears again, and for the last time, in 


the encomiendas of Indians distributed among the inhabitants of 
Santa Fe. 

Two explanations of what happened to the Querandi are current 
among Argentine scholars. By some it is believed that they became 
totally extinct; by others it is asserted that they survived under the 
name of Pampa Indians. For the latter hypothesis there is strong 
historical support. 

Accounts of the Querandi are more abundant than those describing 
their neighbors, except the Charrua. Moreover, these data have been 
brought together and analyzed in a scholarly study published in 1897 
by F. F. Outes. All the early sources depict the Querandi as a wild, 
fierce, warlike people — one of the many who once wandered without 
restraint on the open plains of the southern continent. Schmidel 
(1903) has compared them to the Gypsies, while Lozano (1873-74), 
seeing the Pampa Indians ahorse, has likened this tribe to the Tartars. 

The cultural affiliation of the Querandi has been the subject of con- 
troversy. It has been claimed that they were affiliated with the 
Arau^anians, the Guaranty or the Guaicurii. Comparative tables of 
historical data assembled and published by Outes (1917 b), however, 
indicate that the Querandi^ like the Charrua on the eastern shores of 
the Eio de la Plata, shared a basic culture with the Guaicuru. At the 
same time, it seems that the Queromdi were affiliated also with the 
tribes to the south and to the w^est, but the primitive state of these 
tribes, before modifications due to the acquisition of the horse took 
place, is practically unknown to us today. 


In regard to the physique of the Querandi^ Oviedo y Valdes (1851- 
55) on the authority of Alonzo de Santa Cruz (1908) , states that they 
were not so tall as the Patagonians {Tehuelche)^ but were taller than 
the Germans, and that they were a robust people, brown in color. 
Other authorities, in similar tenor, might be cited. In general, it 
seems that the migratory tribes of the plains, from the Chaco to the 
Strait of Magellan, increased in height as one went southward, and 
probably the Querandi fitted into this comprehensive development in 


Today we know not a single word of the Querandi language, al- 
though there is a tendency among modern scholars to believe that they 
spoke a dialect of Guaicuru, an opinion based on geographical pro- 
pinquity and cultural similarity. The name Querandi is of Guarandi 
origin and is derived from quira (grease) and ndi, a possessive suffix. 
Hence it indicates "the people who have grease." 



The Querandi depended on game, fish, and various roots, but had no 
agriculture. Guanaco, rhea, and deer caught mainly with bolas 
furnished their principal meat supply. Both Kamirez (1897) and 
Oviedo y Valdes (1851-55) state that the Querandi were such swift 
runners that they could catch a deer. They caught fish in the rivers 
by means of nets. Owing to the lack of water on the plains, they drank 
the blood of the game that they secured and ate the roots of thistles 
to quench their thirst. Kroebel (1914) relates that when General 
San Martin feasted the Pampa Indians they drank blood of mares 
mixed with gin. In preparing fish, they extracted the grease, dried 
the flesh, and then ground it into a powder which could be kept for 
some time. The discovery of mortars among archeological remains 
and the mention of this piscine "flour" has led some writers erroneously 
to believe that the Querandi were agriculturists. 

In ancient times the Querandi used a windbreak rather than a true 
house. Oviedo y Valdez (1851-55) writes: "Their houses are a para- 
pet, like half huts of the skins of deer and animals which they kill, 
much painted and dressed for protection against wind and rain." 
Lozano (1873-74) writes that they also had houses made of reed mats. 


Querandi clothing consisted of a small apron of cotton or skin and 
a fur robe. As the Querandi had no agriculture and could not have 
grown the necessary cotton, they must have obtained it by trade from 
the north. It is stated that they wore headdresses of gold or silver 
obtained by trade. 


The Querandi used bows and arrows, darts, slings, and bolas. We 
have no description of their bows, but assume they were short like 
those of the surrounding tribes. When they attacked the first settle- 
ment at Buenos Aires, they employed cane arrows with fire on their 
points and also arrows made from a very inflammable wood, with 
which they burned the houses and ships of the Spaniards. Their darts 
are described as half -pikes with stone heads; judged from archeo- 
logical evidence, they employed spear throwers. They are said to 
have been exceedingly expert with the bolas and to have caused heavy 
losses to the Spanish cavalry. In fact, this weapon was the best 
defense that any of the American Indians had against European 


They made war after holding a council where each chief gave his 
opinion and a commander-in-chief was chosen. As a first measure, 
they hid their women and children. In attacking they took advan- 
tage of the terrain, and charged the Spaniards as the latter were in- 
volved in the difficulties of crossing a deep stream. Their assault 
was delivered in fixed formation, but this apparently was not main- 
tained in battle and, as among so many Indian tribes, if their com- 
mander was slain they withdrew to appoint another. Their captives 
were treated with kindness. According to Del Techo (1673), the 
Querandi cut oflf the heads of the slain and kept them as trophies. 


Querandi social organization apparently was loosely drawn, for 
it is repeatedly stated by early chroniclers that they had no fixed 
abodes or laws. Probably they were divided into small hunting 
groups based on kinship, each with its own petty chief. 

They celebrate the birth of their children [writes Del Techo (1673)] with 
abundance of tears, saying when they are born they begin to die. At the 
funerals of their kindred, instead of tears they shed abundance of blood. 

In sickness, according to Lozano (1873-74), they summoned a 
shaman who, if death took place, received the blame, and might 
therefore be killed in retaliation. 

Their burial customs are described by Del Techo (1673) : 

They carefully keep the bones of their relations ; nor is there any affront they 
revenge with so much war and slaughter, as for upbraiding of them that the 
bones of their ancestor have been lost for want of looking after. They honor 
their dead caciques by killing their slaves, believing them to be sent after their 
masters to serve them. 

Lozano (1873-74) states that the Querandi cut off a finger joint as 
a sign of mourning. This custom existed among other tribes of the 
vicinity but is not assigned to the Querandi by contemporary writers. 

Our knowledge of Querandi religion is confined to the supercilious 
remark of Lozano (1873-74) that they were "finisimos ateistas (fijiest 


Neither the name Minuane nor Giienoa appears in the earliest liter- 
ature, and there is no mention of them until the publication of mis- 
sionary works. Most writers have assumed that the names refer to 
separate tribes, but we treat them as a single group, because of a very 
definite statement by Lozano (1873-74) that the two were one. Azara 


(1809), who has given us the most detailed account, states that their 
original home was on the plains of Entre Rios to the north and north- 
west of the Parana Delta (lat. 33° S., long. 59° W.), and that in 1730 
they crossed to Uruguay, where they allied themselves with their 
Gharrua kinsmen in various wars against the colonists of Montevideo. 


The Minuane^ like the Gharrua^ were nomadic huntsmen of the 
plains. In general, the culture of the two tribes was identical, though 
to us it seems possible that this similarity became more pronounced 
after the Minuane had moved to Uruguay. Azara's (1809) long list 
of features in which the Minuaiie resemble the Gharrua includes an 
absence of agriculture, rank, musical instruments, games, and dances ; 
and a similarity of garments, household effects, weapons, and methods 
of making war, dividing booty, and settling quarrels. In some re- 
spects, however, the two tribes differed. 

On the death of a man, his wife and daughters cut off a finger joint. 
They also cut off part of their hair and allowed the remainder to cover 
their faces ; they covered their breasts with a piece of cloth or skin and 
remained in their huts for several days. The men went through a 
ritual resembling that of the Gharrua^ but lasting only half as long. 
They pierced themselves, however, not with wooden rods, but with 
large fish spines, inserted at intervals of about an inch (2.54 cm.) in 
the back and front of their legs, and in their arms up to the elbow, 
but not up to the shoulder. 


This tribe is not mentioned in the earliest literature. According 
to Azara (1809), they lived on the east side of the Eio de la Plata be- 
tween the Rio Negro and the Rio San Salvador (lat. 35° S., long. 57° 
W.). Hervas (1800-05) groups their language with Gharrua^ but 
Azara (1809) claims that it was distinct. They were finally exter- 
minated by the Gharrua^ to whom they were closely related in culture. 

Sepp (1732) writes that physically Yard men were "much of the 
same size as Europeans, but not quite so tall." Their faces were round 
and flat, and of an olive color; their legs were thick and large-jointed. 

The Taro practiced no agriculture, but subsisted on rhea and other 
birds, venison, and fish ; during the Colonial epoch they lived chiefly 
on wild cattle. 

Their houses are described as roofless straw huts evidently cor- 
responding to the roofless squares of mats used by the Gharrua^ 


AMpon, Frentones, and others. Household furniture included ves- 
sels hollowed out of wood, spits, and skins for a couch. Sepp (1732) 
writes that one of their chiefs slept in a hammock. This statement is 
of interest because it marks the southern limit of the hammock. 

Both sexes wore a short skin apron and at times fur robes. Women 
wore their hair loose over the forehead, with braided tresses falling 
down the back, while the men apparently allowed their hair to hang 
free over their shoulders. For adornment, they inserted labrets of 
fishbone or feathers in their lips. Ornaments of fishbone, shell, or 
feathers hung from their ears, and they wore necklaces wrought of the 
same material. 

Yard weapons included the bow and arrow and bolas. Men are 
described as carrying arrows in their hand, from which we conclude 
that, like the Tehuelche, they used no quivers. With the bolas they 
were so expert that they could hit a bird on the wing. 

The imperfection of our knowledge of Yard social organization is 
illustrated by Del Techo's (1673) naive statement that they had no 
"government." Sepp (1732), however, describes a chieftain, evi- 
dently of some authority, who, like his wife, was distinguished by 
his dress. Men were forced to undergo a rigorous initiation cere- 
mony, during which they cut themselves severely. 

The Yard practiced finger mutilation at the death of a relative, as 
did their neighbors ; some persons had nothing left but the palms of 
their hands. According to Sepp (1732) , this was a custom of the men, 
an entire finger being taken off at a time. Del Techo (1673) does 
not specify the sex, but asserts that only a joint was removed at each 


Azara (1809) locates this small tribe just north of the Yard across 
the Eio Negro (lat. 34° S., long. 57° W.), and states that they also 
were exterminated by the CTiofrrua. Hervas (1800-05) places their 
tongue in the Charrua group. Nothing is known about BoKofne 


In the 16th century there appear to have been two groups of Ghana 
Indians, living respectively in the vicinity of Sancti Spirtitu and on 
the islands opposite the mouth of the Eio Negro (lat. 34° S., long. 
58° W.) ; these maintained their separate identities during the Colo- 
nial epoch. The tongue of the Ghana is described by Oviedo y 
Valdes (1851-55) as guttural, a statement born out by Larraiiaga, 
who compiled a vocabulary and grammar published by Lafone Que 
vedo (1922) and Torres (1911). 



The Chand^ like the neighboring Charrua^ Taro., Bohane, and 
MoGoretd^ had no agriculture, but are said to have eaten algarroba 
beans, which grew wild in their vicinity. Their chief sustenance 
came from hunting and fishing. Their weapons are reputed to have 
been the bow and arrow and the spear and spear thrower. In the 
18th century they still made excellent pottery and used canoes. 

Azara (1809) writes that, like the Guaranty they disinterred the 
bodies of their dead after the soft parts had perished in order to 
paint the bones with ocher and grease, and bury them anew with their 
accouterments. The children, he adds, were buried in great pottery 
urns, filled with ocher and earth, and covered with broad plates. 


This tribe is mentioned by Pero Lopes de Souza (1861) and by 
Oviedo y Valdes (1851-55). The latter places them on the northern 
side of the Delta (lat. 35° S., long. 59° W.) opposite the GJumd- 
Timhu^ who, he says, spoke the same tongue. Lopez (1861) en- 
countered them at the mouth of the Parana Kiver, but exactly where 
we do not know. 

The woman and three men he saw were clad in skins. The woman 
wore her hair in a braid, and had lines painted or tattooed beneath 
her eyes. They all had caps made from the heads of jaguars, com- 
plete even to the teeth. They used small canoes, in contrast to the 
Oharrua and Tirribu^ who had large ones. 


Of the Ghand-Timhu we know practically nothing. Ramirez 
(1897) lists them among the "other nations" living near Sancti Spiritu 
at the mouth of the Rio Carcarana (lat. 35° S., long. 60° W.) and 
Garcia de Moguer (1908) states that they lived on the other part of 
the river from the '■''Caracaraes.'''' These writers, however, both dis- 
tinguish them from the ^''Timhus''' or ^^Atambies^'' which gives us reason 
to think that, if not a distinct tribe, they were at least a subtribe of the 
Tirrvbu or Chand. In addition, Oviedo y Valdes (1851-55) writes that 
they occupied the south side of the Delta opposite the Chand-Mhegim 
and that both spoke the same tongue. 

Oviedo y Valdes (1851-55) also says that the Ghana Tirribu were of 
greater stature than any other tribe of the Parana Delta, and that they 
normally went naked, although they had some skins of deer and otter. 
Their diet, in addition to the flesh of these animals, consisted of 
fish and maize. They also grew "calabashes," which perhaps means 


The Mhegud {Beguoue^ ATueguue) hover in the dawn of history; we 
know very little about them. Oviedo y Valdes (1851-55) states that 
"upstream from these [^Guarani] is another people called BegucDes^ 
who live on the south side of the same river [lat. 35° S., long. 60° W.] ; 
they are few in number, and when the river rises they move to the 
south shore . . ." 

Culturally, the Mhegud seem to have resembled their neighbors, the 
Querandi, but they had acquired the art of agriculture, for Oviedo 
y Valdes (1851-55) says that "they maintain themselves by fishing and 
they sow something." From Herrera (1601-15), we learn of 
"Ameguaes Indians, who live by fishing, and who gave [the Spaniards] 
provisions consisting of a great quantity of fish and supplied them with 
canoes." Kamirez (1897) denies that they practiced agriculture, but 
suggests that they wore nose, ear, and lip plugs like the Timbu. 
Lozano (1873-74) writes that the Mhegud sold their Spanish captives 
to the Ghana. 



The Timhu (Afamhi) Indians formerly dwelt on the islands of the 
Parana River opposite and upstream from the mouth of the Rio Car- 
caraiia, and probably also on the eastern shore of the Parana River, 
where to this day exist small streams known as Timbo Colorado and 
Timbo Blanco (lat. 33° S., long. 60° W.). They numbered, according 
to Diaz de Guzman (1914), about 8,000, but Schmidel (1903) believes 
there were approximately 15,000. No trace of their language is 
known, but it is generally assumed, on the basis of cultural evidence, 
that they belonged to the southern Guaycuru stock. 


The Timhu (fig. 23) seem to have been the tallest of all the tribes 
living near the lower Parana River and Rio de la Plata. Schmidel 
(1903) writes that the men were tall and erect, but that the women 
were disfigured by scratched and bloody faces. 


Subsistence. — Schmidel (1903), who lived among the Timhu for 
some time, explicitly states that "these people have nothing else to eat, 
and have all their lives through lived on nothing else but fish and 
meat." Oviedo y Valdes (1851-55) , going into greater detail, writes : 

They sustain themselves by fishing, of which they have great abundance ; and 
they extract from the fish a large amount of fine grease, of which the Christians 


[B. A. E. Bull. 143 

-Earlj- drawings of the Timbu. Top: Timbi't Indians. 
Corpus Christi by the Timbu. (After Schmidel.) 

ottom: Attack on 

make much use both for burning in candles and for dressing deer skins. . . . 
They have many deer, and rheas, and sheep like the large ones of Peru, jaguars, 
otter, and other animals which appear like rabbits, and others of other kinds. 

On the other hand, Ramirez (1S97), an authority of importance, 
declares that "they sow maize and calabash and beans, and all the 
other nations do not sow and their food is meat and fish." Garcia de 


Moguer (1908) also claims that the ^^Atamhies^^ ate maize, while Diaz 
de Guzman (1914) lists the food which the chieftain Mangore carried 
to Nufio de Lara at Sancti Spiritu as "fish, meat, honey, butter 
(grease), and maize." 

Among the customs attributed to the Timhu is eating earth fried in 
fish grease, which is said to have been a favorite food. This diet has 
not been noted among any of the neighboring tribes, but has a wide, 
though sporadic, distribution throughout the New World. 

Houses. — Timhii houses, according to Oviedo y Valdes (1851-55), 
were covered with rushes and were subdivided into apartments. 

Dress. — Concerning the dress of the Timbii, Schmidel (1903) 
states that, like the Corondd, they wore a small cotton cloth from the 
navel to the knee, while Oviedo y Valdes (1851-55) says that they wore 
garments and footgear of deerskin. 

Ornaments. — Both men and women had holes bored in their noses 
and ears for the insertion of small stones, white, blue, or green in color, 
while the men also pierced the lower lip for a labret. Lozano ( 1873- 
74) writes that both men and women painted their bodies with clay, but 
that this adornment was permitted only to those who had partaken of 
human flesh. 

Canoes. — Sclmiidel (1903) writes that the Timhu possessed more 
than 400 canoes, each with a crew of 16 men. 

Such a skiff [he says] is made out of a single tree, eighty feet [24.4 m.] long 
and three [1 m.] wide, and must be rowed as the fisherman's boats in Germany, 
only that the oars are not bound with iron. 

Marquez Miranda (1930) has published plans and description of a 
very different type of Timhu boat, short and broad, partly decked over 

Warfare and weapons. — How a Timhu warrior appeared is pic- 
tured by Barco Centenera (1912) and by Lozano (1873-74). The 
latter describes an Indian near Santa Fe who wore "for a helmet the 
hide of an elk; for shield a great shell of a certain fish [turtle?], his 
quiver and bow on his shoulder, and in his hands a staff proportionate 
to the incongruous height of his body." More specifically, Ovideo y 
Valdes (1851-55) states that their weapons included the spear thrower 
and dart, as well as the bow and arrow. 

Cannibalism. — The charge of cannibalism against the Timhu rests 
primarily on Oviedo y Valdes (1851-55) and has been repeated by 
subsequent writers. Lozano (1873-74), probably on the authority of 
an ambiguous passage in Del Techo (1673) , extends it to the neighbor- 
ing Quiloazd and Colastine^ and states that no one could paint the body 
until he or she had eaten human flesh. Several writers, basing their 
argument in large part on the claim that the Timhu were cannibals, 
have believed the Timhu to have been of Guarani extraction. We be- 


lieve that the weight of evidence points otherwise, and that the Timbu 
should be grouped physically, culturally, and probably linguistically 
with the Chind-Timhu, Chand, and Charrua. At the same time, the 
Timbu having acquired agriculture, probably from Guarani influence, 
had come to occupy permanent houses and village sites. 

Death observances.— Cutting off the joint of a finger on the death 
of a relative was customary among Tinibu women; after the fingertips 
had gone, they cut off the outer joints of the toes. Ramirez (1897) 
declares that there were women without a single outer phalanx on hand 
or foot, and that they said they did this on account of the great grief 
they experienced upon someone's death. Lozano (1873-74) further 
states that this tribe adorned graves with rhea plumes and planted 
upon the spot an umbu tree {Phytolacca dioica) to which the relatives 
returned to bewail the deceased. 


This tribe, of whose name many variants can be found, presumably 
lived on the banks of the Rio Carcaraiia (lat. 32-33° S., long. 60-61° 
W.). According to Del Techo (1673), they numbered about 8,000. 
All the early writers link them with the Timbu^ who dwelt in the Delta 
country across the Parana River, and it is evident that these two tribes 
were not only on friendly terms but were practically identical in 


These three tribes lived on the Parana River islands above the 
Timbu. The fullest account is by Schmidel (1903), who describes 
them as resembling the Tinibu in culture, physique, and language. 
Lozano (1873-74) does not depict them individually, but by listing 
them with the Timbu implies that no important differences existed. 


Acusaci6n del Fiscal, 1908 ; Angelis, 1910 ; Azara, 1809 ; Barco Centenera, 1912 ; 
Behme, 1732 ; Bruch, 1910 ; Caboto, 1908 ; Cattaneo, 1759 ; Diaz de Guzmdn, 1914 ; 
Encomiendas, 1897 ; Garcia de Moguer, 1908 ; Herrera, 1601-15 ; HervSs, 1800-05 ; 
Iaformaci6n Hecha, 1908; Informaci6n Levantada, 1908; Kroebel, 1914; Lafone 
Quevedo, 1897 a, 1899 ; L6pes de Souza, 1861 ; Lothrop, 1932 b ; Lozano, 1873-74 ; 
Marquez Miranda, 1930 ; Medina, 1897, 1908 a, 1908 b ; Muratori, 1759 ; D'Orbigny, 
1835-47 ; Outes, 1897, 1899, 1910, 1913 b, 1917 b ; Ovalle, 1888 ; Oviedo y Vald^s, 
1851-55; Pernetty, 1770; Pritchard, 1843; Ramirez, 1897; Ruiz Guinazu, 1915; 
Santa Cruz, 1908; Schmidel, 1903; Schuller, 1906, 1917, 1919-20; Sepp, 1732; 
Serrano, 1930; Techo, 1673; Torres, L. M., 1903, 1911. 


By Antonio Serrano 


If the present territory of the Republic of Uruguay extended north 
to the Ibicuy and Camaquan Rivers in Brazil and west to the Guale- 
guay River and the southeastern corner of the Province of Corrientes 
south of Yapeyu in Argentine territory, we should have the approxi- 
mate geographical area occupied by the Charrua (lat. 34° S., long. 
55° W.) (map 1, No. J^; map 2). According to accounts of 16th-cen- 
tury travelers, the Atlantic coast to the east more or less at lat. 34° 
S. was occupied by the Arechane, a non-Charrua people. Speculation 
based on a comparison of the archeology of the region with historical 
information suggests that perhaps the Arechane were Giuiyand whose 
speech was influenced by Guarani. 

Archeology.— The archeology of this large territory is comparatively well 
known. Except for sporadic elements corresponding to the lithic culture of 
southern Brazil and attributable to the ancient Ouayand and several scattered 
elements of Quarani origin, all the archeologieal material belongs to a culture 
related to that of Patagonia. This culture, which the Charrua developed, is 
characterized by a worked-stone industry similar to that of Patagonia, by the 
presence of many round and star-shaped stone balls for bolas, and by polished 
or engraved pottery made in globular shapes and without handles. The sculp- 
tured stones, of which only two examples from the middle Uruguay River are 
known, probably belong to this culture (pi. 42, d, g). 

To the south along the Rio de la Plata near Montevideo are distinctive ele- 
ments characteristic of the area occupied by the Chand-TimM. Among these is 
the "thick pottery" which coincides distributionally with the territory of these 
Indians, i. e., the banks of the Parana River. 

Tribal divisions. — The name Charrua, according to usage of the first travelers 
of the 16th century, designated only the nuclei which lived along the littoral 
but traveled into the interior. Eventually it became a generic term for all the 
groups which were culturally and linguistically related to them. These groups, 
known more or less exactly through Jesuit mission records of the 17th century, 
are the Yard, Ouenoa, Bohani, Minuane, and Charrua. Their 17th-century dis- 
tribution is indicated in map 2. 

The Giienoa were known to some early Spanish authors as Minuand and are 
called the latter name today in the Brazilian literature. According to Abbot 
Hervas and others, the true generic name of the Indians with whom we are 
concerned should be Oiienoa, not Charrua, as the latter is merely the designa- 
tion of one of the five principal divisions. (See also pp. 18S-184.) 



Bach of these divisions was made up of subtribes, some names of which have 
been recorded. The Cloya were a small subtribe of the Oiienoa during the 17th 
century. The Guayantiran, Balomar, and Ncgueyuian were groups of Charrua 
in Entre Rfos during the 18th century. Colonization of Entre Rios and mis- 
sionary efforts to convert the eastern groups disrupted the geographical dis- 
tribution of the different tribes. The Minuan^ went to Uruguay in 1730 and 
made a defensive and offensive alliance with the Charrua, who thereafter went 
to the Parand River, attacking and robbing the stock farms established by the 
Spaniards. The Yard, who occupied the eastern side of the Uruguay River, 
south of the Rio Negro, deployed toward the western side of the Province of 
Entre RIos. 


The Charrua were very tall. D'Orbigny, who saw them in 1829 
in the vicinity of Montevideo, gave an average stature of 5.4 feet 
(1.66 m.) for women and 5.5 feet (1.68 m.) for men. They had wide 
faces, prominent cheek bones, copper skin, straight, coarse hair, and 
a sad, taciturn expression that escaped no one who observed them 
(pl. 41). 


Present knowledge of the Charrua language is limited to 70 words 
and the numerical system. The latter is based on four, the first 
numbers being: One, yu or yut; two, sam; three, deti or detit; four, 
betum. Five is "four and one," betum yu, and so on to eight, which 
is "two times four," betum arta sam. Nine is baquin ; ten, guaroj. 

The Charrua language appears to be a dialect of Chand and is ap- 
parently related to the Caingang of Eio Grande do Sul. Previously, 
it was considered to be an isolated language. 



Charrua economy was based on hunting, on gathering wild fruits 
and roots, and, in less degree, on fishing. The introduction of the 
horse facilitated economic life. After the Conquest, the Chanma lived 
chiefly on the wild cattle which overran the Banda Oriental. The 
Charrua traded hides of horses and wild cattle to the Spaniards for 
yerba mate, tobacco, and liquor. 


Charrua houses were constructed of four poles set in the ground 
and covered with straw mats which served as roof and walls. During 
the summer, the Indians reduced this habitation to a single mat set 
up as a wind screen. When horses had become abundant on the un- 
dulating Uruguayan plains, the Charma ceased to use grass mats 

.^^ f^f^'*^J 


PLATE 42.-Charrua pottery and stonework, a, 6, Pottery vessels from Colon Rio Uruguay country. 
Argentina; d, o, carved stone plaques, Rio Uruguay country, Argentina, length of A %Vi in , or 22 cm., c, 
lenticular stone, Monte Caseros, Argentina, Vi natural size; e, skull cracker, Uruguay, li natural size; 
( bola, Entre Rios, Argentina, natural size. (All objects after or by courtesy nf Antonio Serrano.) 


Plate 43— Projectile points from the middle Rio Uruguay. (After Serrano) 

Plate 44.— Chipped-stone artifacts, Charrua territory, a. Lance point. Monte Caseros, Argentina, length 
"i in., or 18 cm.; b, c, scrapers (?), Rio Uruguay country, respective lengths, 3 in., or 7,5 cm,, 3)4 in-, or 9 cm. 

(After Serrano.) 


and constructed their nomad dwellings (toldos) of horse skins sewed 
together and supported on fixed stakes. 

Father Sepp (1940) mentions the use of netted hammocks by Yaro 


The Charrua tattooed the face with blue lines, the number and 
location of which varied according to the tribe. Some groups also 
tattooed the body. They painted themselves according to circum- 
stances; for war, for example, they painted their jaws white. They 
perforated their ear lobes for pendants of mollusk shell, bone, and 
even colored feathers, as among the Yaro^ Pero Lopes de Sousa, in the 
16th century, wrote that they bored holes in their nostrils, and inserted 
shining pieces of copper. They also wore long, thin lip plugs (tem- 
betas). Necklaces and bracelets made of small, circular mollusk-shell 
beads and of feathers completed their adornment. 

Clothing consisted of a simple deer hide fastened to the belt like 
an apron and, during winter, the classic fur robe of the type worn 
in Patagonia and the Chaco (pi. 41). It was made of the skins of 
small mammals cured with ashes and grease, sewn together, and 
painted with panels and geometric drawings. Azara states that in 
his day Charrua men usually went naked, but put on a skin shirt and 
poncho in cold weather, while women habitually wore a poncho or 
sleeveless cotton shirt. 

Both men and women wore their hair long, and combed it with 
their fingers to remove the vermin. Women did not confine their 
hair, but men made a knot at the back of their necks and inserted 
white feathers. 


As the Charrua seem to have lived on fish more at the time of the 
Conquest than in later centuries, when the horse facilitated hunting 
huge herds of wild cattle, canoes formerly played an important part 
in their primitive mode of life. Pero Lopes de Sousa (1927) writes 
of the Indians seen near Montevideo in 1531 : 

Their canoes were 10 to 12 fathoms in length and half a fathom in width ; 
the wood was cedar, very beautifully worked ; they rowed them with very long 
paddles decorated by crests and tassels of feathers on the handles; and 40 
standing men rowed each canoe. 

D'Orbigny, however, writing in the 18th century, declares that 
the Charrua had no fishing, navigation, agiuculture, or weaving. 
Atrophy of the native culture evidently had taken place between the 
IGth and 18th centuries. 




Pottery. — Pottery, mentioned by only one early author, is known 
through archeological finds in sites with a typical Charrua culture. 
The documentary reference to ceramics is in Vilardebo (Gomez Haedo, 
1937) who says, "their utensils are vases of black clay which they dry 
in the sun until they are hard. In these vases they cook rhea flesh." 
Archeological materials show that the pottery in sites of the typical 
culture are characteristically subglobular and never have handles 
(pi. 42, a, &). The vessels are generally polished or decorated with 
incised lines or zigzags. In the basin of the lower Eio Negro and 
Uruguay River, there is a type of ceramics with more complete decora- 
tion, which occasionally has handles ; it is similar to that of the Parana 
Delta and the Parana. Basin, which seems to correspond to Ghana 
rather than to Charrua ware. 

Weapons. — The characteristic weapons were bows and arrows, 
quivers, bolas, slings, and spears. The Charrua were good bowmen, 
and the hunting range of their arrows was up to 100 yards (92 m.). 
Their arrows and spears were tipped with tanged stone heads (pis. 
43, 44) , but some spears had fire-hardened tips. Their bolas (pi. 42, /) 
originally consisted of a single stone attached to a cord adorned at 
the end by a tuft of rhea feathers. After the Conquest, the two- and 
three-ball types came into use. With the advent of horse transporta- 
tion, the Charrua^ like other Indians of the southern plains and of 
Chile, fought with great lances 12 feet (4 m.) long. 

For the sling, the Charrua used sharp pebbles which they threw with 
great skill. The so-called "sling stones" — carefully shaped lenticular 
stones (pi. 42, c) — appear really to be a special type of bolas stone. 

Along the Uruguay River, in places where stones abound, the author 
has found true workshops where the Charrua made their stone arms 
and utensils. 


Each tribe was independent of the others, but for warfare several 
tribes united under a chief chosen from among the bravest or most 
powerful men. 

Each family consisted of 8 or 10 persons occupying a single toldo. 
The bands consisted of 8 to 12 families under a chief whose authority 
was not great. The heads of families, however, formed a sort of 
council which ran the encampment and posted sentries, but obedience 
to their decision was purely voluntary. Quarrels were settled by fist 


The Charrua^ like most Indians of the southern plains, were fierce 
and indomitable warriors. Methods of warfare were simple. After 


hiding their women and children in some wooded place, the warriors 
sent scouts ahead and advanced cautiously to surprise the enemy. 
With wild shouts, they mercilessly attacked. They spared the women 
and children, but afterward incorporated prisoners into the tribe and 
treated them with kindness. They are said to have skinned the heads 
of fallen foes and kept the skulls as perpetual trophies, making cere- 
monial drinking cups of them. 


Puberty. — A girl's puberty was celebrated with special ceremonies 
of unknown purposes. Azara ( 1809 ) describes three vertical blue lines 
tattooed on girls' faces at their first menstruation. 

Marriage took place at the age of puberty. A woman ordinarily 
married the first man who asked her. Polygyny, though permitted, 
was restricted by the fact that a childless woman often abandoned a 
polygynous man to marry someone else. Adultery, if discovered, led 
to fist fights, but was not otherwise penalized. 

Death observances. — A corpse, according to Azara (1809), was 
carried to a cemetery amid much wailing, and interred with weapons 
and utensils while a friend or relative slaughtered a horse on the grave. 
Pero Lopes de Sousa (1927) described a 16th-century cemetery which 
had a circle of upright stakes encompassing some 30 burials, and much 
abandoned property, such as nets, skin cloaks, and spears. Lozano 
(1874, 1:408) writes, however, that "they carry the bones of their 
deceased relatives wherever they wander, love making very light for 
them this stinking cargo." These seemingly contradictory statements 
probably indicate that each group had its own cemetery, and if death 
took place at a distance, they carried the body to their own place of 

After the burial of a relative, both sexes observed a long and painful 
period of mourning. Azara (1809) wrote that the women cut off a 
finger joint, and lacerated their arms, breast, and sides with the knife 
or lance of the deceased. They then retired to their huts, and remained 
two moons with little food. This authority states that because a de- 
ceased man's wives and sisters underwent this trial, there were no 
adult women who did not lack finger joints and were not covered with 
scars. Lopes (1927), however, attributes this custom to the men, and 
adds that he saw many old men who had sacrificed all their fingers 
and had only the thumbs remaining. 

Charrua men, in later times, did not mourn the death of a wife 
or child, but all adult males underwent a painful ritual on the death 
of a father. They remained naked in their huts for 2 days, eating 
only tinamou flesh and eggs, after which a friend or relative ap- 
peared at nightfall with a quantity of short rods, which he thrust 


through the flesh of the mourner from wrist to shoulder. Thus ar- 
rayed the mourner went naked into the woods, fearless of wild beasts, 
from which he now believed himself to be immune. With an iron- 
shod stick, he dug a deep hole, in which he passed the entire night 
covered to his chest with earth. At dawn, he went to a small hut, 
especially reserved for mourners, where he presumably removed the 
rods from his flesh. For 2 days he lay without water or food. For 
the next 10 or 12 days children brought him small quantities of 
partridge meat and eggs. During this time he could speak with no 


Charrua artistic motivations were expressed in the geometric draw- 
ings on the backs of fur robes, in some geometric pictographs, and 
in pottery designs. 

Among games presumed to be of native origin was that of throwing 
the bolas around a stake driven in the ground. After contact with 
the Spaniards, they played cards. 

We know little of Charrua religious ideas. These tribes believed 
in an evil spirit, which they invoked but did not make the object of 
cult worship. They had shamans who invoked the spirit and who 
were thought to have power to control the forces of nature. 

A recently discovered manuscript (Gomez Haedo, 1937) states that 
young men went into the wilderness to fast until a spirit, who was 
to become their guardian angel, appeared to them. 


Azara, 1809; Bohm, 1940; Canals Fran, 1940 a; Cardiel, 1866; Devincenzi, 
1927; Figueira, 1892; Garcia, D., 19G2 ; Gomez Haedo, 1937; Hervas, 1800-05; La- 
rranga Damaso, 1924, a, b; Larrauri, 1918-19; Lopes de Sousa, 1927; Lothrop, 
1942 b; Lozano, 1874; Madero, 1902; Outes, 1913 b ; D'Orbigny, 1835-47; Relaci6n 
del viaje de los P. P. Sepp y Bohm (1692), 1940; Rivet, 1930; Schmidel, 1903; 
Schmidt, W. J., 1926 ; Sepp, 1940 ; Serrano, 1932, 1938 a, 1942 ; Vilardebo, 1937 ; 
Xarque, 1687. 

Part 2. Indians or the Gran Chaco 

By Alfred Metraux 


The name Chaco, which seems to be derived from a Quechua word 
meaning "hunting ground," is applied to the vast plain which lies in 
the center of the South American Continent between the fringe of 
the Matto Grosso Plateau and the Argentine Pampa. 

Geographically, the Chaco is a depressed area, bordered on the 
west by the first ranges of the sub-Andean mountains, and on the north 
by the low hills and summits detached from the central Brazilian 
massif and from the Sierras de San Jose and San Carlos, south of 
Chiquitos. On the east the Chaco is bounded by the Paraguay and 
Parana Rivers and by the widely scattered rocky hills which rise along 
the Paraguay River. To the south it ends at the foot of the Sierras de 
Cordoba and Guayasan. Between these mountains and the Parana 
River there is a wide gap where the Chaco merges without marked 
transition into the Pampa. 

The present-day boundaries of the Chaco as a culture area do not 
coincide with those of the Chaco as a geographical entity (map 1, 
No. 5; maps 4, 5). The sub- Andean range of hills (Western Cordil- 
lera) lying north and south of the Pilcomayo River falls within the 
habitat of the Chiriguano and Chane^ two tribes that culturally and 
linguistically have little or nothing in common with the Chaco peo- 
ples. Until a few years ago (1935-37?) many Chane had their vil- 
lages on the lower Parapiti River, but they now have been settled by 
the Paraguayan Army near Lopez de Filippis in the very heart of 
the Chaco. For purely cultural reasons, the Parapiti River and the 
marshes of Izozog mark the northwestern limits of the Chaco. On 
the east, however, there was a close correspondence between natural 
and cultural boundaries until the end of the 17th century, when the 
Mhayd invasions into the regions east of the Paraguay River annexed 
to the Chaco culture area the Guarani lands situated between the Apa 
and the Miranda Rivers. 



Physical features. — The Chaco plain slopes gently toward the 
east and more sharply toward the southeast. In the extreme north 
there rises a quartz plateau, 1,800 feet (550 m.) above sea level, with 
isolated summits (Cerro San Miguel and Cerro Chico). This whole 
region is still little known and shelters a few Zamuco tribes {Moro^ 
Guaranoca, Tsirakua) who have never had any contacts with Wliite 
people. In the south there is an area of great depression with large 
salt marshes. 

The soil of the Chaco, like that of the Pampa, is a clayish loess. 
Not a stone can be found over most of its extension. In many parts 
of the Chaco, especially in dried lagoons and marshes, the ground is 
covered with a thin crust of salt. 

Water system. — Of the many rivers which originate in the Andes 
and flow into the Chaco, only the Pilcomayo River, the Bermejo 
River, and Rio Salado reach the Paraguay or the Parana Rivers; 
the others are lost in the sands, though some in earlier times dug 
beds hundreds of miles long, which in the rainy season are full of 
marshes, pools, and lagoons. 

The most important river in the Chaco is the Pilcomayo. Along its 
upper course it is paralleled by dry river beds and cahadas which it 
supplies with water during the annual floods. At about its middle 
course the Pilcomayo no longer flows between cliffs, but disappears 
into the Estero Patiiio, a huge marshy tract, lying between the Dorado 
and the Porteno Rivers. When it reappears at the other end of the 
Estero Patiiio it is divided into two branches, the Brazo Norte and the 
Brazo Sur. Farther on, these two main arms join again and flow into 
the Paraguay River, near Lambare. The lower course of the Pilco- 
mayo River is also a region of swamps, lagoons, and canadas. 

The greatest floods of the Pilcomayo River occur during the summer 
months, February to April, but most of the water is absorbed by the 
marshes of the Estero Patiiio. 

Like the Pilcomayo River, the Bermejo River loses its valley on 
entering the Chaco plain, where it follows a most capricious course. 
In 1868, its waters took a northerly direction and now flow through the 
Teuco River. Between the old dry bed and the new one there are 
innumerable lagoons, caiiadas, and madrejones. The two branches 
meet again around lat. 25°45' S., where the river assumes once 
more the name of Bermejo River. The Bermejo is a typical Chaco 
river, continually changing its course, traveling from one stream bed 
to another, cutting its meanders, and forming new branches which are 
later destroyed (pi. 45). 

The third important river of the Chaco is the Rio Salado, which 
on its upper course is known as the Pasaje or Juramento River. As 
a result of the river's past deviations, the whole southern Chaco is 
furrowed by a system of dry beds and caiiadas. 


The Parapiti is the only river in the Chaco that belongs to the 
Amazon water system. It disappears into the marshes of the Izozog 
and emerges again on the other side under the name of Tunas Kiver. 

In the northeastern part of the Chaco, the only water course worth 
mentioning is the Otuquis River, which is dry during a large part 
of the year. 

On the whole, the Chaco is a dry country (pi. 46) which would be 
hardly suitable for human settlement were it not that lagoons, water 
holes, cailadas, and madrejones are abundantly scattered throughout 
the area. These water holes may dry up suddenly, and the Indians 
who depended on them are then forced to migrate to more favorable 
surroundings. Scarcity of water rather than the hostility of the 
Indians has hampered for centuries the exploration of the Chaco. 

The Chaco climate varies somewhat from east to west. Rainfall 
is heavier in the east (50 inches (1.3 m.) a year), starts earlier (Octo- 
ber) , and ends only in May. In the center and west, the dry season 
lasts about 6 months, and the precipitation is less abundant, especially 
in the central portion of the Chaco (25 inches (63 cm.) a year). In 
winter, from June to August, when the cold south wind blows, the 
temperature at night may fall several degrees below the freezing 
point. The highest temperatures in South America (46° C.) have 
been recorded in the Chaco, near Villamontes and the Rio Salado. 

The flora and fauna of the Chaco are discussed under Subsistence 


Exploration and conquest. — The dry forests and swamps of the 
Chaco, inhabited by wild and warlike Indians, had little to entice 
the Spanish conquistadors. This region, which even today is in some 
parts terra incognita, was, however, one of the first areas in the in- 
terior of South America to be explored by the Whites. The Chaco 
in itself was unimportant ; its historical role was due to the fact that 
it was the gateway to the fabulous lands of the west from which the 
Guarani received the silver and gold objects seen by the Spaniards 
from the mouth of the Rio de la Plata to Paraguay. For almost half 
a century the history of the Rio de la Plata consisted of a series of 
attempts to master the Chaco in order to reach the land of the "metal 
and of the white king." When, in 1548, the conquistadors under Do- 
mingo Martinez de Irala finally realized their dream, it was too late. 
The rich mountain lands of the west had fallen into the hands of 
Pizarro and his companions. However, the first man to cross the 
Chaco and set foot in the empire of the Inca was a Portuguese sailor, 
Alejo Garcia, a shipwrecked member of the Solis armada. Sometime 
between 1521 and 1526 he joined a party of Guarani who, like many 
other Gu(wani groups, were moving westward to loot the border tribes 


of the Inca Empire. Alejo Garcia crossed the northern Chaco (along 
lat. 19° or 20° S.) and reached the country of the Chane and of the 
Caracara {Gharcas). Although he was murdered on the way back, 
the news of his exploit and of the wealthy country he had discovered 
had reached the Portuguese on the Atlantic coast. Kumors about the 
Peruvian gold carried by the Guarani or the Chane provoked a gold 
rush that started with Sebastian Cabot, 1526, and ended with Do- 
mingo Martinez de Irala and Nufrio de Chavez. 

The history of the Chaco in the 16th century cannot be separated 
from that of the conquest of the Rio de la Plata. Asuncion was founded 
in 1536 only as a convenient base for the exploration of the Chaco. The 
main events which marked that period were : The tragic expedition of 
Juan de Ayolas, 1537-39, who crossed the Chaco to the land of the 
Chane, but on his return was massacred near La Candelaria by the 
Payagud Indians; the 26-day expedition of Domingo Martinez de 
Irala from San Sebastian, 8 leagues (24 miles) south of La Candelaria 
westward, 1540; the expedition of Alvar Nuiiez Cabeza de Vaca against 
the Mhayd Guaicuru in 1542 ; the reconnoitering expedition of Domingo 
Martinez de Irala in 1542 to Puerto de los Reyes (lat. 17°48' S., today 
Laguna Jaiba) ; the expedition of Alvar Nuiiez Cabeza de Vaca, 1543- 
44, to the upper Paraguay River, and his vain attempts to cross the 
northern Chaco ; the raid of Nuf rio de Chavez into the territory of the 
Mhayd, 1545, and his journey up the Pilcomayo River, 1546 ; the march 
of Domingo Martinez de Irala, 1548-49, from Cerro San Fernando 
(Pao de Azucar, i. e., lat. 20° S.) across the territories of the Naperu, 
Mhayd, and Chane to the land of the Tam^cosi on the Rio Grande 
(Guapay River) ; and the "mala entrada" of 1553, a futile journey of 
150 leagues (450 miles) from the Cerro San Fernando across the 
northern Chaco and the southern fringe of Chiquitos. After the found- 
ing of the first city, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, 1561, near San Jose de 
Chiquitos, communication was opened between the Paraguay River 
and the Andes, and between the La Plata Basin and the Amazonian 
water system. Deceived in their hopes of conquering Peru, the con- 
quistadors of the Rio de la Plata then turned their attention toward 
discovering the mythical land of the "Gran Mojos" and of the "Paititi." 
The Chaco was no longer the wall that concealed El Dorado and there- 
fore lost its interest. 

The success of the expeditions that crossed the northern Chaco, to- 
day a region hardly explored, was due mainly to the Guarani guides 
and auxiliary troops. Numerous expeditions to the Andes had rendered 
the Guarani familiar with the country, and they evinced great willing- 
ness to fight against the tribes that they found on their way. The 
Spaniards met stragglers of the Guarani migration scattered between 
the Paraguay River and the first spurs of the Andes. Some villages 


of these Guarani^ such as those near Puerto de los Reyes (Laguna 
Jaiba) , survived until the end of the l7th century. 

By the end of the 16th century, Spanish settlements surrounded the 
Chaco area, and the Spaniards recognized that it would be advan- 
tageous, for economic and political reasons, to pacify the Indians and 
to establish a shorter route between Paraguay and Peru. Nevertheless, 
fear of this "green hell" and of its inhabitants prevented an extensive 
conquest. White penetration was accomplished slowly by the estab- 
lishment of precarious military posts and a few towns, whose settlers 
either exterminated the Indians or reduced them to serfdom. 

The eastern frontier of the Chaco remained almost unchanged for 
about three centuries. On the west, the Whites expanded more rapidly, 
but it is a mistake to regard the early cities of Santiago del Estero and 
of Esteco as advanced posts into the Cliaco. They were located in the 
Chaco as a geographic entity, but their native population consisted of 
Indians, such as the Tonocote, who were sedentary farmers and who 
culturally were related to or influenced by their neighbors of the Sierra, 
the Diaguita. On the other hand, Concepcion, founded in 1585 on the 
Bermejo River in the very heart of the Chaco among the warlike 
Frentones or Guaicuru tribes, was for 50 years a military base and 
missionary center. But its destruction in 1632 eliminated for more 
than a century and a half the hope of establishing direct communica- 
tion between Corrientes and Tucuman. Guadalcazar, founded in 1628 
as a stepping stone for further advances into the Chaco, was likewise 

The subjugation of the Chaco was retarded also by those Indian 
tribes which, once in possession of the horse, took the offensive and 
held back the Spaniards. In the south the Ahipon and Mocovi 
descended from the Bermejo River into the Pampa, and in the north 
the Mhayd wrested the fertile Province of Itati east of the Paraguay 
River from the Guarani and the Spaniards. 

Missionization.— The spiritual conquest of the natives of the Chaco, 
undertaken simultaneously with military penetration, was largely the 
work of Jesuits. The Jesuits assumed their arduous task not only 
out of religious zeal, but, in some instances, to demonstrate to the 
civil authorities their usefulness in pacifying tribes that Spanish 
arms had been unable to subjugate. The Christianization of the 
Chaco Indians goes back to the second half of the 16th century, 
when the cities of Tucuman, Santiago del Estero, and Esteco were 
founded. Fathers Francisco Solano, Alonso de Barzana, Francisco 
de Angulo, Hernando de Monroy, and Juan de Viana baptized count- 
less Indians in the southern Chaco and even preached to the Ahipon 
and Mocovi of the Bermejo Basin. One hundred years later the 
Jesuits gathered the most dreaded Indians into missions and tem- 


porarily checked their forays against the Whites. Shortly before 
their expulsion from Paraguay in 1767, the Jesuits had undertaken 
with some success the conversion of the Mbayd, the most dangerous of 
all Chaco tribes. The Jesuits of the Province of Chiquitos had 
gained a strong foothold in the northern Chaco and gathered a great 
many Zamucoan tribes and bands into missions. They had taken 
charge also of the Lule and Vilela, who were pressed between the 
Spaniards and their neighbors, the Toha and Ahipon. 

The expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767 delayed the pacification of the 
Chaco. The Mhayd resumed their warlike activities, and the Zamuco 
were lost again in the great deserts between the Paraguay and Para- 
piti Kivers. The Franciscans settled in 1780 along the Bermejo 
Eiver and replaced the Jesuits in the Toha and Mataco missions, but 
seemed to lack the energy and intelligent zeal which had distinguished 
their forerunners. 

The Jesuits undoubtedly had some influence on the acculturation 
of the Chaco Indians, but it is not always easy to distinguish their 
contributions to the native cultures from those brought about by con- 
tact with colonists and military posts. The Jesuits encouraged agii- 
culture and stock raising in order to make the Indians more seden- 
tary. They acquainted them with new foods and many European arts 
and crafts. Thus, the Jesuits taught weaving to the Mocovi women, 
who in a few years produced a surplus of blankets which they could 
sell to the Whites (Baucke, 1870, pp. 446-50). It was probably in the 
missions that the Indians acquired the habit of drinking mate, a bever- 
age of which they became extremely fond, but which they could 
secure only by trading with the Whites. Mb ay a decorative art, still 
flourishing, has a faint rococo flavor that may be ascribed to their 
prolonged contact with the Jesuit missions and with the Spanish and 
Portuguese colonists. The missions unwittingly contributed to the 
rapid decrease of native tribes, for the large concentration of Indians 
in a single spot was often followed by terrible epidemics of smallpox. 
After the expulsion of the Jesuits, the Ahipon and Mocovi ceased to 
play any historic role and soon disappeared. The unity and spirit 
of these two tribes had been broken. 

Introduction of the horse. — The adoption of the horse by several 
tribes, especially those of the Guaicuru group, was the most important 
consequence of the contact of the Chaco Indians with the Spaniards, 
and completely revolutionized their economic, social, and political 
life. The horse had a special appeal for the warlike Guaicuru^ who 
practiced little or no farming and who lived close to the ranches of 
the Pampa, where innumerable horses were to be found. The Ahipon 
seem to have been the first Chaco Indians to turn equestrian. At the 
beginning of the 17th century, they stole their mounts from Calchaqui 
Indians established in the Chaco, who had rebelled against the Span- 


iards and settled north of Santa Fe. By 1651 other tribes of the 
Bermejo River also had obtained horses. About the same time the 
Mhayd horsemen began to make their forays into Paraguay. 

Once mounted, the mobility and audacity of the Indians made them 
the scourge of the Spaniards, whom they could now fight on more 
nearly equal terms and strike far away from home without fear of 
retaliation. Abipon, Mocovi, Toha, and Mhayd horsemen looted 
Spanish farms and ranches, and even became a direct threat to Santa 
Fe, Corrientes, Asuncion, Santiago del Estero, Tucuman, and Cordoba. 
They cut communications between Buenos Aires and Peru and greatly 
hampered colonization and trade in regions far beyond the Chaco 

The tribes of the western and extreme northern parts of the Chaco, 
though acquainted with the horse, did not become nomadic herders 
and even today retain the seasonal economic rhythm of the pre- 
Colonial era. Lack of suitable pastures was probably an important 
obstacle to the widespread use of the horse, but other factors also may 
have hindered its adoption. For instance, the more sedentary Mataco 
farmers were less prone to use horses than the Toha and Mocovi, who 
always had led a roaming life. The tribes of the middle Pilcomayo 
River, who subsisted on fishing and were not in direct contact with the 
Wliites, received their first horses in recent times. Of the non-Gtiai- 
curuan tribes, only the Atalala, Paisan^ some 3Iacd, and Mascoi bands 
became true horsemen during the 18th century. Nevertheless, horses 
were fairly numerous in the Mataco and Vilela villages of the middle 
Bermejo River. The Paisan traded theirs from the Mocovi of Santa 
Fe for spears (Muriel, 1918, p. 111). 

Some of the outstanding changes brought about in native culture 
were the complete abandonment of agriculture by some equestrian 
groups and, among the Mhayd and to some extent among the Ahipon, 
the formation of a large servile class composed of captives taken during 
the raids. The suzerainty of the Mhayd over the Guand farmers, al- 
ready established before the coming of the Spaniards, was strength- 
ened after they adopted the horse. The pure-blooded Mhayd, ruling 
over their Guand serfs and relieved from most drudgery by their slaves, 
constituted an aristocracy of horsemen and herders over sedentary 

The 17th century to the present day. — During the 17th century, 
the Spaniards in Paraguay sent several expeditions against the Paya- 
gud and the Mhayd to chastise them for their raids against the colo- 
nists. On the other side of the Chaco, the Governor of Tucuman, 
Angel de Peredo, organized a great drive, 1673, against the Indians 
of the upper Bermejo and Pilcomayo Rivers. Three columns 
entered the Chaco but retreated after taking a few prisoners and 
killing some Indians. Of far greater importance to the history of 


the Chaco was the campaign of another governor of Tiicuman, 
fisteban Urizar y Arespacochaga, 1710, which resulted in the sub- 
jugation of many tribes, mainly Lule-Vilela of the Bermejo Basin, 
and led to the pacification of other groups. In 1759 the governor of 
Tucuman, Joaquin Espinosa y Davalos, advanced into the Chaco in 
order to meet another expedition sent from Corrientes; he followed 
the course of the Bermejo Eiver but did not reach its mouth. In 1764 
Miguel Arrascaeta reached Lacangaye but was forced by the Indians 
to retreat. The Matorras expedition in 1774 along the Bermejo 
Kiver ended somewhat below Lacangaye. D. Francisco Gabino Arias 
founded in 1780 the mission of Nuestra Seiiora de los Dolores de La- 
cangaye for the Mocovi and that of San Bernardo for the Tola. The 
following year Arias, together with Father Francisco Morillo, des- 
cended the Bermejo Kiver from Lacangaye to the Parana Kiver, thus 
completing the exploration of its course. 

The history of the central Chaco during the 19th century is marked 
by the slow but systematic advance of the Argentine Army and 
colonists from the central Chaco toward the Pilcomayo Kiver. North 
of the Pilcomayo, White penetration was slower and never extended 
far beyond the banks of the Paraguay Kiver in the east nor beyond 
the foothills of the Andes and the chain of the Franciscan missions 
in the west. 

In Argentina and Bolivia the colonization of the Chaco was based 
on cattle raising. The character of this economy led to many con- 
flicts with the Indians who stole cattle or resented the encroachments 
on their fields. In the Paraguayan Chaco, the penetration of the 
"Wliites was motivated by the exploitation of the quebracho forests 
for tanin. The industrialists made great efforts to secure the cooper- 
ation of the Indians as lumberjacks. No major conflicts have marked 
the establishment of the obrajes (lumber camps), which, however, 
brought abrupt cultural disintegration of the Indians, who live at 
Puerto Pinasco, Puerto Casado, Puerto Sastre, and elsewhere. 

In the 20th century, Bolivia's hope of finding an outlet to the 
sea across the Chaco plains resulted in the establishment of a line 
of small forts that was continually pushed eastward. The Para- 
guayans simultaneously advanced westward to guarantee their rights 
in the contested area. During the 1932-35 war, the presence of two 
contending armies in the Chaco brought great loss of life and prop- 
erty to the Indians. 

Protestant missions of the South American Evangelical Society 
have extended their protection since 1887 to the Lengua^ and in more 
recent years to several Mataco and Toba groups. In a short time 
they have obtained remarkable results and have helped the Indians 
in their harsh struggle for survival. Several thousand Ashluslay 
Indians are under the care of or in touch with the German mis- 


sionaries of the Order of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (San Jose 
de Esteros, Laguna Escalante, Mision Hiiachalla, and Lopez de Filip- 
pis). Italian Salesians also have been active in the Paraguayan 
Chaco since 1920. Many Toba of the lower Pilcomayo are concen- 
trated in the Franciscan mission of San Francisco Solano at 

A great many Indians of the Argentine Chaco have found 
refuge in "colonias" established by the Comision Honoraria de Keduc- 
ciones de Indios. The most important of these "colonias" or "reduc- 
ciones" are: Napalpi, near Quetilipi in the Gobernacion del Chaco, 
which has more than 2,500 Indians, including Mocovi and a few 
Vilela; and the "colonia" Bartolome de las Casas, near Commandante 
Fontana, in Formosa, which was formed with 1,500 Toha and Pilagd. 
In 1935, two new "colonias," Francisco Javier Muiiiz and Florentine 
Ameghino, were created in the Territory of Formosa for the Pilagd. 

In winter most of the Indians of the Argentine Chaco seek work 
on the sugarcane plantations of Jujuy and Salta. These varied con- 
tacts with "civilization" are destroying the aboriginal cultures, and 
the native population is decreasing rapidly. 

The Mennonite colonies of the Paraguayan Chaco have always 
maintained friendly relations with the Indians, mainly with the 


Chaco Indians — iho. Mepene {Ahipon?) andthe-4.^as {Payagud) — 
are first mentioned in Luis Ramirez's (Medina, 1908 a, 1 : 453) account 
of Sebastian Cabot's expedition up the Parana River in 1527. But 
our most ancient authorities on the ethnography of Chaco natives are 
the German adventurer, Ulrich Schmidel (1903), who served as a 
mercenary under Pedro de Mendoza, Irala, and other conquistadors, 
and Pedro Hernandez (1852), the secretary of the Adelantado, Alvar 
Nunez Cabeza de Vaca. Sclmiidel lists, in a complicated German spell- 
ing, the names of a great many Indian tribes, some of which survived 
until the 18th century and even to the present. He also makes brief 
remarks about their appearance, their diet, and their ways of fighting. 
To Pedro Fernandez we owe a short but fairly accurate description 
of the ancient Guaicuru {Mhayd) and almost the only existing data 
on the cultures of the upper Paraguay River, which disappeared soon 
after the Conquest. 

Most of the oflBcial documents concerning the discovery of the Para- 
guay Basin contain references to Chaco tribes but tell us little if any- 
thing about their culture. The "Historia Argentina de las Provincias 
del Rio de la Plata," by Rui Diaz de Guzman ( 1914) , and the epic poem 
"La Argentina," by Barco Centenera (1836), add practically nothing 


to our knowledge of the early ethnogi-aphy of the region. The "Re- 
laciones geograficas de Indias" (1881-97), published by Marcos 
Jimenez de la Espada, have often been utilized to determine the posi- 
tion of the tribes of the western and central Chaco at the time of the 
discovery of the ancient Province of Tucuman. 

The "Cartas anuas de la Provincia del Paraguay," written by Jesuit 
missionaries and recently reprinted in Buenos Aires (1927-29), are 
a mine of information on the history, ethnic geography, and, in some 
measure, on the customs of the Chaco Indians. They cover the period 
from 1609 to 1637 and have been utilized by Nicolas del Techo in his 
"Historia Provinciae Paraquariae" (1673), which still is the funda- 
mental source on Chaco ethnography in the I7th century. Other 
Jesuit authors, such as Lozano and Charlevoix, also have based their 
documentation on the field reports of the Jesuit missionaries. 

The 18th century is the golden age of ethnological literature on the 
Chaco. During the first 50 years, the Jesuits took a firm hold in the 
Chaco and became familiar with its tribes. The triumphs and, sub- 
sequently, the expulsion of the Order from Paraguay provoked a gen- 
eral interest in everything pertaining to the region. To satisfy the 
public's curiosity, the Jesuits drew on their vast experience and pub- 
lished a great many works full of new and interesting details on the 
Indians. One of the masterpieces of the Jesuit period is Pedro 
Lozano's monumental "Descripcion chorografica del Gran Chaco Gua- 
lamba," published at Cordoba, Spain, in 1736 and reprinted in Tucu- 
man in 1941. Lozano's "Historia de la conquista del Paraguay, Rio de 
la Plata y Tucuman" (1873-74) and Francois Xavier Charlevoix's 
"Histoire du Paraguay" (1757) are essential sources on the history of 
the Chaco. Father Muriel (1918) covers the events from 1747 to 1767. 

One of the most famous monographs ever written on any South 
American tribe is Martin Dobrizhoffer's "Historia de Abiponibus, 
equestri, bellicosaque Paraquariae natione," Vienna, 1784, which was 
translated into German and English. In this book the author describes 
the life and customs of the Ahipon, a Guaicuruan tribe, among whom 
he lived from 1750 to 1762. Less known but almost as rich in detail are 
the memoirs of another German Jesuit, Florian Baucke (Paucke), but 
up to the present they have appeared only in abridged form (Kobler, 
"Pater Florian Baucke, Ein Jesuit in Paraguay" [1748-1766], Regens- 
burg, 1870). A Spanish version of the whole manuscript has been 
prepared in Argentina (Florian Paucke, "Hacia alia y para aca," 
Tucuman, 1942-43) . The value of Baucke's description is enhanced by 
his own drawings, which represent scenes of Mocovi life (Baucke, 

"El Paraguay Catolico," by the Jesuit Father Jose Sanchez Labra- 
dor, which was published only in 1910, must be placed on the same 


scientific level as Dobrizhoffer's masterpiece. The chapters dedicated 
to the Mhayd, among whom the author lived from 1760 to 1767, con- 
stitute one of the best and most truthful accounts of any South 
American tribe. 

Good but far too brief monographs, also written by Jesuit mis- 
sionaries, on southern Chaco groups complete the general picture of 
that region in the 18th century. To this latter group of documents 
belongs Father Joaquin Camaho y Bazan's description (1931) of the 
Lule-Vilela and other groups of the Pilcomayo and Bermejo Rivers. 
Some of these notes were published in recent years by Father G. Fur- 
long (1938 b and c, 1939, 1941) . The Jesuit Father Jose Jolis ("Saggio 
sulla storia naturale della Provincia del Gran Chaco," Faenza, 1789), 
composed a learned treatise on the geography and natural history of 
the Chaco which abounds in important details about the Indians. His 
map of the Chaco indicating the locations of native tribes is justly 

Jose Guevara's "Historia del Paraguay" (1908-10) has saved for 
posterity a few Mocovi myths. Hervas' classification of Chaco lan- 
guages (1800-1805) is based on Jesuit documents. Many of the data 
presented by Felix de Azara (1809 and 1904) come from the same 
source, but this famous naturalist and geographer, who was always hos- 
tile to the Indians, is not a reliable authority, though he still enjoys 
considerable prestige among scholars. The diary of Juan Francisco 
Aguirre, another Spanish officer who visited Paraguay at the begin- 
ning of the 19th century, supplements Azara's information, but his 
main contribution to the ethnography of the Chaco consists of word 
lists which have thrown some light on the linguistic classification and 
nomenclature of that area, and of an excellent description of the 
Payagud. Rodrigues do Prado (1839) and Ricardo Franco de 
Almeida Serra (1845), both Portuguese officers on Chaco outposts, 
have left us valuable reports on the Mhayd at the beginning of the 
19th century. Several chapters of the posthumous book by the Swiss 
naturalist, J. R. Rengger (1835), deal with the Chaco Indians, 
especially the Payagud^ whom the author knew at first hand. 

Several memoirs of Spanish officers who at the end of the 18th 
century explored the lower course of the Bermejo River allow us to 
locate accurately the Mataco^ Toha, and Vilela settlements of that 
region, but provide us with scant information on their ethnography. 
Most of these documents have been published by de Angelis in his well- 
known collection. 

During most of the 19th century, the ethnography of the Chaco 
suffered an eclipse, and students must content themselves with scat- 
tered references and short descriptions in travelers' diaries. Even 
the famous Alcide d'Orbigny (1835-47) and Castelnau (1850-59) 


offer little new on the region. The long report on the Franciscan 
missions in Bolivia written by Jose Cardus (1886) is especially impor- 
tant for the brief data it contains on the little-known tribes of the 
northern Chaco. 

New impetus was given to field research in the Chaco by the Italian 
painter and explorer, Guido Boggiani, who rediscovered the Chama- 
coco and studied the modern Mhayd {Caduveo) during the last decade 
of the 19th century. His vocabularies, monographs, and especially 
his "Guaicurii" (1898-99) and his "Compendio de etnografia para- 
guaya" (1900 b) contributed much to the clarification of Chaco eth- 
nography. The various "essays" of another Italian traveler of the 
same period, Giovanni Pelleschi (1881), are full of worth-while obser- 
vations on the Mataco. Excellent material on several tribes has been 
collected by Domenico del Campana (1902 a and b, 1903, 1913), who 
lived for many years in the Chaco. An article by Seymour Hawtrey 
(1901) on the Lengua is a much quoted source on these Indians. 

By far the best monograph on a single Chaco tribe is Barbrooke 
Grubb's "An Unknown People in an Unknown Land" (1913). This 
work, though superficial in many respects, is particularly useful for 
the light it throws on Indian psychology. Strangely enough, there 
is no modern detailed study of the total culture of a single Chaco 
tribe. On the other hand, several good sources may be consulted on 
the various aspects of culture, though some of them were intended to 
be a complete survey of a tribe's ethnography. 

Our best contemporary authorities on techniques, material appa- 
ratus, and economy are Nordenskiold (1912, 1919), Palavecino 
(1933 a), Rosen (1924), and Max Sclimidt (1903, 1937 a and b) ; on 
religion and mythology, Baldus (1931 a), Campana (1903, 1913), 
Lehmann-Nitsche (1923 b and c, 1924-25 a, b, c, d, and e), Karsten 
(1913, 1923. 1932), Metraux (1935, 1937, 1939, 1941), and Palavecino 
(1940). Data on social organization are difficult to obtain in modern 
literature and do not compare with those which can be gleaned from 
Dobrizhoffer or Sanchez Labrador. On this particular subject, Baldus 
(1931 a, 1937 a, 1939), Hay (1928), and Metraux (1937) may be 

Brinton (1898), Lafone-Quevedo (1893, 1894, 1895 a and b, 1896 a, 
b, and c, 1897 b, 1899) and Koch-Griinberg (1902 a, 1903 a) have laid 
the basis of the present linguistic grouping of Chaco tribes. The 
missionary E. Hunt (1913, 1915, 1937, 1940), has composed the 
most satisfactory grammers and vocabularies of modern Chaco 
languages. Large collections of Toha and Pilagd texts were made by 
Jules Henry and A. Metraux, but have not been published yet. Meas- 
urements of Chaco Indians have been taken by Lehmann-Nitsche 
(1904, 1908 b). Kersten (1905) is the author of a well-documented 


history of the Qiaco tribes during the I7th and 18th centuries. Father 
G. Furlong (1938 b and c, 1939, 1941) has undertaken the task of 
reconstructing the life of the ancient Jesuit missions in the Argentine 
Chaco. Enrique de Gandia (1929) has written a general history of 
the discovery and conquest of the Chaco by the Spaniards. To Jules 
Henry (1940) we owe two psychological essays on the Pilagd. 


Archeologically, the Chaco is still a terra incognita. Several im- 
portant finds have been made in regions which, though loosely con- 
sidered parts of the Chaco geographical area, cannot be included 
within it from a cultural or an historical point of view. 

fimile and Duncan Wagner have attached the label "Civilization 
of the Chaco santiagueno" to the painted pottery and other remains 
which they have collected in the Province of Santiago (Argentina). 
Judged from its ceramics, the "culture of Santiago del Estero" is but 
an offshoot of the Diaguita civilization and has little or nothing in 
common with that of the seminomadic Chaco tribes. 

There is no resemblance between modern Chaco ware and the pottery 
discovered by Nordenskiold (1902-03) and Boman (1908, 2:833-54) 
in the valley of the San Francisco and in the Sierra Santa Barbara 
on the threshold of the Chaco. On the other hand, the ceramics of 
eastern Jujuy show many analogies with urns and vases unearthed 
farther to the west in the plains of Tucuman and Salta, where once 
flourished a culture best represented by the finds of La Candelaria 
in the Province of Salta. (On this culture, see Handbook, vol. 2, pp. 
661-672.) The carriers of the La Candelaria civilization were un- 
doubtedly the Tonocote^ who have been identified, without reason, with 
the Chaco Lule. The ceramics from former Tonocote territory are 
distinct from that of the Diaguita area but typologically belong to the 
Andean sphere. 

Boman's hypothesis (1908, 1:255-79) that the funeral urns for 
adults found at El Carmen, Province of Salta, were evidence of an 
early Guarani invasion into the northwest of the Argentine has long 
been discarded. The interment of adults in urns is also a characteris- 
tic feature of the La Candelaria culture. 

Only insignificant archeological material has come from the Chaco 
proper. Grubb (1913, p. 73) alludes to potsherds "bearing scorings, 
as if made by the pressure of the thumb," which could be found now 
and then in the territory of the Lengua. A large jar, 4 feet (1.25 m.) 
high, was unearthed at the Lengua mission of Makthlawaiya (Pride, 
1926). Both the sherds and the jar appear to be of Guarani origin — 
a confirmation of early statements about sporadic Guarani infiltra- 
tions into the Chaco. 


Marquez Miranda (1942) has described in great detail some pot- 
sherds from Las Lomitas (Territory of Formosa, Argentina) which, 
though discovered deep in the earth, do not differ from modern Chaco 
pottery. Even fingernail impressions, which occur on one fragment, 
cannot be considered a feature unknown to modern Mataco who live in 
the same region. 

Boggiani (1900 b, p. 90) mentions important shell mounds at 
Puerto 14 de Mayo and at several other points along the upper Para- 
guay River. These mounds contained potsherds with a decoration 
similar to that of modern Mhayd-Oaduveo. Vellard (1934, p. 45) re- 
ports that funeral urns have been found in great quantity in a ceme- 
tery near Puerto Guarani. 


Culturally as well as ecologically, the Chaco is a transitional zone 
between the tropical plains of the Amazon Basin and the barren pam- 
pas of the Argentine. Along its western border it was widely open to 
influences from the Andean world, and in the east it abutted on a sub- 
tropical region inhabited by Guarani tribes, both numerous and 

Cultural streams from all these quarters converged in the Chaco 
and mingled to produce a new type of civilization. The influences of 
the Andean people, which are the most important and easily discernible, 
will be discussed first. 

The 16th-century conquistadors looted silver ornaments from the 
Guaicurii, and their frequent allusions to gold, silver, and copper 
objects in Paraguay leave no doubt as to the existence of aboriginal 
trade routes across the Chaco forests. Moreover, several passages in 
old documents refer to active commercial relations between the Indians 
of the mountains and their neighbors of the plains. The Indians of 
the Calchaqui Valley organized peaceful expeditions to the Chaco to 
get wood for their bow staves. Chaco Indians in turn came to the border 
villages of the Inca Empire to barter deer and wildcat skins and rhea 
and egret feathers. It also is likely that Chaco bands worked for the 
Tonocote and Ocloya farmers just as they now come to the sugar fac- 
tories of Salta and Jujuy. Even today the Tapiete hire themselves to 
the CJiiriguano in return for supplies of maize. 

These frequent contacts contributed to the diffusion of the following 
Andean culture traits listed by Nordenskiold : Spades, knuckle dusters, 
clubs with outstanding heads, slings, wooden knives, toothed wooden 
scrapers, feather fire fans, wooden bowls, wooden spoons, ponchos, 
shirts, woven girdles, sandals, netted hoods, spangles of shell beads, 
woven brow bands, wooden combs, earthen vessels carried by a string, 
games of chance, the tsuka game, drums with skin heads, kelim tech- 


nique with open slits, tie-dyeing, long wooden whistles, eyed needles, 
handles on earthen vessels, lids on calabashes, pyrograving, sewing of 
cracked calabashes, and knitting technique. 

The Andean origin of several of Nordenskiold's traits is very doubt- 
ful. For instance, nothing indicates that the so-called knuckle dusters 
of the Calchaqui region were used like the leather rings of belligerent 
Chaco housewives. Chaco clubs cannot be compared to the composite 
clubs of the Inca. The Chaco caraguata shirt is typologically and 
technically different from the Andean camiseta. Calabashes with lids 
or with sewed cracks are so widespread in South America that they 
cannot be assigned to Peruvian influence. It seems only natural that 
a people without basketry should fan their fires with feathers. The 
poncho is probably post-Columbian in Peru, and in the Chaco is men- 
tioned for the first time in the 18th century as a garment borrowed 
from the Creoles. Wooden whistles both of the long and the round 
types may have originated in the Andes but have never been found 

By limiting himself to such atomistic trait lists, Nordenskiold 
neglected to stress more decisive proofs of Peruvian influence. That 
knowledge of agriculture probably came from the Andean region can 
be inferred from the fact that men rather than women till the soil and 
that they use the shovel rather than the digging stick. The patterns 
on Chaco textiles are clearly related to those of the Andes. The deco- 
ration on Mhayd-Cadimeo pottery presents obvious analogies with 
Peruvian motifs, even perhaps with the early art of Chavin. Chaco 
mythology has several themes in common with Quecliua and Aymara 
folklore. The theory which assigns disease to soul-loss is perhaps 
characteristic of western South America,^ and it never has succeeded 
in eliminating the more ancient Chaco belief that the magic intrusion 
of foreign substances in the body causes sickness. 

The role of the Arawakan Chane {Guana) in spreading Andean cul- 
ture must have been considerable. In the west they formed a buffer be- 
tween the Chaco tribes and the people of the foothills of the Andes. 
All the objects which originated in the Andes and which were adopted 
by Chaco Indians occur also among the CJmne. Even the Chiriguano^ 
who replaced them in the 16th century, exercised no little influence 
on their immediate neighbors, the Tapiete, Choroti^ and Tola. 

Along their northern and eastern borders the Chaco tribes were 
in direct contact with representatives of the two main tropical linguis- 
tic groups, the Arawak and the G-uarani. The Guana (or Chane) ^ 
who occupied the Chaco from lat., 22° S., belonged to the same 
group as the western Chane, but their culture had been less modified 

^ The soul-loss theory seems more widely sijread in tropical South America than our 
sources indicate. 


by influences from the Andean area. Techniques which can be spe- 
cifically assigned to AraioaJc or Guarani influences are surprisingly 
few. They include: The loom, the hammock (here used as a cradle), 
some types of nets, the feather ornaments of the Mhayd and Chama- 
coco^ the use of urucii, basketry among the Mhayd, the baby sling, 
and the shuttlecock of maize leaves. The cultivation of sweet manioc 
may also be the result of contact with the Guarani or the Arawak. 
Chaco arrows are typologically identical to those used throughout 
tropical America, but the feathering — a subvariety of the cemented 
type — is distinctive for the area. Chaco carrying nets are made of 
the same material and with the same techniques as those of the Boto- 
cudo, PuA-Ooroado, and Camacan^ but the net industry in the latter 
tribes is one of the features which sets them apart within the tropical 
forest culture area. 

The religious beliefs and shamanistic practices of the Chaco Indians 
do not differ markedly from those of the Amazonian basin. The ini- 
tiation rites of the Chainacoco must be linked with those of the Ona 
and of the Yahgan^ but have a great many features in common with 
the ceremonies of several tropical tribes, in particular those of their 
Guana neighbors. It will probably remain undetermined whether 
the ceremonial terrorization of women by mummers is a late acquisi- 
tion from some tropical tribes (i. e., Arawak) or the survival of an- 
cient rites once known to the Chaco and Fuegian tribes. Gusinde 
favors the former hypothesis. 

The impact of White civilization during the past 300 years has also 
modified Chaco culture in many respects. The deep changes brought 
about by the horse have been mentioned. Most of the tribes have 
received sheep, goats, cattle, and dogs. Wealth in sheep favored the 
development of weaving, which became one of the main industries. 
Woolen garments replaced the former skin clothing. The Chaco In- 
dians have received the following traits from the Whites: Tinder 
boxes for flint and steel, clarinets of cow horn, knitting with needles, 
certain folk-tale motifs, decorative patterns (on Gaduveo pottery). 
They also have adopted new plants, such as caha de Castilla {Arundo 
donax), watermelons, sugarcane, and others. Nordenskiold (1919, p. 
232) makes an interesting observation about White influence: 

The positive influence of White culture is, generally speaking, greater in those 
parts where the Indians live far away from the Whites, than in those where 
they live in direct dependence under the White man. Thus the Ashluslay, who 
have preserved their independence, carry on ranching on a large scale, while 
some Mataco tribes, almost entirely dependent, have no cattle at all. Up to 
quite recent times, the Ashluslay were in the happy position of being able to 
derive advantages from the Whites without falling into irretrievable poverty. 

The Chaco Indians share several culture traits with the tribes of 
Patagonia. According to Nordenskiold, these are: Skin mats, bow- 
strings of leather, bows without notches at the ends, cloaks of several 


skins sewn together, skin skirts, leather girdles, hairbrushes, bags 
made of ostrich (rliea) necks, bags made of the whole skin of a small 
animal, hockey, and twisting of skin thongs. We may add : moccasins, 
decorative pattern on skin cloaks, harpoons with barbed heads {Mo- 
covi), and bolas {Mocovi, Abipon, Lengim). 

However, it is rather by their general type of life that the Chaco 
Indians resemble the southern tribes, and the analogies with them 
grow as one goes from the northern Chaco to the south. It is, for 
instance, difficult to distinguish the Mocovi from the Gharrua. 

In some remote past before they came in touch with the people of 
the Andes or with the Arawak and Guarani tribes to the north and 
east, the Chaco Indians were nomadic collectors, fishermen, and hunt- 
ers. They dressed in painted skin cloaks and lived in flimsy com- 
munal houses. They had neither basketry nor weaving, but excelled 
in making netted bags. They were grouped in small bands formed 
by a few extended families ; their religious practices consisted mainly 
of magic rites which aimed at expelling or controlling evil spirits. 
Their shamans derived their power from familiar spirits after a vol- 
untary quest. They celebrated puberty rites for girls and in some, 
if not all the tribes, initiation ceremonies for boys. 

Several of the parallels between the cultures of the North and South 
American Indians tend to cluster in the Chaco. According to Norden- 
skiold (1931, pp. 77-94), these are: Pit dwellings (?), houses with 
porches (?), skin cloaks, skin skirts, fringed skin belts, leggings, 
moccasins, embroidery on skins, arrows fastened with fish glue 
(Vilela), arrow quivers (Ahipon, Mocovi), hair brushes, scalping, 
smoke signaling, dancing with deer-hoof rattles, hockey game, ring- 
and-pin game, and monitor pipes. Thus of 35 parallels enumerated by 
Nordenskiold, 17 occur in the Chaco. It must be stressed that most 
of these traits are very minor ones, and there is no need to attribute 
their existence to survivals. The Chaco use of skins for clothing has 
naturally brought about secondary features which are also found 
among North American tribes who wore skin garments. The small 
porch which the Indians sometimes build against the wind cannot be 
construed as a parallel to the entrances of the Eskimo snow huts. The 
arrow quiver of the Mocovi and Ahipon is probably a local develop- 
ment, because if it were ancient it would have been more widespread 
throughout the Chaco. The same is true of the fish-glued arrows of 
the Vilela. The Pilagd and Toha moccasins are not true footgear, but 
are only an improvised protection for the feet when the Indians cross 
a thorny terrain or wade in the marshes. Not unlikely, they are a 
recent crude imitation of European shoes. 

Analogies between Chaco mythology and North American folklore 
are, however, more striking than the few similarities in material 
culture. It is probable that, together with the Fuegian and Pata- 


gonial! tribes, the Cliaco Indians represent an ancient population who, 
until recently, have preserved several features of a very archaic 
culture, which in remote ages might have been common to primitive 
tribes of both North and South America. 


The Guaicuruan was the most extensive linguistic family in the 
Chaco. Its dialects were spoken from Santa Fe in the Argentine to 
Corumba in Brazil, and from the Parana and Paraguay Rivers to the 
Andes. Before the Conquest, the bulk of the warlike tribes belonging 
to this family were concentrated between the Pilcomayo and Bermejo 
Rivers and along the Paraguay River beyond lat. 20° S. The Guai- 
curu expansion throughout the Chaco and into Paraguay took place 
during the 17th and 18th centuries and resulted partly from their 
acquisition of the horse. 

The affinities between the various dialects of this family are very 
close, and were noticed by the Jesuits. In modern times Lafone- 
Quevedo (1893, 1896 c, 1896 d), Adam (1899), and Koch-Griinberg 
(1903 b) established their relationship on a scientific basis. The 
tribes whose inclusion in the family is beyond doubt are the AMpon, 
Mocovi, Toha, Pilagd, Payagud, and Mhayd. The affiliation of the 
Guachi is doubtful. The only existing GiuacM vocabulary was col- 
lected by Castelnau in 1850 and shows unmistakable relations with 
Mhayd, but it also has many differences which suggest that the Guachi^ 
who are said to have spoken a language of their own, had recently 
adopted the tongue of the Mhayd, with whom they maintained friendly 
contacts and with whom they finally merged. 

The relationship of the Aguilot and Cocolot languages to the Gvxii- 
cMruan family is postulated on historical, not linguistic, evidence. 

The only modern representatives of the Giudcuruan family are the 
Toha, Pilagd, a few Caduveo, and perhaps some Mocovi. 

The name Guaicuru seems to have been applied by the Guarani to 
the warlike and half nomadic Indians on the western side of the 
Paraguay River, most of whom in the 16th and 17th centuries be- 
longed to the Mhayd tribe. Guaicuru and Mhayd may, therefore, be 
considered as synonyms, even though the former name may have 
been given to some Indians of the Mascoian or Matacoan families, e. g., 
the Lengua, Macd, and others. (See Boggiani, 1898-99.) There is 
no evidence to substantiate Azara's contention that there existed a 
separate Guaicuru tribe which became extinct at the end of the 18th 


According to Spanish sources (Lozano, 1941, p. 62), the Indians 
known as Guaicuru were divided into three subgroups : 

(1) The Codollate (Codalodi, Taquiyiqui), who were gathered into the short- 
lived mission of Santos Reyes Magos and later were destroyed by the eastern 
Mbayd, who absorbed their remnants (see Sanchez Labrador, 1910-17, 1:262) ; 
(2) the GuaicuruU {Napipinyiqui, Napiyegi), an unidentified western Mbayd 
group who were also absorbed by the eastern Mbayd; and (3) the Guaicuru-giiazu 
{Eyiguayegui) , who were the Mbayd proper, because Eyiguayegui ("the inhabi- 
tants of the palm groves") was the generic name for all Mbayd subtribes and 
bands both east and west of the Paraguay River. 

The Frentones of the lower and middle Bermejo River, so named 
because of their shaved foreheads, can easily be identified with the 
historical Toba and Ahipon.'^ The Jesuit missionaries Barzana and 
Afiasco, made the first, but unsuccessful, attempt to convert them in 
1591. The term Frentones disappeared from the literature after the 
destruction of Concepcion del Bermejo by these Indians in 1632. 

Mbaya {Guaicuru, Tajuanich, Guaiquilet, Indios C avalheiros) . — 
The southernmost bands of the Mhayd were undoubtedly the Guaicuru^ 
who lived across the Paraguay Eiver from Asuncion and who were 
defeated by Alvar Nuiiez Cabeza de Vaca in 1542. The Guaicuru 
(Codollate) of the mission of Santos Reyes Magos were one of their 
bands. In the 16th century, the Mhayd extended along the western 
side of the Paraguay River from the mouth of the Pilcomayo River 
far beyond lat. 20° S. 

History of the Mbayd. — On his journey across the Chaco, Domingo de Irala 
found the Mbayd 70 miles west of Cerro San Fernando (Pao de Azucar), beyond 
another tribe called Naperu (Guandf). The Mbayd at first received the Span- 
iards in a friendly way, but soon turned against them. The Spaniards took 
revenge by slaughtering another Mbayd group which was completely innocent 
of the attack. 

The hostilities between the Mbayd and the Spaniards of Paraguay started in 
1653. About 1661, the Mbayd crossed the Paraguay River, attacked the Province 
of Itati and destroyed the mission of Santa Maria de Fe (lat. 20°5' S.) After 
laying waste Xerez, most of the Mbayd returned to the Chaco, but some bands 
remained in the conquered region. In the following decades, the areas between 
the Jejuy River in the south and the Tacuary River and the Xarayes marshes 
in the north fell into their hands. From there, they constantly raided the 
towns and missions of Paraguay and, on several occasions, threatened Asuncion. 
It was not until about 1744 that Rafael de la Moneda, Governor of Paraguay, 
was able to organize effective resistance against these Indians. Howevex*, in 1751 
the Mbayd destroyed the town of CuruquatI, killing a large part of its popula- 
tion. The eastern and southern Mbayd made peace with the Spaniards in 1756 
and renewed their treaty in 1774. Western Mbayd pushed also toward the 
north and assaulted the Christianized Chiquito. They continued their raids 
long after the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767. 

*Even in recent years, the Pilagd, like their Guaicuruan ancestors, depilated the fore- 


In the beginning of the 18th century, some Mbayd bands allied themselves 
with the Payagud. Changing from horsemen into boatmen and river pirates, 
they ambushed miners and colonists as they sailed from Sao Paulo to Matto 
Grosso on the Tacuary, Paraguay, and Cuyabti Rivers. On several occasions 
they attacked large expeditions and slaughtered several hundred persons. (For 
a detailed account of these assaults, see Rodrigues do Prado, 1839, pp. 41-44.) 

The punitive expedition of Rodrigues de Carvalho in 1734 did not prevent 
the Mbayd from making the territory along the Cuyabd River dangerous for 
many more years. Their striking power declined after 1768, when their alliance 
with the Payagud was broken, but they continued to raid the Portuguese ; some 
of their war parties went as far as lat. 16° 3' S. on the Paraguay River and 
others reached the IguatemI, a tributary of the Parana River. In 1775, the 
Mbayd destroyed a few farms near Villa Maria (lat. 16°3' S.). 

Military posts were established both by Spaniards and by Portuguese at Fuerte 
Olimpo or Bourbon (1772) , at San Carlos on the Apa River, at Nova Coimbra, and 
at Albuquerque. These kept the Mbayd at bay, though in 1778 the Mbayd slaugh- 
tered part of the garrison of Nova Coimbra. In less than a century they are said 
to have killed about 4,000 Portuguese. 

Toward the end of the 18th century, several Mbayd groups, hard-pressed by the 
Spaniards, settled near Albuquerque in Portuguese territory. Those of the Mon- 
dego River put themselves under Portuguese protection at Miranda. In 1791 the 
Mbayd made formal peace with the Portuguese and thenceforth ceased their 
attacks, even helping them in their fights against the Spaniards. 

At the beginning of the 19th century, many Mbayd moved to the region south 
of the heights of Albuquerque (Coimbra) because its prairies remained dry 
during the rainy season. There they found pastures for their horses, abundant 
game which was driven in by the flood, and, in the swamps, innumerable fish and 
caimans. They moved their camps according to the annual rise and recession 
of the flood. 

For many years the Mbayd used the rivalry between the Portuguese and Span- 
iards to obtain favors from both. The Portuguese, and later the Brazilians, 
recognizing the value of their allegiance, won them over by generous gifts of 
weapons, tools, and food, and later established regular commercial relations with 
them. The Mbayd traded skins and pottery for manufactured goods, and their 
chiefs received honorary commissions in the Brazilian Army. At the beginning 
of the 19th century the Mbayd renewed their hostilities against the Para- 
guayans.* During the dictatorship of Francia (1814r-40), they attacked the De- 
partment and city of San Salvador and even threatened Concepcion. The dic- 
tator, Lopez, built a chain of forts along the Apa River to bar their inroads. The 
Mbayd-Caduveo fought with the Brazilians in the Paraguayan war and raided the 
region of the Apa River, destroying the town of San Salvador. 

3 According to Rengger (1835, pp. 335-340), the Mhayd lived for a long time between the 
Aquidaban-mi and the Apa Rivers, maintaining good relations with the Paraguayans. But 
as a result of an outrage which they suffered at the hands of an ofiicer of Fuerte Olimpo, 
they resumed their war against the Paraguayans and forced them to evacuate all the 
region north of the Aquidaban-mi River. They again made peace, and some groups settled 
with their Ouand vassals on the Cangata River and near Villa-Real. Shortly afterward, 
hostilities broke out once more and the new Mhayd settlements were destroyed. Francia 
then established outposts on the Aquidaban-mi River, but in 1818 the Mhayd forced the 
Paraguayans to evacuate Tevego, 40 leagues from ConcepciCn. After this victory they 
suffered only reverses at the hands of the Paraguayans, who were now familiar with their 
tactics, and put strong garrisons in the forts of San Carlos and Olimpo and stopped their 


Until recently, the Mbayd occasionally raided other Indian tribes to capture 
slaves. Some of their war parties went as far as the upper Parana River region, 
vehere they kidnapped Caingud and Caingang ; other expeditions were directed 
against the Chaviacoco in the Chaco. Today their last remnants in the region 
of the Nabileque River are being rapidly assimilated into the Neo-Brazilian 

Christianization of the Mbayd.— In 1609 Fathers Vicente Grifi and Roque Gon- 
zalez de Santa Cruz settled among a Mbayd band that lived opposite Asuncion, 
on the Guazutinga River, and were instrumental in creating friendly relations 
between the Indians and the Spaniards. The mission of Santos Reyes Magos, 
dedicated in 1615, throve under Fathers Pedro Romero and Antonio Moranta, 
but several smallpox epidemics caused its rapid decline until, in 1626, it 

The Jesuits, who had never given up the hope of Christianizing the Mbayd, 
endeavored in 1760 to convert those who had invaded Paraguay. In the same 
year Father Jose SSnchez Labrador founded the mission of Nuestra Senora de 
Belen, at the mouth of the Ypane River. Science is indebted to him for a very 
detailed account of his work among the Mbayd, with a full description of their 
culture. The mission was abandoned soon after the expulsion of the Jesuits. 

Popxilation of the Mbayd. — The Mbayd bands against which Alvar Nuiiez 
Cabeza de Vaca fought were said to consist of 4,000 warriors. Schmidel put the 
Mbayd army at 20,000! He said that in one village the Spaniards slaughtered 
3,000 Mbayd. These figures are, of course, grossly exaggerated. A Jesuit docu- 
ment of 1612 puts the Ouaicuru who lived opposite Asuncion at 1,200 (Gandia, 
1929, p. 146). Sanchez Labrador (1910-17, 2: 31), who had first-hand knowledge 
of all the Mbayd bands, estimated their total number at 7,000 to 8,000. Azara 
(1904, p. 376) sets the number of "pure" Mbayd at about 2,000. In 1803, 2,000 
Indians in the region of Coimbra and Miranda were reckoned as "Ouaicuru," but 
600 of them were Guand and 400 were CJiamacoco slaves. In the middle of the 
19th century there were 3,600 Indians near Albuquerque in three villages, of which 
only one was inhabited by Mbayd (the Ouatiadeo band). There were probably 
500 other Mbayd near Miranda. 

Subdivisions of the Mhayd. — The Mhayd were split into subtribes, 
which in turn were subdivided into bands, each with its own chief. 
These subgroups shifted during the 18th and 19th centuries. Their 
names generally were derived from some salient feature of their habi- 
tat, e. g., the Mhayd who settled in a region where the rhea abounded 
were named the People of the Rhea Country [Apacachodegodegi) , the 
Guetiadegodi were the People of the Mountains, and the Lichagotegodi 
were the People of the Eed Earth. 

In the middle of the 18th century, the Mbayd bands extended in the basin of 
the Paraguay River from the Jejuy River (lat. 24° S.) to lat. 20° S. on the east 
side, and from lat. 21° S. to lat. 18° S. on the west side. The Mbayd subtribes 
still inhabiting the Chaco around 1767 were the Cadiguegodl and the Ouetiadegodi. 

The Cadiguegodl {Catiguebo, Catibebo, Cadiguelguo) are repi'esented by the 
Caduveo of the Nabileque River, the only Mbayd group still in existence. In the 
middle of the ISth century, the Cadiguegodl were split into two large bands, hav- 
ing one name but two chiefs. About 1800 two Caduveo bands, with a total of 800 
to 1,000 men, still lived in the Chaco near Fuerte Olimpo (lat. 21 °5' S.). Two 
other bands had migrated to the east side of the Paraguay River, one (500 people) 


living between the Apa and Ypan6 Rivers, and the other (300 people) near the 
range of the Nogona and Nebatena hills (lat. 21° S.). A few years later, the two 
Caduveo bands of Fuerte Olimpo, which numbered 30O and 380 respectively, set- 
tled near Coimbra in the Matte Grosso. 

During the 19th century, the Caduveo ranged between the Rio Branco and the 
Miranda River, but the local ranchers seized part of their territory and made 
several attempts to exterminate them. At the beginning of the 20th century, the 
Caduveo were granted full possession of an area bounded on the north by the 
Nabileque River, on the west by the Paraguay River, on the south by the Aquidau- 
ana River, and on the east by the Serra Bodoquena and by the Niutaque River, 
a tributary of the Nabileque River. In 1937 the last Caduveo, totaling about 150, 
were divided among three settlements, the most important of which is Nalique. 
They are gradually being assimilated into the Brazilian rural population. 

In the 18th century, the Ouetiadegodi (Oueteadeguo, Ouatiadeo, Vatadeo, 
Ouaitiadeho, Ua-teo-te-uo, Oleo), or "Bush Dwellers," were the northernmost 
Mbayd subgroup in the Ohaco, Their territory was somewhat to the east of the 
Chiquito mission of Sagrado Corazon, on the Mandiy River. They often molested 
the Chiquito converts, who defeated them in 1763 and took a great many prisoners 
to the missions. In 1766 a Ouetiadegodi band seceded to form an independent 
band under their former chief's brother. Aguirre (1911, p. 312) places them in 
1793 at lat. 20°30' S., east of the Paraguay River. They numbered about 500, 
and were then living on the banks of the Paraguay River, having abandoned 
their equestrian existence to become boatmen and fishermen. In the middle of 
the 19th century, their remaining groups had settled as farmers near Albuquerque. 

The Apacachodegodegi (Apacachodeguo, Apacatchudeho, Pacajicdeus, Apaca- 
tsche-e-tuo) roamed from the Jejuy River to the Apa River, but generally camped 
either near the AquidabAn-mi River or the Apa River. Until 1760 they fre- 
quently returned to their former habitat in the Chaco. These Indians were also 
called Mhayd-mirim (Small Mbayd) to distinguish them from the Mhayd-guazu 
(Large Mbayd) of the Chaco, and Belenistas because the mission of Nuestra 
Sefiora de Belen was founded among them. In 1793 they numbered about 600, 
and consisted of 7 small bands under a supreme chief. Today they have entirely 

The Lichagotegodi (Ichagoteguo, Xaguet^o, Chagoteo), or "People of the Red 
Earth," were concentrated in the region of the lower Apa River (lat. 22° or 21°30' 
S.) somewhat west of the Apacachodegodegi and south of the Pao de Azucar. 
When they were missionized between 17(59 and 1774, they numbered about 400. 

The Eyibogodegl (Echigueguo, Tchigueio, Edj^ho, Ejueo, Enacaga), or the 
"Hidden Ones," had one of their main camps near the Rio Branco, northeast of 
Pao de Azucar. This group, the largest Mbayd subtribe, consisted of three bauds. 
In the middle of the 19th century, they were established near Albuquerque. 

The Gotocogegodegi (Ouocotegodi, Ocotegueguo, Cotogudeo, Cotogeho, Cutugueo, 
Venteguebo) , or "Those of the Arrows Region," were a small group east of the 
Eyibogodegi in the hills at the headwaters of the Rio Branco. In 1793, they 
totalled about 200. 

The Beutuebo (between lat. 21 ° and 20°40' S.) mentioned by Azara (1809, 2 : 104) 
are the same as the Beauquiechos of Castelnau (1850-59, 2: 479) who had lived 
near the Paraguayan border and later migrated to Miranda. 

Abipon (Mepene, Ecusgina, Callagaic, Qmahanaite, Frentones) . — 
Azara (1809, 2:164) and Kersten (1905, p. 32) identify the Mepene 
(Mapenuss, Mapeni, Mepone), a tribe of river pirates described by 
Schmidel (1903, p. 164), with the historical Abipon, whose name 


appears in the literature at the beginning of the I7th century. The 
Mepene lived somewhat to the south of the mouth of the Bermejo 
River in a region which, in the 17th and 18th centuries, was occupied 
by the Abipon. At that time the Ahipon were not concerned with navi- 
gation, and nothing but a vague analogy in their respective names 
indicates a possible relationship between these two tribes. However, 
the name of one of the three Ahipon subgroups, the Tacukanigd 
(Water People), suggests that they may once have been canoe Indians 
and therefore identical with the Mepene. The Yaaukanigd were not 
originally an Abipon subtribe and even spoke a different language. It 
was only in the 17th century, after they had been defeated by the 
Spaniards, that the Yaaukanigd attached themselves to the Abipon 
and adopted their language. 

The name CaUagaic or Callagd,, given to the Abipon by the Toba 
and Mocovi, had no connection with the name GuJgaissen, which desig- 
nated a tribe more to the south. 

History of the AMpdn. — The original habitat of the AUp6n was along the 
northern banks of the lower Bermejo River, Their expansion toward the south 
began In the 17th century after they had acquired the horse either from Spanish 
ranchers or from the CalchaquL The Abipdn first attacked the Matard, whom 
they obliged to migrate from the Bermejo River toward the Province of Santiago 
del Estero. According to Lozano (1941, p. 97), they helped the Calchaqul* when 
the latter, who had been deported or had migrated from the Calchaqul Valley 
(Salta), arose to regain their liberty. In the beginning of the 18th century, the 
AUpdn fought against the same Calchaqul, who had settled north of Santa F6, 
until the smallpox epidemic of 1718 almost wiped them out. Then the AMpdn, no 
longer hampered by their rivals, turned against the Spanish settlements of 
Santa F6. 

In the first half of the 18th century, the Abipdn, together with Mocovi and 
Toba, ranged over a vast area bounded on the north by the middle and lower 
course of the Bermejo River, on the east by the Parana River, on the south 
by the Spanish settlements of Santa F6 and on the west by those of C6sdoba 
and Santiago del Estero. Here the Abipdn were continually moving from place 
to place. DobrizhofEer (178i, 2:4) writes, "The Abipoues imitate skillful chess- 
players. After committing slaughter in the southern colonies of the Spaniards, 
they retire far northwards, afflict the city of Asuncion with murders and rapine, 
and then hurry back to the south. If they have committed hostilities against 
the towns of the Guaranies, or the city of Corrientes, they betake themselves 
to the west. But if the territories of Santiago or Cordoba have been the objects 
of their fury, they cunningly conceal themselves in the marshes, islands, and 
reedy places of the river Parana," In 1751, a party of Abipon entered the city 
of Santa Fe, killing and looting. 

* In 1665 Alonso de Mercado y Villacorta deported the Indians of the Calchaquf Valley 
to Buenos Aires. Lozano (1941, p. 96) states that these Calchaqul were different from 
those who lived on "ecomiendas" in the region of the Bermejo River. According to Del 
Techo and Lozano, Calchaqui had migrated into the Chaco to escape the oppression of the 
Spaniards. These refugees may have been those who rose against the Spaniards and 
formed an independent tribe north of Santa F6 about 1640. Two groups of Calchaqui 
near Santa F6 were the Tocaque and the Colastin6. 


The first missionaries to visit the Abipon were the Jesuit Fathers Juan Fonte 
and Francisco de Angulo, who in 1591 baptized the children in the bands living 
near Coucepcion on the Bermejo River. In 1593 Fathers Alouso de Barzana and 
Pedro de Anasco were sent to convert the Matard and the Gualcurnan tribes of 
the same region. Their missionary work lasted only 2 years and produced few 
results. However, Barzana found time to write a grammar and a vocabulary 
of the Abipon language. In 1641 Fathers Juan Pastor and Caspar Arqueyra 
made a brief sojourn amnog the AUpdn of the Bermejo River. 

The example of the Mocovi who had accepted Jesuit missionaries facilitated 
the conclusion of a peace treaty between the Spaniards and some of the Alipon 
bands. In 1748 the Jesuits founded the Alipoyi mission of San Jeronimo, which 
today is the prosperous city of Reconquista. The mission of Concepcion was 
established in 1749 on the Inespin River and was later transferred to the junc- 
tion of the Rio Dulce with the Rio Salado. San Fernando was built in 1750 on 
the Rio Negro at the place of the present city of Resistencia. Timbo, or Rosario, 
on the Paraguay River (lat. 2G°32' S., long. 58°17' W.), was inaugurated in 1763. 
The missionized AMp6n were constantly harassed by the Toba and Mocovi. 

The history of the Ahipdn after the expulsion of the Jesuits is somewhat con- 
fused. For many years they waged war against the ToM and Alocov-i, who de- 
stroyed the missions of San Fernando and Timbo. In 1770 the Abipon of San 
Jeronimo and some other bands migrated to the eastern side of the Paranfi 
River, at Las Garzas and Goya, to escape the inroads of the Toba and Mocovi. 
Some of the Abipon who had settled on the left bank of the Parana River joined 
bands of marauders who were raiding the farms around Corrientes, Goya, and 
Vajada. Abipon warriors served under the famous leader, Artigas. 

Little is known about the fate of the Abipon bands who even before the expul- 
sion of the Jesuits had returned to the bush. Some of them tried to settle on 
their former territory on the Bermejo River, which had been occupied by the 
Toba and Mocovi. Rengger (1835, p. 343) speaks of constant skirmishes in 
which the Abijidn, Mocovi, and Toba fought Paraguayan outposts. But, in spite 
of the continuous warfare along the frontier, the Abipo^i used to visit Asuncion 
to dispose of the cattle stolen in the south. The advance of the military posts 
in the Chaco during the 19th century restricted their hunting grounds and made 
life more difficult for them, forcing numerous bands into submission. Many 
Abipon were slaughtered and others were absorbed into the Creole population. 
In 1858 there were still some Abip67i in a reduction called Sauce, between Santa 
Fe and Cordoba (Lafone-Quevedo, 1S96 d, p. 59). It is not altogether impossible 
that some more or less pureblooded Abip6n may still be found in the Chaco 

Population of the Abipdn. — About 1750 the Abipon tribe consisted of three 
large subgroups: The Nakaigctergeh^ (Forest People), the RiilcaM (People of 
the Open Country), and the Yaaukaniyd (Water People). According to Dobriz- 
hotfer (1784, 2:106), the whole tribe numbered about 5,000. The population 
decreased rapidly after contact with the Spaniards. In 1767 there were 2,000 
Abipdn distributed in the four Jesuit missions, 

Mocovi {3Iocohi, 3fosobiae, Mogosnae, Ajnokehif, Frentones). — 
The original liome of the Mocovi was probably the plains between the 
upper Bermejo Kiver and the Kio Salado, near the Tola., their close 
relatives and frequent allies. 

In the 17th century they are frequently listed among the "wild Indians" who 
roamed along the borders of the Province of Tucuman. At the beginning of the 


17th century, when the Abipon acquired horses, the Mocovi showed signs of un- 
rest. They participated in the destruction of Concepcion on the Bermejo River 
(1632), and their raids threatened the settlers of Esteco (1662), Tucuman, Salta 
(1700), Santiago del Estero, and Cordoba. Parties of Mocovi or Abipon forced 
the inhabitants of the first Santa F6 to move their city in 1662 to its present 
location. The Moconl were probably responsible for the flights of the Lnle and 
of the Malbald toward the Spanish frontier. 

Pushed westward by the Esteban Urizar expedition (1710), the Mocovi raided 
toward the east and the south. They repeatedly attacked Santa F6 or its 
surroundings. Although the governor of Santa F6, Francisco Javier de Echagiie 
y Andia, made peace with them in 1743, these marauding bands continued their 
depredations. In the same year, a Jesuit, Francisco Burges, gathered a few 
Mocovi in a mission dedicated to San Francisco Xavier. He was succeeded by 
Father Florian Baucke, who wrote a detailed account of his experiences among 
the Mocovi. The establishment prospered and its population was increased by 
several bands under their respective chiefs. The Jesuits provided the Indians 
with cattle and made great efforts to turn them into sedentary agriculturists. 
Another Mocovi mission, San Pedro, was founded in 1765 on the Ispin-chico River, 
a tributary of the Saladillo River. Several Mocovi bands were gathered by the 
Franciscans in the mission of Nuestra Seiiora de los Dolores y Santiago de La- 
cangaye on the Bermejo River (1780). 

In the middle of the 18th century, the total number of Mocovi was estimated 
to be two to three thousand. A popular chief was able to assemble a band 
numbering as many as 600 people. After the Jesuit expulsion in 1767, the two 
missions declined rapidly, but in 178-5 San Xavier still had 1,049 Indians and 
San Pedro 638. 

During the last part of the 18th century, the Mocovi of the missions were 
often at war with the Abipon of San Jeronimo, and these tribes attacked each 
other's villages. The White settlers were not spared, and the Province of Santa 
Fe was again exposed to the depredations of the Indian horsemen. The latter, 
however, were not as dangerous as they had been earlier in the century, when 
they seriously threatened communications between Buenos Aires and Peru. 

A few hundred Mocovi still exist in the southern Chaco, near the Bermejo 
River. Most of them have sought refuge in the "Colonia" Napalpi, near Quitilipi. 

Toba {Tocoytus, NateJcehit, Natdhehit, Nactocovit^ Ntocouit^ 
Ntohowit, Yncanabacte, Toco'U^ Tahshik^ Frentones). — The Toha 
lived principally in the region between the lower Pilcomayo and Ber- 
mejo Rivers, but until the end of the 19th century some bands roamed 
south of the Bermejo Eiver as far as the Provinces of Santa Fe and 
Santiago del Estero. The Rio Salado has consequently often been 
regarded as their southern limit. They were in possession of most 
of the lower Bermejo River from the ancient mission of San Bernardo 
to its mouth; but other Toha bands lived on the upper course of 
this river, in the region of Centa (now Oran) and along the San 
Francisco River. At the end of the 18th century some Toha bands 
moved north of the Pilcomayo River and settled near the headwaters 
of the Yabebiri River. Some penetrated the northern Chaco as far 
as the mission of San Ignacio de Zamucos (1741), which they attacked. 
The Toha in Paraguayan territory north of the Pilcomayo are often 


called Toba-rmri {Small Tola) by the Paraguayans, while those of 
the Argentine (the Takshik) are known as the Toba-guazu {Big 

The lower course of the Pilcomayo Kiver from Salto Palmar to the 
Paraguay Eiver is, or was, Tola territory. Small Tola groups are 
scattered from the lower Pilcomayo Kiver to the Bermejo Kiver. On 
the latter their western limit passes near the junction of the Teuco 
Kiver with the ancient course of the Bermejo Kiver. There are also 
Toha settlements south of the Bermejo near General Pinedo, but their 
exact limit cannot be ascertained since they are rapidly disappearing 
or are being assimilated into the Mestizo population of the Chaco. A 
large number of Tola are concentrated in the mission of San Francisco 
Solano (Taccagale), near the mouth of the Pilcomayo Kiver, and in 
the mission of Laishi (Formosa). The Tola of the Territory of For- 
mosa call themselves Ntocouit or Nactocovit^ but they are known as 
Takshik by the southern Tola. 

On the middle Pilcomayo Kiver, north of the Estero Patifio, there 
is a group of Tola now concentrated in the evangelical mission of 
Sombrero Negro. These Indians claim the name of Tola and regard 
themselves as different from the Pilagd, who live downstream in the 
region of the Estero Patiilo, though actually both groups are closely 
related by blood ties and are hardly distinguishable. There are, how- 
ever, slight dialectical differences between their languages (the up- 
stream Tola use the h where the downstream Indians use s). 

During the last century there were still important groups of Tola on 
the upper Pilcomayo Kiver from Cavayurepotl (about lat. 22° S.) to 
the Chiriguano mission of Machareti. Until 1932 a quarter of the mis- 
sion was reserved for the Tola who were adopting the Chiriguano 
language and culture. 

Nowadays some Tola work as peons in the lumber camps of Puerto 
Pinasco and Puerto Casado. 

History of the Toha. — The first attempts to convert the Toha were made in 
1591 by Fathers BArzana and Anasco, who traveled to them from Concepci6n. 
Father Barzana's Toha vocabulary and grammar still is a useful document. 

The Toha of the lower Pilcomayo and Bermejo Rivers received the horse during 
the 17th century and, like the Ahip6n and Mocovi, became a vagabond tribe of 
mounted warriors. The Toha south of the Bermejo River directed most of their 
raids against the Tucunutn frontier. Some Toha bands of the Pilcomayo region 
struck as far north as the Zamuco mission of San Ignacio. 

The short-lived mission of San Xavier, founded in 1673, near Esteco, contained 
mostly Toha. In 1756, 212 Toha (Dapicosique or Tapicosigue) were gathered in 
the Jesuit mission of San Ignacio on the Ledesma River (originally on the Sora 
River) ; ' the settlement was abandoned in 1818. 

• In 1767 the mission of San Ignacio had a population of about 600 Indians, most of 
them Toha. 


In 1762 the Jesuits founded another Toha mission, San Juan Nepomuceno, but 
a feud with the Indians of Valbuena soon led to its destruction. In 1780 the 
Franciscans, aided by Spanish military forces under Francisco Gavino Arias, 
established the mission of San Bernardo el V6rtiz " on the middle Bermejo River 
with 500 Toha. The Toha of the upper and lower Pilcomayo River were Christian- 
ized by the Franciscans during the second half of the 19th century. In 1884-85 
the Toha were partly pushed back to the Bermejo River by the expedition of 
General Victorica. 

In 1916 and again in 1924, the Argentine Army had to put down an armed 
rebellion of the Toha, who had been driven to desperation by the encroachments 
of settlers on their last territories. 

The Toha are still regarded by their Mestizo neighbors as a proud people who 
refuse to yield to servitude and are always ready to avenge an insult. The ex- 
ploration of the Pilcomayo River was hampered by their resistance. In 1882 
they killed the French explorer Crevaux, and in 1889, the Argentine geographer 

Population of the Toha. — In the 18th century, the Jesuits reckoned the total 
number of the Toha at 20,000 to 30,000. Those living on the Bermejo River were 
estimated at 4,000 to 5,000. 

Cocolot. — The Cocolot were probably not a tribe but a group of 
Toha bands called by a name which was also applied to the Mhayd and 
to the Lengua {Macd). 

Aguilot {Alaguilot). — The Aguilot were a Guaicuman tribe — 
perhaps a subtribe of the Toha — who lived on both sides of the middle 
Bermejo River. According to Lozano (1941, p. 326), when they heard 
of the Urizar expedition in 1709, they abandoned their territory to 
join the Mocom north of Santa Fe. Together these tribes repeatedly 
attacked the Spanish settlements. According to Azara (1809, 2: 162), 
they migrated toward the Pilcomayo River about 1790, where they 
joined forces with the Pilagd^ by whom they were absorbed during 
the 19th century. In the middle of the 18th century, they numbered 
about 1,000 ; 50 years later they could muster only 100 warriors (i. e., 
about 500 people). 

Pilaga {Pitilagd, Yapitalagd, Zapitalagd, Pitelahd, Pitaleaes^ At, 
Guacurure.) — The Pilaga are the only remaining tribe of the Argen- 
tine Chaco that has retained a predominantly aboriginal culture. 

At the end of the 18th century, Azara (1809, 2: 160) located them 
near the Pilcomayo River, in a region of lagoons which is probably 
the Estero Patiiio, their present habitat. On the basis of flimsy his- 
torical and cartographic evidence, Kersten (1905, p. 40) assumes that 
they had migrated sometime during the second half of the 18th cen- 
tury from the middle Bermejo River to the Pilcomayo River. It is 
more likely that the Pilaga were listed among the tribes of the eastern 
bank of the Bermejo River merely because their territory extended 
toward that river, as it still did not long ago. 

8 The mission of San Bernprdo was abandoned in 1793, 


In 1932 the Pilagd bands ranged across the marshy region of the 
Estero Patiiio from Salto Palmar (Fortin Leyes) in the east to 
Buena Vista (Media Luna or Fortin Chavez) in the west. To the 
north their territory was bounded by the Pilcomayo River, and its 
southern limit corresponded more or less with the railway line from 
Formosa to Embarcacion. Their main bands were concentrated under 
Cacique Garcete near Salto Palmar, and under Lagadik, near Fortin 
Descanso. Several other bands had taken refuge among the Toha of 
the Protestant mission of Sombrero Negro, on the Pilcomayo River. 
In 1936, harassed by the Mestizo settlers and the gendarmery, most 
of the Pilagd placed themselves under the protection of the South 
American Missionary Society and formed an independent village at 
Laguna de los Pajaros, about 20 miles east of Sombrero Negro. Un- 
fortunately, the mission was abandoned in 1940, and the Pilagd re- 
turned to the vicinity of Fortin Descanso, where doubtless they will 
soon die out. Some of them agreed to live in the new colonias, Javier 
Muiiiz and Florentino Ameghino, founded by the Argentine Govern- 

Population of the Pilagd. — ^Azara (1809, 2 : 161) put the adult male 
Pilagd population at 200, a figure far too low, for in 1930 the tribe 
numbered more than 2,000 people. After 1932, a smallpox epidemic 
and repeated punitive expeditions decimated the Pilagd. Tubercu- 
losis and venereal diseases are also contributing to the decline of this 
once powerful and energetic tribe. 

Payagua {Agaz^ Cadigue^ /Sarigue, Siacuds). — Since the begin- 
ning of the conquest of Paraguay, the Payagua are described as bold 
river pirates who, in their long and swift dugout canoes, sailed the 
Paraguay River from the Xarayes marshes to the Parana River. They 
even descended the Parana River to the vicinity of Santa Fe and 
ascended it to Salto Chico. 

The Payagud were divided into two main groups. The northern 
group, the Gadigue or Sarigue (who had three camps in the region 
of Itapucu), lived at about lat. 21°5' S. The southern group, the 
Magach^ Tacumbu, or Siacuds {Sigaecoas), were at lat. 25°17' S. 
In 16th-century Spanish accounts, the southern Payagud are desig- 
nated as Agaz {Agaces) and the northern as Payagud. 

History of the Pdijagud.—The Payagud have a long record of hostility against 
the Spaniards and Portuguese. In 1527 they attacked Cabot's ship. In 1539, 
they massacred Juan de Ayolas and his party near the Cerro San Fernando 
(lat. 20° S.). During the 17th and ISth centuries, they infested the Paraguay 
River, boarding merchant launches and raiding villages. They were a particular 
threat to the Portuguese of Matto Grosso traveling from Sao Paulo to Cuyabfi.. 
After their alliance with the Mbayd, the Payagud became even more dangerous. 
They occupied the islands of the Paraguay River and even had a fortified village 
opposite the mouth of the Jejuy River. 

Vol.1] ethnography OF THE CHACO — METRAUX 225 

Twice (1703 and 1715) the Jesuits made unsuccessful attempts to convert 
tlie Payagud. These Indians kidnapped Father Barthelemey de Blende and 
finally killed him. In 1717 they murdered two other Jesuit missionaries (Let- 
tres edifiantes et curieuses, 1819, 5: 112, ff.). 

In 1740 the southern Payagud agreed to settle in Asunci6n.'' The northern 
groups joined them in 1790, and they resided for almost a century in a special 
section of the city. They retained their ancient customs for a long time, but 
lived on good terms with their Spanish neighbors, to whom they sold pots, 
clothes, fish, and fodder for animals. 

In 1800 their number was recorded as about 1,000 ; in 1820, 200 ; today they are 
completely extinct. 

Guachi {Guachie^ Guachicas^ Guajle, Guacharapos, Guampayo, 
Gimsarapo, Guajarapo, Guajnie, Guuiohaje, Bascherepo, Guaxa- 
rapo). — This tribe of river pirates, traders, and fishermen is men- 
tioned several times in the chronicles and documents concerning the 
discovery of the upper Paraguay Kiver. In the 18th century, they 
lived on the northern side of the Mondego (Miranda) River and in 
the "caiiadas" formed by the heights of the Serrania de Amambay, 
and, like the Guana (see below), were vassals of the Mhayd. They 
were divided into a few "capitanias" (probably bands) and, though 
canoe Indians, had permanent villages and fields where they grew 
maize, sweet potatoes, gourds, and tobacco. They wove beautiful 
striped blankets which were much in demand among the Mhayd. 
About 1800 their able-bodied warriors numbered only 60 (Azara, 
1809, 2 : 80) . According to Castelnau ( 1850-59, 2 : 468) , in the middle 
of the past century they were almost extinct. Their name appears for 
the last time in 1860 in an official document which refers to their 
presence near Miranda. The linguistic relationship of the Guachi is 
discussed on p. 214. 

Mahoma. — Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century documents and 
chronicles mention a tribe called Mahoma {Hohoma) who lived on 
the lower Bermejo River, around the Laguna de las Perlas (identified 
with Laguna Blanca by Dominguez, 1925, p. 185). These Indians, 
harassed by their neighbors, settled in the village of San Ignacio- 
guazu. Originally, the Mahoma, whose linguistic affinities are un- 
known, numbered 800 families. Around 1752 only 15 or 16 remained, 
and today they are completely extinct. Judged from their location, 
they might have been related to the 2'oha or the Mocovi. 


The Mascoian or Machicuyan group, formerly known as Enijnagd, 
is composed of the following tribes which speak scarcely differentiated 

' Even after they had been settled in AsunciSn, the Payagud remained somewhat 
nomadic. They frequently left Asuncion to live at Neembucu, TapuS, or near Villa de 
San Pedro on the Jejuy River, or at Villa-Real. (See Rengger, 1835, p. 137.) 

583486—46 15 


dialects: Mascoi, Kashihd {Guana), SapuM, Sanapand, Angaite, and 

Mascoi. — The Mascoi {Machicuy, Cabanatith, Tujetge) seem to 
have been a tribe of the Pilcomayo region that migrated northward 
after the Guaicuru-Mhayd had vacated the region opposite Asuncion 
to establish themselves in Paraguay. About 1800 the Mascoi were 
concentrated on the Araguay-guazii River, but some of their bands 
ranged in the interior as far as the region of Chiquitos. They were 
divided into 19 bands, all listed by Azara (1809, 2 : 155). They could 
muster from 800 to 1,200 warriors, some on foot, the others on horse- 
back. The modern Lengua are undoubtedly the descendants of the 
18th-century Mascoi. 

Kaskiha. — The Kashihd ( formerly known as Guand, but not to be 
confused with the Arawahan-s.^QQk\ng Guand) now live near Puerto 
Sastre, on Riacho Yacare and by Cerrito, but their aboriginal habitat 
was farther west in the interior of the Chaco, 80 leagues northwest of 
Puerto Casado. About 1880 they were a fairly large tribe, but they 
have dwindled to about 1,000 today. 

Sapuki and Sanapana. — The Sapuki {Sapuqui) live somewhat in- 
land from the Paraguay River, south of the Kashihd; the SanapanA 
{Kyisapang) are located south of Puerto Sastre on the Rio Salado 
and on the Galvan River. In recent years, according to Belaieff 
(1941), they were found from Laguna Castilla to the vicinity of 
Puerto Casado.^ 

Angaite. — Immediately to the south of the last-mentioned tribes 
ire the Angaite, whose habitat at the end of the 19th century ex- 
tended from San Salvador to Puerto Casado. Today they have 16 
'tolderias" (camps) near Puerto Pinasco and a few more scattered in 
the same area (e. g.. Station Kin. 80) . 

Lengua. — The Lengua (not to be confused with the Lengua-Eni- 
magd or Macd) range along the western bank of the Paraguay River 
from Puerto Pinasco to the Montelindo River and westward to Palo 
Blanco and Campo de Esperanza in the Mennonite country, viz., from 
lat. 22°30' to 24° S. and inland about 150 miles (240 km.) from the 
Paraguay River. They are split into 10 main bands.^ Part of the 
Lengua have lived since 1887 under British missionaries in various 
stations, the most important of which is Makthlawaiya. The descrip- 
tion of the Lengua by Grubb (1913), one of their missionaries, is an 

•Hassler (1894, p. 351) has a brief reference to a group which he calls Cuximanopana, 
and says they are closely related to the Ouand and Banapand. These Indians, •whose 
name does not appear in any other source, lived between the latter tribes along the 
western side of the Paraguay River. 

•According to BelaiefT (1941, p. 23), a Lengua subtribe which lives on the Mosquito 
River from its headwaters to a point 12 miles (20 km.) from Puerto Casado, is called 
Toha by the Paraguayans and Kilyetwaiwo by their Indian neighbors. 


outstanding source on modern Chaco ethnography. Today the en- 
tire Lengua population is estimated at 2,300. 

Unidentified tribes of the Mascoi region. — Several documents of 
the 16th century (Comentarios de Alvar Nuiiez Cabeza de Vaca, 
1852, pp. 505-566) refer to Indian tribes living in the Chaco near the 
ancient Guaicuru. These were the Guatata^ on the lower Pilcomayo 
Kiver, and their neighbors, the Nohaague^ Empiru^ and Yaperu 
(Apiru), whose exact habitat cannot be determined except that they 
lived on the western side of the Paraguay River, not far from Asun- 
cion. The Yaperu were probably the same as the Naperu, who dwelt 
west of Cerro San Fernando (lat. 20° S.) , 40 leagues inland. It is pos- 
sible that these various names apply to bands of the Mascoian family 
(Moreno, 1921) or to ancient Guana {Arawdkan) subgroups. 


Scant information is available on the Zw?e-F^Ze7a-speaking Indians. 
Their subtribes or bands ranged between the Bermejo River and the 
Rio Salado during the 17th and 18th centuries, but most of them 
vanished during the next hundred years. 

Father Antonio Machoni published in 1732 an "Arte y vocabulario 
de la lengua Lule y Tonocote," based on the Lule dialect spoken in the 
mission of San Esteban de Miraflores. The title implies that the Lule 
of Miraflores were linguistically related to the Tonocote^ who, accord- 
ing to several 16th-century documents, inhabited the plains of Tucu- 
man, Esteco, and Santiago del Estero. 

According to Father Machoni, the Lule or Tonocote language was 
spoken by five tribes : the Lule, Isistine, Touquistine, Oristine, and the 
Tonocote proper. All of these except the Tonocote formerly lived in 
the region of Esteco and along the Rio Salado. These tribes were the 
Lule whom Father Barzana Christianized at the end of the 16th cen- 
tury and who, at the beginning of the I7th century, fled beyond the 
Rio Salado into the Chaco to escape the Spanish "encomiendas." In 
1710 they surrendered to Esteban de Urizar and agreed to settle in 
Jesuit missions. Machoni also states that about 60,000 Tonocote were 
first concentrated in the region of Concepcion on the Bermejo River, 
but later migrated north to the lower Pilcomayo and Yabebiri Rivers 
when Spanish oppression became intolerable. 

It is obvious that Machoni has confused the T onocote-'&y^^^wig 
Matard (p. 232) of Concepcion with the Tonocote proper who, it is 
well known, were the inhabitants of the plains of Tucuman and San- 
tiago del Estero. 

The migration of the Lule from Esteco to the Chaco is substantiated 
by a document of 1690 published by P. Cabrera, (1911, pp. 44-45). 


The linguistic identification of the Lule of Miraflores with the an- 
cient Tonocote was challenged by Hervas (1800-1805, 1 : 173-76), La- 
fone-Qiievedo (1894) , and others. But, as the Tonocote grammar writ- 
ten by Father Barzana around 1586 has been lost and was unknown to 
Machoni, there is no way of confirming or disproving the latter's con- 
tention on linguistic grounds. It seems probable, however, that the 
ToconoU and Lule^^ who are often differentiated in ancient documents, 
belonged to two different families. (See Barcena, 1885, p. liv.) From 
the cultural viewpoint, it seems that the sedentary Tonocote or Juri^ 
as they are sometimes called, had little in common with the Lule., who 
were a typical Chaco tribe. The archeological material found in the 
territory formerly occupied by the Tonocote does not bear the slightest 
resemblance to the pottery or other artifacts used by the Chaco Indians. 
Therefore, the Tonocote were either the carriers of the La Candelaria 
culture or perhaps — as Canals Frau suggested (1940 b) — the builders 
of the so-called "Civilization of the Chaco santiagueiio." These people 
are described in Volume 2. 

The northern and eastern part of the Tonocote territory seems to 
have been overrun during the 16th century by bands of wild Indians, 
probably the Lule^ whose decendants were Christianized by Machoni 
in his mission of Miraflores. 

In the beginning of the 17th century, a tradition arose among the 
Spanish settlers of a vast migration of Tonocote into the interior of the 
Chaco. Thus, in 1630 Father Caspar Osorio speaks of the Tonocote 
as a powerful tribe of the interior of the Chaco; the same legend is 
echoed b}^ Lozano. The presence of Matard on the Bermejo River 
seems good evidence of such a migration. Not unlikely, the Matard 
entered the Chaco after the Conquest, and their migration formed 
the basis for the rumor about the Tonocote tribe lost in the wilderness. 
The Matard were isolated in a region otherwise occupied entirely by 
Guaicuruan tribes whose culture was far lower than their own. 

The Lule. — The loose usage of the term Lule in documents dealing 
with the Conquest and Christianization of the plains of Tucuman and 
Salta has caused great confusion in the tribal nomenclature of the 
Argentine Chaco. 

According to Del Techo (1673, bk. 1, ch. 39; bk. 2, ch. 20) there 
were two kinds of Lule : the sedentary Lule, who lived in a "moun- 
tainous" region, and the nomadic Lule, who, "like Arabs," roamed 
the plains of Tucuman and Salta, harassing the peaceful Tonocote 
farmers. The mountain Lule are said to have understood three 
languages: Quechua, Tonocote, and Cacan, but are listed sepa- 
rately from the Diaguita. Boman (1908, 1:57) considers them a 
Diaguita tribe, but more recent authors do not admit a difference be- 

»• Father Jos6 Tiruel writing m 1602 about Bflrzana says that he learned "la lengua 
Tonomote y Lule" (quoted by G. Furlong (1941, p. 10)). 


tween the two kinds of Lule and identify both of them with the Lule 
of the mission of Miraflores. (See Canals Frau, 1940 b, pp. 230-232.) 
The Lule were probably a Chaco tribe that invaded the plains along 
the foothills of the Andes and partially destroyed the builders of the 
La Candelaria culture. In the 16th century, the limits of the Lule 
seems to have been : To the north, the Valley of Jujuy ; to the west, 
the chain of the pre-Cordillera ; to the south, the basin of the Sali 
River; and to the east, long. 63° W. 

The Lule Christianized by Father Antonio Machoni were often 
called Big Lule to distinguish them from the Small Lule^ a generic 
term for the Isistine, Toquistine, and Oristine, with whom the Big 
Lule were at odds. In 1710 the Lule, probably frightened by the 
expedition of Esteban de Urizar and by the constant raids of the Tol>a 
and Moco'Vt, agreed to settle near the Fort of Valbuena. They were 
placed under the care of Father Machoni, who founded there the first 
mission of San Esteban, which in 1714 was transferred to the Rio 
Salado (Pasaje or Juramento River), and was henceforward known 
as San Esteban de Miraflores. A raiding party of Chaco Indians de- 
stroyed the mission in 1728, and the Jesuits moved closer to the 
Spanish frontier but, still exposed to the attacks of the Chaco tribes, 
they finally brought the Lule to Tucuman (1737). When the danger 
had subsided, they restored San Esteban de Miraflores on the Rio 
Salado and settled there with the Big Lule and some 30 Omoampa 

The Isistine and Toquistine, who formerly lived to the northeast of 
Valbuena, were gathered in 1753 in the mission of San Juan Bautista 
de Valbuena, also on the Rio Salado. 

When the Jesuits were expelled from America, Miraflores had 800 
Indian neophytes and Valbuena about 850; the total number of the 
Lule was about 1,600 in the 18th century. 

The Oristine were "lost" in the Chaco, and their name never ap- 
pears in later Jesuit relations. 

References on the Lule. — Boman, 1908, 1 : 43-58 ; Cabrera, 1911 ; Camauo y 
Bazdn, 1931, pp. 321, 333-336 ; Canals Frau, 1940 b, pp. 230-232 ; Charlevoix, 1757, 
4 : 250-255, 262-274, 306-314 ; G. Furlong, 1941 ; Hervas, 1800-1805, 1 : 171-172 ; 
Lafone-Quevedo, 1894, 1895 a ; Luzano, 1941, pp. 89-103 ; Serrano, 1940 e. 

Vilela. — The Vilela branch included the following subgroups 
(parcialidades) : Vilela proper, Ohunupi, Sinipe, Pasain (Pazain), 
Atalald, Omoampa {Umu^?npa), Yoconoampa {Yu,cu7iampa) , Vacaa 
(Those of the Excrements), Ypa {Hipo, "Those Who Live in a 
Hole"), Ocole (The Foxes), Yecoanita (The Archers), Yooc, {^oo), 
Guamalca, and the Taquete. 

That several Vilelan parcialidades were, like the Mataco and Pilagd 
bands, named after animals, character traits, or objects, suggests that 
they were mere bands either of the Vilela proper or of the CMmupi. 


In the iTtli century, the Vilelan bands were scattered on both sides 
of the Bermejo River, from Esquina Grande to San Bernardo. About 
1630 the Jesuits already knew of their existence through the Mataco 
and Toha, but did not visit them. The territory of the Vilela was 
reached in 1671 by a Spanish expedition under Juan de Amusategui. 

The Vilela proper were found by the Spaniards on the middle Ber- 
mejo River near Lacangaye in 1710. 

They did not offer any resistance, but were disinclined to leave their country 
tc accept Spanish rule. It was only in 1735 that the Vilela, who had been un- 
justly attacked by a Spanish military expedition, asked to be placed in a mission. 
The 1,600 Vilela who left the Chaco were entrusted to secular priests who estab- 
lished the larger part of them at San Jos<5 on the Rio Salado near Matard, and 
a few families at Chipeona, in the region of Cordoba. The mission, entirely 
neglected by the curates, declined rapidly, and would have disappeared if the 
Jesuits had not taken charge of the Vilela, and in 1761 transferred them to the 
new mission of San Jos6, at Petacas on the Rio Salado (Pasaje River), lat. 
27° S. At that time the Vilela numbered only 416. In 1762, 300 Vilela, who had 
remained in the bush along the southern side of the Bermejo River, joined their 
relatives of Petacas. In 1767 there was near Lacangay^ a group of about 100 
Vilela who had formed part of the ephemeral mission of Nuestra Senora de la 
Paz (Valtoleme). Those in the mission of Petacas totaled 756. 

In 1780 the Vilela of Petacas returned to the Chaco wilderness ; for a century 
nothing is known about their fate. At the end of the 19th century, Pelleschi met 
the few surviving Vilela living with Mataco Indians, at Fort Gorriti, near Riva- 
davia, and obtained from them a short vocabulary which was published by 
Lafone-Quevedo (1895 a) with grammatical notes. At the beginning of the cen- 
tury, there were a few Vilela in the reservation of Quetilipi. 

Pasain, Omoampa, Yoconoampa^ AtalaM^ Ypa. — These bands, all 
closely related, ranged near the marshes of the Rio del Valle, a tribu- 
tary of the Bermejo River, and east of the Rio Salado (Pasaje River). 

In 1763 Fathers Roque Gorostiza and Jos^ Jolis, while traveling along the 
right side of the Bermejo River, encountered four bands of Vilela, Pasain, Vacaa, 
and Atalald, who were being pursued by a party of Toba and Mocovi. Under the 
circumstances the missionaries had no difficulty in collecting them in the mission 
of Macapillo (Nuestra Seiiora del Pilar), From an initial 150, the number of 
Indians in the mission increased to 600; but in 1767 only 200 remained as per- 
manent neophytes (Muriel, 1918, p. Ill; G. Ffirlong, 1939, pp. 128-129). 

The several attempts by Father Andreu to Christianize the Omoampa were 
unsuccessful until 1751, when some Omoampa bands, who had seceded from the 
rest of the tribe and joined the Isistin^, decided to settle with the Lule in the 
mission of Miraflores. In 1763, 230 Omoampa of Miraflores were moved to the 
mission of Ortega (Nuestra Seiiora del Buen Consejo) to help in the conversion 
of the Chunupi, their close relatives. 

In 1767 the Indians, mainly Pasain and Omoampa, in these two missions totaled 
about 400. One hundred Vacaa and Atalald were quartered at Macapillo. Both 
missions contained also a few Teconoampa, Ypu, and Chunupi families. 

After the expulsion of the Jesuits, many Pasain returned to their native haunts, 
where some of their families had remained independent. The tribe disappeared 
during the 19th century. 


Chfwnwpi {Chunipi, Chanupi). — The Chunupi^ whom Lozano (1941, 
p. 91) describes as peaceful foot Indians, were discovered on both sides 
of the middle Bermejo River during the campaign of Esteban de 
Urizar in 1710. 

They agreed then to settle in missions, but never kept their promise. In 1759 
they were found again by Father Richer, who served as chaplain of a Spanish 
expedition that killed a great many of them. 

In 1762 Father Roque de Gorostiza, guided by Omoampa Indians, visited with 
Father Jolis the Chunupi villages on the left side of the Bermejo River, near La 
Encrucijada (40 leagues below the junction of the Bermejo and San Francisco 
Rivers), He succeeded in persuading 150 or 200 of these Indians to form a 
mission which was established on the Rio Salado, first under the name of Nuestra 
Sefiora de la Paz (Valtoleme), and then transferred below the bend of the Rio 
Salado (Pasaje River) at Ortega, where it was called Nuestra Seuora del Buen 
Consejo. Three years later the Chunupi, who had quarreled with the Christian- 
ized Omoampa in the same mission, asked to be moved to the mission of Macapillo 
with the Pasain. After a fight with the latter, they returned to their former 
homes on the Bermejo River. 

At the end of the 18th century, Spanish expeditions found the Chunupi on 
the right banks of the lower Bermejo from Esquina Grande to the mission of 
San Bernardo, where they lived with the Malbald and Sinipe under a single 

In 1826 the explorer Pablo Soria found some Chunupi on the middle Bermejo 
below Esquina Grande. He states that they, like the Mataco, went to work for 
the Whites in the sugar plantations of Salta and Jujuy (Arenales, 1833, p. 253). 

In the second half of the last century, the Chunupi were reported on the 
Parand River opposite Corrientes. With the help of the Toba, they occasionally 
attacked trading boats. By 1876 they had been reduced to 252, and toward 
the end of the century the survivors eked out a precarious living selling curios 
and produce ,of the bush in Corrientes. Today they seem to be entirely extincl 
or to have been absorbed by the Mestizo population of the Chaco. 

According to Father Gorostiza (G. Ftirlong, 1939, p. 118), the Yooc {Yoo 
Guamaloa) and Ocol^ were two bands of the Chunupi tribe. Both lived on tha 
left side of the Bermejo, the former some "20 leagues" below the Chunupi, the 
latter across the Laguna Colma (Caraafio y Bazdn, 1931, p. 330). In 1767 the 
Yooc numbered 200, the OcoJ^ between 40 and 50. 

The Yecoanita (Yecomita), probably a Chunupi band, lived between the 
Chunupi and the Yooc. They were no more than 30 in 1767. 

Sinipe {/Sinipi, Signipe, Sivinipi). — The name of these Indians is 
always listed with that of the Chunupi. They lived on the right side 
of the Bermejo River, somewhat to the north of Lacangaye. 

References on the FiZeZa.— Ambrosetti, 1894 a; Arias, 1837; Cornejo, 1836; 
Fontana, 1881; Ftirlong C, 1939; 1941, p. 144; Lafone-Quevedo, 1895 a; Lozano, 
1041, passim ; Muriel, 1918, pp. 102-110. 


Malbala. — The Malbald., whose tongue is said to have differed from 
Vilela., Lule, Mataco, and Toha (Caman y Bazan, 1931, p. 336), formed 
a linguistic enclave within a region otherwise inhabited entirely by 


Lule-Vilelan groups. Driven by the Mocovi from their original home, 
farther to the west along the Valbuena River, the Malbald migrated 
to the middle Bermejo River close to the Ghunupi^ with whom they 
maintained cordial relations (Lozano, 1941, pp. 88, 366). 

Although regarded by the Spaniards as very warlike, the Maliald .offered no 
resistance to the Urizar expedition in 1710, and readily agreed to settle under 
Spanish control on the Valbuena River, The 400 families that left their 
homes for this purpose were deported to Buenos Aires, but most of them suc- 
ceeded in escaping to the Chaco after killing their guards. Only a few families 
reached Buenos Aires, where they were allotted to an encomendero (Lozano, 
1941, p. 381). 

In 1750, 31 Malbald families were placed under missionary care near Fort San 
Fernando on the Rio del Valle, but soon fled into the bush, where they were 
attacked by the Spaniards. In 1757 many Malbald were wantonly slaughtered by 
the garrison of San Fernando. 

According to Camano y Bazan (1931, p. 386), about 20 Malbald families survived 
in 1757, scattered among the Chunupi, Mocovi, and Mataco. Some Malbald 
resided in the mission of Macapillo, where their presence is still mentioned several 
years after the expulsion of the Jesuits. At the end of the 18th century, the 
Spanish explorers of the Bermejo River speak of independent Malbald, somewhat 
to the north of the mission of San Bernardo (lat. 25° S.), who had united with 
Chunupi and Sinip6 to form a single nation of about 400 persons. Their name fails 
to appear in later 19th-century sources. 

Matara {Amulald). — The Matard^ whose original habitat was the 
lower Bermejo River, were probably related to the extinct Tonocote^ 
for Father Alonso Barzana preached to them in the Tonocote language, 
and the Jesuit relations repeatedly state that they spoke that language. 

Don Alonso de Vera, founder of Concepci6n on the Bermejo River, settled 
7,000 Matard in a new city called La Rioja. After the destruction of Concepcion, 
the Matard were slowly driven to the south by their neighbors, the Abip6n. 
Fathers Juan Pastor and Gaspar Cequeyra visited them in 1641 and were greatly 
shocked to find them almost pagan, though under the supervision of a curate. 
At that time, they lived 100 leagues away from Santiago del Estero. Like Father 
Barzana, Father Pastor spoke with them in Tonocote. 

There were still 700 or 800 Matard in 1767, all serfs of the Urejola family of 
Santiago del Estero, and living in a town called Matard on the Rio Salado (lat. 
28° 6' S.). They had forgotten their original language and spoke Quechua. 

References. —Charlevoix, 1757, 2:411-413; Del Techo, 1897; 1:187-193, 5:151- 
152 ; Jolis, 1789, pp. 491^92 ; Serrano, 1938 a. 


The Mafaco-Macdn linguistic family extended in a solid block across 
the Chaco from the Andes almost to the Paraguay River, along the 
Pilcomayo River to its lower reaches, and along the Bermejo River to 
approximately long. 61° W. 

The main tribes of this family are : The Mataco proper, the Choroti 
(Tofuaha), the Ashliislay {Chulupi^ not to be confused with the 
F27e?a-speaking Chunupi) , and the Macd, 


Mataco. — The habitat of the Mataco proper {Mataguayo) has re- 
mained almost unchanged since the 18th century, when it was first pos- 
sible to bound it with some accuracy. In 1767 the westernmost Mataco 
villages were scattered along the upper Bermejo, San Francisco, and 
Burruay Eivers. Some Mataco families had settled at Caiza, and in 
the missions of Kosario de las Salinas, Nuestra Senora de las Angustias 
de Centa, and San Ignacio de Ledesma. From Salinas to the Pilco- 
mayo River the boundary skirted the first spurs of the Andes ; there 
were, as today, Mataco villages along the Itiyuro River near the Chofm. 
The Pilcomayo Mataco extended to the country of the Tolia^ in the 
region of Estero Patino. On the Bermejo River, where a great many 
bands were concentrated, their territory began above the junction of the 
San Francisco and Bermejo Rivers and ended at Esquina Grande," 
on the right side of the Bermejo River, but on the left bank Mataco 
villages were scattered all the way down to the Toha mission of San 
Bernardo (lat. 25°30' S.) .^^ The Mataco occupied the angle formed by 
the south side of the Bermejo River and the Rio del Valle. In 1881 
their territory is defined by Fontana as follows : 

From the Campos of Agusirenda or Angostura del Itiyuro, 120 leagues down the 
Bermejo River, and from Oran or Laguna Verde to the Pilcomayo. Their main 
villages were located along the Bermejo, Teuco, Yegua, and Quemada Rivers. 

A list of Mataco bands is given by Lozano (1941, p. 81), but their 
names do not suggest those of modern bands, which are called after 
animals, objects, or character traits. Lozano's subgroups (parciali- 
dades) were probably named for influential chiefs. 

In the 19th century, the northwestern Mataco^ who dwelt along the 
foothills of the Andes between the Cordillera de Pirapo, the Pilco- 
mayo, the Piquirenda, and Itiyuro Rivers, were generally called 
N oaten (Octenai.) The term Vejos {Wejwos, probably the same as 
Hueshuos), which has replaced the now obsolete Mataguayo, is a 
derogatory nickname applied to the Mataco of the region of Oran and 
Embarcacion. The Mataco, who have scores of villages on the right 
bank of the Pilcomayo from lat. 23° S. down to Puerto Irigoyen 
(Fortin Linares), are called Guisnay {Guisnai). The river Mataco 
refer to inland gi-oups as the "Forest Dwellers" (in Spanish, 
"Montaraces") . 

History of the Mataco. — The Mataco were discovered in 1628 by the expedi- 
tion of Ledesma, which led to the founding of Guadalcazar. They were visited 
the same year by Father Gaspar Osorio, who estimated their number to be 
about 30,000. In 1635, Jesuit missionaries remained for a while in a Mataco 
village near the Bermejo River hoping to induce the Indians to form a mission, 

"According to Carnano y Baziin (1931, p. 333), at La Encrucijada below the junction 
of the Bermejo River with the Jujuy River. 

" The region between La Encrucijada and San Bernardo was a no-man's land. 


but the Mataco evidenced little disposition to become Christian and even plotted 
the death of the fathers, who returned to Jujuy. 

In the second half of the 17th century, the Mataco, formerly reputed to be 
a peaceful tribe, became restless and advanced toward the Spanish frontier. 
Probably they were pressed from Ijehind by other Mataco tribes (Chiisnay or 
Choroti) who, in turn, had been driven toward the west by some Onaicuru tribe. 
A Spanish expedition in 1671, under Amusategui, subdued the most menacing 
Mataco bands. A period of peace followed these conflicts, and, during the first 
half of the 18th century, many Mataco went to work, as they do nowadays, for 
the Whites of Salta and Jujuy as lumberjaclis or on the sugar plantations. 

In 175G the mission of San Ignacio was founded on the Ledesma River for 
the Toba and Mataco. The Franciscans who soon succeeded the Jesuits were 
unable to prevent conflict between the two tribes, and in 1779 formed a new 
mission, Nuestra Senora de las Angustias de Centa, exclusively for the Mataco. 
But this mission declined rapidly after the foundation of Oran, in 1794, whose 
inhabitants had sworn to exterminate the Indians. In order to save the 
neophytes, the Franciscans transferred part of them to the short-lived missions 
of Zaldua (1800) and Rio Seco (1802 to 1806) on the Bermejo River, In 1810 
there were only 221 Vejos left in the mission of Centa. At the time of the 
expedition of D. Francisco Gavino Arias to the Chaco (1781), about 1,000 Mataco 
of the Bermejo River were Christians, many of whom were settled in San 
Bernardo with the Tola. 

During the 19th century, the Mataco of the Bermejo area fell under the 
domination of colonists, whose harsh treatment caused some of them to attack 
Colonia Rivadavia in 1863. This rebellion was used to justify a massacre of the 
Mataco which left only 3,000 in this region in 1872. 

Today the Mataco are still numerous in the region of Embarcacion, along 
the Pilcomayo River from the Itiyuro River to Puerto Irigoyen and around the 
I'ailway station of Las Lomitas. Many bands are concentrated in the Protestant 
missions of El Algarrobal, El Yuto, San Patricio, and San Andres. Some occupy 
a reservation of their own along the Pilcomayo River and other bands are in 
government colonies. 

Many Mataco make a living as lumberjacks and all of them migrate annually 
to the sugar plantations of Jujuy and Salta. They are rapidly merging with 
the Mestizo population of the Chaco, and their acculturation is greatly facili- 
tated by their eagerness to become assimilated. Their number at the end 
of the 19th century was estimated at about 20,000. 

Agoya, Tayni, and Teuta. — ^According to Father Gcaspar Osorio 
(Lozano, 1941, p. 172), the Agoyd^ Tayni {Taynoa.^ Tauni)^ Teuta., and 
Mataco^ whom he visited in 1628 in the region of the upper Bermejo, 
spoke related dialects. On the basis of this statement, Camaiio y 
Bazan (1931, p. 333) classifies them in the Matacoan family in spite of 
Lozano's (1941, p. 81) statement to the contrary. According to 
Father Osorio, the Agoyd numbered 1,500; the Teuta, 4,500; and the 
Tayni, 20,000. Lozano (1941, pp. 80-81) lists 183 Tayni and 47 Teuta 
"pueblos." It is unlikely that such numerous tribes vanished suddenly 
in the 18th and 19th centuries to be replaced by Mataco; it must be 
assumed, therefore, that they were Mataco subgroups who later were 
known under other names or simply as Mataco. 

Vol.1] ethnography OF THE CHACO METRAUX 235 

Ojota and Tano. — The Ojotd and Tano were two closely related 
tribes who, in the I7th century, lived near the town of Guadalcazar, 
near the junction of the Centa and Bermejo Kivers. Most of our 
information on them is contained in Lozano (1941), who distinguishes 
them both from the Tayni and the Mataco, who occupied the same area. 
Their language was different from Tola (Lozano, 1941, p. 239 ) , Her- 
vas (1800-1805, 1:164) includes the Ojotd among the Matcwo sub- 
groups, but is less certain about the Tano. 

When Father Diego Ruiz visited the OjotA and Tano in 1682, they were being 
raided by the Chiriguano, who kidnapped their women and children. They were 
also in great fear of the Toba and Mocovi. Insecurity made them eager to put 
themselves under Spanish protection in the mission in the valley of Centa, near 
Fort San Rafael. The following year a party of Toba and Mocovi attacked the 
mission, killing Fathers Antonio Salinas and Pedro Ortiz. The terrified Ojotd 
and Taiio deserted the mission to defend their territory. In 1710 the Jujuy 
detachment of the Urizar expedition forced the Ojotd to settle near Fort 
Ledesma, from whence they were deported to Buenos Aires (Lozano, 1941, p. 352). 

Palomo. — The Palomo, often mentioned by Lozano (1941, pp. 83, 
177, etc.) , were, according to Camaiio y Bazan (1931, p. 333) , a Mataco 
subgroup. Their exact location is uncertain but seems to have been 
somewhere on the right side of the middle Bermejo River, among or 
near Vilelan bands. 

Hueshuos and Pesatupe. — The Hueshuos are obviously the modern 
Vejos. The affiliation of the Pesatupe to the Matacoan family is stated 
by Camano y Bazan (1931, p. 333). 

Choroti {Tsoloti^ Soloti^ Zolota^ Yofuaha^ Manuk, Maniuk). — 
Their name under the form Choroti and Zolota appears for the first 
time in Lozano (1941, pp. 59, 81), who also lists 18 of their bands. 

In 1915 half of the Choroti^ whose total population was 2,500, lived 
on the Pilcomayo River near Fortin Guachalla. The remainder 
ranged along the Pilcomayo River up to Villamontes, between latitude 
21°30' and 22°30' S., and a few families roamed inland 10 or 15 
leagues from the river. In 1928 Choroti camps were reported near La 
Esmeralda, Guachalla, and Galpon. 

Ashluslay {Chunupi^ Chulupi^ Choropi^ Sowa, Sowuash, Suhin, 
Sotiagai^ Sotegaraik, Etehua, Tapiete). — The Ashluslay are known 
to the Wliite settlers of the Chaco either as Chuhipi (sometimes 
Chunupi) or as Tapiete^ but to avoid confusing them with the Chunupi 
of the Bermejo River, who belong to the Lule-Vilelan linguistic family, 
or with the Tapiete^ who are a different tribe (see below), it is more 
advisable to designate them as Ashluslay^ a name first popularized by 
Nordenskiold (1912, p. 28; Ryden, 1935, p. 27). 

The AshhisJay inhabit the plains north of the Pilcomayo River from 
Fortin Guachalla to the region of Esteros and the upper Rio Confuso. 


Some groups reached the Kio Verde, but the bulk of the tribe was 
concentrated in the region of Fortin Muiioz. 

The Ashluslay are first mentioned in the report of the Daniel Campos expedition 
from Bolivia to Paraguay, 1833. In 1908 and 1909, respectively, they were visited 
by two anthropologists, Hermann and Nordenskiold, Subsequently, they have 
received only scant attention from anthropologists and travelers, though they 
have maintained their native culture almost intact until recent times. Early in 
this century, Ashluslay bauds began to migrate every winter to the sugarcane 
plantations of the Argentine. Thus they obtained horses, cattle, and many other 
European goods. During the Bolivian-Paraguayan war, many of them, driven 
from their homes, were forced to take refuge in Argentina, where they were well 
received by their former enemies, the Toia and Pilagd, but were often in conflict 
with the Argentine Army. In these years the tribe, whose number was estimated 
by Nordenskiold at 10,000 in 1909, has dwindled to only 3,000. A great many 
Ashluslay have settled in the missions of the Oblates of Mary, at San Jose de 
Esteros, San Leonardo (formerly Laguna Escalante), Imaculada Concepcion 
(Guachalla), and Santa Teresita (Lopez de Filipis), Father W. Verwoort esti- 
mates the total number of Ashluslay in 1944 at about 15,000. 

Lengua-Enimaga and the so-called Cochaboth family. — Until 
recent years there has been a great deal of uncertainty about the lin- 
guistic classification of the tribes living north of the lower Pilcomayo 
River. The term "Lengua" (meaning tongue), applied by the Span- 
iards to the Indians who wore flat labrets and thus looked as if they 
had two tongues, was mainly responsible for the confusion. 

Using the information obtained by Father Francisco Amancio Gon- 
zalez, Azara (1809, 2 : 148-154) and Aguirre (1911, pp. 292-296) speak 
of a Lengua tribe living north of the lower Pilcomayo River in the 
region formerly occupied by the ancient Guaicuru. He describes it as 
a once powerful nation which, at the end of the 18th century, verged 
on extinction. According to Amancio Gonzalez, the male population 
was reduced to 120 men who resided in a missionary station or had 
taken refuge among their former enemies, the Pilagd. Azara, how- 
ever, states that in 1794 only 22 Lengua remained. 

The Lengua were called Cochaboth by the Enimagd, who used the 
same name for themselves ; the Toha called them Cocoloth; and the 
Mascoi^ Quiese-manapen {Quiesmagpipo) . They called themselves 
Ouajadge {Jugad fechy) . A Lengua vocabulary collected by Father 
Amancio Gonzalez and preserved by Aguirre (1911, pp. 328-335) fails 
to show any linguistic affinity between the Lengua-Gochahoth and the 
modern Lengua, who speak a Mascoian dialect. On the other hand, 
the relationship between Aguirre's Lengun, Guentuse, and Enimagd is 
obvious, and had already been stressed by Amancio Gonzalez and 
Azara. Until recent years, the Lengua-Cochdboth, the Guentuse, and 
the Enimagd were merged into a single isolated linguistic family 
called either Enimagd or Cochaloth (Rivet, 1924; W. Schmidt, 1926). 


Hunt (1915) was the first to notice that modern Macd (Towothli) 
is closely related to ancient Enimaffd, Lengua, and Guentuse^ which 
are known through a short vocabulary collected by Father Francisco 
Amancio Gonzalez and incorporated in Aguirre's diary, and through 
a few words published by Demersay (1860, p. 445) . Some years later 
Max Schmidt (1936 b, 1937 b), unaware of Hunt's discovery, also 
compared Aguirre's word list with a more recent Macd vocabulary 
and established their close relationship. There is no doubt, therefore, 
that the modern Macd are the same as the ancient Enimagd (I macd, 
Ini-Tuacd, Imago) or Lengua-C ochahoth. 

The Blacd language as known through Belaieff's vocabularies and 
texts (1931, 1934, 1940) presents close affinities both with Ashluslay 
and Mataco (Metraux, 1942). As a matter of fact, the Jesuits in the 
18th century already classified the Macd {Enimagd) among the 
Mataco bands of the middle Pilcomayo River. (See Camano y 
Bazan, 1931, p. 332.) Brinton also placed them in the Mataco family. 

Maca {Enimagd, Eni-macd, Inl-macd, Toothle, Towothli, Eta- 
bosle, Cochahoth). — The original home of these Indians was south 
of the Pilcomayo River, somewhat southeast of the Guismay and other 
Mataco groups. Driven from this territory by the Toha and Pilagd 
they settled in the upper Rio Verde region on a river called Etacamet- 
guischi near lat. 24°24' S. — probably the Rio Negro or the Aguaray- 
guazii River. They were reputed to be fierce warriers who once kept 
the Guaicuru in subjection. According to Azara and Aguirre, at the 
end of the 18th century the Macd were considerably reduced in num- 
ber as a result of constant warfare and epidemics, and therefore 
merged for a while with Aguirre's Lengua. Father Amancio Gon- 
zalez, who is supposed to have had a first-hand knowledge of these 
Indians, states that they were then divided in two camps which 
together contained only 100 able-bodied men ; Azara says 150. These 
figures are probably wrong, as the modern Macd total about 5,000 
persons. The present-day Macd are perhaps descendants of the com- 
bined Enimagd, Chientuse, and Lengua, who may have joined forces 
during the 19th century. 

During the first half of the 18th century, the Mbayd had frequent encounters 
with the LenguOr-Enimaga along their southern border. The Enimagd also sent 
raiding parties east of the Paraguay River. Unless these Lengua-Enimagd 
were Mascoian bands, these conflicts would indicate that originally the Enimagd 
extended farther to the north than they did at the end of the 18th century. 

Modern Macd bands are found between the upper Rio Confuso and the Rio 
Negro. They are still numerous according to BelaiefE. Until recently they had 
preserved their ancient ways of living, but under the impact of the Chaco war 
and of the occupation of their territory, their original culture is disintegrating 
very rapidly. Until 1932 they were at odds with the western Pilagd of the 
region of Salto Palmar. 


Guentuse {Quentuse). — These Indians, neighbors of and an offshoot 
from the Macd (Enimagd), migrated with the latter from the Pil- 
comayo area to north of the Kio Confuso. About 1794 they were 
divided into two bands and could muster about 300 warriors. Their 
name disappears during the 19th century, and it is probable that they 
merged with their Macd relatives. 


Tapiete (Tapii, Yanaygua, Yana, Nanaigua). — The Tapiete in- 
habited the desert tracks stretching from the upper Pilcomayo River 
to the lower Parapiti River, east of the foothills of the Andes. They 
had several camps on the northern side of the Pilcomayo River, be- 
tween Taringui and Palo Marcado and between Galpon and Villa- 
montes. In 1935, after the Chaco war, two Tapiete groups settled 
near Fort Oruro. The exact location of the bands of the Izozog 
region cannot be ascertained. 

The Tapiete^ a typical Chaco tribe, have a culture very similar to 
that of the Mataco and Choroti, but, curiously they speak the 
Cruarani dialect of their Chiriguano neighbors. It is undoubtedly 
as a result of long contact with the Chiriguano that they adopted the 
language of the latter and discarded their own aboriginal tongue, 
though it is rumored that they still use it among themselves. Even 
in recent years, Tapiete bands were in the habit of settling for some 
time near a Chiriguano village to exchange their services for maize or 
other goods. 

Lozano (1941, p. 81) refers to a Mataco subtribe, the Mataco Cor- 
onados {Tonsured Matacos) who, in addition to their own language, 
spoke Guarani. These Indians were probably the ancestors of the 
modern Tapiete. 


The northeastern and northwestern fringe of the Chaco was in- 
habited in pre-Columbian times by a large tribe of sedentary farmers 
who spoke an Arawakan dialect. They called themselves Chana^ but 
the Spaniards transcribed the name either as Chand or Chane. Un- 
doubtedly related to the Paressi and Mojo, they were the southern- 
most representatives of the great and widespread Arawakan lin- 
guistic family, whose center of diffusion probable lies north of the 

In Paraguay the name Gu/ind was substituted for Chand, and the 
latter became restricted to the subtribe which lived opposite the 
mouth of the Apa River, and is better known as Layand, a name given 
them by the Mhayd. (See Sanchez Labrador, 1910-17, 1:255-256.) 
To distinguish these two Ch^ne branches, whose history and culture de- 


veloped along different lines, the name Chane will be used for the 
western subtribes along the Andes, and Guana for the eastern sub- 
tribes of the Paraguay Basin. 

Long before the discovery of the Chaco by the Spaniards, the peaceful QuanA 
farmers had been subdued by the roving Mbayd and reduced to a condition 
of vassalage comparable, according to Schmidel (1903, p. 252), to that of 
German serfs. Each Ouand village was subordinate to a Mhayd band, which 
levied part of its harvest and exacted other services. In return, the vassals 
were protected by their suzerains against the attacks of other tribes. Thus 
the Mhayd and Ouand developed a close association or symbiosis, which ended 
only during the last century when both tribes began to disintegrate under White 
impact. The cultures of the Mbayd and Guand, which at first were markedly 
different, had become identical. From the serfs the Mbayd learned to weave 
cotton," to make a certain type of pottery, and later to give more attention to 
agriculture. Under Mbayd influence, the Guand modified their social structure, 
adopted the horse, became more warlike, and, like their masters, acquired 
slaves. Both tribes, however, long retained certain basic tendencies of their 
former culture. The Guand farmers always produced larger and better crops 
than those of the Mbayd, and they wove textiles of such good quality that they 
found a market for them in Neo-Brazilian cities. In general, they were more 
industrious and showed themselves more capable of assimilating White culture 
than the Mbayd. The Guand migrated to the eastern side of the Paraguay 
River during the last half of the 18th century, probably about 1787, when the 
Mbayd seem to have abandoned the Chaco. 

Azara's statement (1809, 2:86) that many Ouand followed their masters 
into the Province of Itati after 1673 appears unlikely, since Sanchez Labrador 
writes that in his time (1760-1767) all the Guand, with the exception of some 
serfs, still lived in the Chaco. 

In 1767 the subtribes of the Guand occupied an area extending from lat. 
21° S. to lat. 19° S. They were settled in seven villages, probably of con- 
siderable size judging from that of the Layand, which contained 800 families 
but was said to have been smaller than the villages of the Echoaladi. 

The Gimnd settlements were as follows: (1) The Layand (Ohand, 
Guana) were opposite the mouth of the Apa (Corrientes) River, 
either on the Yacare River or the Galvan River; (2) the Niguecactemic 
{Neguecaga temigii, Neguecatemigi) were a branch of the Layand., 
who had founded a separate village west of the Pao de Azucar, more or 
less in lat. 21°44' S. ; (3) the Tereno {Terenod, Etelena) had two 
villages west of the Layand in lat. 29° S. ; (4) the Echoaladi {Choa- 
rana^ Chararana)., many of whom lived as serfs among the Eyibo- 
godegi., were the largest subtribe and had two villages located north- 
east of the Tereno in lat. 21°30' S.; and (5) the Kinikinao 
{Equiniquinao, Quainaconas) had their village somewhere between 
lat. 19° S. and lat. 20° S. 

Thirty years later, according to Azara (1809, 2:87) and Aguirre (1911, pp. 
305-09), the situation of the Ouand had undergone great changes: (1) The 

1* "Las Guanas son las principales bilanderas y tegetloras de sus beUas mantas" 
(Aguirre, 1911, p. 314). 


Layand were settled at Lima, north of the Jejuy River, on the Aguaray-guazti 
River; population, 1,800:" (2) the Niguecactemic (Neguecogatemicri, Nigui- 
cactemia, Negiiicactemi) still had their villages west of the Paraguay River 
(lat. 21°32' S.) ; population, about 300: (3) some of the Tereno (Ethelena, 
Etelenoe) lived by the Kinikinao in the Chaco; others had moved east of the 
Paraguay River near a mountain chain called Echatiya (lat. 21° S.) ; popula- 
tion, 3,000: (4) the Echoaladi (Hechoaladi, Charahana, Echenoana) resided 
in the region of Caazapa, east of the Paraguay River, south of Villarrica (lat. 
26°11' S.) ; population, 1,800: (5) the Kinikinao (Quiniquinao, Equiniquinao, 
Equiliquinao) were split into two subgroups; one still lived in the Chaco at 
lat. 21°56' S., and the other on the east side of the Paraguay River closely 
dissociated with the Mbayd. 

In 1803 there were 600 Ouand in the mountainous region around Albuquerque. 
Though they lived separated from the Mhayd, the two tribes remained 

The Ouand were a numerous tribe, though they probably never totaled 
18,000 or 30,000, as some 18th-century authors claim. In 1793 Aguirre (1911, 
p. 326) estimated that the whole tribe numbered 8,200; Azara gives the same 

In the middle of the 19th century, no Ouand tribe seems to have remained 
in the Chaco. All of them were concentrated in the region of Miranda and 
had broken their ties with the Mhayd. 

About the middle of the last century the largest Ouand group was the Tereno 
of Miranda, whose population was estimated then at 3,000 to 4,000 (another 
source says 2,600 to 2,800). They lived in 4 to 6 villages. Bach, who visited 
them in the district of Miranda in 1896, puts their number — probably with some 
exaggeration— at 12,000 to 14,000. The same author lists the names of 7 of 
their villages, the population of which ranged from 257 to 379. In 1935 there 
remained 11 Tereno villages near Miranda. 

About 1850 the Kinikinao, totaling 700 to 1,000, had 2 villages between Miranda 
and Albuquerque. At the end of the 19th century there were still about 100 
Kinikinao scattered in the region of Albuquerque, west of the Paraguay River. 

During the 19th century, the Echoaladi (Chualas) were concentrated around 
Albuquerque, though a few could be found near Miranda. A village near Albu- 
querque visited by Castelnau (1850-59, 2: 396) consisted of 65 houses. An official 
document of 1848 sets their total number at 200, plus a small group that had 
settled near Cuyabd. 

One hundred years ago the Layand, numbering about 300, lived in 8 or 4 villages 
near Miranda." 

The first missionary to enter the land of the Ouand was Pedro Romero, who 
was killed there. Father Sdnchez Labrador visited the tribe in 1761 and, in 
1766, Father Manuel Duran founded the La yanti mission of San Juan Nepomuceno, 
on the western side of the Paraguay River, opposite the mouth of the Apa 
(Corrientes) River. After the expulsion of the Jesuits the following year, the 
Franciscans transferred the mission across the river, but did not succeed in keep- 

" In 1788, 500 Guand settled at Tacuatf, on the Ypanfi River, under a priest, but were 
soon attacked and decimated by the Creoles. Another Ouand group that lived near Fuerte 
Olimpo migrated to the vicinity of Concepci6n, on the Laguna de Aquidabanigy, where 
Rengger (1835, p. 335) visited them in 1821. Later, these Indians, who had placed 
themselves under Paraguayan protection, were exterminated by the Mestizos. 

"Aguirre (1911, p. 309) gives the following figures for only the male population at the 
end of the 18th century: Tereno, 1,000; Layand, 500; Echoaladi, 1,000; Kinikinao, 600; 
Neguecogatemi, 200. These figures were communicated to Aguirre by a Franciscan 


ing the Indians — mostly Layand — in it more than 2 years. In 1791 a new mission 
was established on the TacuatI River, on the middle course of the Ypane River, 
but it never prospered. 

Protestant missionaries of the Inland South America Missionary Union have 
been active among the Tereno since 1913. From the accounts of one of its mis- 
sionaries, Mr. Hay, it appears that the Indians, though thoroughly adjusted to 
the Neo-Brazilian environment, have remained surprisingly faithful to many 
Arawak and Mbayd traditions and customs. 


At the beginning of the 18th century, the plains south of the Province 
of Chiquitos were occupied by Indians who spoke dialects of the family 
called Zamucoan after one of its subgroups. Hervas (1800-1805, 1: 
162-164) classifies the Zcmmcoan dialects as follows : 

(1) Zamuco proper spoken by the Zamuco and the Zatieno {Satieno^ 
Ihiraya) . 

(2) Caipotorade spoken by the Caipotorade^ Tunacho {Tunaco), 
Imono, and Timindba (undoubtedly the modern Tumerehd) . 

(3) Morotoco (the modern Mora) spoken by the Morotoco {Coro- 
ino), Tomoeno, Cucurare {Cucurate^ Gucutade^ Cuculado)^ Panana^ 
Carerd, and Ororehate. 

(4) Ugarano. Some Jesuits placed Ugarano in the same sub- 
groups as Zamuco proper. 

To these dialects we must add the Tapii (?), Chamacoco^ Tsirakua, 
Guaranoca, and probably Poturero. 

History of the Zamucoan tribes. — Several authors have identified 
the Samocosi or Tamacosi^ whose name appears in the accounts of the 
discovery of the Chiquito^ with the Zamuco or Chamacoco^ but the 
16th-century Tamacosi lived on the Rio Grande (Guapay) not far 
from the modern city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, and neither their 
location nor the few data on their culture suggest any connection 
with the ancient Zamuco. 

The Indians of the Zamucoan family entered history in 1711 when the 
Morotoco were discovered by Father Juan Bautista de Zea and were placed in 
the mission of San Jos6. In 1717 they were moved to the newly founded mis- 
sion of San Juan Bautista. Father Zea next visited the Cucurare but, except 
for a few families, they refused to follow the example of the Morotoco. In 1716 
he sent a party of Chiquito neophytes to "tame" the Carerd, a Zamucoan tribe 
closely related but hostile to the Morotoco. The Carerd, who offered armed 
resistance to the intruding Chiquito, were obliged to flee after suffering heavy 
losses. They were never again found nor was their name mentioned in later 
Jesuit documents. In 1717 Father Zea at last reached the Zamuco proper, who 
received him in a friendly manner and agreed to form a mission. But in 1719 
when Father Miguel de Yegros tried to open the mission in the land of the 
Cucurare, the Zaanuco frustrated his plan by migrating from the site he had 
chosen and by murdering Br. Alberto Moreno, who had followed them. For 5 
more years the Jesuits made fruitless efforts to start a mission among them. 

583486 — 46 16 


Finally, in 1723, a Zamuco band, fleeing from the TJgarano, came with a Cucu- 
rare group to seek refuge in the mission of San Juan. Later in the same year. 
Father Augustin Castanares brought them back to their own country, where he 
founded the mission of San Ignacio, probably at lat. 20°55' S. and long. 59042' 
W. In 1726 the Zamuco and Cucurare, who formed this mission, were trans- 
ferred to San Jos§ with the hope that, surrounded by Christianized Chiquito, 
they would forget their mutual enmities. When peace was reestablished, the 
Zamuco and Cncitrare were allowed to return to their mission and were placed 
under the care of Father Castanares. In 1738 members of five tribes were con- 
centrated in San Ignacio — the Zamuco proper, the Cucurare, the Tapii^'^ (Tapio), 
the Zatieno {Satieno), and the Vgarario — all of whom spoke closely related 
dialects (Chom6, 1819, p. 349). In this mission Father Ignace Chom6 wrote 
a glossary and a grammar of the Zamuco language." The Jesuits desired at 
that time to make San Ignacio an outpost for the exploration and spiritual 
conquest of the unknown regions of the Chaco — a hope which never materialized. 

About 1750 renewed intertribal feuds caused the neophytes to desert the mis- 
sion of San Ignacio and return to San Juan, In 1751 a new mission of San 
Ignacio was built north of San Miguel for the Ugarano and some converts from 
San Juan Bautista. 

At the end of the Jesuit period there were Morotoco, Cucurare, and Tomoeno 
Indians in the mission of San Juan Bautista. In 1831 the bulk of the popula- 
tion was formed by Morotoco and Chiquito though some other tribes were still 
represented by a few individuals. 

The mission of Santiago, established in 1754, contained, among other In- 
dians (Hervas mentions the Ugarano and Tunacho), 300 Caipoterade^' whom 
Father Caspar Troncoso rounded up in 1762 with the aid of a party of Christian- 
ized Indians. At the time of D'Orbigny's visit in 1831 the population of San- 
tiago consisted only of Guaranoca, Tapii, and some Chiquito. 

The Tunaca (Tunaco, Tunacho) lived to the southeast of the mission of 
Santiago. In 1757 Father Narciso Patzi established contact with them and 
tried by distributing presents to induce them to form a mission, but the Tunaca 
remained hostile and even attacked the missionary's party. Only in 1759 did 
Father Patzi succeed in collecting about 200 Tunaca, for whom Father Antonio 
Guasp founded the mission of Coraz6n de Jestis. In 1767 the Tunaca shared 
this mission with Zatieno, Zamuco proper, Poturero, Otuqu^, and some Chi- 
quito, all of whom, with the exception of the Zatieno and Tunaca, still retained 
their tribal consciousness when D'Orbigny visited them in 1832. 

The Imono were never converted by the Jesuits. In 1763 this peaceful tribe of 
about 300 people was destroyed by the Mbayd, who killed the adults and retained 
the children as slaves (Muriel, 1918, p. 225). 

By settling the Zamuco in the Province of Chiquitos, the Jesuits not only aimed 
to remove thenf from the inroads of the Mbayd but to hasten their assimilation by 
the Chiquito, who formed the predominant population of that region. The mis- 
sionaries strove to spread the Chiquito language among the Zamuco in the mis- 
sions, but evidently they were only partially successful for Zamuco was still 

>* Hervas (1800-1805, 1 : 160) classifies the Tapii among the C/iigMttoan-speaking Indians. 
The Tapii whom D'Orbigny (1835-47, 4:273) found in the mission of Santiago had for- 
gotten their original language, and he is inclined to regard them as an Otuqudan tribe. 

^■^ Chom6's manuscript grammar of the Zamuco language was discovered by K. Von den 
Steinen, and is now in Dr. Paul Rivet's possession. 

»« Muriel (1918, p. 206) remarks that the Caipoterade bands split into their component 
families during the dry season, but that they gathered again when the algarroba pods 
were ripe or when the rivers were full of fish. 


spoken there in the first half of the 19th century. Today the descendants of the 
missionized Zatnuco cannot be distinguished from the acculturated Chiquito. 

When the paternalistic Jesuit regime was replaced by the rule of corrupt 
governors and curates who mistreated and looted the Indians, the once flourishing 
missions fell into a complete decadence from which they have never recovered. 

In spite of their persistent and the systematic efforts, the Jesuits lacked time 
to subjugate all the Zamucoan tribes. Even when the bulk of the nation had been 
settled in the missions, some bands retained their independence. Among these, 
were the Moro, who undoubtedly are the remnants of the ancient Morotoco, and 
the Chiarat'ioca. The Jesuits now and then allude to the Tlminiha {Timiniha, 
Timinaba), a Zamucoan tribe, which they were unable to bring under their rule. 
This name probably was applied to the whole Chamacoco tribe rather than to 
the Turner ehd subtribe (see p. 244). Texts concerning the history of the Zamu- 
coan tribes have been collected by Baldus (1931 a, pp. 154-202; 1932, pp. 361- 

In 1723 Fernandez (1895, 2:244) estimated the number of the Zamuco proper 
at 1,200, and thought the Vgarai'io about as numerous. In 1831 D'Orbigny 
(1835-47, 4:254) put the Zamuco population in the missions of Chiquitos at 
1,250 and the number of the wild Zamuco near the Salinas de Santiago and on tlie 
Otuquis River at about 1,000. 

Guarafioca. — The original habitat of the Guarafioca lay in the 
southern foothills of the Santiago Kange. In the first half of the 18th 
century, the Jesuits made great efforts to settle them in their missions 
but the warlike disposition and errant life of these Indians prevented 
the conversion of the whole tribe. Those who accepted the Jesuit rule 
constituted, together with the Tapii and some Chiquito^ the native 
population of the mission of Santiago de Chiquitos. 

The Ouaranoca who remained pagan became bitter enemies of the Whites. For 
many years their continuous attacks hampered the exploitation of the large salt 
deposits south of Santiago. In recent years these Indians have constantly raided 
ranches and farms near San Jose, Santiago, Santo Coraz6n, and San Rafael.. 
According to a native informant, they are now split into several groups : one 
lives 12 or 15 leagues from Santiago ; another, the so-called Salineros, near the 
Salinas de Santiago and San Jos6 ; another, the Miguelefios, near the headwaters 
of the San Miguel River ; a fourth group in the Monte Grande ; and a band which 
roams near the Paraguay River. 

All these groups speak closely related dialects, maintain mutually friendly re- 
lations, and barter salt for other goods, chiefly pottery. One small band near 
the Tubaca and Aguas Calientes Rivers is, however, hostile to the other Guara- 
fioca. The Ouaranoca who formerly lived in the Pampa de San Miguel have 
migrated to the campos of Santo Coraz6n, near San Rafael. D'Orbigny gives a 
good description of the Ouaranoca dances in the mission of Santiago. SoDcfe 
ethnographic data on these Indians were published recently by Father Oefner 
(1942), who obtained his information from a few neophytes of the modern mis- 
sion of Santiago de Chiquitos. The Ouaranoca culture seems to resemble very 
closely that of the TsiraJcua and Moro, who possibly are Gmiranoca bands or 
subgroups. According to Loukotka, however, the few known Ouaranoca words 
show closer analogies with ancient Zamuco than do the Tsiraktia and Chamacoco 
word lists. Until more and better linguistic material is available, the question 
must remain undecided. 


Moro. — The modern Moro, who may be related to the Morotoco of 
the Jesuit mission of San Juan Bautista, are still unknown but for 
vague references and a few artifacts collected in their abandoned 
camps. They roam in the unexplored plain of the northern Chaco, 
south of Chiquitos and north of the inland railway from Puerto 
Sastre. They fight occasional skirmishes with the Tumerehd^ and are 
hostile to other Indians and Whites. Possibly they are to be identi- 
fied with the Guaranoca of the Salinas de Santiago and San Jose. 

Chamacoco. — When the Mhayd and the Guana left the Chaco to 
settle in Matto Grosso, the territory which they abandoned was oc- 
cupied by the Chamacoco, who are mentioned for the first time when 
they appeared near Fuerte Olimpo in 1802. During the 19th cen- 
tury, the Chamacoco were constantly raided by the Mhayd, who en- 
slaved them or forced them to sell their children. In 1803, the 
Mhayd of the region of Coimbra had 400 Chamacoco slaves. 

Modern Chamacoco are divided into three subtribes: HSrio, Ehi- 
doso, and Tumerehd. The Borio (Fric's Ishira) lived in the region 
of Bahia Nega and Puerto Mihanovitch on the Paraguay River. 
In 1928 they numbered 120 to 180 people. 

The Ehidoso resided in the vicinity of Puerto Voluntad, and were 
reckoned at 175 in 1928. 

Although the Ehidoso and ESrio separated only recently, both sub- 
tribes are now hostile to each other. The Paraguayans often call 
them Chamacocos ?7iansos {Tame Cham^acoco) because they were the 
first of the tribe who, in 1885, entered into friendly relationship with 
the Wliites. 

The Twnerehd (Timinaha; Timiniha on Jolis' map) form the 
southern group of the Chamacoco, who separated from the two other 
subtribes 50 years ago, as the result, it is said, of a feud over a 
violated taboo. Their habitat is north of the railway which runs 
from Puerto Sastre westward into the Chaco. Because they keep 
aloof from the Whites, they are often called Chamacocos hravos ( Wild 
Chamacoco) though they are really more peaceful than their northern 
neighbors. Continuous warfare existed for a long time between the 
Tumerehd and the other Chamacoco groups. In 1928 the Tum- 
erehd are said to have totaled about 1,500 (301 families). 

Tsirakua {Siracua, Empelota) . — The Tsirakua, a mysterious tribe 
that ranges north and east of the Izozog marshes, may be iden- 
tical with the Moro or a closely related tribe. The only information 
regarding them was obtained through the Tapiete, who waged a bitter 
war against them and now and then captured a few. A short list of 
words taken from a Tsirakua woman by Nordenskiold (1912, p. 324) 
shows close relationship with the Zamu^o. The Tsirakita, like the 
Moro, may be Guaranoca bands. 


Poturero {Potorera). — 1^\\q Poturero {Azani's Ninaguila or Nina- 
quiguila) were a fairly numerous tribe that lived in the forests of 
the northern Chaco between lats. 18° and 19° S. They were peaceful 
farmers whose small villages were scattered south of the mission of 
Santiago, on the southern side of the San Raphael and Aguas Cal- 
ientes Rivers. Some Poturero groups were settled in the mission of 
Santo Corazon and perhaps in San Juan Bautista. 

Cardus (1886, p. 278) refers to them as a tribe still existing in 
the second half of the 19th century. He states that they had escaped 
from the above-mentioned missions and lived along the Tucabaca 
River, between Santiago and Corumba. 


The Indians inhabiting the district around Puerto de los Reyes, 
lat. 17°58' S., in the middle of the 16th century, were the Sacoci, 
Socorino (Suriwitsi) , Xaquete or Xaquese^ and the Chane. 

The Chane were apparently newcomers in the region. They told 
the Spaniards that they had followed the Alejo Garcia expedition 
on its way back from the border of the Inca Empire, and then had 
settled in two villages near the Sacoci. 

All these tribes were agriculturists, but unlike most tropical In- 
dians, the men planted and sowed whereas the women helped only 
with the harvesting. Their main vegetable foods were manioc of 
several varieties, maize, sweet potatoes, peanuts, and mbocaja palm 
fruits. They raised ducks and hens which they shut at night in 
tightly closed chicken houses for protection against vampire bats. 

Men and women usually went naked, but had cotton cloaks, which 
were stored in large jars sealed with clay to protect them from 
crickets. Men wore large wooden disks in the earlobes — hence the 
name Orejones (Big Ears) often given to this tribe — and women 
wore "a grey stone of crystal, thick and long as a finger" in the lower 
lip. They are said to have worshiped wooden idols. 

The Artan {Artanes) lived a day upstream from Puerto de los 
Reyes. They were agriculturists, but sowed little because most of 
their land was periodically inundated or covered with arid sand. 
They went naked. Men inserted into their lower lip the round husk 
of a fruit (?) and women tattooed their faces with the tip of a stingray 

The Yacare also inhabited the Paraguay River banks, 36 leagues 
upstream from Puerto de los Reyes. They were fishermen and 

The Perovosan {Perohozanes) are placed by our sources north of 
the Artan^ south of the Xaraye, 


The few ethnographical details on the Xaraye (Xarayes) preclude 
their inclusion within the Chaco culture area. They will be described 
with the Ghiquitoan tribes in Volume 3. 


Collecting wild foods. — The thorny and forbidding Chaco bush 
(pis. 45, 46) has greater wealth in trees and other plants with subsis- 
tence value to man than the tropical forest. Pod-bearing algarroba 
{Prosopis alba and P. nigra) and tuscas i^Acaxiia moniliformis) ^ fruit 
trees like the chanar ( Gov/rliea decorticoms) and the mistol {Zizyphus 
mistol) , which are all common representatives of the Chaco xerophytic 
flora, supply the natives with abundant food in season. Innumerable 
palm trees, covering extensive areas in the marshy tracts along the 
rivers, are of equal economic value. The forests once yielded con- 
siderable game, and the rivers still hold countless fish. 

The seasonal yield of certain plant species produces a varied diet, 
and the irregular distribution of certain plants and of several animal 
species induces a limited nomadism, which, however, does not involve 
the migration of large bands, but rather the dispersal of small family 
groups, which scatter in order to procure their livelihood. The social 
and ceremonial life is deeply affected by the momentary abundance 
of a particular food. For example, during the fishing season, when 
there is always a large concentration of people along the rivers, 
boundary conflicts are frequent. The algarroba harvest, on the other 
hand, is a period of continual rejoicing and visiting. In winter, the 
social density is at its lowest level, and every family trudges across the 
bush in search of a precarious subsistence. 

A diet calendar can be established for the Pilcomayo Indians on the 
basis of seasonal variations in foods. Since the beginning of this cen- 
tury, however, the annual cycle has been altered by a new and impor- 
tant factor in the native economy: during the lean winter months, 
which formerly were a time of scarcity and even of famine, the younger 
people migrate to the sugarcane fields of Jujuy and Salta, where they 
work as peons. 

From November to January and sometimes until February, the 
Pilcomayo Indians feast on algarroba, which is consumed mainly in 
the form of beer, and on the nourishing fruits of the chanar and 

At the end of summer, the beans of the poroto del monte {Capparis 
retusa), tasi (Morrenia odorata), and Barbary figs (tunas) are fore- 
most in their bill of fare. Farming tribes harvest their crops during 
the same period, and add maize, pumpkins, and watermelons to their 


diet of wild plants. Toward the end of the rainy season, women 
are kept busy spreading fruits and pods on skins and mats to dry for the 
winter months ahead. 

April, May, and the first half of June, when shoals of fish ascend 
the Pilcomayo, are months of plenty. The daily catch is sometimes 
so big that the surplus can be smoked and stored for many days or 
traded to inland tribes for maize and other crops. The Indians 
regard the fishing season as one of fatness and health. It is unques- 
tionable that they are then best nourished. In June and July, though 
the rivers are low, a few fish can still be had and tusca pods and a few 
tasi are still harvested. 

During August " and September, the leanest months of the year, 
the Indians eat tusca and their stores of sachalimona or naranja del 
monte {Capparis speclosa) and sachasandia fruits {Gapparis salici- 
folia). They beat the bush to gather various wild Cucurbitaceae, 
tubers, and some species of Bromelia with fleshy rhizomes. The most 
palatable food of this season is a creeper, tripa de zorro (probably 
Phaseolus caracalla)^ which, properly cured, tastes like chestnuts.^" 
Game, though in recent times an almost negligible source of food, 
formerly supplemented the vegetable diet. 

A similar economic schedule may be postulated for the northern 
Chaco tribes, about whom there is less information. 

Like other Chaco tribes, the Mhayd of the northern Chaco and of 
southern Matto Grosso collected algarroba pods, but their staples 
among wild plants were the terminal shoot (palmito), the fruits and 
the pith of several palm species, mainly the mbocaya palm (Acrocomia 
sp.) and the yatai-guazii {Cocos paraguayensis) . Large Mhayd 
households would settle in a grove of mbocaya palms and exploit it for 
a month or more until they had exhausted it, then return to the main 
camp with provisions of flour and roasted shoots (palmitos) . Sanchez 
Labrador (1910-17, 1 : 162) tells us that the Mhayd families, assembled 
at the mission of Belen on the Ypane River, destroyed all the palm 
trees within 6 miles of the mission in 3 or 4 weeks. 

1* During my visit to the Mataco of the Bermejo River in 1939, in August they still ate 
anco (CucurMta tnoschata) and some algarroba pods. 

^'The Mataco collect wild roots and tubers during the lean winter months. Among the 
roots are those of the olax (Ciaaua palmate), which grow in marshy grounds and have to 
be boiled in three different waters ; of the newtik creeper, which look like manioc but are 
unsavory ; and those of the na'p6t cactus, which are boiled in ashes. Tubers include 
katsi'wfik (Echinodorits grandiflorua) , an aquatic plant which needs only slight boiling; 
si'nyax, which are very bitter and therefore are roasted, dried, and then boiled for a 
whole day; moLmoL (Solanum meloncillo) ; atsixw6, which are first roasted and then 
boiled; and nekwltax {Merremia aeffyptica). 

The Mataco also eat iste-Loi berries {Phyaalia viacosa), and the fruits of san'yfi {Araujia 
plumosa) ; katsunLi (Philibertia gracilis) ; kitsawk (Cissus sicyoidea), which are boiled 
and roasted; tsotna-katos ("deer-teats"), which are baked in ashes; and axwatax-Loi, 
which resemble the tasi fruits and the fruits of the newfik creeper. 


The economic value of palm trees for the Mhayd can be well illus- 
trated by the various advantages which these Indians derived from 
the mbocaya palm {Acrocomia sp., probably total) : the fruits, seeds, 
shoots, and pith were eaten ; the sap was made into an alcoholic bever- 
age ; grubs, which grew in the decayed trunks, were greatly relished 
as a food ; and ropes and halters were made from the leaves and needles 
from the thorns. The terminal shoot (palmito) of the caranday palm 
is also an important food for the Pilcomayo tribes. Modern Indians 
in that region, however, do not seem to consume the starch of the 
palm to the same extent that their ancestors did. The Mocovi broiled 
the palmito and pounded it into a flour, which they ate as a mush. 
They were also fond of the fruit kernels, which they consumed raw 
or roasted (Kobler, 1870, p. 235). 

The main vegetable foods of the Chamacoco are algarroba pods, 
shoots of the caranday palm {Oopernicia cerifera)^ the pith of the 
carandaipe palm, the bases of the caraguata leaves, the tubers of an 
aquatic plant, and a wild "manioc" (Baldus, 1931 b, p. 26). The 
Guaranoca collect paquio, chuchio, pifias silvestres, pita jay a, algar- 
roba pods, and the fruits of the totai palm (Oefner, 1942, p. 103) . 

Rice {Oryza perennis), which grows wild in the marshy tracts of 
the upper Paraguay River, was consumed on a large scale by the river 
Indians, the Payagud and Guachi, and even by the Mbayd, who ob- 
tained it from these tribes by barter. The Payagud and Guachi 
harvested the rice by shaking the grains into their canoes, in a way 
similar to that of the Menomini of Wisconsin in harvesting wild rice. 
They ate it without removing the hull (Sanchez Labrador, 1910-17, 

When hard-pressed by hunger, the Mocovi ate the boiled roots of 
the umbu tree (Kobler, 1870, p. 223) . 

Throughout the Chaco, wild fruits and tubers are collected by 
women who search the bush, equipped with a digging stick, a wooden 
hook fastened to a long pole to pull down high branches, and large 
caraguata bags to carry home the harvest. 

The digging stick is made of hard wood (often of palo mataco, 
Achatocarpus praecox) and as a rule, has a spatulated or beveled 
distal end. The digging stick of the Tola and Mataco is about 6 feet 
(1.8 m.) long and of considerable weight. The same tribes also 
use shorter, thinner sticks with a spatulated head, which can be 
carried easily when they wander in the forest and which serve to 
open palm trunks and uproot caraguata plants. The Ahipon and 
Mocovi digging stick was about 4 feet (1.3 m.) long, broad at each end 
but slender in the middle (Dobrizhoffer, 1784, 2: 122). Chamacoco 
women have digging sticks shaped like paddles or clubs with sharp 
edges, a form appropriate for extracting the caranday terminal shoots 


(palmitos). To uproot caraguata leaves, Chaco women used forked 

Before eating the tunas (Barbary figs), which are covered with 
infinitesimal thorns, the women shake the fruit together in elongated 
nets (pi. 60, h) to rub off the dangerous fuzz. 

Chaco Indians are eager honey-gatherers. Bees and honey-pro- 
ducing wasps are numerous in the Chaco. The Mataco know of 16 
different kinds of honey. Some species of bees or wasps make spher- 
ical hives hanging from trees ; others live in trees or in underground 
holes. When wandering in the bush, the men attentively follow the 
flight of each bee, hoping to discover its nest. The Ahipon explained 
their habit of plucking their eyelashes as a measure to improve their 
sight when looking for bees. To reach honey in tree cavities, the 
Indians enlarge the hole with their axes, a lengthly operation when 
they had only stone axes. Unless the cavity is large enough to receive 
a vessel, the Indians dip a coarse fabric of caraguata, fibers into the 
liquid honey and wring it in a skin bag. The Chaco Indians despoil 
a hive entirely and, unlike some Brazilian tribes, leave no combs for 
the bees' return. The larvae in the combs are eaten with the honey 
or, preferably, are roasted. Honey is always stored in a small bag 
made of the entire skin of a small rodent with the hair inside. The 
Guana are said to stupefy the bees with the smoke of a Datura plant, 
which they blow into the cavity before removing the combs. 

The clouds of locusts that cross the Chaco sometimes are an impor- 
tant food resource. The Mocovi drove the insects toward a large 
straw fire which scorched them, or collected them by the hundreds 
and roasted them over a fire. Roasted or dried locusts are often 
pounded in a mortar and boiled in water or fried in fish oil {Mocovi, 
Lengua, and others). The Mocovi stored locusts which they could 
not eat on the spot; they also made a mush of locust eggs. 

Water supply. — Water is scarce throughout large regions of the 
Chaco. In the dry season its lack may become one of the most serious 
problems of survival. The ancient Lule and Vilela who lived south 
of the Bermejo River, bored deep pits in which they stored jars full 
of water for the dry season, or dug large cisterns.-^ The modern 
Lengua have wells 15 to 20 feet (4.5 to 6.1 m.) deep and 21/2 feet 
(0.75 m.) in diameter. These are so made that a man can go down 
by footholds on either side. 

" Camano y Bazfin (1931, p. 331) says: "Snplian la falta de rlos y manantiales perenes 
con el agua llovedisa que se recoge eu ciertos bajfos de tierra, los cuales cavaban y 
profundaban mas, para que el agua recosida en las lluvias durase por mas tiempo. Mas 
como aun esta diligencia no bastaba para que tuviesen agua por todo el aiio, por ser grandes 
los ardores del sol, y muy seca y sedienta la tierra, guardaban en hoyos profundos multitud 
de tinajas grandes llenas de agua para el verano. Guardaban tamblen sandias. Serviales 
asimlsmo de bebidas el jugo de unas raiees grandes manera de botijas, que llama uagali, 
tanto mas jugosas o aguosas que las sandias." 


When in extreme need, the Chaco Indians drink the water that 
collects in the hollow axils of caraguata leaves or dig up the bulky 
tuber of the cipoy {Jacaratia hassleriana; in Mataco^ iletsax). 

Farming. — Agriculture is known to nearly all Chaco tribes. The 
few exceptions are explained by an unfavorable environment rather 
than by cultural reasons, though in some cases the adoption of the 
horse brought the temporary abandonment of farming. 

The ancient Zamuco were farmers and so are their descendants, 
the Moro and Guaranoca^ who cultivate maize, beans, gourds, manioc, 
and cotton ( ? ) .^^ On the other hand, the closely related Ghamacoco 
are almost exclusively collectors and hunters, though even they are 
not entirely ignorant of the principles of agriculture, for they plant 
and carefully tend the gourds necessary for making rattles (Baldus, 
1931 a, p. 32). Here the absence of systematic agriculture must be 
attributed to the nature of the land, for the Tumerehd, a subgroup 
of the same tribe who occupy a more favorable environment, raise a 
few crops and cultivate an imported reed, the caiia de Castilla 
{Arundo donax)^ for arrow shafts. The Payagud, who formerly 
lived on the water, became agriculturists many years after they had 
settled in Asuncion. The first attempt at agriculture was the sowing 
of a few beans in 1824. 

After the AMpon, Mocovi, and Mhayd received the horse they 
found themselves in a better position to live from hand to mouth and 
gave up whatever little farming they might have practiced in the 
past. However, the Abipon and Mocovi obtained crop foods through 
loot and the Mhayd through tribute from their farming vassals, the 
Arawakan-sipeaking Guand. At the end of the 18th century, what- 
ever agriculture was practiced by the Mhayd was in the hands of the 
Guand slaves who lived among them. In the following century, the 
Mhayd themselves became true farmers, when the Whites forced them 
to lead a more sedentary life. It is quite likely that agriculture 
played the same part in the pre-European economy of these tribes 
that it did among other Chaco Indians who did not adopt the horse. 

The best farmers of the Chaco were the Araioakan-s^Q?ikmg Gimnd 
of the north, who depended mainly on the yield of their large planta- 
tions. Every year after they had tilled their fields and planted 
their crops, the Guand moved to the banks of the Paraguay Eiver 
to hunt and fish until harvest time. The Lengua^ who can find only 
small and scattered patches suitable for cultivation, raise few crops, 
but their neighbors, the Ashluslay (Chulupi) are better off, thanks 
to a more favorable habitat. To the Pilagd, whose lands are flooded 
every year, agriculture is more a sport than a profitable pursuit. 
They merely grow a few pumpkins, and some maize and tobacco. 

The ancient Zamuco also planted pe.anuts. 


Compared to the bush Mataco {Matacos montaraces) and the Toba^ 
the river Mataco may be considered proficient gardeners. 

The ancient Gavchi of the Miranda River planted their crops on the 
flooded terrains along the river. As soon as the river receded, they set 
fire to the grass and started to till the soil to grow maize, gourds, 
tobacco, and sweet potatoes. (See Aguirre, 1911, p. 322.) 

Dryness of the soil, lack of chemicals, and excessive floods are not 
the only factors handicapping farming in large parts of the Chaco; 
crops are also threatened by blights, locusts, tordo birds, parakeets, 
peccaries, and by cattle and other domesticated animals. The build- 
ing of a thorn hedge around his field is the heaviest task which befalls 
the Mataco farmer. These fences, heaped up with great effort, do not 
last long and must be replenished twice a year. When thorn trees or 
brush can no longer be obtained within convenient distance, the In- 
dians prefer to abandon the old clearing and to open a new one in some 
other site. In the Spanish jargon of the Chaco, "field" is synonymous 
with "enclosure" (cerco). 

Some fields of the Mataco in the upper Pilcomayo River region 
measure about 10 acres (4 hectares) ; this is also the size of the average 
Kaskihd field. On the other hand, the Pilagd have patches covering 
only a few square yards (meters) . Sanapand plantations rarely exceed 
5 or 8 acres (2 or 3 hectares). They are generally located within a 
thick forest and are reached by a winding path. The owner first 
destroys the low brush and then fells all trees except those which are 
too tall to shade the crops. Even after they have moved to a new site, 
the Lengica, and probably most of the Chaco Indians, return from time 
to time to their old gardens to carry off the produce. 

Most Chaco Indians are careless about the condition of their fields 
and plant the different crops haphazardly in scattered patches. 
Among the Kaskihd, however, old people are said to weed the gardens. 

The main crops raised in the Chaco are : Maize, sweet manioc, beans 
{Phaseolus sp.), pumpkins {Cucurhita maxima), anco {Gucurhita 
moschata), watermelons, gourds {Angaite, Sanapand) , sweet potatoes, 
tobacco, cotton, sorghum, and sugarcane. There are local variations, 
especially in the northern Chaco where the Indians are in contact with 
tropical agriculturists. The modern Guana cultivate, in addition to 
the plants listed above, bitter manioc, cara, several of the Cucurbi- 
taceae, rice, papayas, a species of Cassia, an aroid, the tubers of which 
are boiled in several waters, and urucu. Pumpkins are the preferred 
crop of the Mataco, and maize of the Ashluslay; sweet potatoes are the 
staple of the Kaskilui. The Lengua raise pumpkins, sweet potatoes, 
sweet manioc, tobacco, and a little maize. 

Clearing the brush, fence construction, and occasional weeding are 
everywhere men's activities. There is some doubt as to which sex tills 
and sows. Mataco and Pilagd men till the fields and plant the crops ; 


women harvest. According to Nordenskiold (1912, p. 94), among the 
Choroti and Ashluslay both men and women cooperate in all agricul- 
tural work. The care of the plantation is in the men's hands among the 
Lengua, Kaskihd, and Cruand. 

The main agricultural implement is either a digging stick (fig. 37, c) 
or a wooden paddle-shaped spade (Mataco, Choroti, Ashluslay, 
Guararioca) carved from a single piece of wood and, occasionally, 
provided with a crotch at the proximal end (fig. 35, a) . The shovel of 
the Guana, like that of the Chiriguano and of the Andean Indians of 
southern Bolivia and Atacama, consisted of a wooden blade (also a 
scapula) lashed to a handle 5 feet (1.5 m.) long. When shoveling, a 
Guana sat on the ground and turned up the soil within reach, then 
moved to another spot -^ (Sanchez Labrador, 1910-17, 2 : 292) . 

The Mataco maintain guards in their fields to scare off the swarms 
of parrots and other birds which plunder the ripe crops, or lay snares 
to catch them. 

When a crop has been destroyed by blight, the Lengua consult a 
shaman who himself brings, or who sends by someone else, charms to 
drive away the evil and to restore fertility to the soil. Unfruitful 
plants are spat upon to make them bear again (Grubb, 1904, p. 81). 

Fishing. — During 2 or 3 months each year, fishing is the principal 
economic activity and fish the staple food of those tribes that have 
access to large rivers, such as the Pilcomayo and the Bermejo. Even 
the equestrian Mbayd spent several weeks along the Paraguay Kiver 
living exclusively on fish. For this period, they built flimsy shelters 
along the water so situated that, in case of danger, fire or smoke sig- 
nals could be seen by everyone. 

Even inland bush groups try to settle on the river banks during the 
fishing season notwithstanding the peril of poaching on the territory 
of other tribes. To avoid open warfare, agreements are sometimes 
reached between the river and bush people. Thus, the Ashluslay, when 
at peace with the Pilagd, lend them their fishweirs. Many inland 
tribes trade maize or other foods for dried or smoked fish. 

Collective fishing is common among the Pilagd, Ashluslay, and 
Mataco of the Pilcomayo River, but on the Bermejo River it is more 
often an individual activity. There is scant discipline in these com- 
munal drives, and everyone stops fishing at his own will. 

In the swampy regions near the mouth of the Pilcomayo River, fish 
are often so thick in the stagnant pools that they can be dipped out 
by hand. The Lengua catch fish in the same manner in small streams 

23 "El modo que tienen en labrar la tierra es singular. Con las palas arriba dichas 
mueven la tierra y deshcrban, no al modo que lo hacen los Espauoles, sino sentados. 
Enhastan las palas en unos cabos largos do vara y media : si^ntase el Ghana, y trabaja 
cuanto alcanza la pala ; asl, mudando sitios, limpia y compone el terrene de su sementera" 
(Sanchez Labrador, 1910-17, 1 : 291-292). 


which they dam when the annual flood recedes. Both the Ashluslay 
and the Lengua fish in low waters with conical wicker baskets, about 
2 feet (0.6 m.) high and open at the base and apex. They drop them 
over the fish, which they seize with their hands through the hole at the 
top. The same Indians set wickerwork fish traps in larger streams. 

There is no record of native hooks other than those of the Lengua and 
KasJcihd (Hassler, 1894, p. 333), which are said to have been made of 
bone or wood. The Lengua angle with very short lines from their 
canoes or as they stand in the water. The Mataco^ it is said, employ 
large wooden hooks for catching caimans. Angling with iron hooks 
is especially rewarding when the rivers are high and fish come to the 
banks to eat ant larvae and other insects which fall into the water near 
the crumbling banks. The Indians, however, often lose their catch 
to the palometa fish, which tears it or cuts the line. 

Net fishing, by far the most profitable method, is practiced during 
the dry season when rivers can be forded and dams built, and when 
shoals of fish migrate upstream. 

Nets are of two types: (1) Those with a frame of two long poles 
which open and close like scissors; and (2) those mounted on two bent 
flexible rods attached to each other at both ends (pi. 48). 

Wlien word comes that fish are ascending the river, the Indians 
start to construct a fence of branches in the water parallel or diagonal 
to the shore.2* j^^ night a group of fishermen, holding nets of the 
first type, bar the downstream end of the channel between the fence 
and the shore (fig. 24). One or two men zigzag from the other end 
of the channel striking the water with a long pole, which makes an 
explosive noise and drives the fish toward the men with the nets, who 
scoop them out of the water, wrap them in their nets to immobilize 
them, and stun them with short round clubs. The fishermen thread 
each fish through the gills with a wooden needle and hang it on a cord 
wrapped around their waist. 

Wiien this method is used in the daytime, the water beaters drive 
the fish by diving in the water with a net of the second type in which 
they scoop up any fish that pass by. 

In the low waters of the Pilcomayo and Bermejo Eivers, the Indians 
build a zigzag weir with narrow openings; in front of each opening, 
a platform is raised, from which they catch in large scissor nets fish 
descending the stream (fig. 25). On cold nights fishermen warm 
themselves by fires that burn on a layer of earth on the platforms. 
Identical platforms are placed at river bends where the eddies push 
the fish against the shore. 

The Pilcomayo River bed is full of depressions and holes, which are 
well known to the Indians and in which fish can always be caught, 

" One which I saw was about 100 yards (91 m.) 



[B. A. E. Bull. 143 

Figure 2'1.—A8hluslay fishermen with barring nets. Pilcomayo River, Gran Chaco, 
(After Rosen, 1924, fig. 113. Sketched from photo by E. Nordenskiold.) 

Vol. 1] 





especially in cold weather when they are numb. An Indian holding 
the second type of dip net dives, opens his net under water, and returns 
to the surface with his catch. He then hurries to warm himself by a 
fire. In low water, a fisherman, using the same net, holds the lower 
stick of the frame close to the bottom, draws the net slowly along, and 
closes it on his prey. A group of fishermen may also corner fish along 
the river bank and scoop up scores in their nets and throw them on 
the shore.2° 

The Lengua catch eels and lungfish (Lepidosiren) , which abound 
in their region, with slender spears. They also take them by hand, 
and wear a band of small bones across the palm of the hand to get a 
better hold (Grubb, 1913, p. 82). The Mataco, Tola (pi. 48), and 
Pilagd^ especially in cold weather, spear fish with long bamboo rods 
tipped with wire. The Mataco of the Bermejo River fish with a crude 
harpoon consisting of a 15-foot (4.5-m.) pole of light wood to which 
a small f oreshaf t is attached at the distal end ; the detachable head is 
the sharpened tip of a cow horn with a lateral flange and a hole for 
the string on the edge (fig. 36, h). The long recovery cord is not 
tied to the shaft, but is held by the fisherman. Similar harpoons, 
known to the Mocovi, have been described by Baucke (1870, p. 2G5 ; see 
also Baucke, 1935, pi. 16). Heads of this type have been found in the 
Parana Delta, where such harpoons were employed as a thrusting 

During the flood season, the Indians shoot fish with bows and arrows, 
the Mataco using harpoon arrows. Pilagd fishermen sometimes shoot 
from a flimsy platform in the trees overhanging the water, where a 
crude fence open at both ends brings the fish within shooting range. 

No Chaco tribe stupefies fish with poison. The Mataco and Choroti 
lure fish by throwing the leaves of a creeper or of the bobo tree or 
branches of chanar into the water, and then shoot the fish when they 
nibble the bait. 

When they wade in shallow, calm waters, usually teeming with 
ferocious palometa fish which may tear off large pieces of their flesh, 
fishermen often wear protective "stockings" knitted of caraguata 
fibers or, in modern times, canvas gaiters. 

Hunting. — Hunting was an important economic pursuit for all 
Chaco tribes, especially for those who, like the Bush Mataco, had no 
access to the river. Scarcity of game is one cause for the decline of the 
Pilagd and a factor which compels them to serve the Whites. Pos- 
session of the horse facilitated the capture of game and thus increased 

'• Dobrizhoffer (1784, 1:376) describes a fishing method which has not been 
among modern Chaco Indians: "For fishing they yvilcla and Payagud] use a very small 
net, two ends of which they fasten before them, as you would an apron, at the same time 
holding the two others with their hands. Thus accoutred they jump from the shore into the 
water, and if they spy any fish at the bottom, swim after it, catch it in the net, which they 
place under its body, and carry it to shore." 


the economic value of hunting in several tribes. Except during the 
busy fishing season, one or the other person in an extended family is 
always engaged in hunting. Whenever a group travels to a new terri- 
tory, the men scatter in search of game, while women slowly move 
along under their heavy burdens. 

Collective hunting was more common among horsemen than among 
foot Indians. Parties of 20 or 30 Mhayd oy Mocovi horsemen encir- 
cled a wide area and gradually closed in, driving the game to the center, 
where they killed the animals by hurling their clubs or by knocking 
them down at close range. 

Burning grasslands or the bush is a common hunting method 
throughout the Chaco. Even if the fire does not raise large game, it 
always puts to flight hundreds of small rodents at which the hunters 
hurl short clubs with bulging heads. The charred carcasses of animals 
overtaken by the fire are gathered up and eaten on the spot. Later 
the Indians return to the fired area to stalk the countless deer lured by 
the salty ashes or the thick and tender new grass. 

The winter hunting drives of the Bermejo River Indians also re- 
quire the collaboration of many people. Two parties of about 100 men 
set fire to the bush along parallel lines ; the animals caught between 
two walls of fire seek to escape at the ends, where they are met by the 
hunters, who kill them with spears, clubs, or arrows. 

The Mhayd surrounded the open space between two thickets with a 
flimsy fence. When a herd entered the few openings in the enclosure, 
the Indians closed the gates with strings and killed the terrified 
animals. The Mocovi captured rheas in the same way, but used a 
fresh skin full of flies as a bait. 

From every point of view the most desirable game are rheas, deer, 
and peccaries. In order to get within range of the rheas, hunters 
cover their heads and shoulders with bundles of grass or palm leaves 
and slowly approach the unsuspecting birds until within arrow or 
bola range. The Pilcomayo River Indians disguise themselves with 
rhea feathers and, stretching one arm over their head, mimic the 
movements of their prey so skillfully that the birds remain indif- 
ferent to their presence until they are shot. When the Lengua 
hunters discover a flock of rheas in scrub country, they block up 
the open spaces between the various copses with brushwood, and 
other Indians lying in wait at given points drive the birds toward 
the fence, which, however flimsy, prevents their flight (Grubb, 1913, 
p. 85). 

The Mhayd shot white-lipped peccaries {Tayassu pecari) with 
arrows or clubbed them at close range, despite the danger of attacking 
these animals when roused. Peccaries were also driven into a river, 
where they were slaughtered, or into a deep ditch covered with twigs, 
where they fell on top of one another. 

583486—46 17 



[B. A. E. Bdll. 143 

The Chaco Indians assume that red head bands or red ponchos so 
fascinate deer that they are unable to run away, thus allowing the 
hunter to walk within shooting range. They also know how to 
decoy animals by imitating their calls. Some hunters build blinds 
near watering places from which they shoot game. 

The equestrian Indians did most of their hunting on horseback. 
Naked Mhayd hunters riding bareback on specially trained horses, 
pursued deer until they were abreast of them and could either knock 
them down with clubs or transfix them with spears. The use of 
bows and arrows was restricted to hunting in thickets where horses 
could not move freely. 

Jaguars are surrounded by hunters armed with spears and are 
killed when they attempt to break through the circle of assailants. 
The Mhayd caught jaguars in a ring of fire and slew the animals 
with clubs and spears. They also caught them in a trap which con- 
sisted of a spring-pole noose trap. The Mocovi and Mataco combined 
this type of trap with a pitfall. For various traps, see figures 26, 
27, and 28. 

Figure 26. — Mataco traps, a. Bird trap ; h, spring-pole trap ; c, trigger releasing trap. 

The marshes and lagoons of the Chaco teem with water birds 
which are easy to kill when they are surprised at night roosting on 
trees or sleeping in the pools. Hunters hurl a rain of sticks at them 
or confuse them with torches and kill them at their leisure. 

Concealed by clumps of weeds or by calabashes, the Indians swim 
toward ducks and drown them by pulling them under water by the 

VOL. 1] 



legs. Calabashes are thrown into the water previously, so that the 
birds become familiar with their appearance and do not suspect 
the ruse. 

FiGUEB 27. — Mataco traps, a. Fox trap with sliding door. The interior mechanism Is 
shown at right ; 5, fox trap with interior mechanism shown at left. The V-shaped 
aperture Is arranged inside the doorway. By entering door to get the bait, the animal 
releases the spring pole and is strangled. 

Other animals of lesser economic value hunted by Chaco Indians 
are anteaters, foxes, otter, caimans, armadillos, carpinchos, iguanas, 
and, occasionally, tapirs. Caimans are speared along the shore or are 


killed with a harpoon tipped with a wooden or bone head {Mhayd and 
Mocovi) . Otter are stalked with dogs and beaten to death with sticks. 
Hunters wear hunting charms sewn into belts or in small pouches. 
The magic bundle for catching rheas is made of this bird's neck and 
contains grass, leaves, and other foods eaten by it. The Pilagd 
paint themselves black when hunting rheas, believing that the birds 
will not recognize them. The Indians rub their bodies with special 
plants to insure good luck. In order to establish a bond between 
themselves and the rheas which will facilitate their hunting luck, 
some Lengua bury a wooden egg in the ground and sit on it for a 
short while (Alarcon y Caiiedo, 1924, p. 50). The Lengua also use 

>,1, '..■■', . ,< n'wC'-^^t'-.i'''" L '/'' 

Figure 28. — Mataco jaguar trap. Schematic representation of pitfall and spring pole. 
Animal falling into pit releases spring pole and rings bell on tree. 

wax images as hunting charms, and on the night before a hunting 
party, they chant to the rhythm of their rattles to lure the prey to 
special areas. The ancient Mocovi smeared their dogs' snouts and 
their horses with jaguar blood to make them scent the animal from 

Mataco and Lengua hunters always pluck the head feathers of birds 
they have shot and scatter them along the path to confuse and deceive 
the birds' spirits. 

Distribution of game. — ^Wlien several Mhayd hunted together, the 
man who dealt the animal the death blow had the first right to the 
carcass and directed its division among the hunters (Sanchez Labra- 
dor, 1910-17, 1 : 202) . The Mocovi, on the contrary, gave the game to 
the man who hit it first, even though someone else actually killed the 


animal (Furlong C, 1938 c, p. 106). The leader of a Mhayd hunting 
party received the heart of the slain animal. 

Food taboos. — Unless influenced by some magic belief, Chaco In- 
dians show little discrimination in the choice of their food. Those 
who live in harsh surroundings, like the bush Mataco, are least par- 
ticular; without reluctance they eat anteaters, wildcats, otter, foxes, 
armadillos, land turtles, water serpents, frogs, snails, lizards, and rhea 
(iiandu) eggs in any condition. 

Most Chaco Indians strongly believe that the properties of an animal 
are easily transmissible to those who eat its flesh. To absorb the 
jaguar's fierceness, the Ahipon ate even the smallest morsel of its meat 
or drank its fat. But, fearing to acquire "sloth, langor and cowardice," 
they despised hens, sheep, and turtles. Some food taboos depend on a 
person's age; old people who are no longer active have no dread of 
certain foods. Thus Mataco greyheads may eat armadillos, but 
young people avoid them lest they become lazy because this animal 
turns sluggish when the air is chilly. Skunk and fox flesh likewise are 
tasted only by the aged. Deer marrow was greatly relished by elderly 
Mocovi males, but was strictly forbidden to young warriors for reasons 
slated in a myth. The Mataco never eat peccary lest they get tooth- 
aches and their teeth chatter as do those of this animal when it is 
roused. The liver of any game animal causes the teeth to decay. The 
Toha fear that the meat of the collared peccary and the domesticated 
pig will give them ulcers on the nose. The Mataco shun deer meat for 
unexplained reasons. 

Though rhea eggs, fresh or half hatched, are a favorite food, chicken 
eggs are never eaten. Milk, easily obtained from cows, sheep, and 
goats, is shunned because it is thought to transmit undesirable traits 
of these animals. 

Food preparation. — Meat is roasted on a spit or is boiled. The 
Mataco, Choroti, Ashliislay, and probably many other tribes sometimes 
bake a large piece of game in an earth oven — a round pit, wider at 
the bottom than at the top — in which wood is burned. Some of the 
ashes are removed and the unskinned game is placed in the pit and 
covered with straw and soil. The Ashluslay and Tsirakua earth oven 
is provided with a lateral funnel. 

No part of roast game is wasted. The intestines are simply 
squeezed and their half-digested contents often consumed as "vege- 
tables." The Indians roast small camp rats, of which they are very 
fond, without even opening the carcasses. 

A Kaskihd specialty is a sort of pie or sausage made of chopped 
rhea (nandu) liver, blood, and grease stuffed in this bird's oesophagus 
and baked under the ashes. Any grease that remains is mixed with 
rhea eggs and salt and put into a bladder to be cooked in the same 


fashion. The Mhayd seem to have learned from the Spaniards how 
to prepare jerked meat. 

Fish are inserted between the two halves of a split stick, which is 
stuck by the fire. Sometimes To'ba coat fish with clay and bake them 
under ashes. 

Broiled fish keep for a long time and are stored on the roofs of the 
huts. The entrails and the fat liver of fish or game are fried and the 
melted grease eaten as gravy with several vegetables or with the meat 

Most of the wild tubers collected by the Mataco are either boiled 
for a whole day or are roasted and then cooked in water. One of the 
most palatable foods of the bush is a creeper {Mataco: xwiyelax), 
which is first roasted and then boiled. The leaves of the edible 
Bromelias ^^ are baked in ashes. The seeds of the same Bromelias are 
roasted, crushed, and boiled. Tasi fruits are roasted in ashes and 
eaten with fish grease. 

Algarroba and tusca pods and mistol fruits are crushed in a mortar 
(pi. 49) and eaten mixed with water. Everybody sits around the 
vessel containing the mush, seizes a handful of it and sucks out the 
flesh, then puts the inedible seeds or skins back in the pot until nothing 
substantial is left. The Ashluslay, Lengua, Mhayd,, and probably 
other Chaco Indians make cakes out of algarroba flour kneaded with 
water and baked. Chanar fruits are boiled, smashed in a mortar, 
and then kneaded into balls. The terminal shoots of palms are eaten 
raw, roasted, or boiled. To obtain the starchy pith of palm trees, 
the Mhayd extracted the long fibers imbedded in starch from the 
lower part of the trunk. They either pounded them in a mortar 
and sucked them or else dried them on a platform in the sun or over 
the fire, pounded them, sifted them through a net, and then made 
them into loaves or cakes. 

Palm fruits were eaten raw in natural form or were first crushed in 
a mortar ; they were often boiled to make a thick mush. The fruits 
(cocos) of the namogologi palms (mbocaya, Acrocomia total) were 
eaten raw or were first roasted in the ashes ; the kernels were broken 
to extract the seeds, and those with flesh still adhering were boiled into 
a thick syrup. Modern Toha pound the pith of the caranday palms 
{Copernida cerifera) in a mortar and then boil it into a mush. The 
Lengua grate palm pith to make it into a flour for cakes. 

Young tender maize is generally roasted in ashes or boiled in water. 
The grains of mature maize are boiled. The Mataco,, like the Ghiri- 
guano^ roast the maize grains, pound them, and make a mush with 
the flour. 

*• One species is used only for rope making. 


The seeds of the naranja del monte require lengthy treatment to 
soften them and remove their bitterness. They are pounded in a 
mortar to break the hull, which is then peeled by hand. Then they 
are piled in a bag and immersed in water for a whole night, after 
which they are cooked in several waters and sometimes mashed again 
in a mortar. 

The fruits of the sachasandia must be boiled five times in different 
waters to get rid of their poisonous element. 

At the end of summer, the Pilcomayo and Bermejo Kiver Indians 
consume large quantities of pods which appear and taste like string 
beans and are therefore called "porotos del monte" {Capparis retusa). 
They must be boiled in five different waters to remove the bitter 

Food storage. — In summer the Indians gather great quantities of 
algarroba or chaiiar which last several months after the harvest, but 
seldom tide them over the actual period of scarcity in winter. The 
main food reserves consist of porotos del monte, dried naranja del 
monte (Capparis speciosa), the poisonous fruits of the sachasandia 
{Oapparis salicifolia) , and smoked or dried pumpkins. To preserve 
them, the porotos del monte and the naranja del monte are often 
baked in an earth oven before exposure to the sun. The seeds of the 
naranja del monte are boiled and sun dried until they are as hard 
as stone and will keep for more than a year. At harvest time, the 
Mataco, like the ancient Mhayd, make winter provisions of pumpkins. 
The pumpkins are cut into halves, which are sun dried or smoked on a 
wooden platform. The seeds are roasted. The ancient Mhayd boiled 
pumpkin seeds, pounded them in a mortar, and then boiled them again 
until they turned into a thick mush. Preserved foods are heaped 
in some corner of the hut or in special granaries. 

Storehouses, quite common among the Mataco but rare in the eastern 
Chaco, are built like the Chiriguano pile granaries, but are far smaller 
(pi. 51) . The roof, built above a low platform, is flat and the walls are 
imperfectly closed with branches. These storehouses contain the 
fruits pooled by the women of the household and become their com- 
mon property. If somebody in the family asks for a gift of algarroba, 
the headwoman of the household makes the distribution. 

Some Chaco Indians — especially the Mhayd — feast on the fat beetle 
larvae that thrive in plam trees. These are fried in their own grease. 

Condiments. — Chaco Indians season their food with the ashes of 
various plants, e. g., vidriera {Mocovi^ AMpon), saladillo (Ashlus- 
lay), and oe bush (Toha). Tribes living near the Andes obtain rock 
salt from the Chiriguano or Quechua of the region of Tarija, where 
large salt deposits have been the object of a continuous trade since 
pre-Hispanic times. 


The Toba season their food with small oval fruits which taste like 
pepper and are called aja del monte. 

Cooking utensils. — The Chaco tribes who raise manioc, such as 
the Ashluslay^ Choroti^ and certain Mataco groups, grate it on rasps 
made of a piece of wood with imbedded wooden splinters. This 
instrument is probably rare since its existence is reported only by 

To open and scale fish, the Indians formerly used a square, sharp- 
edged piece of hard wood, which today is often replaced by a wooden 
imitation of a steel knife. 

Calabashes and shells serve respectively as plates and spoons, but 
true wooden spoons (fig. 32, h) were carved by the Indians near the 
Cordillera who were subjected to Andean influence. In many tribes 
{Toba, Ashluslay, etc.), horn spoons have become quite popular since 
the introduction of cattle. The Pilagd also make long oval clay dip- 
pers which have replaced shells. The Mocovi had rawhide spoons 
which they shaped by molding the wet skin in a hole in the ground. 

Mortars are dug out of palm or espinillo {Acacia sp.) tree stumps 
and are always suflBciently small to be carried easily during the fre- 
quent group migrations (fig. 35, 5, c). The handles of the digging 
sticks are used as pestles. When traveling, the Mocovi and the Ash- 
luslay may improvise mortars by digging pits in the ground and 
lining them with skins or with hard clay. 


Dogs. — Modern Chaco Indians are surrounded by packs of fam- 
ished dogs, which are a constant threat to food and to any object 
within their reach. The attitude toward dogs is peculiar. The In- 
dians starve and maltreat them (pi. 74) , but they would be grievously 
offended if anyone were to kill them. The ravenous animals devour 
everything they can gnaw, from algarroba pods to skins and human 
excrement. Tliey bark at the slightest noise and thus are useful as 
watchdogs, though they respond alike to the approach of animals and 
men. The Pilagd and Mataco train their dogs to hunt peccaries, 
rabbits, or iguanas, and to force armadillos out of their burrows. The 
Mataco are proud of the dogs that "feed themselves," that is, those 
capable of catching rabbits on their own. 

The ancient Ahijyon and Mhayd were more kindly disposed toward 
their dogs than the Pilcomayo River Indians. Women would suckle 
puppies, and would always make sure that no dogs were left when 
they moved camp. They rewarded hunting dogs with the entrails 
of game. 

Zoologically, Chaco dogs are mongrels of varied European strains, 
but if Krieg (1939) is correct, some may have aboriginal Indian 


canine ancestors. There is some historical evidence that the Chaco 
Indians did not have domesticated dogs before their contacts with the 
Whites. The Machicuy (a Mascoi tribe) received their first dogs 
at the end of the 18th century, and the Mlayd must have acquired 
them only a little sooner. 

Livestock. — Most of the Chaco tribes early began to herd sheep, 
probably at the end of the 17th century, and owned large flocks. 
Next to horses, they most frequently stole sheep from the Whites. 
In an Ashluslay village of about 400 inhabitants, Nordenskiold 
(1912, p. 55) counted 500 sheep and goats. 

Weaving, probably of little importance in the pre-Hispanic era, 
developed considerably after the introduction of sheep. Mutton and 
the flesh of other domesticated animals were shunned by the 

The Ahipon and Mocovi stole thousands of cattle in raids on the 
Spanish ranches, but never became herdsmen like the Goajiro. Most 
of the cattle were slaughtered to provide for immediate needs and 
the stock replenished by further raids. Not long ago the Mhayd 
hunted the wild cattle roaming in their territory exactly as they did 
deer. Nordenskiold's Ashluslay village had also about 200 cows and 
the same number of horses. 

Goats are fairly common in native villages of the Pilcomayo Eiver 
region. They are also kept for their flesh. Indians, as a rule, have 
always expressed the greatest disgust for milk. 

Donkeys are in great demand among the western tribes, who never 
have had many horses. They carry the stores of algarroba and the 
furniture during camp migrations, thus relieving the women from 
their heaviest duty. 

Chickens spread through the Chaco with great rapidity, but never 
played an important part in Indian economy. 

In addition to the large number of domesticated animals, the In- 
dians like to keep pets. Ahipon women are said to have nursed baby 

The Guana, Mhayd, and Mocovi, like many Amazonian tribes, 
plucked the feathers of tame green parrots and rubbed the bare spots 
with urucu or with other pigments. The new feathers grew in yellow, 
the favorite color for feather ornaments (Sanchez Labrador, 1910-17, 

Horses. — The Ahipon and Mhayd must have had enormous herds 
of horses, if Dobrizhoffer does not exaggerate when he reports that 
from some raids a warrior would come back with at least 400 horses 
and that 100,000 horses were captured by the Ahipon within about 
50 years. The 380 Caduveo who in 1802 settled at Albuquerque had 
1,200; the Mhayd of the region of Coimbra had from 0,000 to 8,000 


horses. The possession of so many horses forced these Indians to 
look for suitable pastures and modified their whole economy. 

The Mhayd took good care of their horses. They bled them when 
sick, picked out their worms, and when a foal was born during a 
journey, carried it on another horse (Sanchez Labrador, 1910-17, 

In both training and trapping, the Indians tended to follow Span- 
ish styles. When, for instance, they noticed the Spanish gaited 
horses, they did their best to train their own horses in the same way. 
Indian horses were remarkably well adapted to Chaco life. They 
ran across the bush, dodging palms and thorny trees without guidance 
by the rider. They were also so well trained for hunting that they 
responded immediately to the slightest touch when game was seen or 
heard. Some Ahipon horses were taught to wait for their masters 
without stirring, and the Mb ay a horses were so tame that their riders 
could mount by stepping up on the horses' knees. 

The Mhayd broke in their horses by riding them in a marsh until 
they were exhausted; consequently their horses could cross swamps 
with great ease. 

When the Indians first adopted the horse, they had too few contacts 
with the Spaniards to be able to acquire their elaborate trappings. 
The bit was often a rope or a piece of leather tied around the horse's 
lower jaw. Saddles were quite rare and were seldom used by men. 
Even in 1762, Mhayd men rode bareback, although women used sad- 
dles. Gradually, however, the Indians became more interested in the 
complicated bits and saddles which were the pride of the Creole horse- 
men. The 18th-century Ahipon and Mocovi made wooden or horn imi- 
tations of the iron curb bits of the Spaniards. In the same period, the 
Mhayd guided their horses either with a simple wooden bit or with a 
strap tied around the horse's lower jaw, to which a head stall of leather 
or of woman's hair was attached. The forehead band was trimmed 
with metal plates, beads, and bells. The Mocovi bridles and halters 
were often braided with leather strips mixed with feather quills which 
stood out as an ornament. 

The Ahipon saddle is described by Dobrizhoffer (1784, 2: 120) as a 
"raw bull hide stuffed with reed bundles." These two bundles (bastos) , 
which rest on both sides of the horse's spine and prevent saddle sores, 
were also part of the Mhayd, Mocovi, and Pilagd saddles. Over the 
bundles, the Mhayd placed several rush mats covered by a large deer- 
skin or by blankets embroidered with beads. Jaguar skins were re- 
garded by the Ahipon as the most elegant saddle covers. 

The Mocovi and Pilagd horsemen were the only Chaco Indians who 
used rudimentary stirrups and spurs. Their stirrups were either a 
wooden ring large enough for the insertion of one toe or a simple stick 


or disk on which the rider could place two toes. The spurs, of which 
they never used more than one, were a simple forked branch attached 
to the heel with the projecting stem somewhat sharpened (fig. 32, g). 

Ahipon men mounted their horses from the right, leaning on their 
long spears ; women got up from the left without any help. 

Mocovi women saddled and pastured their husbands' horses. The 
Mocovi attached stuffed rheas (iiandus) on the back of their horses to 
frighten the flies away. 

The Mhayd caught their horses with a loop attached at the end of a 
long pole or with bolas, methods learned from the mission Guarani 
(Sanchez Labrador, 1910-17, 1 : 245). 


The Indians of the Pilcomayo and Bermejo Rivers live in crude and 
primitive houses which contrast sharply with their achievements in 
other arts and crafts. House construction is the women's task. With 
digging sticks they make an oval or sometimes a circular set of holes 
into which they plant small tree trunks or stout limbs, with the thick 
ends down, and the lateral branches uncut to add to the solidity of the 
structure. The slender tips, bent inward, interlace to form a vaulted 
frame on which are thrown loose palm leaves or grass or both. Such 
roofs afford some protection against the sun but not against the rain, 
which drenches those who do not take shelter under skins or reed mats. 
These dwellings are never high enough for one to stand upright. They 
are entered through one or more low openings, on one side of which a 
rudimentary screen projects slightly so as to form in certain cases a 
short porch or vestibule of branches or leaves. 

As a rule, groups of related families reside in long communal houses 
which are merely a series of individual huts linked together end to 
end, without internal partitions. Each comparment has a separate 

The Pilagd and Ashluslay house (pi. 50) often has an ellipsoidal 
ground plan with one slightly concave side. Long houses sometimes 
face each other across a wide street or plaza. Under Mestizo in- 
fluence, the Pilagd (pi. 51), Toha^ Macd^ and Ashluslay build long 
communal houses which, from the outside, look like their primitive 
huts, but actually have a rigid framework with a ridge pole and 
rafters hidden under a thick layer of leaves or grass. Houses with 
the modernized structure are, however, higher than the ancient ones 
and often one long side remains open. The Toba near the Paraguay 
River construct similar houses with flat roofs and walls of rush mats. 
The Mestizo hut, with its flat roof resting on forked tree trunks and 
its grass or reed walls, has been imitated wherever the Indians are 
in close contact with civilization. Temporary huts are cruder than 


the more permanent dwellings; their framework is reduced to a few 
sticks and the grass covering is scant and runs only halfway down. 

The Ghamacoco, Lengua^ Mhayd^ Ahipon, Toba, Pikigd, and 
Payagud"" camp under bulrush mats laid on a flimsy framework of 
sticks, or stretch on the low branches of some tree {Ohamacoco^ 
Caipotorade). Dobrizhoffer (1784, 2:127) describes these "tents" 
as follows : To two poles in the ground, they tie a mat folded two or 
three times to make a wind and rain shield. A ditch dug beside the 
tent drains off rain water. Some temporary Lengua or Ashluslay 
villages are composed of one or more long lines of such mat-houses. 
The Mocovi and Payagud build identical wind screens often of skins 
instead of bulrushes. The Pilagd use mat wind screens or sunshades 
in their more permanent villages. When moving, the Indians roll 
up the mats, wrapping within them most of their belongings, and 
women carry them on their backs or load them on horses or donkeys. 

"When camping in the open, the Mataco heap branches and grass 
against a row of sticks planted in the ground. The Chamacoco settled 
near trading stations sleep in corrals of several semicircular lean-tos 
joined together. 

Circular camps seem to have been distinctive of the ancient 
ZaTrmcoans. One of their nomadic tribes, the now extinct Gaipoterade^ 
are said always to have arranged their flimsy mat cabins around a 
circular plaza (Muriel, 1918, p. 208). 

The largest and strongest houses in the Chaco are those of the 
northern tribes: Sanapand, Kaskihd, Guand, and Mhayd-Guaicuru. 
They are simple gable roofs supported by three parallel rows of 
vertical posts. One wing of the roof slopes almost to the ground, 
forming the back of the house, and the other projects beyond the 
wall plate to form a continuous porch along the open front. The 
narrow ends either remain open or are shut with mats or slanting 
poles.^^ The ancient Mhayd covered their hut frames with bulrush 
mats which were tied together, and sometimes added a few supple- 
mentary rows of low vertical posts so as to extend the matting closer 
to the ground. According to the weather, they lowered or raised these 
mats and they always had a few in storage to close the gaps through 
which rain might penetrate. The wet rushes expanded making the 
mats waterproof. When moving to new pastures, the Mhayd carried 
the strong bamboo house rafters and the mat walls. Kaskihd huts 

^ The Payagud had high huts for summer, low ones for winter. "En cuanto la 
construcciOn siempre es igual y se reduce a plantar cinco palitos de horqueta que forman 
por BUS traviesas la figura de tejado. Se atraviesan algunas cafias y lo cubren con sus 
esteras. Queda sin mas muebles ni trabajo hecha la casa y para quitar la fuerza del 
viento que pasarfa por el toldo le cierran por la parte de varlovento con las mismas esteras 
a pique" (Aguirre, 1911, p. 332). 

«*Por a description of the Kaskihd hut, see Comlnges, 1892, p. 176. For the Mbayd 
hut, see Sanchez Labrador, 1910-17, 1 : 268-274. 


formerly were thatched with reeds ; today they are roofed with split 
caranday {Copemicia cerifera) trunks. 

Mhayd houses were set end to end in a horseshoe or semicircular 
plan around a plaza which was kept scrupulously clean, and from 
which horses were excluded (pi. 52). The chief's house was always 
in the middle of the row ; among modern Mhayd-Caduveo^ it is larger 
and better built than the others. The space between the front and 
the central posts of each house was left free and formed a kind of 
passage around the village. The divisions between the individual 
huts were marked by forked poles from which hung various objects 
(pi. 52). 

In the 18th century, the long Guana huts, like Paressi communal 
houses, had an arched roof descending to the ground and rounded 
extremities. The framework consisted of flexible poles, which were 
bent and tied in the middle. These huts were from 50 to 65 feet 
(16 to 20 m.) long, 26 feet (8 m.) wide, and 16 to 20 feet (5 to 6 m.) 
high. They were artfully covered with a straw thatching in which 
were smoke holes. The doors, 1 at each end and 3 along one of the 
long sides, were closed with mats. Each hut housed an extended family 
sometimes consisting of 12 biological families. The houses were 
grouped around a large rectangular plaza. 

The Guarafioca of the northern Chaco live in conical huts about 
7 feet (2 m.) high and 9 to 12 feet (2.5 to 3.5 m.) in diameter. The 
frame of sticks supported by a central post, is covered with leaves, 
mud, and twigs (Oefner, 1942, p. 103). 

The temporary huts of the Sanapa7ui, Angaite, Sapuki and Kaskihd 
are flimsy structures identical to the beehive houses of the Pilcomayo 
region. When camping in the bush, the Guarafioca enclosed their 
shelters with a circle of thorny branches. 

When selecting a village site, the Indians take into consideration, 
first, security, and, second, proximity to water, food supply, and 
pastures for horses and cattle. For safety, they prefer the edge of 
the bush into which they can run if they are surprised by an attack. 
The Kashihd are the only Indians who place their villages on hill- 
tops. Location is frequently changed seasonally or following a death. 
In the northern Chaco where water is scarce, villages are more 
permanent and houses are often better built. 

The size of the settlements varies considerably; some have about 
50 inhabitants, others, especially the As hluslay, 1,000. 

As a rule, the Indians stay and even sleep out of doors unless 
excessive heat or rain forces them to crawl into their huts. The 
Mataco, Choroti, Ashluslay, and Macd erect simple square sheds in 
front of their huts under which they cook or now and then take a 
nap. The Pilagd and Ashluslay are apparently the only Chaco 


Indians who have a club house, that is, a shelter where men meet 
and sometimes spend the night. Some Pilagd and Ashluslay villages 
have a crude palisade before the houses, which serves as the backwall 
of a series of open sheds under which to sit and chat or work. 


Most Chaco huts contain no furniture other than rough skins with 
the hairy side underneath or rush mats, which are their beds and 
seats. The Mataco^ Toba, and Lengua^ who have been under 
Mestizo influence, sleep on crude bedsteads. Wlien the Giumd lived 
in the Chaco they slept on mats though they were already good 
weavers and certainly had not forgotten the use of the hammock. In 
the middle of the 19th century, hammocks figured among the best 
articles which they made to trade with the Neo-Brazilians. Ham- 
mocks were also used by the mission Zamuco. Among the Pilcomayo 
and Bermejo River tribes, fiber hammocks, though commonly used, 
serve only as cradles for babies. The Mocovi cradle was a skin 
attached to two posts. 

The Mhayd^ Kaskihd, and Guana after their migration to Matto 
Grosso built low, sloping platforms, made of split palms, along the 
back of the dwelling (pi. 52). They covered these with mats, which, 
rolled up during the day, served as seats. The Chamacoco protected 
themselves from the moist soil with a rough palm-trunk floor. 

In every Chaco hut there hangs from the interlaced twigs of the 
roof, skin bags, carrying nets containing ornaments, seeds, spun and 
unspun wool, drugs, and all sorts of possessions. The bows and 
arrows are thrust into the thatching. On the floor, pots and cala- 
bashes add to the confusion and untidiness of these hovels. 

The Chamacoco and Morotoco defend themselves against the swarms 
of mosquitoes which plague them with a mosquito swatter consisting 
of a piece of twined fiber cloth attached like a flag to a short handle. 
The Guato use similar mosquito flaps. 


The aboriginal Chaco dress, like that of ancient Patagonia and the 
Pampa, seems to have been a simple skin cloak worn by both men and 
women in cold weather. In pre-Conquest times, as today, cotton 
blankets were probably in use among some of the northern tribes. 
Very likely the Indians along the foothills of the Andes had some 
llama wool garments.^^ As soon as the Chaco Indians obtained flocks 
of sheep, the skin cloak gave way to a woolen blanket, which by the 

* Some 17th-century documents mention cloaks (mantas) of caraguatd fibers among 
the Indians of the region of Tucuman and Salta. (See Tommasini, 1937, p. 79.) 


18th century was common among the Ahipon and in recent days has 
become the distinctive garment of the Pilcomayo tribes. Creole styles 
have also influenced the Indian dress. The poncho (pis. 53 ; 59, top) , 
for instance, has found wide acceptance in many tribes since the 18th 
century. Among the Toha and their neighbors, some men on solemn 
occasions donned sleeveless coats, woven on the native loom but copied 
from European patterns. The men's skirt of the Pilcomayo Eiver 
natives probably was not used before cotton cloth was readily acces- 
sible ; it is reported only in recent times. 

Chaco women usually preserved the native costume more faithfully 
than men, and dressed in skins long after men had discarded them for 
woven fabrics. 

Complete nakedness is reported only for Chamacoco and Guaranoca 
men, though even these put on sleeveless caraguata shirts on cold winter 
days ; women always wear a perineal band. Tsirdhm and Chmranoca 
women wear a small apron or a skirt of caraguata or doraha fibers and, 
occasionally, throw a cape of the same material over their shoulders. 
The caraguata apron was probably more common in the past than it is 
today, as it is often reported in the 18th century for the Lule-Yilela 
women. The feather skirts or aprons allegedly worn by men in the 
latter tribes were probably ceremonial garments, not daily attire. 

The Pilcomayo Kiver Indians discard all clothes, except a breech- 
clout or a' wide fringed girdle, whenever their activities require 
freedom of the limbs. 

Skin robes. — Kobes were originally made of several skins of otter 
(coypu, Myocastor coypus)^ deer, or fox, sewn together and worn 
with the hairy side against the body. The outer surface was 
decorated with crude black and red geometrical patterns ^° (pis. 56 ; 59, 
hottom) . Both sexes wrapped the folded mantle around the waist and 
fastened it either by a belt or by tucking one end under the other. In 
bad weather they threw the upper part of the robe over their shoulders 
or even over their heads, and held it in front with the hand or fastened 
it with a thorn over one shoulder.'^ Skin robes have now disappeared 
altogether and have been replaced by blankets of wool {Toba^ Pilagd^ 
Mataco^ Choroti, Macd, Lengua, etc.) or cotton {Payagud, Kaskihd^ 
and other Mascot tribes). 

Skirts. — Knee-length skirts are worn by women in all the Pilco- 
mayo and Bermejo River tribes. Before cotton goods were avail- 
able these were made of either deer (pi. 59, bottom) or goat skins 

«" A Mataco robe acquired by Nordenskiold at the beginning of the century is made of 
15 skins, each decorated with its own individual pattern painted in two distinct manners. 
The thin-line designs are based on a series of squares, lozenges, and zigzags "obviously 
suggestive of old time decorations of the Charrua and Tehuelche" (Lothrop, 1929). 

"1 Mocovl cloaks had skin straps at two corners to tie them over the left shoulder. To 
these straps they fastened a small tobacco box, made of the tip of a cow born, or tabes 
containing needles for scarification (Baucke, 1870, p. 251). 


from which the hair had been scratched or, very rarely, of wool. Skirts 
were held up around the waist by a caraguata rope or, among the 
Mataco, by a wide leather belt. 

Skirts were used by women long before European contact. Cotton 
skirts are already mentioned by Schmidel in the 16th century (1903, 
p. 193) as the only garment of the Comagua women of the lower Ber- 
mejo River, and the Frenton women of Concepcion are described in 
1609 as wearing skin skirts. Guaranoca females in the northern Chaco 
wear a caraguata cloth around the waist. 

Men's skirts among the Pilcomayo River tribes generally reach the 
ankles and lap over in front. The skirts of Mhmjd men bore designs 
and snail-shell disk spangles. 

Mhayd and GuaTid women wore a square cloth which passed be- 
tween the legs and was fastened around the waist.^^ Outdoors they 
wrapped themselves from head to foot in a large cotton blanket or 
tied a shorter one over their breasts when at work. Such blankets, 
which were fastened around the waist with a belt, were often beauti- 
fully striped or studded with rows of shell disks (Prado, 1839, p. 30). 

Shirts, jackets, and tunics. — Sleeveless shirts, netted in the same 
crochetlike technique as bags, are used primarily as armor and as cere- 
monial garments (fig. 29), but also may afford protection against ex- 
cessive cold {Mataco, Tdha^ Pilagd^ Ashluslay, and others). 

Jaguar-skin jackets, with or without sleeves, were among the most 
prized possessions of Toha, Mocovi, Abipon, and Mhayd men. They 
were worn mainly at war or on solemn occasions. In modern times 
some Toha and Pilagd men strut in jackets that are of European cut, 
but are tailored of otter, jaguar, and even of stork skins. 

As a symbol of their profession, Mhayd shamans donned narrow 
tunics (camisetas) which hung to their feet.^^ 

Tipoys. — Among the Choroti and Toha^ who live under the direct 
influence of the Chiriguano^ some women dress in a tipoy, i. e., a 
cylindrical tunic held up over the shoulders with pins. 

Belts. — Native taste for color and elegant design is best expressed 
in woolen belts. Throughout the Chaco, belts of wool, and some- 
times of cotton, are usually woven in a compound technique, i. e., the 
geometrical figures appear on both sides in reverse colors. 

82 Sdnchez Labrador, 1910-17, 1 : 280 : "Es mantita como de vara en cuadro. Cinenea 
con dos puntas a la cintura y las otras dos puntas se levantan, quedando formados unos 

83 Sflnchez Labrador, 1910-17, 1 : 283 : "Rediicese a una como bata 6 vestido talar, que 
descansando sobre los hombros, les Uega hasta los tobillos. Su forma conviene con la de 
las camisetas 6 poncho, de los cuales se dlfercncia en ser la mitad mas angosta y en estar 
por los dos lados cosida, menos por donde sacan los brazos 6 como agujeros de mangas. 
Por la parte de arriba dejan abertura para sacar la cabeza ; por el de abajo esta abierto 
del todo para poder caminar, aunque el corte es tan estrecho que les impide dar pasos largos. 
Vense asf obligados & medirlos con gravedad, segun pide su profesiCn embustera. El 
color de las lanas de que son ordinariamente, no es del todo bianco, ni negro, sino vario ; 
en el telar sacan listas de pardo y Colorado que declina en morado." 


-^^'-^ ^ 

Figure 29. — Choroti mail shirt. Top: Knitted of caraguatA string. Worn principally as 
a protection against arrows. Bottom: Enlarged detail of mail shirt (natural size). 
(After Rosen, 1924, figs. 36. 37.) 




The geometric motives which enliven the Pilagd^ Macd, and Ashlus- 
lay belts follow elaborate patterns (fig. 38) , each peculiar to a tribe or 
even a band. Some Pilagd and Mataco belts with bright contrasting 
colors are finger-woven. Bead embroidery is characteristic of Mhayd- 
Caduveo and Chamacoco belts. The ancient Mhayd woolen belts were 
not only covered with embroidered blue beads, but were also studded 
with large brass plates ; some elegant persons attached large bells to 
their belts (Sanchez Labrador, 1910-17, 1:281). Woolen belts are 
rarely worn by women, who generally are content with a leather belt 
{Mataco) or a simple cord. 

Pilcomayo Eiver Indians, who are otherwise unclothed, may now 
and then be seen wearing broad fringed skin girdles, which are said 
formerly to have been used only during war or at dances. These are 
frequently studded with large real or imitation Spanish coins. 

Footgear. — The Chaco sandals bear a strong resemblance to those 
of the Andean region. The sole is held to the foot by a leather 
strap which encloses the heel and by a thong which runs around the 
instep and passes between two toes (pi. 58, c). The Tsirakua and 
Morotoco alone in South America wear rectangular wooden sandals. 
In general, however, the Indians only put on their sandals when they 
have to step on hot soil or cross a thorny tract. In similar circum- 
stances the Toha, Lengua^ and Macd may cover their feet with crude 
moccasins made of a piece of skin tied in front and laced along the 
instep (pi. 58, &). To penetrate a thicket, some Indians wear leggings 
of raw cow or deer hide. 

Protection against the sun. — ^When traveling on horseback, upper 
class Mocovi, AMpon, and Mhayd women protected their complexion 
from the sun with a bunch of rhea feathers, which they somehow 
balanced on their shoulders. 

Old Mhayd men wore basketry or feather visors to shade their eyes 
from the sun.'* 

Bags. — A little bag, slung across the shoulder, to carry pipes, 
scarification needles, and string is part of the traditional outfit of most 
Chaco Indians. These bags are generally made of caraguata fibers 
in a netted or looped technique ; woolen bags are knitted, though the 
best specimens are finger-woven. 

Men's ornaments far exceed women's in variety and number. 
Women often wear only a simple necklace or some unpretentious 

Feather ornaments. — The Chamacoco are the only Chaco Indians 
whose featherwork compares with that of the Amazonian tribes. 
The scarcity of birds with bright plumage, however, reduces feathers 

«* Sanchez Labrador, 1910-17, 1 : 284, "Otros llevan esta vlsera de pluma o de dos alas 
pequeuas de algun pajaro," 


(mostly rhea and heron) to a secondary role in the ornamentation of 
the Pilcomayo natives (fig. 32, c). 

Feathers used in adornments are often dyed red or pink or are 
artistically cut with notches and stepped edges. The ancient Guand^ 
Mhayd^ and Mocovi were familiar with tapirage (see p. 265). Cha- 
macoco tied or glued small feathers to larger ones. 

Beadwork.— Beads of shell and, in post-Columbian times, of glass 
are strung into necklaces or are sewn as spangles on textiles and even 
on solid objects — for example, on rattles. Here again, Andean in- 
fluences may be surmised. The Pilagd^ AsMitslay, Lengua, and prob- 
ably others make elaborate beadwork bands by threading glass beads 
on a simple loom, an art which the Indians learned from the mis- 
sionaries, who introduced beads into the Chaco. These bands are 
made, according to size, into necklaces, pendants, bracelets, rings, and 
small pouches (pi. 57, a, c) to hang from the neck as ornaments. 
Beads of different colors are combined into simple geometrical pat- 
terns, such as lozenges and triangles. 

Head bands, hair fillets, and bags as a rule are embellished with 

Headdress. — Often the headdress consists of a simple rhea or 
egret feather or a tuft of feathers mounted on a stick, which is fixed 
in the queue or passed through a fillet over the forehead. The Pilco- 
mayo River Indians occasionally wear diadems made of a row of 
feathers fastened to a string or a narrow fillet. 

The classic Ohamacoco headdress is a wide band of bright feathers 
combined into a mosaic of colors. Though the feathers seem to be 
fastened to a tight net, actually they are tied to several individual 
strings woven into a single fabric by transverse strings. Some of 
these frontlets are wide enough to be called "feather bonnets." 

The distinctive headdress of men in the southern tribes {Mataco, 
Toha, Pilagd, Macd, Lengua, Ashluslay) is a red woolen band bedecked 
with shell disks or glass beads arranged into simple geometrical figures 
(triangles, lozenges) and fringed with natural (spoonbill or flamingo) 
or dyed scarlet feathers sewn along the upper edge (pi. 57, g) . These 
frontlets are generally made of belts fitted to the head with the fringed 
ends falling down the back. The Mataco use frontlets of jaguar skin 
(pi. 57, A). 

Warriors, hockey players, and dancers cover their heads with a 
red hair net (fig. 30; pi. 57, /), knitted in a macramelike technique 
and studded with shell disks. Such caps are sometimes made en- 
tirely of beads strung on a netlike foundation. 

The ancient Toba, Ahipon, and Mhayd covered their heads with 
bird skins to which they fastened open wings, like a Valkyrie helmet. 
They often attached a toucan beak to their woolen head bands. 



[B. A. E. Bdll. 143 

Figure 30. — Lengua and ChoroH headgear. Left: Lengua Indian with head ornament 
and feather tuft. A whistle hangs from his neclc. (After Hawtrey, 1901, fig. 2.) 
Right: Chorott hair net witli red chin strap of woolen yarn, and snail-shell spangles 
(about % natural size), (After Rosen, 1924, fig. 46.) 

Many Indians push under their frontlets a brush of false hair or of 
black feathers trimmed like hair, which stands erect or droops over 
the forehead (figs. 30; 32, d). This is an imitation of the natural 
tuft of hair which is drawn from the top of the head and tied into a 
small brush. Before a battle, the Toba and other Pilcomayo River 
Indians fix in their head band a thread cross to which they ascribe 
some magic influence. 

Toha children weave simple crowns of palm leaves though their 
tribe is ignorant of basketry (pi. 57, ^). Mataco and Toha youths 
make themselves diadems with the painted backbones of fish. 

The large-brimmed straw hats of the Mhayd-Caduveo are copied 
from European models. 

Ear ornaments. — The large wooden plugs or disks which both 
sexes insert into the distended ear lobes are among the most typical 
Chaco ornaments. The ear lobes, which may almost reach the shoul- 
ders, are progressively distended from childhood on by first inserting 
straws or thin pegs and later larger plugs. These earplugs, some 3 
inches (7.5 cm.) in diameter, are painted, fire engraved, mounted with 
brass plates, or studded with shell disks. Lengua shamans glue mir- 
rors to the front surface of their plugs in order to see the reflection of 
the spirits. The ancient Ahlpon wore in their ear lobes small pieces 


of cow's horn, wood, or bone, a woolen thread of various colors, or a 
little knot of horn. 

Formerly, Vilela, Abipon^ Mocovi^ Toba^ and Mascoi women forced 
into the ear lobe a narrow, tightly spiraled strip of palm leaf, which 
gradually distended it to large proportions. Even recently some old 
Ghoroti and Toha could be seen with their ear lobes reduced to a thin 
ring of flesh, but nowadays the fashion has been altogether abandoned. 

The Chamacoco do not practice this deformation and only pass 
through the lobes feathered sticks or cords with feather tassels, tri- 
angular shells, or deer hoofs hanging from the ends. Indians who 
have been exposed to European contact wear silver {Mhayd) or glass 
bead {Toba^ Pilagd^ and others) pendants. The silver pendants of 
the ancient Mbayd were cut in the shape of crescents or animals. 
Sometimes they inserted in the ear lobe a tin tube or a reed full of 
urucu and decorated at the front end with a brass disk (Sanchez Lab- 
rador, 1910-17, 1:281). Mhayd men attached a chain of palm-nut 
rings from ear to ear across the back of the neck. This rare ornament 
was also worn by the Huari. 

Nose ornaments. — The Mocom were the only Chaco Indians to 
thrust a stick through the perforated septum of the nose. 

Lip ornaments. — The ancient Lengua (Tongue) , ancestors of mod- 
ern Macd, received their name because of a semicircular wooden 
ornament worn in a long cut in their lower lip which resembled a sec- 
ond tongue sticking out of the chin (Azara, 1809, 2 : 150). A similar 
wooden lip plug was used by the early Mascoi, but neither their de- 
scendants, the modern Lengua, nor the Macd remember wearing a 
labret. Chamacoco men formerly passed a T-shaped reed S inches 
(7.5 cm.) long through their lower lip. 

Wooden lip plugs enclosed in a silver plate and labrets of silver or 
brass were distinctive men's ornaments among the Guaicuruan tribes 
{GuacM, Payagud^ Ahipon, Mocovi, Mhayd,^^ and also the Gitand). 
Wooden Payagud labrets were as much as a palm long. Ahipon 
boys had their lips perforated at the age of 7; Payagud boys when 
they were about 4 years old. The operation was performed with a 
sharp reed or, in post-Columbian times, with a red-hot iron {Ahipon). 

The Mocovi passed feathers into a series of holes punctured across 
their cheeks from nose to ears so that "they looked as if wings were 
growing on their faces" (Baucke, 1870, p. 246). Often they wore 
in their lower lip a rhea feather instead of a wooden plug (pi. 55). 

Necklaces. — Chaco Indians set great value on necklaces of small 
round disks made of snail shells {Megalohulimus ohlongus.) (pi. 53). 
As the shaping and perforation of the disks entails time and patience, 

**The Afbayd also wore labrets of wood, bone, or fish bone (Sinchez Labrador, 1910-17, 



the longer necklaces — some measure from 40 to 65 feet (12 to 20 m.) 
and even more — rank as highly prized possessions. Some articles 
are valued in terms of necklaces of a certain length, which in such 
cases play the part of money. Unfortunately, information on this 
subject is scant. 

To display wealth, men sling across their chest several bunches of 
snail-shell necklaces tied together with red woolen strings with 
tassels at the extremities. 

A necklace popular among the Choroti^ Ashluslay^ Tdba^ Pilagd, 
Lengua, Angaite, and others consists of a row of rectangular pieces 
of mussel shell with both lateral edges slightly concave and the sur- 
faces, which are very much like mother-of-pearl, decorated with a 
series of half-drilled holes. 

The broad, showy beadwork collars are fashionable only in tribes 
that, through contact with missionaries, are abundantly supplied 
with European beads. Many Mataco and Pilagd tie round their 
necks a leather collar or a woolen band studded with shell disks. 
Both Mhayd and Mocovi made the tin and silver plates acquired from 
the Spaniards into tubes and pendants. The silver crescents and 
other jingles which the Mhayd-Caduveo women wear around the neck 
are shaped after ancient wooden prototypes used in pre-Columbian 

Although they were occasionally worn by the Mhayd, today only 
the GJiamacoco wear feather collars, which they make of heron 

Simple necklaces of seeds, animal teeth, or pieces of straw are 
rarely worn today, but still can be seen now and then. 

Pendants. — Pilagd, Ashluslay, and Macd men often suspend from 
their neck a pair of beadwork pendants with a simple geometric 
design and a row of tassels along the lower edge. Mataco women 
wear cruder netlike pendants in beadwork. Mbayd noblewomen had 
tufts of yellow feathers falling over their breasts and backs from 
a necklace. 

Armlets and bracelets. — As a rule, no ornaments except an occa- 
sional strip of palm leaves are worn around the upper arm. The 
Mbayd, however, tied around their arms a feather band or a row of 
metal plates. The Mbayd bracelets were made of beads, of small 
metal plates, or of leather studded with beads and with fringes 
trimmed with beads and small metal tubes (Sanchez Labrador, 1910- 
17, 1:282). Modern bracelets are generally either strips of skin 
studded with brass plates or narrow bands of bird skin. Most women 
in the Pilcomayo Kiver area tie around their wrists a deerskin strap 
with the hoofs of the animal left as an ornament. Such bracelets 
are said to possess magic virtues and now and then are converted 


into knuckle dusters when their owner challenges some rival (fig. 

Waist ornaments. — The feather belts of the Chamacoco and also 
perhaps of the Mhayd consisted of rows of feathers (from a kind of 
stork) mounted on a string or of feather tassels hanging from a cord. 
In the Pilcomayo and Bermejo Kiver areas shamans and dancers 
{Mataco, Ashluslay^ and Macd) participating in magic ceremonies 
don a sort of skirt made of rhea feathers. 

Leg ornaments. — Broad feather bands, attached under the knees, 
were among the most conspicuous Mhayd ornaments. Men of the 
southern Chaco tie around their ankles a couple of rhea feathers 
twisted around a caraguata string. This ornament is regarded as a 
powerful protection against serpents, which, fascinated by the fea- 
thers, strike at them rather than at the wearer's foot. 

Rings. — It has become fashionable among the acculturated Indians 
to wear rings made of segments of the tail skin of lizards or iguanas. 

Hair styles. — The custom, common to both sexes in many southern 
Guaicuruan groups {Payagud, Mocovi, Abipon), of removing their 
hair so as to leave a bald furrow running back from the forehead 
(pi. 56) was responsible for the name Frentones (Those with a Big 
Forehead) by which the Spaniards first designated them. A symbolic 
value was attached to this hairless patch, and even newborn Abipon 
babies had their forehead shaved by a shaman.^^ 

Among the northern Gitaicuru, hair style indicated an individual's 
social status. Uninitiated boys wore two concentric crowns of hair 
and a central tuft; warriors, a crescentic crest extending from ear to 
ear, or a crown of hair around their shaved head. After puberty, 
Mhayd women shaved their heads, leaving a crescentic band of evenly 
cropped hair on top, which was smeared with urucu. Guana women, 
imitating the Mhayd, cropped the hair on the forehead from ear to 
ear, but wore it long and gathered into a queue at the nape of the 
neck. Guana men shaved half of the head, or sometimes left only a 
tuft of hair. 

A monastic tonsure was typical of the pagan Ahipon men, but once 
in the missions, they let their hair grow and twisted it into a queue. 
A group of Mataco was called Coronado because of their tonsure, a 
fashion which they may have borrowed from the GMriguano. 

Among the Pilcomayo and Bermejo River Indians, men trim their 
hair across the forehead, leaving a lock over the ears, but allow it 
to fall down behind, where they tie it with a tasseled string or wrap 
it with a fillet into a rigid queue {Chamacooo). They also gather 

8« The Payagud shaved with a sheU a band of hair "de entrada a entrada que en los 
grandes es ancha como de 4 dedos" (Aguirre, 1911, p. 362), and in Eengger's time wore 
three braids, often tied over the head in a big topknot. 


the hair on the forehead into a tuft which emerges from under the 
frontlet. All women cut their hair over the neck and wear bangs. 

In many tribes {Ghoroti, Ashluslay, Mataco, Toba, Mocovi, Abi- 
pon) the hair was groomed with a brush of peccary bristles or ant- 
eater hair or simply of roots and twigs. Nowadays combs, either 
carved like those of the Ghiriguano out of a single piece of wood 
{Mataco^ Choroti) or composed of bamboo splinters held together 
with threads {Mataco, Choroti, Ashluday, Pilagd), are more widely 
used than is the hair brush, which may be regarded as a survival 
(fig. 32, e). Like Colonial Spanish ladies, 19th-century Mhayd 
women stuck in their hair large, beautifully wrought combs of horn 
with conventionalized horses cut along the upper edge. 

Depilation. — Throughout the Chaco, both sexes feel distaste for 
facial hair. The Ahipon, like many other Indians, believed "that the 
sight of the eye is deadened and shaded by the adjacent hair," and 
often attributed their failure to find honey to the growth of their 
eyebrows or eyelashes. The task of removing the body hair fills the 
Indians' leisure hours. The Ahipon rubbed their face with hot ashes, 
after which an old woman depilated them with a pair of flexible 
horn tweezers. Formerly, most Chaco Indians plucked their body 
hair by means of two bamboo pieces or two shells. Today all of 
them use small tweezers made of old tin cans. 

Tooth deformation. — In the district of Miranda, the Tereno and 
Guana, who have been subjected to Negro influences, file their incisor 
teeth to give them a sawlike appearance. 

Tattooing. — Tattooing is common to all Chaco tribes except the 
Ghamacoco. As a rule, women are more profusely tattooed than men 
{Pilagd, Abipon, Mocovi, Payagud, Ashluslay, Vilela), and noble- 
women among the ancient Abipon could easily be recognized by the 
number and variety of the patterns tattooed on their faces, breasts, and 
arms. An Abipon woman with only three or four black lines on her 
face was either a captive or of low birth. On the other hand, noble 
Mbayd women had squares and triangles tattooed on their arms from 
the shoulders to the wrists, but only exceptionally wore facial tattoo, 
for this indicated low rank. Plebeian women generally had a series 
of perpendicular lines tattooed on the forehead (Sanchez Labrador, 

Among other Chaco tribes, a child, especially a girl, was first tattooed 
when 6 or 7 — among the Mbayd between 14 and 17 — but new motifs 
were added in the course of years. The complex patterns on Pilagd, 
Mocovi, Abipon, and Payagud women were completed long after pu- 
berty when they were about to marry (fig. 31). The artist, generally 
an old woman, first traced the outlines of the design with charcoal and 
then punctured the skin with a small bundle of cactus thorns dipped 



FiQunE 31. — Pilagd tattooing. (Design by John Arnott.) 


in a mixture of soot and saliva (pis. 55, 68). The Mhayd used a fish 
bone and genipa juice or the ashes of the palm cabuigo. If an Ahipon 
girl betrayed her pain by a gesture or a groan, she was taunted for her 
cowardice. After the operation, she had to remain shut in her father's 
hut for several days and, like Mocovi girls in similar circumstances, 
was permitted to eat neither meat nor fish. 

Red and black motifs generally alternate. Though each tribe has 
its particular style, an individual has relative liberty in the choice 
and disposition of the traditional patterns. The simple Mataco de- 
signs, such as circles and parallel lines, contrast sharply with the in- 
tricate geometric figures which cover the whole face of a Pilagd woman. 
(See fig. 31.) The Guaicuruan tribes have given to the art a far 
greater importance than any other group in that area and even in the 
whole of South America. A fully tattooed Ahipon or Pilagd woman 
of the older generation had her whole face covered with geometric 
designs combined with extraordinary skill and a fine sense of 

Body painting. — Painting has some ritual implications in most 
Chaco tribes (pi. 54). Warriors and hockey players are always dec- 
orated from head to toes with stripes and patches of black and red. 
Women who are menstruating or who have had sexual intercourse 
smear their cheeks with urucii. But the Indians also paint themselves 
for more trivial occasions, such as an ordinary dance or in daily life, 
when they seek to improve their appearance. 

Urucu {Bixa orellana), the favorite pigment, gi'ows only in the 
northern parts of the Chaco and is bartered to the southern tribes 
as natural seeds or in the form of cakes. These are prepared by first 
diluting the pigment with water and then boihng the liquid until 
only the thick dregs remain, to which honey is added (Mhayd, 

Black is made in the south with powdered charcoal and in the north 
{Chmnd^ Mhayd, Chamacoco) with genipa juice. As the latter is col- 
orless when fresh, the Caduveo mix it with soot so as to follow the 
patterns as they trace them on the skin. Chaco Indians also use soot 
or mineral colors (hematite) . 

The Choroti^ Ashluslay, Mataco, and probably other tribes stamp 
simple decorations on the skin with flat pieces of carved w^ood or with 
bamboo splinters notched along the edges. The Mhayd-C advA)eo out- 
lined their involved designs with a bamboo stencil and filled the inter- 
vening spaces by means of a pad of cotton dipped in the dye. Star and 
sun motives in white were scattered on the black and red background by 
blowing palm flour through stencils cut in a piece of leather. 

The intricate combination of motifs which characterized Mhayd 
body painting was perhaps the highest expression of that art in South 

Vol. 1] 


J-flnili'tTl V^^ 

Figure 32. — Chaco manufactures, a, Mataco spindle sbaft with wliorl ; 6, Mataco wooden 
spoon ; c, Chamacoco feather headdress ; d, Ashluslay feather tuft ; c, Pilagd sticlc comb ; 
/, Pilagd bracelet used by women in boxing ; g, Toba spur. (M6traux collection, American 
Museum of Natural History.) 


America (pi. 68, to'p^ center). Though related to the design style on 
their pottery, the body patterns were treated more freely. The deco- 
rative elements — triangles, steps, volutes, undulated lines, triangles, 
frets — were grouped capriciously. A peculiarity of the Mhayd style 
was the asymmetry of the motifs painted on opposite sides of the face. 
The motifs stood out in black against a red background. The white 
stars mentioned above were restricted to men. Women formerly 
painted only their faces and arms whereas men covered their bodies 
with designs or smeared them with wide red or black stripes that were 
either straight or undulated. Guana slaves were not permitted to use 
urucu or white flour, and could only decorate themselves with charcoal 
powder ; on certain occasions, however, their masters allowed them to 
display sophisticated patterns. It was unbecoming for old women to 
paint themselves, but they took care that others did not neglect their 
appearance. The Chatnacoco still try to imitate the complicated pat- 
terns of the Caduveo. 

The body paintings of the Pilcomayo and Bermejo Kiver tribes con- 
sist mainly of dots, patches, and stripes around the mouth or the nose. 


Among the foot Indians, transportation of household goods is the 
task of women, who carry heavy loads in huge netted bags (pi. 60, a) 
suspended by a tumpline (pi. 51). The Toha and Pilagd carry their 
household furniture wrapped in their large rush mats. Modern In- 
dians of the Pilcomayo and Bermejo River region all have adopted the 
donkey as a pack animal. 

Abipon women placed all their possessions, children, and pets in 
large peccary-skin bags suspended from the backs of the horses which 
they rode. Mats and tent poles were also placed on top of these bags. 

Boats. — As Chaco rivers are not easily navigable, only the tribes 
living on or near the Paraguay River use canoes (Lengita, /Sanapand, 
Mhayd-Cadn/veo) . Until the beginning of the last century, the Paya- 
gud, who were among the most famous river pirates of the continent, 
made the shores and islands of this river their home and spent most of 
their life on the water. Their dugout canoes were 10 to 20 feet (3 to 
6 m.) long, ll^ to 3 feet (0.45 to 0.9 m.) wide, and had a sharp bow 
and stern. Some large war canoes accommodated up to 40 men (Do- 
brizhoffer, 1784, 1 : 132) . A crew of 6 or 8 standing at the stern could 
attain a speed of 7 knots. The paddles were 9 feet (2.7 m.) long and 
very pointed. In the 18th century, some Mhayd groups allied to the 
Payagud gave up the horse to become river nomads. 

The Mepene — perhaps an Ahipon subtribe — seen by Schmidel in the 
16th century (1903, pp. 167-168) were also canoe Indians. In one 


battle the Spaniards destroyed 250 of their boats, some of which could 
carry 20 people. 

The conquistadors (Hernandez, 1852, 1:577), praised highly the 
boatmanship of the Guachi {Guaxarapo) ^ whose small craft, built to 
accommodate no more than two or three men, could outdistance any 
Spanish sailing vessel. 

Some inland tribes, such as the Pilagd and Tola, occasionally take 
short trips across flooded areas in their large beer troughs. 

Wlien the Mocovi, Abipon, and Mhayd had to cross a river they 
made bullboats (pelotas) of square deer or cow hides, with up-curved 
edges, in which old people, infants, and their belongings could be 
ferried over. A swimmer towed the bullboat with a leather thong, 
which he held in his mouth ; when the current was strong, he would 
grasp the tail of his horse with one hand and drag his boat with the 
other. These Indians also built rush-mat rafts.'" 


Basketry. — Only the Araivakan tribes and the Mhayd, who were 
influenced by them, had developed basketry. The latter made a few 
twilled baskets and large-brimmed hats to sell to their Mestizo neigh- 
bors. Among the Pilcomayo River tribes Toha boys plait crude 
frontlets of palm leaves. Coiled baskets have been collected among 
the Mataco, who, however, may have acquired them from their Mestizo 

Mat Making. — To make roof and wall mats for their huts, the 
Mhayd fastened together long, dried bulrushes with six or eight 
twined strings, the ends of which were braided together along the 
edges of the mat to reinforce them. (See Sanchez Labrador, 1910-17, 
1:269.) The Pilagd and Toha make similar mats. The bulrushes, 
which have been pared to an equal length, are laid across two hori- 
zontal strings stretched between low posts and then are twined at the 
edges with cords. Aguirre (1911, p. 352) observes that Payagud 
mats were not woven but "sewed." 

Netting and needle-looping. — Carrying nets and bags of all sizes 
are both indispensable to and typical of the half-nomadic collectors 
of the Chaco (pi. 57, h; pi. 60, a, d, e). As these objects deteriorate 
rapidly, women are constantly occupied with making thread, netting, 
or needle-looping. The development of techniques of string work 
was favored by the abundance of the Bromelia which provide ex- 
celllent raw material. The caraguata {Bromelia sp.) are uprooted 

"Oviedo y Vald^s (1851-1855, 1: 193), who never was in the Rio de la Plata region, 
mentions what seems to be the double paddle among the Agaz (Payagud) . Nordenskiold 
has made much of this statement although it obviously must be erroneous since no author 
who describes the Payagud makes any reference to this type of paddle. 


with a forked stick and the leaves sawed off with a toothed piece of 
wood. The fibers are separated from the fleshy substance by either 
of two methods. In the first, the fibrous strips are detached with 
the fingernail, then soaked in water for a day or two (some kinds 
must then be pounded), and finally, held against the foot and 
scratched with a shell or a wooden knife. In the second method, 
fresh caraguata leaves are pulled back and forth through a loop 
attached to a vertical stick, until the fibers are freed. 

To make a strand, a woman takes a few fibers from a dry bundle 
and with the flat of her hand rolls them on her thigh, which is 
smeared with ashes. She always makes two strands simultaneously 
and twists them together into a string. Several such strings may 
later be rolled together into a stronger cord. 

Some bags are, like fishing nets, made with reef knots or, more 
exceptionally, with sheet knots. For the great majority of bags and 
string work, the fabric consists of interlaced loops. The various 
stitches are illustrated in figure 33. The first row of loops passes 
around a horizontal string stretched between two vertical sticks. 
The woman who sits in front of this rudimentary loom builds up the 
following rows of loops by hand, or, when the stitch is elaborate, 
with an eyed needle (pis. 61, hottom; 63). The simplest fabrics 
have one or two open half hitches in the same loop; the most com- 
plicated have the appearance of close crochet. Bags of wool more 
commonly than those of string are made in the technique of inter- 
laced loops, with the only difference that the fabric is tighter. 

In netting, mesh sticks are used only for fish nets; carrying nets 
are built up around a loop attached to a stick and the size of the 
meshes is estimated by eye. 

The Pilcomayo River tribes often knit small woolen bags with two 
or even four needles. Where they cannot get metal needles, they use 
long cactus thorns. The knitting stitches are distinctly European 
and not Peruvian. 

Most of the bags and carrying nets of the Chaco Indians are 
enlivened with geometrical patterns produced by alternating yarns 
of different colors. The best bags and pouches of the Pilagd and 
Ashluslay are threaded with beads. 

Weaving. — Early descriptions of the Chaco tribes contain refer- 
ences to women's clothes and to blankets made of caraguata fibers.^® 
Garments of this material no longer are made in most of the Chaco, 
but the Chamacoco and Moro are said to use skirts and cloaks of 
fibers. From the little available evidence, it seems that these gar- 

**The Ouaicnru "Traen muchas mantas de lino que hacen de unos cardos, las cuales 
hacen muy pintadas" (Hernandez, 1852, p. 566). 


9 h 

FiGDRB S3. — Chaco netting and lacing techniques, a, Mataco lacing ; ft, Mataco lacing ; 
0, Mataco lacing (a-c redrawn from Max Schmidt, 1937 a) ; d, Mataco lacing ; e, Ashlualay 
netting ; /, Mataco lacing ; g, Ashlualay lacing ; h, Ashluslay combination lacing and 
netting (d-h, redrawn from Nordenskiold, 1919, fig. 60.) 


ments are twined in a technique identical to that of the mosquito 
flaps used by the same Indians. 

The art of weaving was probably introduced into the Chaco from 
the Tropical Forest area by Indians who cultivated cotton and had 
the vertical loom. The Arawakan Giuind^ who were famed as 
skillful weavers and who still provide their Neo-Brazilian neighbors 
with textiles, appear to have been the most likely agents for the pre- 
Columbian diffusion of weaving. Later, Peruvian influences were 
felt throughout the Chaco, as evidenced by the distribution of various 
techniques which have survived up to the present and are identical 
with those employed in the Coastal cultures of ancient Peru (e. g., 
kelim technique, compound cloth, tie dyeing) . 

Before European contact, cotton was the only material used by 
the Chaco Indians for weaving, though they may have received small 
amounts of wool from the Andean Indians. In the^past the Pilco- 
mayo and Bermejo River tribes spun a variety of cotton {Gossypium 
'peruvianwn) , which today still grows wild, and was reputedly better 
than the cotton raised nowadays. Sanchez Labrador (1910-17, 1 : 184) 
states that the Mhayd had a native cotton, somewhat different 
from the European variety. In the north and wherever White 
influence has come late, the Indians continue to spin cotton. The 
Kashihd card cotton with small bows, a device of limited distribution 
in South America. The Pilcomayo River and Bermejo River tribes 
who have large flocks of sheep have almost entirely given up the 
cultivation of cotton, but some Mataco still use it for their fabrics. 
The Indians shear sheep with ordinary knives and leave the wool on 
platforms or bushes to be cleansed by rain and bleached by the sun. 
The women tease it with their fingers before spinning. The spindles 
have a shank with a knob at the proximal end to which the thread 
is attached by a half hitch. The whorl is a pottery or wooden disk, 
or a small calabash or fruit (fig. 32, a) . The spindle is set in motion 
and dropped to turn by itself either in the air (pi. 62) or in a small 
plate.*^ The yarn is spun right and twisted left. 

The loom is made of two vertical forked branches with one cross 
pole resting on the fork above and another tied near the ground. The 
warp threads are passed around these two bars, but at each turn are 
looped back over a cord which is strung horizontally between the 
two bars. When the fabric is finished, the cord is pulled out and 
the piece of cloth opens without cutting. 

The designs are obtained by alternating the colors of the warp 
threads. The weaver's only tools are a wooden sword — which among 
the Mhayd-Caduveo is carved into the form of a horse — and a bone 

" Azara's (1809, 2 : 125) description of the PayaguA spinning suggests that the women 
rolled their long spindles on their thighs. 


or wooden dagger. When the fabric is wide, the weft threads have 
to be battened down with a sword in small sections clear to the end. 
The shuttle is a piece of bamboo ; but often the ball of thread is used 
instead. With this simple loom the Indians produce blankets, 
ponchos, and belts decorated with geometric colored patterns (fig. 38). 
Belts and ponchos of the Pllagd and Ashlu^lay are compound cloth 
with a pattern in warp float over three wefts under one. 

This loom is also used for finger-weaving. By this method the 
Mataco and Tola make belts and bags which (pis. 60, c; 61, top) 
have more elaborate designs than most ordinary fabrics. 

Tapestry in the kelim technique, so typical of ancient Peruvian 
textiles, is used in a few instances to make small bands worn as 

The Pilcomayo Eiver Indians plait narrow fillets by crossing eight 

Dyes. — Black and white are generally natural-color wools; red is 
obtained from the cochineal that develops on cacti ^° {Mbayd, Mocovi^ 
Lengita) or from a crocuslike flower; brown from the bark of the tusca 
tree {Acacia moniliformis) or from guayacan {Caesalpinia melano- 
carpa) seeds ; *^ yellow from the flowers of Euglypha rojasiana.^^ 
Tie-dyeing — a method of Andean origin — is also known to the Pilco- 
mayo Kiver Indians but is rarely used. 

Pottery. — All Ohaco Indians, even those who are essentially 
nomadic, have pottery. There is great homogeneity in the shape and 
quality of the ceramics throughout the area, though a more refined 
pottery style is to be found in the northern marginal area among the 
Arawakan-speaking tribes and their close neighbors, the Mhayd. The 
Mhayd-Caduveo originally had simple and crude vessels, like those 
of the modern Toha, but nowadays make not only the best ceramics 
in the Chaco, but some of the finest in South America. The change in 
style and technique was brought about by the Guand women whom 

*" They gathered the larvae in a vessel and pounded them. 

" The seeds are crushed and boiled. The threads are immersed in the decoction. 

«0n the dyes of the Mhayd, SSnchez Labrador (1910-17, 1:169) gives the following 
information : "Dan un tinte negro muy bueno con una tierra azulada que llaman limcu- 
tege, a la cual mezclan las astillas de un palo que se llama cumatago, y que se crfa por 
muchas partes, especialraente hacia las orillas del rfo Paraguay, en un lugar que en su 
idioma dicen, por unos arboles, odeadigo. Tambien tienen amarillo con el cocimiento de 
las astillas de los palos dichos, especialmente del que por excelencia nombran logoguigago, 
el que hace amarillo. Acanelado tiilen con la corteza de otro arbol : y encarnado con 
astillas de un llrbol, y tambien con algunas raices. No tienen mas maniobra que en la 
infusidn de las astillas o rafces poner lo que han de teiiir. Entre otras cosas suelen 
hacer esta. Despues de haber dado cocimiento en la dicha infusifin a la lana o hilo de 
algodfin, le sacan y sobre una estera ponen una capa de ceniza, hecha de un arbol muy 
fuerte, y con cuya corteza tiiien tambien Colorado. Sobre esta ceniza extienden la madeja 
recien sacada del cocimiento ; y despues la cubren bien con bastante ceniza de la misraa 
tapfindolo todo con la estera. La madeja, al sacarla de la infusiOn, apenas de seuas del 
color; m&s, dejada una noche del modo dicho entre la ceniza, se pone de un encarnado 

583486 — 46 19 


these Indians kept as wives or serfs. As a result of their close contact 
with other Mhayd bands, the Kaskihd make vessels which, in spite of 
a certain crudeness, resemble those of the Caduveo and other Arawak- 
Mhayd groups. The influence of the Chiriguamo and of Andean In- 
dians is clearly noticeable in the shape of the ware of the Mataco and 
of some other Pilcomayo River tribes. 

Pottery technique. — The technique of potters is identical all over the 
Chaco. The clay is gathered in marshy spots, pounded in a mortar, 
sifted through a string bag, and tempered with pulverized potsherds. 
The Mataco mix clay and temper in equal proportions. They sprinkle 
water on the tempered clay and knead it, removing all pebbles and 
hard particles. The potter first shapes a lump of prepared clay into 
a disk with a narrow rim, which she places on a plank, a leaf, a skin, 
a net bag, or even on the sole of her foot {Mhayd) . On this foundation 
she builds up the vessel by adding clay coils. These coils, which have 
the thickness of a finger, are rolled between the palms of the hands 
(pi. 64). When the coil is applied, the potter flattens it between her 
thumb and the other fingers. After four or five coils have been super- 
imposed, the new surface is scraped vertically with the back of a shell 
(pi. 64) . She next scrapes the interior of the vessel far more carefully 
than the outer side, constantly dipping her fingers or her instrument 
in water. The pot is smoothed with the back of the fingers passed 
lightly over the wet surface. When the pot is somewhat dry the 
outside is again scraped and smoothed with the back of the shell or 
with the fingers and nails. Some tribes use a wooden or maize cob 
scraper instead of shells. 

The finished pot is first dried in the shade and then fired for no 
more than half an hour in the open under a conical pile of bark or 
dry wood. 

Pottery decoration. — In the areas of the Pilcomayo, Bermejo, and 
lower Paraguay Rivers ceramic decoration is very rudimentary. The 
potter removes the vessel from the fire and while it is still hot traces 
a few simple geometric motifs on its surface with a piece of palo 
santo {Guaiacimi oiflcinale) .^ which exudes a thick rosin, or with a 
lump of rosin. The designs consist of crude dots, circles, or lines. 
The mouth of a water jug sometimes bears a series of small impressions 
made with the thumbnail. A few cooking pots are ornamented with 
rows of small clay pellets put on the surface when the clay is wet 
{Mataco, Choroti) . The Mataco, immediate neighbors of the Chiri- 
guano, more often decorate their pottery with fingernail impressions 
or with crude pastille ornaments than do the other tribes of their 

The Mhayd-Caduveo, Guana, Kaskihd, and the ancient inhabitants 
of the Parana Delta are the only South American Indians who deco- 
rated their pottery by pressing cords into the wet clay. They painted 


the spaces between the motifs with red and black. Red was ob- 
tained by applying an iron oxide (hematite) to the clay before 
firing and, as among the other Chaco tribes, black by smearing the 
rosin of palo santo on the hot surfaces. The cord marks were filled 
with white earth when the vessel was cold. Vessels employed as con- 
tainers for precious objects were decorated with pieces of cloth and 
shell disks sewed on the walls of the vase through a set of holes made 
during construction of the vessel. 

The Mhayd-G aduveo and Guana ceramic decoration was quite elabo- 
rate (fig. 34). Besides Greek frets and other simple geometric pat- 
terns, it consisted of various combinations of curves, volutes, and 
designs that suggest conventionalized foliage. Primarily this decora- 
tion is based on ancient Andean motifs, but it also betrays European 
influences. Payagud pottery was also painted with designs which seem 
to be akin to these Mhayd pots. 

Figure 34. — Mhayd-Caduveo painted pottery plates. (Redrawn from 
Boggiani, 1895, figs. 16, 25.) 

On some Mataco pots the flattened clay coils form an intricate deco- 
ration on the exterior. 

Pottery forms. — Chaco pottery in general lacks variety of form. In 
most tribes ceramics fall into three categories: (1) plain cooking 
pots ; (2) water jugs with a long neck, and usually two vertical handles 
(pi. 51) ; and (3) bowls. The artistic vessels of the Mhayd, Kaskihd, 
and Guana are large basins with more or less vertical walls and rounded 

The water jugs, which are probably a local adaptation of the Inca 
aryballus, are carried on the back with a tumpline which passes 
through the handles and is prevented from slipping by a depression 
or groove around the body of the pot at the level of the handles. Jugs 
without grooves and handles are carried in a net. 

Skin preparation. — The Chaco Indians employ skin to a far greater 
extent than do most South American tribes. Tanning, however, has 


remained unknown to them, in spite of the fact that the Chaco forests 
are exploited today mainly for the trees which are rich in tannic acid. 
A lengthy mechanical softening process is used only for skins intended 
for cloaks and skirts, an arduous task performed by women. The 
skins are first stretched on a frame or nailed with wooden pegs on the 
ground and cleansed of all flesh particles. Then the hair is scraped off 
with a pointed stick and the softening is achieved by folding the skin 
diagonally about every half inch. The creases are accentuated by 
pressing the smooth lip of a large snail shell along them {Lengua). 
The skin is then twisted and "its surfaces rubbed together after an 
application of wood ashes and water" (Grubb, 1913, p. 69). The 
ancient Mhayd rubbed skins with stones until they became soft. 
Among the Choroti and Mataco, skins are smeared with grease and 
softened by rubbing them across a split piece of wood. 

To sew pieces of skin together to form cloaks, Ahipon women passed 
caraguata threads through holes made with a thorn along the edges. 

For bags and pouches in which belongings are carried or stored, 
unworked skins of peccaries or deer, with the hair on, are commonly 
used. But the best bags have the hair scraped off, the edges sewn, 
and sometimes have their surfaces embellished with woolen em- 
broideries, a type of ornamentation which in South America is re- 
stricted to the Chaco. 

To prepare a certain kind of large bag, the Indians make a single 
incision around the neck of a rhea and its lower limbs, then carefully 
skin it. The skin is then flayed and the two lower openings tied 
up (pi. 58, a). They make tobacco pouches in the same manner of 
the neck skin of rheas or other birds, with embroidered edges and 
tassels (pi. 60, /). Small pouches also are made with the entire 
skin of lizards or iguanas. 

Metallurgy. — Metallurgy was practiced in the Chaco only by the 
Mhayd. They soon learned from the Spaniards how to make orna- 
ments adapted to their taste of silver and brass bartered for horses. 
They never acquired the processes of smelting or welding, but became 
expert in hammering and folding. They put the metal in the fire, 
took it out with wooden tongs, and then beat it into plates on a 
stone anvil with another stone. The plates were polished on a stone, 
burnished with a powder of sand and ashes, cut into squares or 
crescents with a knife or scissors, and sewed to belts or other gar- 
ments. They were also folded into tubes for pendants or beads. 
Likewise, the Mocovi turned the silver or copper which they obtained 
from the Spaniards into jingles and pendants. 

The Mhayd worked pieces of iron into hooks or spearheads. Mod- 
em Mhayd-Cadwoeo have smithies with bellows and iron anvils. 


Trade metal was known in the Chaco long before the Discovery. 
Irala, crossing the Chaco in 1548, found that the Mhayd had silver 
frontlets and silver plates 31/2 inches (8.75 cm.) long and i^ inch 
(1.25 cm.) wide, which these Indians wore on their foreheads 
(Schmidel, 1903, p. 249). Similar objects and even the copper tools 
which were so common among the Guarani must have passed from 
Peru across the Chaco before reaching Paraguay. 

Gourds. — The Chaco Indians cultivate gourds of all sizes and 
convert them into water bottles, bowls, dippers, spoons, and con- 
tainers for storing miscellaneous small articles. Seeds, flour, and 
food are also kept in these containers. Gourds which are used as 
boxes are generally provided with a star-shaped lid cut from the 
same fruit and attached by a loop which closes it when pulled up. 

Gourds are frequently decorated with crude and irregular burned 
ornaments. The designs incised on boxes, bottles, or beer bowls are 
more artistic. They are geometric — triangles, crisscrosses, stripes, 
etc. — or realistic. The latter kind represent "spirits," animals, and 
even geographical features treated symbolically. Some specimens 
have both engraved and pyrographed motifs. Small boxes are often 
dotted with beads affixed with wax. 

Tools. — Most of the natives of the sandy Chaco plains had to import 
the stones for their axes from their neighbors. The stone blade was 
inserted into the bulging head of the wooden handle, a shafting 
which was retained after they received iron blades. Chamacooo 
stone axes are unique in South America: an amygdaloid or tri- 
angular blade with a somewhat bulging or T-shaped butt is lashed 
with string to the small end of a flat wooden club that is 5 feet 
(1.5 m.) long. On some the binding is smeared with wax and 
feather tassels are attached. The use of these axes is somewhat 
problematical, as the hafting is unsuited for cutting hard wood (fig. 
37, h). The handle is obviously a digging stick or a club. 

Before the Jesuits supplied them with steel axes, the Mocovi split 
tree trunks with flint wedges in order to obtain sticks suitable for 
making spears or bows. Giglioli (188*9, p. 276) reproduces a stone 
chisel attributed to the Chamacoco. The stone, similar to a small 
ax, is encased between two pieces of a white wood, bound together 
with a caraguata cord. 

Until recently, piranha {Serrasalmo sp.) teeth were used every- 
where as knives and carving tools. Rodent teeth, bamboo splinters, 
and shells served the same purpose. The Mhayd and Mocovi scraped 
and polished wood with the sharp edge of broken shells. 

Woodworking. — See Farming and Food Preparation (pp. 261- 
263) , and figures 35, 37, 42. 



[B. A. 

Weapons: Bows. — Chaco bows are carved of the hard resilient 
wood of palo mataco {AcJuxtocarpus fraecox)^ lotek {Prosopis abhre- 
viata), quebracho {Schinopsis lorentzil), or urundel {Astronium jug- 
landifoliwm) . The part of thp tree where the lighter outer wood 


\\rv \ 



• F, 

FiouRB 35. — Pilagd and Choroti utensils and dress, a, Chorott spade (redrawn from 
Nordensklold, 1919, fig. 1) ; b, Choroti pestle (redrawn from Rosen, 1924, fig. 122) ; 
c, Pilagd wooden mortar (M^traux collection, American Museum of Natural History) ; 
dj Choroti hide belt (redrawn from Nordensklold, 1919, fig. 31). 

meets the core is generally selected because of its greater strength 
and flexibility. The bow cross section varies somewhat but, as a rule, 
the belly is flat and the outer side somewhat round or convex. A 
rectangular cross section is common among the southern and central 
tribes; among the northern tribes it is more oval, and among the 


Chamacoco almost round. Both ends of the stave are sharpened 
sufficiently to prevent the string from slipping, but lack a clear-cut 
shoulder. Except for slightly curved extremities, the stave is nearly 
straight. Chamacoco bows are longest and measure about 6 feet 
(1.8 m.). 

In the Bermejo and Pilcomayo River regions {Ghoroti^ Mataco^ 
Toha^ LengvAi^ Ashluslay)^ bow strings of caraguata fiber or of 
twined skin or tendons occur in the same tribe. The ancient Ahipon 
made their bow strings of fox entrails or of "very strong threads 
supplied by a species of palm" (Dobrizhoffer, 1784, 2:398). The 
bow string is always long enough to be partly wrapped around the 
bow (fig. 37, e, /). Cracked bows {Choroti, Mataco) are reinforced 
with short sheaths or casings of raw leather. 

In general, Chaco bows do not compare in finish to those of the 
Tropical Forest area. 

Arrows. — Arrow points are of the same types as those of the 
Tropical Forest area: (1) Points for fishing and hunting arrows 
consist of a long sharpened wooden rod (palo mataco, quebracho, 
palo santo) , occasionally with small barbs carved along one or both 
edges. Some Ahipon arrows had a quadruple row of barbs. 
Formerly, a bone splinter sharpened at both ends, or the leg bone or 
claw of the Canis azarae was fastened to the wooden rod and caused a 
dangerous infection when it broke off in the wound {Ahipon^ Mocovi) . 
(See Dobrizhoffer, 1784, 2: 400, and Kobler, 1870, p. 258.) (2) War 
and large game arrows were tipped with sharp lanceolate bamboo 
splinters, which today have been entirely replaced by iron blades. 
Like their bamboo prototypes, these iron heads are fitted into a 
socketed foreshaft. (3) Bird arrows were tipped with a blunt conical 
wooden head. The Ahipon used a wax head. For shooting birds, the 
Mhayd fixed a piece of gourd to the tip of on ordinary arrow. (4) 
Harpoon arrows, i. e., arrows with removable heads, were used by the 
Payagud for shooting capybara (Azara, 1904, p. 36'5). 

The Ahipon and many other Chaco tribes set fire to enemy huts 
by shooting arrows tipped with burning cotton or tow. 

In historic times, arrow shafts have been made of a species of reed 
that was imported from Europe (caila de Castilla, Arundo donax) 
and now grows wild along the rivers, but is also cultivated by the 
Indians. In pre-Columbian days, and occasionally even now, the 
Indians used suncho stems. The Chamacoco have no other material 
for their arrow shafts. The butt of a reed shaft is notched, but 
never reinforced with a plug. A wrapping of caraguata fibers at both 
ends prevents the reed from splitting. The pared and halved quill is 
laid flush against the shaft and bound with thin threads which are 



[B. A. E. Bull. 143 

cemented in place with wax. The Ahipon used feathers from crows, 
the Mocovi from birds of prey. The Mocovi decorated their arrow 
shafts with red rings (fig. 36, a-g). 

When shooting, the Indians hold the arrow between the thumb and 
the index finger, and pull the string with the middle and fourth 
fingers {Payagud, Lengua, Pilagd, Ashluslay^ Macd). The wrist 

FIG0EB 36. — Chaco weapons, a-e. Wooden arrow points ; /, iron arrow point ; g, arrow 
butt with featliering; h, cow-horn harpoon head; i, wooden war club (h, Mataco ; all 
others Pilagd.) (M6traux collection, American Museum of Natural History.) 

is protected by a leather or wooden guard (Ahipon, Mocovi), by a 
wrapping of caraguata strings {Toha, Mataco, Guaranoca), or by 
braids of human hair {Mhayd), 

Quivers. — Quivers, known only to the Ahipon and Mocovi, were 
made of "rushes, and adorned with woolen threads of various colors" 
(Dobrizhoffer, 1784, 2:398; Baucke, 1935, pi. 16). As a rule, the 
Chaco Indians carry their arrows in their hands or pass them through 
their belts. 


Spears. — Spears are used both as thrusting and as throwing wea- 
pons by the Chaco Indians to hunt peccaries and jaguars or to fight 
their enemies at close range. Lances became the main weapon of 
the equestrian Indians who handled them with as much skill as did 
the Spanish cavalry. The lance shaft was split with wedges from a 
tree trunk, generally palo mataco, and then shaped by charring and 
scraping with a shell. It was straightened by rolling between two 
logs {Mocovi, Ahipon). 

Spears either were pointed at one or both ends or had a separate 
head of bone or deer horn socketed into the shaft. In the 18th cen- 
tury, spear points were generally of iron, which the Indians took 
pride in polishing with tallow. The original spear of the Toha, 
Angaite^ and Pilagd had a lanceolate head carved from the same piece 
as the staff. A spear butt was generally pointed so that it could be 
stuck in the ground in front of the hut. The spears of the foot 
Indians measured from 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 1.8 m.) ; those of the eques- 
trian Indians from 12 to 18 feet (3.6 to 5.4 m.). 

Ja/velins and harpoons. — The Mocovi and perhaps the Payagud 
killed capybara and caimans with javelins provided with a separate 
wooden head barbed on one side like the Yahgan harpoons of Tierra 
del Fuego (Baucke, 1870, p. 264; 1935). 

The Mocovi war javelin was identical to the modern Mataco fish- 
ing harpoon (fig. 37, a). It consisted of a shaft of light wood, a 
hardwood foreshaft, and a separable point made of a hollow piece 
of bone or the tip of a deer horn connected to the shaft by a long cord. 
"If an Indian," says Baucke (1870, p. 265) , "is hit by this weapon, the 
head remains in the wound and, as he cannot extract it, he is sure to 

The Mocovi held their lances at the middle of the shaft with the 
right hand under the left one ; the Ahipon grasped their lances with 
both hands near the proximal end. 

Clubs. — The battle club of the Pilcomayo and Bermejo River 
tribes is a heavy cudgel of palo mataco with a bulging conical head 
or a wooden disk carved at the distal end. The Indians pass it 
through their belts or carry it suspended from the wrist by a loop 

The flat digging stick of the Chamacoco, with its sharp edges wid- 
ening progressively toward the rounded distal end, may be used as 
a club when necessary. 

The Ghamacoco^ Tsirdkua, and probably many other Chaco tribes 
use throwing sticks to hunt rodents and other small animals. These 
sticks are short clubs with bulging heads (pi. 65, right). 

Bolas. — The Ahipon and Mocovi hunted with bolas which, like 
those of modem gauchos, consisted of three stones folded in rawhide 



[B. A. E. BCLL. 143 

J. ftlT^lui^ 



e f 

FiGURB 37. — Chaco weapons and Implements, a, Mocovl war harpoon (redrawn from 
Baucke) ; h, Chamacoco hafted stone ax (redrawn from Boggiaui, 1895, fig. 14) ; 
c, Chamacoco digging stick (redrawn from Boggiani, 1895, fig. 61A) ; d, Ashluslay sling 
(redrawn from Nordenskiold, 1919, fig. 7) ; e, /, ends of Choroti bow (redrawn from 
Rosen, 1924). 

and connected to one another by twisted thongs. Bolas are used 
today by the Ashluslay and Lengua for hunting rheas. The lack of 
stones and the dense bush make this weapon impracticable elsewhere 
in the Chaco and explains its limited distribution. In most Pilco- 
mayo River tribes children play a game with bolas made of sticks 
instead of stones. (See Games, p. 338.) 

Slings. — The Chaco sling, made with a single cord looped and 
knotted so as to hold the missile (fig. 37, d)^ must be classified as 
a toy, because the lack of stone made a lump of hard earth the only 
missile. Children sometimes use it to drive birds away from ripe 
crops {Mataco, Ahipon, Toha.) 

Pellet how. — The pellet bow has two strings, which are held apart 
by a stick. A clay pellet is placed in a sling or pouch suspended 
between the two strings. This weapon is used almost exclusively 


by young boys to shoot at birds or small animals {Mataco, Pilagd^ 
Toha, Abipon, Mocovi, Mbayd.) 

Knuckle dusters. — Women use tapir-hide rings or deerskin brace- 
lets as "knuckle dusters" in fights with other women (fig. 32, /). 
Payagud men fixed claws and points to their wrists when boxing with a 
fellow tribesman. 

Armor. — As a protection against arrows, most Chaco Indians wore 
strong, tightly woven caraguata shirts (fig. 29) or hide armor. The 
^w(rm\i Abipon^ wrote Dobrizhoffer (1784, 2 : 410) , "covered the greater 
part of their bodies with a sort of defense made of undressed tapir 
hide, a tiger's skin being sewed either inside or outside." This gar- 
ment had an opening in the middle for the head, and "extended on 
each side as far as the elbows and the middle." Arrows could not 
penetrate it. Jackets of jaguar skin were commonly worn both as 
ornaments and for protection by Mocovi., Toba, Mbayd., and Pilagd 
warriors, and by the Mbayd also, because "they imparted the jaguar 
fierceness to their owners." They were probably copied from the buiBf 
coats used by the Spaniards. 

The Choroti^ Mataco^ Ashluslay, and Toba protected their stomachs 
with broad rawhide belts. 

Fire making. — The Chaco tribes aboriginally produced fire by the 
drill, but the flint and steel subsequently spread to almost all of them. 
The Ghoroti and Mataco made both the drill and hearth of the soft 
light wood of a creeper (Asclepiadaceae), the branches of the Cap- 
paris tweediana, or tuscae {Ephedra triandra) wood. The hearth 
was short and provided with one or more shallow holes with a lateral 
groove. Among the Choroti, Mataco, and Ashluslay, and perhaps 
other tribes, the drill was also fairly short and had to be fitted into 
an arrow shaft before use. 

To make fire, the Indians place the hearth on some object, a knife 
or even a cloth, to avoid direct contact with the soil, and hold it with 
the foot. They put a pinch of tinder under the lateral groove and 
twirl the drill between the hands. Fire can be made in less than a 
minute. If the wood is wet, two men work on the same drill. Indians 
keep tinder in a small box made of the tip of a deer antler, a cow 
horn, or the tail of an armadillo. To activate a fire, fans made of the 
whole wing feathers of large birds are used everywhere. Logs are 
always arranged in the fire like the spokes of a wheel and are pushed 
gradually toward the center as they burn. 


Property. — Each band regards a certain tract of land as its own 
and resents trespass by members of other groups. The Angaite on 
the banks of the Paraguay River exacted a tribute from those who 


collected algarroba pods on their territory. Disputes over fishing 
rights are frequent among the tribes of the Pilcomayo River. 

Ancient and modern travelers alike praise the generosity of the 
Chaco Indians toward the members of their own group, i. e., the 
household. Available food is equally distributed among all, and 
nobody is allowed to starve. Children are trained to share delicacies 
with playmates, and garments and ornaments are freely lent, passing 
from hand to hand. 

The game brought home by a hunter or the food gathered in the 
bush is shared by all the members of an extended family who form a 
single household. Sanchez Labrador (1910-17, 2:5) observed that 
Mhayd hunters turned their catch over to their own household and that 
nothing was handed to the other houses. Nevertheless, strict rules 
determined the apportionment of the game killed by a group of 
hunters. A Mocovi who hit the animal first was assumed to have 
killed it, regardless of who delivered the mortal blow. Among the 
Mhayd^ on the contrary, the one who had struck the last blow was the 
rightful owner of the carcass. The man entitled to the game divided 
the meat among his companions, reserving for himself a choice morsel 
and the skin. The leader of a hunting party always received the heart. 

Indians take for granted that clothes and tools are one's personal 
property, though others may borrow them freely for a short time. A 
chief is morally obliged to give away any ornament or piece of cloth- 
ing which arouses the cupidity of one of his men. Horses, cattle, 
and sheep are owned by individuals who either earmark or brand them. 
The Mhayd used elaborate ownership marks in the style of their pot- 
tery designs, which they painted or incised on all their possessions. 
Wives often ornament their bodies with their husband's property 
marks. As a property mark, Ashluslay women weave a special 
pattern in the corner of their blankets. 

Fields belong to those who cultivate them, but crops are shared 
among the household members even if they have not participated in 
the cultivation. 

Stealing from group members rarely occurs. The Mocovi^ like the 
modern Mataco or Toha, left all their possessions in their huts when 
going on a journey, and they assured the missionary that they never 
missed anything when they returned home. Nothing shocked the 
Mocovi more than the thievish proclivities of the Creoles. 

When a Mhayd missed an object stolen by someone in the camp, he 
would promise a reward for its return. The thief generally gave the 
object back and received the gift ; in fact, everyone who had helped to 
restore the stolen possession expected some compensation. 

Among the Chamacoco, property is inherited by the sister-in-law of 
the deceased ; among the Kashikd, by his son, wife, or sister (Baldus, 
1931 a, p. 74). 


Justice. — Information on judiciary institutions is lacking. Any- 
one who, by his conduct, imperils the security of the band or who has 
committed a murder may be put to death or expelled from the village, 
after the case has been examined by a council of the chiefs and family 

Trade. — Trade has always been active between the Chaco tribes 
and their Andean, Guarani, and Arawah neighbors, and also between 
the various groups within the area itself. In a document of 1593 there 
is specific reference to commerce between the Indians of the mountains 
and those of the Bermejo River; the latter brought deerskins, rhea 
and egret feathers, and wildcat skins. 

After Alvar Nuiiez Cabeza de Vaca (see Hernandez, 1852, p. 566) 
had reestablished peace between the Mhayd {Ghmicuru) and the 
Cruaram, the former frequently visited Asuncion to trade barbecued 
game and fish, skins, fat, and caraguata textiles for maize, manioc, 
peanuts, bows, and arrows. The Guachi and Payagud provided other 
Indians of the upper Paraguay River with canoes for which they 
received bows, arrows, and other goods. 

In the Colonial Period, the Paisan of the middle Bermejo River 
obtained horses from the AMpon and Mocovi of Santa Fe, whom they 
repaid with spears. The frontier Indians who acquired iron tools from 
the Spaniards bartered them with the people of the interior. 

Forty years ago the Tapiete received their long shell necklaces from 
the Ashlv^lay, who seem to have obtained them from the Lengua. 
Lengua merchants visited the Choroti to exchange shell disks for blan- 
kets or domesticated animals. Small loaves of urucu pigment from the 
northern Chaco pass from tribe to tribe as far south as the Bermejo 
River Basin. The Choroti pay as much as a large woolen blanket for 
a single cake of urucu. 

The Chinguano and Toha visit each other to trade maize for dried 
or smoked fish. The Mataco and Choroti provide the Itiyuro River 
Chane with fish in return for maize. The Guachi of the Miranda River 
brought the Mhayd blankets, feathers, reeds for arrow shafts, and 
various foods, and received knives, scissors, beads, needles, and silver 
plates. Notwithstanding their conmiercial relations, the Guachi 
never allowed the Mhayd to enter their villages (Sanchez Labrador, 

Tapiete and Mataco bands sometimes settle in Ghiriguano villages 
to work several months for their hosts, who pay them with maize. 


The adoption of the horse by the tribes living along the right bank 
of the Paraguay and Parana Rivers broke the uniformity of culture 


which seems to have prevailed throughout the Chaco at the time of the 

The Chaco tribes which became equestrian rapidly developed along 
new lines and within a century formed a strongly stratified society 
differing sharply from that of the western and northwestern tribes, 
who carried on the democratic system formerly characteristic of all 
Chaco groups. 

The Araioakan tribes of the northeastern Chaco, though strongly 
influenced by their equestrian suzerains, seem to have preserved some 
features of their earlier social organization. The different social 
structures of these various tribes obliges us to deal separately with the 
social and political organization of the foot Indians {Mataco, Choroti, 
Ashluslay, Macd, Lengua, Toha, Lule-Vilela), of the equestrian tribes 
and canoe tribes {Abipon, Mocovi, Mhayd, Payagud), and of the 
Arawakan farmers of the north {Guana, Tereno, Lay ana, Kinikinao). 

The foot Indians. — The basic social unit of these tribes is the 
composite band which consists of a few extended families and num- 
bers from 50 to 200 individuals. These bands are localized, own 
their hunting and fishing territories, have a distinctive name, and 
are under the authority of a chief. The various families aggregated 
in a band are often related by marriage or by blood ties. Identity of 
name is not a bar to marriage within the same band. Endogamous 
unions in a Mataco band tend to exceed in number the exogamous 
ones. On the other hand, Pilagd are reluctant to marry in their own 
band (Henry, J., and Henry, Z., 1944). 

Mataco, Toha, and Ghamacoco bands are named after animals ( e. g., 
jaguars, peccaries, rabbits, sheep, donkeys, horses, dogs, armadillos, 
fishes, ants, and locusts), plants (e. g., quebracho, palo santo, creep- 
ers), manufactured articles (e. g., red clothes), natural objects (e. g., 
stones), parts of the body or physical characteristics (e. g., joints of 
the body, forehead, hairy people, those- who-move-their-buttocks), 
temperament or disposition (e. g., evildoers, people-who-throw-things- 
at-themselves) , and other things. These Indians do not hold the 
eponym to be sacred. The existing food taboos have nothing to do 
with band affiliation ; hence there is no evidence of totemism. Mem- 
bers of an extended family or sometimes of a whole band live in a 
single hut. 

Residence after marriage is commonly matrilocal, though the couple 
later may move to the man's band. Desccent is established through 
the father, but if the father's band is small or obscure, the children 
tend to identify themselves with the maternal group {Mataco). 

Theoretically the household consists of related persons but actually 
many of its members have no blood ties {Pilagd) . 

During the algarroba season, when large quantities of beer are 
brewed every day or when an important decision concerning the 


tribe is made, several bands will meet in the territory of some in- 
fluential chief, where all together they will build a large camp. Each 
band, however, maintains its individuality. Bands which constitute 
subtribes now and then coalesce into a single big camp. 

Political organization. — Among the tribes of the Bermejo and Pil- 
comayo Kiver area a chief is an influential man, generally the head of 
an extended family, who rises to a dominant position as the result 
of his wisdom, skill, and courage. Many chiefs owe their authority 
to their reputation as shamans. A chief is expected to provide for the 
welfare of his people, to represent his group in dealings with other 
tribes or with Whites, and to see that no harm befalls his community. 
A chief is morally obliged to share all his acquisitions with the mem- 
bers of his band. As he cannot refuse to give up any object coveted 
by a follower, he is often a shabby-looking person. 

No chief would dare to impose a decision at variance with the 
desires of his followers. He generally finds out the wishes of the 
majority by listening to conversations and then carries the matter 
through as if it were his own idea. A chief normally takes the initia- 
tive in hunting and fishing expeditions, and he suggests that the camp 
be moved when game or food plants in the vicinity are becoming 
scarce. He has also some vague judiciary powers; for instance, he 
may force a thief to restore stolen goods. When the council of mature 
men meets, one of the chief's functions is to address the crowd. For- 
merly, he delivered a speech to his band every morning and evening, 
even though no one seemed to pay the slightest attention to him. 
Likewise, before a drinking party he always exhorts the men to enjoy 
themselves in peace and harmony. If a chief is stingy or unable to 
protect his band from disaster, the families who were his followers 
rapidly desert him to join the band of a more satisfactory leader. 

Over the band chiefs there is often a greater chief who is recognized 
as such by all the bands of a certain district. His village is generally 
a gathering place for several bands. The paramount chief of a sub- 
tribe enjoys great prestige, but his power depends entirely on his 
personality. White people have somewhat increased his authority 
by dealing with him as the tribal representative and by giving him 
military titles. Unfortunately, White people sometimes promote an 
unscrupulous interpreter to the rank of chief, thus destroying the 
cohesion of the group and hastening its disintegration. 

Chiefly status is rarely hereditary. After the death of a chief, any 
man who, in the group's opinion, has the required qualities for the 
position may take his place. 

Before the breakdown of Toha culture, the position of the chief 
differed somewhat from that in neighboring groups. Although in 
peacetime Toha chiefs had little to do and, theoretically, could not 
impose their will on ordinary warriors without being challenged by 


them in the tumult of a drinking bout, their deeds on the battlefield 
gave them more authority than had their colleagues in other tribes. 
The Tdba were essentially warlike and their chiefs, who led their 
constant forays against their neighbors, had to display great courage 
and skill. Under favorable circumstances, these features, indeed, 
might have led to the formation of a stratified social structure similar 
to that of the other equestrian tribes. 

Chieftainship was not entirely hereditary among the Toha^ but 
tended strongly to be so, as a chief was succeeded by his son or another 
close relative unless he was unworthy of the office. 

Descendants of a famous chief boasted of their connection and 
enjoyed a certain esteem which may be regarded as a step toward the 
formation of a nobility. The band chiefs were, at least in principle, 
subordinate to a subtribe or district chief, who often was a man of 
great influence and of forceful personality. 

The status of the Ahlpon chief was very much like that of a Toha 
leader. DobrizhofFer (1784, 2:113) defines his functions in the fol- 
lowing terms: 

He provides for the security of his people, he increases the store of weapons, 
sends watchers and scouts to procure supplies from neighbors and to gain alli- 
ances. He rides in front of his troups. 

Forty years ago, three out of the five Chamacoco chiefs were heredi- 
tary rulers and the other two had acquired their rank through merit. 
The supreme chief at that time was a regent for a minor heir. A para- 
mount chief lived successively with each band. Whenever an impor- 
tant decision was to be made, the chiefs discussed it with the assembly 
of old people. There was little difference between chiefs and 

The equestrian tribes. — Little information is available on the 
social structure of the Mocovi. Father Canelas (Furlong C., 1938 c, 
p. 86) speaks in general terms of "noblemen" and "plebeians" who kept 
apart. Members of the first class intermarried to maintain purity of 
blood, but commoners could take wives from other bands or from 
among captives. Nobility was also bestowed on famous warriors. 
Special grammatical forms were used to address a nobleman. 

In contrast to the democratic organization of the Pilcomayo River 
tribes, Mhayd society was rigorously stratified. The adoption of the 
horse gave this tribe a decided advantage over its neighbors, which 
contributed to the formation of a system of classes and even of castes. 
Unable to absorb its countless prisoners, as most Chaco Indians do, each 
group maintained its individuality and hegemony by stressing blood 
purity and the privileges of the conquerors. The subjugated tribes 
were reduced to the condition of serfs and slaves, and the heads of the 
extended Mhayd families constituted a new aristocracy. However, 


their new social structure did not affect their original division into 
subtribes and bands. 

Nobles and, chiefs. — Two different types of noblemen (niniotagui) 
existed among the Mhayd. Those who inherited their status and those 
on whom the title w as bestowed. The noblemen of the second category 
were individuals born at the same time as a chief's son, who received a 
title as a special favor. The lowest ranking nobility, they were called 
"ninibni-iguagua" (those who are like chiefs) and had neither fol- 
lowers nor houses of their own. They did not transmit their rank to 
their children and had to obey like any commoner. 

The blood nobility was itself divided into two classes. The higher 
group comprised the senior members of an aristocratic lineage, and 
consisted of the chiefs of large bands and of subtribes. The second 
class of noblemen included all lesser chiefs and "all the [great chiefs'] 
descendants and relatives of both sexes, in whatever line or degree." 

Mhayd chiefs were inordinat^ily vain about their pedigrees and 
affected the greatest pride and insolence. The birth of a chief's son 
was an occasion for solemn feasts and for games which lasted several 
days. The education of a chief's male children was entrusted to dis- 
tinguished persons, who were assigned a special hut. Every impor- 
tant event in the life of a chiefly heir, such as his weaning or his par- 
ticipation in children's games, was celebrated publicly with general 

Nevertheless, the exalted position of the chiefs did not give them 
absolute power. Their decisions had to be approved by the council 
of the lesser chiefs, old men, and distinguished warriors. Great chiefs, 
however, could take the initiative in enterprises involving the subtribe 
or the band, such as migrations or war. (Sanchez Labrador, 1910-17, 

When a chief decided to move the camp, he summoned a council of 
the men of his own band and arranged the details of the journey with 
them. Then he dispatched heralds to the lesser chiefs, who had re- 
mained in their huts, to explain the decisions made by the great chief. 
The lesser chiefs expressed their agreement by a stereotyped formula 
in which they lauded the wisdom of their leader, and said, "We shall 
march where he wants us to go." The ceremony was repeated every 
morning of the journey. When a war expedition was contemplated, 
however, the lesser chiefs met with the great chief. 

An heir to the chiefly dignity who was deemed unfit for his position 
was removed by the council, which then selected another chief. In 
order to keep up at least an appearance of legitimacy, the new leader 
was officially regarded as the mouthpiece of the deposed chief. 

Warriors. — The second social class, far more numerous than that of 
the noblemen, consisted of warriors. "The status of warrior," writes 
Moure (1862, p. 41), "was transmissible, as was that of captain, which 


entailed important privileges." Unfortunately, our sources are silent 
about the prerogatives and position of warriors relative to the members 
of the aristocracy. 

Serfs. — The subjugation of Guana farmers by Mhayd bands is 
pre-Columbian. In 1552 Ulrich Schmidel observed that the relation- 
ship of the Guana to the Mhayd was like that of German peasants to 
their feudal lords. This peculiar symbiosis between the GvAind 
farmers and the nomadic or half-nomadic Mhayd may not have been 
accomplished entirely by force. Sanchez Labrador states that some 
Guana had become serfs as the result of a marriage policy syste- 
matically followed by Mhayd chiefs. By marrying a Guand chief- 
tainess, a Mhayd "captain" became the suzerain of his wife's subjects. 
In 1766 the chief of the Eyihogodegi subtribe had taken as his second 
wife the chief tainess of the Guand subtribe of the Echoaladi^ whom 
the Mhayd already considered to be their serfs. This and similar 
cases may have suggested to Sanchez Labrador his historical explana- 
tion of the political and social subordination of the Guand. This 
author also brings out the interesting fact that the Guand considered 
themselves subordinate only to Mhayd chiefs, whom they called "our 
lords," but not to the rank and file of the tribe, whom they adressed 
as "our brothers." Unions between Mhayd chiefs and Guand women 
may have strengthened the bonds between the two tribes, but cannot 
entirely account for Mhayd ascendency and Guand subserviency. 
Actually, the Guand, instead of pledging obedience to the Mhayd as 
their rightful lords, were restive and weary of the latter's off-hand 
manners and of their heavy demands. During the 19th century, the 
Guand, encouraged by Brazilian support, finally put an end to this 
ancient bondage. Though the marriage policy might have been im- 
portant, it seems more probable, as Almeida da Serra hinted in the 
18th century, that the Mhayd established their suzerainty over the 
Guand by harassing them for years, laying waste their fields, and 
ambushing them outside their villages. The hard-pressed Guand 
farmers bought peace by paying tributes of food, cloth, and other 
commodities, and by serving the Mhayd whenever they were needed. 
After the Mhayd regarded the Guand as their subjects, they protected 
them against the inroads of the other warlike tribes, such as the 
Zamuco, Lengua, and Macd. 

Every year at harvest time a Mhayd band would spend a few days 
in the village of its Guand subjects. Each chief stayed with his own 
vassals, and the presence of any chief who was not a lawful suzerain 
of that particular Guand village was not tolerated. Even a chief's 
wife who had hereditary rights over another Guand group left her 
husband and visited her own vassals. The Guand entertained their 
suzerain and his retinue. They brought the expected tribute of 


blankets and of urucu {Bixa orellana) to the chief alone, for they 
felt no obligation toward other members of their master's band. The 
presents of the Guana were not precisely a tribute, for the Mhayd 
gave them in return iron objects and glass beads which they had 
looted or traded from the Spaniards. The "noblesse oblige" prin- 
ciple also influenced the attitude of the lords, for though the Guana 
stole whatever they needed from their masters, such thefts were in 
part sanctioned by custom and only elicited from the Mhayd con- 
temptuous remarks, such as, "These Guana, are indeed thieves." The 
Mhayd chiefs distributed the presents of the Guand among their 
retinue and kept only a few things for themselves. 

The Guand who served in Mhayd villages, and who at times out- 
numbered their masters, were not obliged to remain among them but 
could leave of their own accord. Apparently, they offered their 
services in return for some reward, the nature of which is not stated. 
It is specifically reported, however, that Guand boys found life among 
the Mhayd pleasant ; the main attractions were horseback rides and 
easy intrigues with Mhayd girls. The Guand men who settled among 
the Mhayd tilled the soil, and the women wove cotton garments or 
made pottery for their masters. The Mhayd were kind and con- 
descending to the Guand^ but many small details revealed the social 
differences. No Guand servant could wear showy feather ornaments 
or paint himself with urucu without special permission from his 
master. When sitting around the fire, the Guand were not handed 
the pipe that passed from mouth to mouth. Even their chiefs 
suffered humiliations if they made the slightest attempt to put them- 
selves on equal footing with their suzerains. A Mhayd chief who 
had been invited by a Portuguese to dine with some Guand chiefs 
forced them to leave the table and to sit on the floor. 

Slaves. — When referring to the servile population in Mhayd camps, 
our sources do not always draw a clear-cut distinction between the 
Guand serfs and the war captives, though their respective status was 
obviously different. The slaves, properly speaking, were only the 
war captives and their descendants. Among these were representa- 
tives of the following tribes: Guuchi^ Guato, Guarani, Gaingang^ 
Bororo^ Cayapo, Chiquito, Channacoco, and even a few Paraguayan 
Mestizos. In 1802 the Chamacoco^ hoping to avert further Mhayd 
raids, sold them 600 slaves, among whom were not only Tumerehd 
captives, but also many of their own children. 

The possession of many slaves or servants was a symbol of prestige 
and rank. Nothing flattered the vanity of a Mhayd chief more than 
to be followed or served at table by a large retinue of slaves. Mhayd 
women were equally eager to appear in public surrounded by female 


servants. "Ladies" felt mortiiSed when they lacked slaves to carry 
their possessions. 

Slaves were, as a rule, kindly treated and were considered as rightful 
members of their master's family. They ate with him, took part in 
games as free men, and were even permitted to attend war councils. 
At home, however, they were relegated to the quarters farthest away 
from those of the household's head. 

The main duties of the slaves were to fetch fuel, cook, tend horses, 
build huts, till the soil, and, sometimes, to hunt and fish. 

Though a definite emphasis was placed on blood purity, marriages 
between women captives and free men or between free women and 
slaves were not uncommon. Many well-known Mhayd chiefs had 
Gimnd or GhaTnacoco mothers. The status of the slaves did not 
improve by such unions, but children born of these marriages were 
free men, though their partly servile origin was a blot to which 
malevolent persons might refer. A few slaves, through personal 
merit or after the death of their master, could become free men. 

In aboriginal times slaves could not be sold, but this rule was 
changed under the influence of the Spaniards and Portuguese. A 
man's slaves passed after his death to his son or to some other heir. 

The most severe punishment that a Mhayd could inflict on an 
unruly slave was to threaten to take back the horses and other things 
he had given him and refuse to employ him any longer. The slave 
was thus shamed into good behavior. 

By forcing the Chamacoco to supply them with slaves, the Mhayd 
unwittingly contributed to the formation of an incipient slave class 
among these Indians. Some captives were retained by the Chamacoco 
and, although well treated and allowed to marry free people, they 
were nevertheless compelled to perform menial tasks and could not 
own property. Slaves addressed their masters as "father." 

The Payagua, a canoe tribe. — The information given by Aguirre 
(1911, p. 376) on the social hierarchy among the Payagua is some- 
what obscure. He writes : 

The chiefs of the Sarigue subtribe were called coati, of whom there were 
two categories, the big ones and the small ones. They recognized and obeyed 
the main cacique and brought him food. The latter carried a stick, dressed in 
the best skin cloaks, and lived in a separate hut As to the other chiefs, at 
least those whom the Payagud call captains, they were not distinct from the 
rest of the people because they had to work for a living and were obliged to 
fish and to cut grass for fodder. 

The Payagua had a high regard for chiefly digTiity and obeyed 
their lesser chiefs more readily than did other Indians. Blood 
purity was an important factor in determining an individual's status, 
though a title of nobility could be bestowed on young commoners at 
the ceremony in which the chief's son had his lip perforated to 
receive a labret. 


The military societies.— Each Ahipon band had a group of men, 
called hecheri or nelefeycate, who enjoyed special prestige and in- 
fluence. Dobrizhoffer refers to them as "noblemen," but actually they 
were members of a military order or society of those who had gained 
fame by their war deeds. 

Admission to the order was preceded by a test of fortitude and 
by various ceremonies. The candidate, with a black bead placed on 
his tongue, had to sit still for 3 days without speaking, eating, or 
drinking. After the ordeal, women surrounded him and mourned his 
ancestors. Then, mounted on a horse, he called on an old medicine 
woman whose hut he approached from the four directions of the 
compass successively, pausing each time to listen to homilies she 
delivered for his benefit. His head was then shaved, and the old 
woman celebrated his exploits and his forefathers' military fame. 
He was given a new name, characterized by the ending "in," which 
was reserved to the members of the order. The name was immedi- 
ately promulgated and "festively pronounced by a band of women 
striking their lips with their hands." A drinking bout closed the 
ceremony. The hecheri differentiated themselves from other people 
not by special ornaments, but by certain mannerisms of speech or the 
profuse use of redundant syllables which gave to their language a 
"noble" turn. Those who addressed them had to add the suffix "in" 
to words. Moreover, the members of the society had some words 
peculiar to themselves. Some hecheri, however, scornful of the privi- 
lege, were content with normal speech. There were also warriors 
of renown who for one reason or another obstinately refused to join 
the military society. Some women were admitted into the order by 
virtue of the "merits of their parents, husbands, or brothers." The 
new name which they assumed ended with the "en" suffix. 

A military order composed of outstanding warriors seems to have 
existed among the pre-equestrian Mbayd, when they were known as 
Guaicuru. Young warriors who had distinguished themselves in 
battle were urged to go through an initiation ceremony which placed 
them on an equal level with elder warriors. They appeared in public 
with paint and elaborate feather ornaments, and with their hair 
shaved except for a band from one ear to the other. They played the 
drum and chanted for a whole day and were repeatedly jabbed by 
adult warriors, who smeared their heads with the oozing blood. 

Warrior societies, which probably existed in pre-Conquest times, 
must have contributed to the formation of a military nobility. Even 
among the Ahipon^ who retained much of the old democratic spirit 
of the band, ceremonial recognition was accorded not only the candi- 
date, but also his forefathers. The Mocovi noblemen were merely 
members of military societies. 


The Arawakan tribes. — The Tereno are divided into two en- 
dogamous moieties, one called the good one and the other the bad 
one. Each is said to be related to one of the mythical twins. The 
moieties are not segregated and the division becomes apparent only 
during the yearly war dance, known as the "dance-of-the-ostrich- 

The Tereno, who like all the Guana subtribes reshaped their society 
on the Mhayd pattern, even in recent years recognized three distinct 
soccial ranks: the chief's class (nati), the warriors (shunachati), and 
the camp followers (machatichane). The last were at the service of the 
warriors but could be raised to the warrior's rank after killing many 
enemies. Intermarriage between these classes was not allowed and 
was even punishable. 

The Guana were ruled by hereditary chiefs who enjoyed considera- 
tion and influence in the assemblies, but their power depended on "their 
personal renown, force of character, and ability as leaders" (Hay, 
1928, p. 107). Chiefs controlled local affairs and enforced the laws, 
but they could not take any initiative without the approval of the 
council of warriors. 

Among the Tereno, authority was divided between the heads of the 
extended families, the village chiefs, and the paramount chief of the 
tribe — an office probably forced on them by the Brazilians. 

A Tereno chief's oldest son succeeded to his title unless one of his 
father's brother's sons was older. Next in line came the chief's oldest 
grandson or his brother's grandson ; then followed the oldest son of the 
chief's sister, the husband of the chief's oldest daughter, the oldest son 
of the chief's oldest daughter, the husband of the oldest daughter of the 
chief's brother's grandson, the chief's oldest sister's husband, and the 
husband of the chief's sister's oldest daughter. Hay (1928, p. 107) , con- 
firming a statement made by Sanchez Labrador and Kengger,*^ says 
that even nowadays women may succeed to a chief's title. 

This rule of succession explains why Mhayd chiefs who marry 
Guana chieftainesses were regarded by the latters' subjects as their 
lawful leaders. 

All the boys born within a few months of the chief's son were re- 
garded at his particular followers. When the heir apparent became 
15, his father invited all the chiefs of the region to a big feast. Wear- 
ing all their ornaments, painted all over, and singing, they circled the 
young man. The ceremony was followed by 2- to 4-day banquets. 

Kinship terms. — Extensive lists of kinship terms have been re- 
corded only among the Mataco, the Tereno, and the Pilagd. These 

«Rengger (1835, p. 335) writes, "Chiefly dignity is hereditary and when the male line 
is extinct it passes to the widow or the daughter of the deceased chief. If she marries, 
her husband becomes chief. She may divorce him and her third husband assumes then the 
ranlr of chief. Chiefs do not wear any insignia and do not receive any tribute. They are 
always at the head of the group in peace or in war time." 


three tribes distinguish grandparents according to sex, and extend 
these terms to include all the grandparents' siblings and spouses. 
They have special terms for uncle and aunt, but do not distinguish be- 
tween the siblings of either parent. In Ego's generation, younger sib- 
lings are distinguished from older ones and the same terms are applied 
to parallel- and cross-cousins. The Mataco and Tereno call their sib- 
lings' children "nephew" and "niece." The children of sons, daugh- 
ters, nephews, and nieces are all designated as "grandchildren." 

The Mataco classify the father-in-law and mother-in-law with the 
grandparents, and the children-in-law are equated to the grandchil- 
dren. All other affinal relatives may be addressed by terms meaning 
"male-" or "female-relative-in-law." If, however, there is a close tie 
between affinal relatives of different generations, they address each 
other as "grandparent" or "grandchild." There is a special Mataco 
term for the spouse of the brother- or sister-in-law, 


In many Chaco tribes {Lengua-Macd,,^^ KasMhd^ Ghoroti, ViUla, 
Chamacoco) a person who returns from a long absence is greeted with 
tears and funeral laments if someone has died in the group while he 
was away. Such manifestations of grief serve to notify the traveler of 
the sad event. The members of a Mhayd band who had been absent 
from the village when a death had occurred cried and moaned as soon 
as they returned home. 

The visit of a Mhayd chief to some colleague was marked by elab- 
orate formalities. Before entering the village, the visitor sent four 
messengers who sat down on either side of the prospective host ; after 
a moment of silence, they rose and delivered a speech announcing the 
arrival of the chief's "brother." The chief then begged them to sit 
down, thanked them, and served them food. Afterward he dispatched 
emissaries to greet the distinguished guest and to guide him to the 
temporary tent erected for his lodging, where he was given food 
and was formally visited by his host. A musician, covered with 
feather ornaments and profusely painted, sang in honor of the visitor 
to the accompaniment of a gourd rattle and a drum. The climax 
of the reception was a party at which everyone drank mead to his 
heart's content. 

When a Mhayd band went to call formally on another band, the 
visitors stopped the day before a short distance from the host's village, 
where they painted themselves and donned their best ornaments. The 

« Azara (1809, 2:151) says: "Us [the Lengua] emploient entr'eux une singuHgre 
formula de politesse, lorsqu'ils revoient quelqu'un aprfes quelque terns d'absence. Void ft 
quoi elle se r6duit: les deux Indiens versent quelques larnies avant que de se dire un seul 
tQOt ; en agir autrement serait un outrage, ou du moins une preuve que la visite n'est pas 


next morning, several mounted scouts approached the village and 
fought a mock skirmish. The others came on foot and were en- 
gaged in a general boxing tournament by their hosts. After ex- 
changing a few blows, the visitors stormed the village and pillaged 
whatever their hosts had been unable to hide the day before. After 
this simulated warfare, they all sat down to eat and drink together. 

In most Cruaicuruan-sipeaking tribes, when some member of the 
band or a visitor was about to set out on a journey, an old woman would 
dance a few steps and chant a magic formula to bless him (Mhayd, 
Pilagfd, Abipon) . A returning traveler or a guest was often received 
in the same manner. Among the Kaskihd, the old women who per- 
formed the rite unburdened their visitor and carried his weapons 
or his load to their huts, while chanting plaintively. 

The Mocovi greeting was, "Here I am," to which the host answered, 
"You are here." The same formula, with a slight grammatical change, 
was used both by noble people and by those who addressed them. 
No Mocovi would enter a house or dismount from his horse without 
an invitation. When asked why he had come, the conventional reply 
was, "Just for nothing." Like modern Toha, they took leave by sim- 
ply saying, "I am leaving," to which those present replied, "Go." 
To omit this courtesy was interpreted as evidence of anger. 

During a meeting, all participants had to declare in turn that 
it had lasted long enough before adjourning. Good breeding de- 
manded that a man who met another on the road inquired where 
he was going. 

When the Ashluday, Pilagd, or Choroti arrive at a village as visitors, 
they spend the first night singing to the rhythm of their rattles a chant 
by which they express their friendly intentions. 


All Chaco Indians were extremely warlike; many still are. The 
most bellicose were the members of the Guaicur^uan family, who were 
greatly feared not only by their neighbors but also by the Spaniards. 
The Ahipon and the Mhayd were among the few Indian tribes of South 
America that challenged Spanish domination and repeatedly defeated 
the Whites. Dobrizhoffer (1784) says of the Ahipon^ "Their whole 
soul was bent upon arms." There is little doubt that the introduc- 
tion of the horse, which placed the Indian warrior on equal footing 
with the Spaniard and added to his mobility, accentuated the war- 
like disposition of the Guaicuru and increased the militaristic trend 
of their culture. Chance alone does not account for the fact that 
all the horsemen of the Chaco were Guaicunuin-s^Q^^ing Indians; 
They wanted the horse because it meant more to them than to their 
less aggressive neighbors. 


The main motives which prompted Chaco Indians to make war 
were: Revenge for the death of some member of the group caused 
by overt violence or witchcraft; trespassing on hunting or fishing 
grounds; loot, especially herds of sheep and other animals; and the 
desire to capture women and children {Mhayd^ Mocovi). 

Many tribes in the Chaco were and still are traditional enemies; 
thus, from time immemorial, the Toha and the Pilagd have waged 
a bitter war against their neighbors across the Pilcomayo River, the 
Ashluslay and the Maod. The Mataco and Toba have ceased killing 
each other only in recent times. The Lengua continually skirmish 
with the tribes along their western borders. Alliances between tribes 
occurred very seldom, but on several occasions the Ahipon banded with 
the Toha and Mocovi to raid the Spanish frontier. 

In former days, the decision to begin a campaign against an enemy 
band or tribe was made by a chief. As a rule, he invited his fellow 
leaders to a drinking bout to discuss the matter with them and gain 
their approval and cooperation. At such a meeting the leader of the 
expedition was chosen. Among the Toha, if the band chief were too 
old, some younger and more enterprising warrior, generally one of his 
close relatives, was selected. The power of a war leader was in sharp 
contrast to the lax and indefinite authority which a chief enjoyed 
in peacetime; nevertheless, an Ahipon war chief could not prevent the 
desertion of families that were unwilling to fight. The decision to 
wage war was an occasion for merrymaking, drinking, dancing, and 
celebrating the anticipated victory. A Lengita band preparing for 
war summoned the other bands by sending messengers with red arrows, 
who told them the place of rendezvous. 

The duties of an Ahipon war leader were to gain allies, to take all 
measures for the safety of noncombatants, to see that the war party 
had the necessary horses and weapons, and to organize the informa- 
tion service by sending scouts and spies ahead of the troup. The 
chief rode in front of his men and was the first to charge the enemy. 
The Mhayd war chiefs, on the other hand, brought up the rear. 

The Pilagd, before marching against the enemy, drank beer and 
performed the dance of courage to make them valiant. The women 
had to observe several taboos lest they harm their men during their 
absence. For instance, they might not twist cordage on their thighs, 
as this would prevent the warriors from running fast enough. Men- 
struating women might not sit on the ground. Sexual intercourse 
before a war expedition was regarded as extremely dangerous. The 
warriors themselves could not eat the head, the legs, or the grease of 
any game. The Ahipon regarded the period of the waning moon as 
the most propitious time to set out to war. 

No special order was kept during the march. The Indians scat- 
tered every day in order to hunt, but at night they met at a designated 


place. Camps were selected so that the natural protection of a river, 
lake, or wood prevented surprise attacks. When resting in the eve- 
ning, the shamans, who accompanied the Pilagd, fell into a trance, 
and their familiar spirits helped them ascertain the whereabouts of 
the enemy. During the night, the Ahipon scouted the nearby plains, 
sometimes blowing horns and trumpets, to make sure that there was 
no danger nearby. 

Before attacking, the chiefs waited for the reports of scouts sent 
to observe the movements of their opponents. The men crawled close 
to the enemy camps and remained in touch with one another by imitat- 
ing animal and bird calls. They also conveyed messages by breaking 
branches in a special way or by tying knots in the high grass. To 
avoid leaving footprints, they tied pieces of sldn to the soles of their 
feet (Ahipon). The Lengua posted messengers at set intervals so 
that the scouts could always communicate with the main troops. 

Just before engaging the enemy, if circumstances permitted, the 
Abipon^ Toba^ and probably all other Chaco Indians brewed mead and 
celebrated a drinking bout during which they threatened their enemies 
and celebrated their own past deeds with rhetorical outbursts. Be- 
fore the battle, all Chaco Indians except the Mhayd painted them- 
selves with red and black dyes. The Mlayd used black but never red 
dye which, for an obvious association, they believed would bring bad 
luck. Warriors also donned their best ornaments. Head bands dec- 
orated with horns or toucan beaks or hairnets of red wool were gen- 
erally worn on the battlefield by the Ahipon, Mocovi, and Mhayd. 

Indian tactics always aimed at avoiding casualties. Even the belli- 
cose Ahipon or Mhayd would flee if they suffered a few losses ; battles 
were, therefore, rarely bloody, unless a surprise attack succeeded. A 
war party usually sought to storm the unsuspecting enemy camp be- 
fore dawn when everybody was still asleep. After shooting a few 
volleys and setting fire to the huts with incendiary arrows, the attack- 
ers, armed with clubs, would rush into the village to massacre every- 
body except young women and children. The surprised victims would 
try to resist long enough to allow the women and children to run away 
into the bush, where they scattered to avoid mass capture. The attack 
was also preceded by a terrific shouting and the playing of trumpets 
or clarinets. Like some North American Indians, the Toha, when 
charging their enemies, shouted while striking their mouths with their 
hands. The Mhayd formed a crescent with flute players in the center. 
The MoGovi generally placed themselves in two lines around their chief, 
according to the closeness of their relationship to him. The Ahipon 
put archers in the middle and spearmen on the wings. They rarely 
fought on horseback, but left their mounts at some distance to the 
rear guarded by a special troop of younger men ; but sometimes they 


attacked on horseback, and charged in several parties to harass the 
enemy on all sides. They had marvelous control over their horses: 
they could hang from their mounts or, to avoid missiles, conceal 
themselves entirely under their horses' bellies. The Mocovi cavalry 
was followed by infantrymen, and, while the main body fought, small 
groups raided the horses and cattle. 

When fighting on foot, the Indians dodged about constantly to avoid 
enemy arrows, and continually howled to sustain their courage and 
frighten the opponents. 

A common ruse which the Abipon used against the Spaniards was 
to disband as if to run away and then rush back as soon as the latter 
had broken their ranks to pursue them. 

A victorious Abipon party informed its village through a messenger, 
who first enumerated the casualties suffered by the enemies and the 
booty taken. This news was hailed by a crowd of women and old men 
who struck their lips with the right hand. No herald ever mentioned 
a deceased warrior by name but referred to him as the relative of so 
and so. The warriors returned home individually, without ostenta- 
tion. If a young Mbayd had killed an enemy, his mother made gifts 
to his companions and organized a drinking bout. 

There is no mention of disputes over the booty. Each man brought 
home his captives, herds, or other loot. A Pilagd chief gave all his 
spoils to his followers and only retained one captive (Arnott, 1934 a). 
It is stated that Mbayd slaves who fought by the side of their masters 
were allowed to keep the prisoners they had taken. 

Trophies. — For trophies, the Indians took either heads (ancient 
Guaicuru) or scalps {Mataco^ Ghoroti^ Ashluslay^ Chunupi^ Isistine^ 
Lule^ Abipon^ Mocovi^ Toba, Pilagd^ Mbayd). Abipon and Mataco 
scalped so as to include the skin of the nose and ears. The Ashluslay 
dried scalps over smoke and mounted on a wooden hoop. 

The Abipon^ like so many South American tribes, used the bones of 
their dead enemies to make pipes or whistles and their skulls for cups. 

Victory feasts. — A victorious Toba or Pilagd war party was re- 
ceived by women who danced holding tufts of red feathers. Warriors 
handed their scalps to the women, particularly to those who had lost 
a husband in the war. The women danced and played with these 
trophies, derisively treating them as husbands or lovers and impro- 
vising comic dialogue between the scalps and themselves. The war- 
riors, who wore masks made of bags stretched over a wooden frame 
and decorated with feathers and who painted red and black stripes 
across their bodies and attached bells to their ankles, danced to drums 
around a pole on the top of which the scalps hung (pi. 74, top) . Dur- 
ing the dance, which consisted mainly of running wildly about, they 
punctured themselves with bone awls trimmed with feathers and sang 


their personal songs or those inherited from their fathers. They 
shouted to the scalps, "May he die," an apostrophe directed either at 
the soul of the enemy or at his kin. A man who had killed an enemy 
was entitled to wear the red feathers of certain birds and to carry a 
ceremonial cord covered with beads. (See Arnott, 1934 a; Metraux, 
1937, pp. 396-398 ; Ryden, 1935.) 

Mocovi warriors brought home the skulls or the scalps of their slain 
foes, and were received by old women who danced, beat drums, and 
shouted, striking their mouths with their hands. The trophies were 
suspended from posts around which old women danced every day for 
a month. A warrior attached a new feather to his spear every time 
he killed a man. 

The Lule also celebrated their triumphs by giving the scalps to old 
women, who danced with them (Furlong C, 1941, p. 84). 

The Mhayd women carried the scalps, bones, and weapons of the 
enemy on their husbands' spears, to celebrate the prowess of their 
men. The victory feast terminated in boxing matches. 

The Ahipon solemnly celebrated the anniversaries of great victories. 
The heads of the extended families were invited by criers or heralds, 
generally old medicine men of low birth, who, carrying a stick with a 
little bell, visited each house. The women received them, striking 
their lips and shouting. The herald handed them the stick, delivered 
his message, and, taking back the stick, went on. For the occasion, 
the host built a large hall to shelter his guests. The scalps taken dur- 
ing the battle were displayed on a reed platform nearby and were hung 
on spears fixed in the middle of the plaza where the people sat. The 
Indians drank profusely and at night listened to "bards" who, chant- 
ing in pairs, related their heroic deeds and derided their enemies. The 
subjects of these epics, according to DobrizhofFer (1784, 2:478) were 
"warlike expeditions, slaughters, and spoils of the enemy, the taking of 
towns, the plundering of wagons and estates, the burning and depopu- 
lation of colonies of the Spaniards." 

Peace making. — A Lengua band that wanted peace sent emissaries 
carrying bundles of arrows and bows tied together. They were re- 
ceived by a deputation from the enemy village. Peace could not be 
sealed before both enemy groups had paid the wergild for all the dead 
of the respective families. Members of neutral bands were used as 

Treatment of prisoners. — Men were rarely spared by the Mhayd 
unless they could be sold as slaves to the Spaniards. Women, espe- 
cially if young, and children were captured and incorporated into the 
victor's tribe. The Mbayd^ Mocovi, Ahipon, and Chainacoco are the 
only Chaco Indians who treated the women or children captives as 
slaves rather than as rightful members of the group. 


The "Comentarios de Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca" state (Hernan- 
dez, 1852, p. 564) that among the Mhayd a woman could intervene to 
save a prisoner's life and even gain his freedom. A captive miglit be 
adopted into the tribe if he v^ished. 

The AMpon pretended to despise their war captives and theoretically 
refused to intermarry with them even though they were Spaniards. 
The honor of a kidnapped White woman was said to have been safe, 
not because they respected her, but, on the contrary, because they did 
not wish to lose caste by taking her as a wife or concubine. War 
prisoners enjoyed great freedom, and many took such a liking to the 
roaming life of their captors that they refused to be ransomed. Some 
Ahipon masters were so fond of their slaves that they preferred to 
starve rather than deprive their captives of food. The captives per- 
formed menial tasks, which, however, were always requested in a gen- 
tle manner, and they rarely or never received corporal punishment. 
(For the treatment of war captives among the Mhayn^ see Social 
Organization, p. 307.) 

The Payagud either killed their prisoners or sent them back to their 
families for a ransom of food. 

Signals. — Chaco Indians on the warpath or on hunting trips have 
various methods of communication. They warn of an impending 
danger with columns of smoke. Bunches of grass knotted in a certain 
way and placed on a forked limb show stragglers the direction taken 
by their companions. The position and the nature of an object left 
as a signal convey various kinds of information. The inclination of 
a stick tells the distance from one point to another, probably showing, 
as a sundial, the time needed for covering it. Objects hanging from 
a branch announce to late-comers that the band has left for a feast. 
An arrow means war or trouble {Tola, Payagud^ Lengua). 


Pregnancy. — Several Chaco tribes believe that children are formed 
by the sperm which sprouts in the womb like seed in the earth, and 
that the presence of the fetus blocks the flow of menstrual blood. The 
Mataco attribute sterility to an obstruction in the uterus, which is 
caused by sorcery and is difficult to cure. Toha and Mataco believe 
that intercourse must be repeated to cause pregnancy ; men wishing to 
produce abundant sperm, drink broths made of various birds. 

When a woman knows that she is pregnant, she and her husband 
abstain from foods and activities which may endanger the delivery, 
or harm the child's appearance or character. These taboos are en- 
forced until the child is regarded as sufficiently developed. Birds are 
especially excluded from the diet; so are many animals and certain 
parts of animals. For instance, the Toha and Pilagd may not eat the 


legs and brains of game lest the baby be born bowlegged or with an 
open skull. To eat the heads of certain animals would threaten the 
child's life. The husband of an expectant mother has to cease certain 
kinds of work: He may not use cutting instruments, for if he were 
to fell a tree, the baby would be born with a cleft lip ; he may not wear 
boots lest the child's legs be crooked. If he keeps his hat on, the child's 
skull will be flat. Just before confinement, the husband unties his belt 
and loosens his garments to facilitate delivery. He removes his neck- 
lace lest the navel cord strangle the baby. A prospective Pilagd father 
is convinced that to clean his pipe with a straw would cause the fetus 
to choke. Before childbirth, Pilagd women rub stingray fat on their 
stomachs to facilitate delivery, because this fish carries its "babies in 
a pocket outside its body" (Palavecino, 1933 a, p. 539). 

Childbirth. — Detailed information on childbirth is available only 
for the Mataco. A Mataco woman in labor is generally surrounded by 
female relatives or friends who are ready to assist her. She sits on 
the thighs of some older woman who squats on the ground and, to ease 
the pain, clings to a post in front of her. She is usually delivered in 
this position. If labor is unusually long — a circumstance attributed 
to sorcery or to the husband's negligence — some self-styled midwife 
presses the lower part of her abdomen. Until the placenta is expelled, 
they are loath to cut the cord. 

An AsMuday woman gives birth in a squatting position, assisted by 
her mother, who cuts the navel cord. Childbirth takes place under a 
shelter built ad hoc. 

According to Hassler (1894, p. 351) , a Kashihd woman was delivered 
in a special cabin built in the bush, where she was helped by another 
woman. The navel cord, cut with a bone knife, was sent to the father, 
who placed it on the roof of the hut if the child were a boy, or buried 
it if it were a girl. The mother remained heme for about 40 days 
living exclusively on vegetables. The father refrained from eating 
meat for about 8 days after his child's birth, and was particularly 
careful not to get his feet wet. 

The Choroti^ Toha^ and Ashluslay, though well acquainted with 
metal tools, use only the ancient bamboo or shell knife to cut the cord. 
The Choroti and the Toba are said to keep it until the navel wound is 
perfectly healed. 

Chamacoco women give birth in the bush, generally unassisted. 
They cut the navel cord with their nails and spit in the baby's eyes 
lest he be blind, a rite performed again later by a shaman. For a 
month, the mother eats nothing cold and lives on bird flesh, palm 
shoots, and boiled pigeon. She drinks only boiled water. The parents 
refrain from sexual intercourse for about 2 years (Baldus, 1931 a, 
p. 45). 


An Abipon father of a newborn child fasted and lay in bed covered 
with mats and skins. For some time he refrained from snuffing to- 
bacco, eating capybara flesh, riding horseback to the point of perspir- 
ing, tasting honey taken from the earth in a place that had been 
stepped on, and swimming across rivers. Tereno fathers observed a 
5-day couvade and abstained from several foods. 

As a rule, there is no elaborate childbirth ceremony except for a 
chief's son, and its importance is proportionate to the chief's pres- 
tige. For an ordinary birth, a Toha chants and rattles his gourd, but 
at the birth of a chief's son, the whole community dances and makes 
merry for several clays while shamans recite charms to the rhythm of 
the gourd rattles. The ancient Mhayd celebrated the birth of a male 
heir to a great chief by dancing, playing games, and parading for 8 
days. The most spectacular show was a parade of old women im- 
personating Mocovi warriors. The masqueraders visited the baby, 
wearing horsehair wigs symbolizing scalps and holding ceremonial 
arrows and miniature bows and spears. They vied for the honor of 
giving the breast to the baby, and presented him a decorated mat. 
The chief's baby spent a night with another baby who was to become 
his brother-in-arms. Both were then taken to the chief's hut under 
a canopy, and were followed by a long procession. On the eighth day 
the baby's hair was cut, and his ears and lip perforated. 

The Abipon also rejoiced for 8 days in similar circumstances. As 
Boon as the baby was born, women beat the roof and walls of his hut 
with palm boughs to signify that "the child was to become famous in 
war and the scourge of his enemies." Another performance was that of 
the girls who, led by a strong woman wearing a rhea feather apron 
and holding a whip, beat all the men. The same strong woman chal- 
lenged all the stout women to wrestle. The following 4 days were 
devoted to games, drinking bouts, and singing accompanied by drums. 
On the 3rd day boys and girls formed a circle and danced, whirling 
around under the direction of an old precentress who shook a gourd 

Women carry their babies in a sling, straddling the left hip (pi. 67) . 
Payagud mothers are said to have facilitated nursing by compressing 
their breasts with a leather strap passing across the chest. 

Abortion and infanticide. — The rapid decline of so many Chaco 
tribes has often been explained by the deeply rooted practice of in- 
fanticide so general throughout the Chaco. The vehement accusa- 
tions of infanticide made by the early missionaries have, in fact, been 
borne out by modern evidence. When an unmarried Mataco, Choroti, 
or Toba girl is pregnant, she commits abortion or kills her baby with- 
out the slightest hesitation. The Mbayd women did the same in order 
to postpone becoming mothers as long as possible. It is reported that 


even married Mataco women provoke a miscarriage at their first 
pregnancy to facilitate the delivery of the next child. Many legends 
circulating in the Chaco extol marvelous drugs used by the native 
women to cause abortion. Actually, the method is purely mechanical : 
in the third or fourth month of pregnancy a friend presses the wom- 
an's abdomen with her thumbs or fists or beats it until the fetus is 

A deserted woman always kills her newborn offspring. The 
Lengua invariably dispose of the first child, if it is a girl. Chaco 
women get rid of any abnormal baby, for instance, one with black 

Twins are usually killed, for their birth is regarded as a bad omen. 
The ancient Lule, who believed that a man could only father one child 
at a time, attributed twins to the mother's adultery and killed one baby 
(Lozano, 1941, p. 416) . Twins born in a Mhayd community were taken 
to the shaman, who shut himself in a mat lodge, chanted, and shook his 
rattle while uttering gloomy prophecies, and then buried the babies 
alive or exposed them in the bush. Certain tribes rationalize such 
infanticide by saying that no woman can nurse two children. A bad 
dream prior to childbirth may also spell its death. 

The preferred sex varies from tribe to tribe. The Lengua and 
Guana kept only a few girls ; the Abipon, on the contrary, preferred 
female children, recognizing that later they would bring a good bride 
price. If the mother died during childbirth, her child was buried 
alive with her. 

Many theories attempt to explain the widespread practice of infant- 
icide in the Chaco. One holds that the seminomadism of these Indians 
makes many children an excessive burden for the woman, who has to 
carry and care for them. Moreover, in several tribes where a nursing 
woman abstains from sexual intercourse with her husband, and chil- 
den are suckled 3 and even 4 years, she often prefers to kill her child 
rather than to be deserted {Abipon). The Jesuit Baucke (1870, p. 
247) , states that the Mocovi killed their newborn babies when there 
was the slightest suspicion of illegitimacy, when they had too many 
children, when they were on a journey, or when there was scarcity 
of food. 

Naming. — Children are named after birds, animals, places, or some 
peculiar physical or character trait. Often a name may be suggested 
to a parent by some incident from real life or a dream. Mataco fathers 
not only name their children, when they are 2 or 3 years old, after some 
object or animal of which they have dreamed, but they even call them 
after disconnected words or sentences uttered by some character in a 
dream. Among the Toba, a child's relatives gather around it after 
the navel cord has dropped off. An old man recites a list of names 


until the shaman finds the appropriate one, usually that of some an- 
cestor who is supposed to be reincarnated in the infant.^® 

The Mataco are always very reluctant to reveal their names, and 
when urged to do so, they ask some other person to pronounce it for 
them. These Indians will often contend that a person is nameless. 
To address an Ahipon by his name was a grievous insult which he was 
morally obligated to avenge. Tumerehd men have several names : one 
given to them by the shaman and the others by their relatives. A 
woman's true name is never divulged even to her husband ; the names 
to which she answers are known as "dog names." 

There are only two brief references to teknonymy in the Chaco. 
Mocovi and Lengua parents were called "mother and father of so and 

Education. — All observers have been impressed by the Chaco 
Indians' fondness for their children (pi. 67) and their failure to use 
corporal punishment or even harsh words in dealing with them. The 
Mhayd satisfied every whim of their children, and even willingly sold 
their horses or moved their camps if the children so desired. Ahipon 
warriors interpreted a child's aggressive behavior, even when directed 
against the parents, as a sign of courage. 

Children are trained for their future occupations first through games 
and play. Little girls accompany their mothers to the bush carrying 
diminutive nets or go to the river with toy water jars. Small boys are 
given bows and arrows and are encouraged to shoot at targets or at 
small animals. Boys of more or less the same age play in groups. 
They show little or no brutality or violence, and they rarely bully 
small children. The Indian children are normally remarkably gay 
and lively, and willingly perform any task demanded of them. From 
early childhood they are trained to share their food. Boys of 12 or 
13 regard themselves as grown up ; they participate in dances and take 
some interest in girls. 

Boys' initiation rites. — Initiation rites are described only for the 
following tribes: Mhayd, Payagud, Vilela, and Chamacoco. Grubb 
(1913, p. 177) alludes to a special dance to commemorate a boy's 
coming of age, but gives no detail. 

A Mhayd boy of about 13 attained warrior's status through a 
ceremony. Having painted himself red and white and wearing all 
his feather, bead, and metal ornaments, he chanted for a whole night 
and day, beating a drum. At sunset a shaman pricked the boy's 
penis and jabbed his body with a jaguar-bone awl, causing blood to 
flow abundantly. The boy was expected to remain impassive. His 
blood was then smeared all over his body. Afterward the novice 

«Palavecino (1933 a, p. 560) states that the Pilagd assume a new name— always that 
of an animal or plant — when they are sick, 

583486 — 46 ^21 


invited the band to drink, and threw beads, knives, and blankets 
to the crowd. 

There is some evidence in the literature that certain Guaicuru 
groups imposed this ordeal on young children, who likewise had to 
show their courage by not flinching. The lower lip was perforated 
by a famous warrior during early childhood. At puberty they jabbed 
the boy's genitals and pulled out one of the two remaining crowns 
of hair on his tonsured head. The adolescent was now regarded 
as an adult and was allowed to wear bracelets and a belt of animal 
or human hair. 

The Payagud perforated a boy's lower lip at the age of 4. For a 
chief's son, this was the occasion for a solemn feast. For several 
days the members of the group drank, chanted, and shook their 
rattles. Finally, a shaman holding the boy was paraded about on 
a profusely decorated litter. The crowd threw them many presents, 
such as necklaces, food, and cotton, and men sprinkled them with 
blood extracted from their genitals. Small boys of the same age 
were designated as soldiers of the future chief (Aguirre, 1911, p. 

Paisan boys who had reached puberty underwent a mysterious 
ceremony celebrated around a sacred tree. The initiates, with crop- 
ped hair, returned to the village holding flowers or boughs. Thence- 
forth, they were regarded as fullfledged men. 

Chamacoco initiation rites strangely resemble those of the Yaghan 
(p. 98). 

Two men ask the boy's mother to give him to them. If she re- 
fuses, spirit-impersonators come to claim the youth. The boys are 
taken to a secluded place in the bush, where they live for a month 
with old men who teach them tribal lore and moral code. Finally, 
they are told that the "Spirits" who appear at the Anaposo feast 

*" Aguirre (1911, p. 363) states: "Vf una de estas celebrando fi un nino como de 3 anos, 
hijo de Samaniego Guachfi, era indio principal Sarigue . . . Pusieron 400 varas de toldo, 
40 palmas pequenas y hasta ellas hicieron una calle de ramas plantadas. Al pi6 de 
aquellas, sobre cuatro palos largos en el medio unas tablas, y sobre estas por medio de 
Unas estacas y esteras formaron un hueco, como de una peiiueiia carreta y aun asi nos 
la llaman, la cual emplumaron y adornaron. Habiendo procedido algunos dias y noches 
de borracheras, de canto con sua tamboretes sin faltar las heridas de la espina de raya, 
el del paseo y (iltimo de la celebraciCn que se embijan a lo riguroso (en lo que he observado 
superan a las demas naciones) carga el padrino que siempre es uno de los pays al chico 
ambos extremosamente embijados y entran en la carreta. TOmala al hombro la Indiana 
y por la calle van al toldo en cuyo frente da tres paseos cortos a la derecha y a la izquierda 
y vuelve despues al lugar de las palmas donde la deshacen al despojo. 

"Durante el paseo es el alboroto : unos echan hacia la carreta, abalorios, chipas, frutas, 
ovillos de hilo, etc. que son para quifin los coje ; otros cantan y hacen gestos, principalmente 
las indias y tambien hay quienes la aspercean con su sangre, la mfis sagrada la del miembro 
mezclada con agua. Este es el obsequio del distinguido nino que como esperan ha de 
capitanear ; entonces le nombran para soldados algunos coetanos que no gozan del 
ilustre rito de las andas, entre ellos negesf. Es puramente milltar con cuyo objeto se 
hacen visibles los deseos del dia en los moquetes y luchas que resultan como en otras 
cucaiias, en el canto, etc." 


(p. 358) are merely masked men, and that if anyone reveals this 
secret to the women, he will be beaten to death (Metraux, 1943). 

When Guana children were 8 years old they were sent to the forest 
for a whole day of fasting and silence, and came back at night. Old 
women pinched and pierced their arms with sharp bones, a torture 
which the children had to endure without complaint. 

Girls* puberty rites. — Among the Pilcomayo and Bermejo Eiver 
tribes, a girl's puberty is celebrated with dances and chants which 
evidently are intended to protect her against supernatural dangers. 
The manner in which spirits threaten her is ritually dramatized by 
the Lengua. Women strike the ground with long staves, at the top 
of which are attached bunches of deer hoofs, and beat the time of 
their chant while walking around a choir leader. This precentress 
goes "through many strange contortions of the body, at times pre- 
tending to tear out her own hair." The men also form circles, each 
chanting to the rhythm of a gourd rattle. Lines of boys dressed in 
rhea plumes and wearing masks representing evil spirits, weave in 
and out among the crowd, jingling bunches of hoofs, and from time 
to time uttering prolonged shrill cries. Whenever they come near 
the girl, the women drive them off (Grubb, 1913, p. 178). 

Among the Choroti^ Mataco^ and Ashluslay, some women — among 
the Choroti the mother and a few companions — walk in a circle every 
night outside of the menstruating girl's hut, stamping their staffs 
while shamans shake their rattles and beat drums. The performance 
of this rite lasts for a month. (See Karsten, 1932, pp. 83-84.) Dur- 
ing this period, the girl keeps her head and even her body covered 
with a piece of cloth and must remain secluded in her hut. Her 
diet is restricted, and she is warned against bathing or even fetching 
water. Menstruating women always observe a meat taboo and stay 
away from streams or water holes {Mataco, Mhayd^ Pilagd, Toba, 

The puberty ritual was not always elaborate. The girl, covered 
with a blanket, was relegated to a corner of the hut while men paid 
by her parents took turns chanting for several days to the accompani- 
ment of a drum and of rattles. 

The Mhayd and Toha celebrated the first menstruation of a girl, 
especially of a chief's daughter, with special dances, much chanting, 
and shaking of rattles. In the 18th century, a Toha chief gave his 
daughter a big feast that culminated in a ceremony in which the girl, 
who was covered with a cloth and surrounded by the warriors, tasted 
meat for the first time. Henceforth regarded as a "lady," she was 
emancipated from her father's authority. To add to his daughter's 
prestige, a chief might present her with a scalp soon after the feast 
(Muriel, 1918, p. 82). 


A matured Mocovi girl could be recognized by a crownlike tonsure 
around her head, vertical furrows 2 inches (5 cm.) wide cut in her 
thick hair, and her completed tatooing (Baucke, 1870, p. 314). 

A Tereno girl menstruating for the first time was painted and 
placed in a hammock, where she maintained a strict fast while her 
relatives danced and chanted around her (Bach, 1916, p. 89). 

As the behavior of a girl during the critical period of puberty 
was thought to affect her character for the rest of her life, Mataco 
girls were urged to work hard in order to become diligent women. 

Sexual life before marriage. — The attitude of the Chaco Indians 
toward sexual life of unmarried girls seems to have varied in the 
different tribes. In the Pilcomayo and Bermejo River tribes, young 
pubescent girls enjoyed complete sexual freedom. They were provoc- 
ative, fickle, and brazen, and took the initiative in short-lived, 
amorous adventures. At night when the boys danced on the village 
plaza, the girls chose their lovers for the night by grabbing their 
belts or putting their hands on their shoulders and dancing behind 
them. Some girls had huts in the bush to which they took their 
lovers. On the other hand, Dobrizhoffer greatly praised the strict 
chastity of the Ahipon girls, who remained virgins until they married. 

Homosexuality. — Berdaches were very common among the Mhayd. 
They dressed and spoke like women, pretended to menstruate, and 
engaged in feminine activities. They were regarded as the prostitutes 
of the village. 

Marriage. — There is little information on preferential marriage. 
Pilagd bands seem to be more strictly exogamous than those of the 

The age at which men and women form permanent unions seems to 
vary according to the culture; the Pilcomayo River Indians marry 
a few years after puberty, but the bellicose equestrian Indians 
{Ahipon, Mhayd) take wives only when they are around 30. It was 
Chamacoco custom for a very young man to marry an old woman, 
and for an adolescent girl to become the spouse of an old man. The 
young man could desert his old wife as soon as he tired of her, but a 
girl had to wait for the death of her old husband. 

A formal proposal among the Pilcomayo River tribes is often made 
directly by the girl, who tries to marry a lover of whom she is fond, 
but young men negotiate through a go-between. The Lengua emis- 
sary visits the girl's parents for several days, smoking tobacco. A 
Mataco seeks to win the approval of a girl's family through presents 
of money or cattle. A Toha suitor often brings game or fish to his 
sweetheart's hut to prove his hunting skill. In general, the consent 
of the girl's mother is more important than that of her father, because 
when she opposes the marriage, the case is deemed hopeless. In 
ancient Ahipon society, marriage was often arranged between the 

Vol.1] ethnography OF THE CHACO — METRAUX 325 

girl's parents and the bridegroom, often against the girl's wishes. 
The prospective husband had to pay his parents-in-law horses, neck- 
laces, woolen garments, and spears with iron points. 

Child hetrothdl. — Mocovi parents often selected brides for their sons 
when the boy and girl were both quite small. A great deal of famili- 
arity existed between betrothed children. The prospective bride- 
groom now and then presented his future parents-in-law with horses, 
skins, honey, and game. 

Giband parents also betrothed their infant children; both mothers 
took leading parts in the negotiations. The prospective husband was 
regarded as an actual son-in-law and took good care of his future 
parent-in-law. This custom later fell into disuse. 

Mataco parents often arrange a match when their children are very 
young. Later if the couple divorces, they give as an excuse : "We did 
not want the marriage, our parents arranged it for us." 

Marriage ceremonial. — Marriage in the Pilcomayo Kiver region is 
contracted with a minimum of ritual. At most there is some drinking, 
and young men may dance in a circle around the new couple. These 
dances are probably of the same character as those executed by 
Choroti boys to coax the girls to select one of them as a husband. 

The Lengua celebrate marriage by a long feast, which ends when 
the bridegroom ceremonially kidnaps the bride. At a given time, he 
runs off with his bride and hides a short distance from the village. 
After a mock pursuit, the couple returns. They pretend to be ex- 
hausted and are surrounded by women who pour water over them to 
cool them. 

The Ahipon are the only Chaco tribe who developed a complex 
marriage ritual. The bride was taken to the bridegroom's hut by 
eight other girls under a sort of canopy of blankets. She was first 
greeted by her spouse, and then was brought back to her parents. 
Later she carried to her husband's hut all her belongings, in a sym- 
bolic gesture, since residence was matrilocal until a child was born. 
A boy seated on top of the hut beat a drum while the guests drank 
to their hearts' content. 

A Mocovi desiring to marry a girl obtained her parents' consent 
and agreed on the bride price — a few jaguar skins, necklaces, one or 
two horses, and a cow. The marriage ceremony included a symbolic 
kidnapping of the girl and a sham battle with her kin. The parents 
then brought the girl to the bridegroom's hut notwithstanding her 
feigned or real resistance and her tears. They gave her away, 
saying, "You may have her." Once in her husband's house propriety 
required that she cover her head with a net and sulk in a corner. 
Women immediately came to express their sympathy and console her. 
Her husband did not talk to her, but her relatives-in-law pressed 
kind attentions upon her and urged her to eat, an invitation which 


she usually refused. Later her husband ordered her to stop crying 
and to bring him some object. Compliance was interpreted as a 
growing willingness to accept her condition, and her husband invited 
her to eat. Gradually she began to answer questions and her real 
or affected chagrin disappeared. The girl's parents would sometimes 
take her back to their hut for 2 or 3 months at a time. 

The Tereno also had a definite set of marriage customs. A group 
of girls, painted and adorned with feathers and singing, carried the 
bows and arrows of the bridegroom from his house to the bride's. In 
the evening, dancing and singing young men accompanied the bride- 
groom to the girl's hut, where, giving him her right hand, she sealed 
the marriage. 

In other cases, both families organized parties. After celebrating 
at home, the bridegroom and his relatives proceeded to the bride's 
hut, where the couple sat in a hammock manufactured by the girl 
for the occasion and drank together while women chanted songs. 

Types of marriages. — Monogamy prevails in practically all Chaco 
tribes, but cases of polygyny are not rare. Plural wives live in the 
same hut only if the man feels assured that they will not quarrel. They 
usually belong to different bands {AMpon, Toba), and the husband 
visits each in turn. The first wife, especially when she is no longer 
young, often welcomes a companion to relieve her of part of her work. 

Polygyny is more common among chiefs than among ordinary 
members of the band. Aaikolik, a Toba chief, had 10 wives, each 
in a different village, but in other instances a chief kept 2 or 3 wives 
in his own huts. 

There are specific references to sororal polygyny among the Mataco 
(Pelleschi, 1881, p. 85), the Mocovi (Furlong C, 1938 c, p. 98) , and the 
Tereno (Bach, 1916, p. 89). 

Postmarital residence. — In most Chaco tribes {Mbayd., Toba, Mataco, 
Choroti^ Kaskihd, Guana, Chamacoco), residence is matrilocal. The 
young couple live with the girl's parents permanently {Chamacoco) 
or until they have a child ; then they may return to live in the man's 
village {Pilagd). Daughters are an asset, for their husbands must 
contribute to their parents' welfare. Sometimes a husband is so 
exploited that he abandons his wife {Mataco). Matrilocal residence 
enables the parents-in-law to interfere if their daughter is mistreated. 
When a Mocovi married within his band, the bride lived in his hut, 
but when he took a wife from another band, he settled with his par- 
ents-in-law, a situation that, according to Baucke (1870, p. 316), 
caused many family quarrels. Among the Mataco, an older woman 
marrying a young man generally follows him to his house. 

A groom avoided his parents-in-law only among the Mbayd, who 
also stressed matrilocal residence. In this tribe, a husband left all 


his property and his slaves behind, but in his new home he was 
supported by his parents-in-Law. Only Guana women went directly 
to live in their husbands' villages. Among the Paisan and Atalala, 
residence was decided in advance by the families. At marriage, the 
girl received a few presents and some horses from her father 
(Camafio y Bazan, 1931, p. 340). Kaskihd and Chamacoco chiefs 
or chiefs' sons did not change residence after marriage. 

Marriage ties are always strengthened by the birth of a child, 
even if the child later dies. Nevertheless, divorces are frequent and 
easy, and may occur for the most trivial reasons; a simple quarrel 
may end in a permanent separation. A man is prone to desert his old 
wife for a younger bride, and a young woman may leave her husband 
for a lover. Laziness or bad temper is often given as the justification 
of divorce. After separation, small children usually go with the 
mother; older children may stay with the father. Public opinion 
restricts matrimonial instability. Though divorces were easy, the 
Mhayd would say of a man who repudiated his wife too often, "He is 
a fool, he left his wife again." A man divorced several times some- 
times took back his first wife. Mhayd noblewomen are said to have 
had paramours who even slept with them without causing the hus- 
bands any concern. A deserted Ahipon woman accepted her fate with- 
out complaint and no one would intervene in her behalf. At the next 
drinking bout, however, her relatives might attempt to avenge the 
affront. Mataco challenge men who have taken their wives or force 
seducers to give them some compensation. A woman is seldom pun- 
ished for her unfaithfulness. 

Constant separations seem to have been an accepted Chamacoco 
pattern. A man sometimes married 20 or 30 times, and did not re- 
main faithful to his wife until he approached old age. A woman 
who had lived with a man even for a short time would refer to him 
as "my husband" and cry for him at his death. The last wife felt 
proud of the homage of her former rivals. Chamacoco girls com- 
peted fiercely for men's attentions and love, and no married woman 
dared relax her vigilance for an instant if she hoped to keep her 
husband. These conflicts often ended in open fights which the man 
witnessed with perfect unconcern. As long as a union lasted, the 
partners showed each other a great deal of tenderness (Baldus, 1931 a, 
p. 61). 

The status of women in most Chaco tribes is high, and they seldom 
are abused or beaten by their husbands. Women are by no means sub- 
servient, and are treated as if on an equal footing. In Chamacoco 
and Guana society they have a privileged position and make their 
authority felt. 

Mhayd noblewomen seldom left their houses without a chaperon, 
but, in the presence of their husbands, certain women could use bawdy 


language and sometimes take even greater liberties (Sanchez Labra- 
dor, 1910-17, 2:27). These are probably instances of joking rela- 

Death observances. — Most Chaco Indians so greatly fear the spirits 
of the dead that they scarcely wait until a person has actually passed 
away before beginning the funeral rites. 

Preliminary rites. — As soon as the Mhayd suspected that someone 
was doomed, they hastily began the funeral preparations. Eelatives 
painted a dying man, put his labret in his lip, and dressed him in all 
his ornaments; they trimmed a woman's hair and painted her face 
with designs. Meanwhile, a shaman strode up and down, occasion- 
ally pausing to squeeze the patient's stomach with great energy. 
Sometimes he walked around the village carrying a tuft of feathers 
in a last attempt to force the soul to return to the body. 

When an Ahipon was dying, the occupants of his hut immediately 
left, and old women, either his relatives or famed doctors, gathered 
around him to perform a magic dance accompanied by gourd rattles 
and "loud vociferations." An old woman or the leading female 
shaman struck a huge drum near the dying man's head. Water was 
sprinkled on his head. Meanwhile "married women and widows" in 
mourning-attire wailed and beat drums in the streets. 

Often the Mocovi hastened a relative's death if, in their opinion, 
he was doomed or suffered. Women kept watch over a dying man 
and burst into laments when he expired. His wife, seizing his head 
and often striking him with her fists, said, by way of indirect praise, 
"You unfaithful and cruel man ! Wliy have you left me ? You were 
a skillful hunter and a gallant warrior. You have killed so many 
Spaniards! Where shall I again find your like? Don't you feel 
sorry for your children ? Who is going to bring them food ? From 
now on they will be obliged to wander around." For 3 or 4 nights all 
the women wailed in the funerary hut. During the day, the widow 
remained in her hut with her hair shaven and her head covered with 
a net. 

The Lengua-Cochdboth., Lule^ and Lengua were kind to the sick, but 
abandoned the hopelessly ill as if they had already passed away. The 
Lengua are loath to bury a person after sunset. Consequently, 
"whether he is dead or not, if there is no possible hope of his living 
through the night, his funeral begins in order that it may be completed 
before darkness sets in" (Griibb, 1913, p. 162) . Asked by the mission- 
ary why they rushed to bury a man still alive, the Malhald answered, 
"It does not matter, he will die on his way to the grave." When a 
Choroti dies, shamans chant all night and women wail. Payagud 
women alternately cried and danced around the funerary hut for 
3 days, but men feigned indifference. The Mhayd women stood by the 


dead, wailing and singing his praises. Most Chaco Indians buried 
their relatives immediately after and sometimes before death. 

If there were a suspicion of witchcraft, the Ahipon removed and 
boiled the deceased's heart and tongue, and threw them to the dogs 
in order to harm the unknown sorcerer. The Mocovi covered the 
corpse of a victim of witchcraft with straw and burned it. Then the 
consulting shaman shot two arrows at the dead man's throat and 
one at his heart while uttering an incantation. Thus the guilty but 
unidentified sorcerer could not escape his fate (Baucke, 1870, p. 355). 

The Lengua mutilate the corpse, before or after placing it in the 
grave. A wound is made where the evil spirit is supposed to have 
entered the body. They put a dog's bone, a heated stone, an arma- 
dillo's claw, and red ants in the gash. The stone is supposed to go 
to the Milky Way and later to fall as a shooting star on the sorcerer. 
The armadillo claw burrows underground and contributes to the 
destruction of the evildoer. These Indians also stop the mouth and 
the nostrils of the corpse with wax or clay. 

When the Ashliislay suspect witchcraft as a cause of death, they 
perform a similar rite to incite the victim to kill his murderer. They 
cut flesh from the corpse's thigh and feed it to a dog, which they kill 
at once. They rub the deceased's face with magic herbs, pierce his 
chest with burning arrows, and drive a glowing stone into it. They 
throw heated arrows into the air, and shout. Finally they whip the 
corpse with thorny branches and lay it in a grave with the dead 
dog and a bird nest. Before covering the grave with branches, they 
break a pot full of clay on the deceased's back, and everyone clamours 
loudly ( Vervoort, 1932, pp. 282-283) . 

Disposal of the dead. — Most Chaco Indians bury the corpse before 
rigor mortis sets in, in a flexed or squatting position in a shallow grave. 
The Lengua^ it is said, broke the dead man's neck by bending the head 
down on the chest. 

The Lengua strapped the body to a pole and carried it to a shallow 
grave at the edge of a wood, where they always turned it toward the 
west. They trampled the grave and covered it with thorny plants. 
The Choroti erected a flimsy structure over the grave, and placed 
a calabash filled with water nearby. 

Formerly, the Mataco placed the corpse on a platform in a tree 
(pi. 70) until the flesh rotted away, then they collected the bones and 
buried them in a cormnunal cemetery. Sometimes they put the body 
in a grave which they left open until the bones were clean, then shifted 
the skeleton into a lateral niche, closed it, and filled the grave with 
earth. In some cases the corpse was buried at once in the lateral niche. 
A calabash full of water was deposited near the corpse. 


Cremation is reported in the area; the Toha practiced it as a pre- 
caution when there was a suspicion of sorcery. 

The Cfurniacoco extend the body and bury it face upward. Close 
relatives dance around the grave, shaking their rattles and jingles, 
then cover it with tree trunks and branches on which they leave the 
deceased's belongings. 

The Toha and Pilagd inter their dead in a grave which they fill with 
soil, successive layers of grass and cover with palm trunks (pi. 69, 
center) . Those who dig the grave retain some of the goods of the dead. 

The Payagud buried the dead on a small island. The corpse was 
interred extended or squatting with the head often covered by a 
vessel (Rengger, 1835, pp. 140-141). They heaped bell-shaped vases 
on a bulrush mat placed over the grave. Some of these vessels were 
pierced with holes "as outlets for the souls." A roof of mats sheltered 
the grave. Like other 6^^^^^^<?wn^^n-speaking Indians, the Payagud 
"collected the bones of their dead and placed them in cemeteries" 
(Aguirre, 1911, p. 358). 

The Mhayd wrapped the corpse in a blanket and carried it on horse- 
back to a mortuary hut, built like an ordinary dwelling, in which each 
extended family owned a piece of ground marked off by posts. Women 
were interred with their bests jewels, and men with their silver orna- 
ments and their weapons decorated with feathers and flowers. The 
sepulcher was covered by a mat on which were laid a few ornamental 
vases, often trimmed with beadwork. Carved posts from the de- 
ceased's hut were planted by his grave (Fric, 1906 b) . 

A person who died far from his village was buried in a temporary 
grave until his relatives could transport his bones to the communal 
cemetery. Modern Mhayd-Caduveo inter the dead in their own dwell- 
ings, but after 10 or 12 days unearth the remains, clean the bones, and 
transfer them to the family plot in the band's funeral house. 

Among the Mocovi, the corpse, wrapped in a skin or a net, was 
buried in a shallow grave II/2 feet (0.45 m.) deep. The pit was cov- 
ered with logs and branches on which earth was scattered. Nearby 
were placed a plate with food and a water jar. In the case of a child, 
one hand remained uncovered to receive the food which its parents 

The Ahipon temporarily interred the dead in shallow pits covered 
with thorny boughs, and left a pot, garments, and a spear on the grave. 
The grave was dug by the women who also carried the corpse. Like 
the Mocovi^ they subsequently brought the bones to regular ceme- 
teries located in the woods and distinguished by blazed trees. When 
a man perished far from home, his bones were transported back to 
his family burying ground. The bones of a chief were transferred 
with much pomp. Wrapped in a skin, they were carried under a 


canopy by six horsemen preceded by shamans mounted on splendidly 
trapped horses and by a troop of fully armed warriors. The bodies of 
warriors fallen in battle were also brought home with great ceremony 
and, arranged in a hut as if still alive, they were honored with funeral 
rites lasting 9 days. 

Destruction of the property of the dead. — The Mlayd, Ahipon, 
Tereno, Lengua, Choroti, Mataco, Toha, Lule, Vilela, and probably 
all other Chaco tribes, set fire to the house and sometimes to the whole 
village where someone had died, and hurriedly abandoned the ghost- 
threatened place. The Mhayd, who had just completed a new house 
built under the supervision of Sanchez Labrador (1910-17, 2:48), 
destroyed it soon afterward when one of them died there. 

It was customary to destroy a dead man's property. The Mbayd, 
for instance, broke all his vessels and burned his mats and other prop- 
erty. The Mba^d, Abipon, and Vilela also slew the deceased's horse 
and left it by his grave. It is reported, though not confirmed, that 
the Mbayd killed the dead person's favorite slave. 

Protection from the ghost. — Lengua mourners, fearful of the ghost, 
often sought the hospitality of some other band. These Indians 
believed that the chilly spirit of the departed man would return to 
his deserted camp looking for a fire. Lest the disappointed spirit 
cast cold ashes into the air and so bring bad luck upon the living, the 
ashes were always collected and buried before the village was aban- 
doned. After burying a person, the Lengua drank hot water, washed 
themselves, and purified the air with a firebrand of palo santo, 
which they carried around the village. 

Mourning rites. — The Abipon funeral laments seem to have been 
most spectacular. For 9 days all women, except the unmarried 
girls, gathered on the plaza with disheveled hair and, forming a long 
line, "leap like frogs and toss about their arms." They wailed to 
the sound of rattles and drums, trilling, quavering, and groaning 
at all pitches, and uttering shrill hisses. They chanted about the 
dead and clamored for vengeance. They were rewarded with a few 
gifts. At night a group of women met in a house where they shook 
rattles and, directed by a female shaman who alternately struck two 
large drums, sang funeral songs. There was hardly a moment when 
the village was not filled by these vociferous expressions of grief. 
On the 9th day the laments gave way to a festive chant. 

At any time if women happened to remember a dead relative, they 
might suddenly drop their chores to wail. Abipon women turned 
their faces toward the deceased's grave and chanted and shook a 
rattle. Often they were joined by other women. 

Among the Abipon, the closest female relatives of a dead man 
shaved their heads, and widowers cropped their hair with many 
ceremonies and wore a woolen cap (hair net) until it grew out again. 


Ahipon and Mocovi widows covered their heads with a net bag, like 
a hood, which they removed only when they remarried. 

Mhayd mourners, male and female, cut their hair and observed a 
mourning period, the length of which depended on the status of the 
deceased. During this time, they lived on a vegetable diet, and laid 
aside all their ornaments and paints. If possible, they remained at 
home to wail freely or engage in quiet activities. At last, urged by 
their chief to forget the dead man and to decorate themselves as be- 
fore, they resumed normal life. 

The ritual wailing for the Mhayd dead was heard before dawn. 
Bereaved women sat on the ground and, facing the east and holding 
both arms stretched over their heads, swayed back and forth, crying 
and proclaiming the achievements of the deceased or, in the case of a 
child, his most insignificant actions (Sanchez Labrador, 1910-17, 

Among the Tereno^ the widow and mother of the deceased mourned 
for a month. They cut their hair short, lacerated their breasts with 
sharp pieces of wood, and rubbed earth over their bodies. They sat 
naked in a corner of the hut, never raising their eyes from the ground, 
refusing to speak, and wailing at sunrise, midday, sunset, and 

After the death of a Guana chief, four women with disheveled hair 
walked around the village plaza wailing and chanting while a fifth 
stood among the others beating a small drum. At night a musician 
drew lugubrious sounds from a pipe or a trumpet (Sanchez Labrador, 
1910-17, 2:292). 

Among the Lengua, the near relatives of the dead lived in isolation 
for a month, after which they purified themselves with hot water, 
and sang and danced around a fire. Boys dressed to represent dragon- 
flies introduced a comic element into the feast by their antics and 
mimicry of these insects. 

Mataco, Pilagd^ and Vilela widows remain closeted in a dark 
corner of the hut or in a special compartment (pi. 69, top^ hottom) 
for a varying period — Mataco from 6 to 12 months; Pllagd 3 or 4 
months; and Vilela only 8 days. Widows shave their heads and 
cover them with a cloth. Isisfine mourners might not scratch their 
heads with their fingers. Among the Mataco, the closest female 
relatives of the dead abstained from various foods so long as water 
remained in the jar left by the corpse. Mourners often smear their 
faces with black paint. The Chamacoco obtain the same effect by 
not washing their faces for a period, the length of which depends on 
their relationship to the deceased. The Lengua trace black streaks 
under the eyes to represent tears. 


Tahoo on names and words.— T\i^ Tola, Ahipon, Mbayd, Tereno, 
Chamacoco, and Mataco strictly taboo the name of a deceased person. 
To pronounce it was regarded by the Abipon as a willful insult which 
could lead to violence or even bloodshed. If the name of the dead 
person were a common word or phonetically resembled one, the term 
was dropped and an old woman invented a synonym. Dobrizhoffer 
(1783-84, 2:301) remarks that in the village where he lived the word 
for jaguar changed three times in 7 years. 

The near relatives of the deceased or, if he were a chief, the members 
of the extended family, took a new name {Vilela, Abipon, Mocovi^ 
Mbayd, Lengua, Macd, Tereno), hoping to deceive the ghost, who 
might have been tempted to return and to drag his fellow tribesmen 
with him to the afterworld (Azara, 1809, 2:153): Among modern 
Tereno, only children of the deceased change their names. 

Commemorative rites. — The Abipon and Mbayd held commemora- 
tive ceremonies over the graves of their dead. The Mbayd renewed the 
mats which sheltered the sepulchers. When honoring the memory of 
the dead, the Abipon reenacted part of the funeral rites. Tereno 
women went to the cemeteries to sweep the tombs and to converse with 
their dead ; as evidence of grief, they lamented and threw themselves 
on the graves. 

Among the Matard of the lower Bermejo River, relatives celebrated 
a special feast on the first anniversary of a death. Each guest brought 
a dead rhea or, if other persons in the village honored their own dead 
at this time, they brought several. Young girls carried the rheas in 
a procession and presented them to the hosts. The favor had to be 
reciprocated in similar circumstances; remissness could cause a war; 
indeed, the debt contracted by a host was so sacred that if he died 
before repaying it, his heir had to fulfill the duty. The rites per- 
formed for the souls lasted 3 days, and were punctuated by outbursts 
of laments and tears. The ceremony ended with dancing and 

Life after death. — Little is known about Chaco ideas concerning 
the afterlife of the soul. There is a general belief that ghosts linger 
around a camp and are dangerous, or at least unpleasant to meet. 
There are also vague beliefs regarding a Land of the Spirits. Some 
Lengua place it in the west and describe it as a true city in which the 
souls are grouped according to family or band relationships and con- 
tinue their mundane occupations. The Mataco and some Lengua 
locate their afterworld beneath the earth, where the dead continue to 
live exactly as they did when alive. The Toba afterworld is a special 
heaven where the sun always shines and men and women make merry. 


The Mhayd told Sanchez Labrador (1910-17, 2: 54) that the souls of 
the dead remained near their funerary abode and spent their time 
dancing and enjoying themselves without ever feeling tired. Some 
Mataco philosophers believe in metempsychosis: souls become suc- 
cessively ghosts, birds, spiders, and bats before they vanish forever.*^ 

Notions of reward and punishment after death are foreign to Chaco 
Indians. The Lengua, however, did not like to leave this world with- 
out atoning for wrongs done to a fellow member of the band, lest the 
quarrel be continued in the hereafter. 

The Ahipon believed that certain ducks which uttered a shrill hiss 
were ghosts. 


Art. — See Clothing, Tattooing, Painting, Pottery, Weaving, and 
figure 38. 

Gaines and sports. — The favorite game of the Chaco Indians is a 
kind of hockey in which the men of one band are teamed against those 
of another (pi. 72). The play is decidedly aggressive, and the game 
is regarded by the Indians themselves as a substitute for open warfare. 

The hockey stick is curved at the end, and the ball is of wood or, 
among the Mhayd-Caduveo, of plaited rope. The field is either a 
clearing in the bush some 100 yards (92 m.) long or a sandy beach 
near a river. The two goals are marked by heaps of branches. Rules 
are simple : The ball, which is hit from any direction, must touch the 
adversary's goal. The two teams agree beforehand upon the winning 
score. If they decide, for instance, to play for four points, a team 
must make a total of four scores to win. Each time the opponents 
score a goal, it is deleted from the score of the leading team. Interest 
in the game is stimulated by high gambling stakes, laid by the leaders 
and members of each team. 

The game, lacking a referee, is at times rough, and several players 
are always injured. As a protection against the blows, the Mataco 
wear shin guards made of rows of sticks tied together with twine. 

Both Ahipon and Mocovi played a game like the North American 
snow-snake, which is described by Dobrizhoffer (1784, 2:58): The 
instrument is a round piece of wood about 3 palms (30 inches) long, 
thick at the extremities and slender in the middle. It is thrown 
forcibly at the mark "in such a manner that it strikes the ground 
every now and then, and rebounds . . . Fifty and often a hundred 

*' According to a missionary (see Campana, 1913, p. 324), only the souls of those who 
are stabbed in a drinking bout in the afterworld are changed into a mosquito or a fly. 
When the fly dies it becomes an ant, which turns into a grass that finally dries up and 
reverts to earth. 

Vol. 1] 



Figure 38. — Motifs on Pilagd belts and woolen bags. (M(5traux collection, American 
Museum of Natural History.) 


men stand in a row and throw this club by turns, and he who flings it 
the farthest and the straightest obains the prize or receives praises." 
(For the 3Iocovi, see Baucke, 1870, pp. 479-480.) 

On the occasion of the visit of some other band, the Mhayd and 
Mocovi organized boxing matches. Among the Mhayd the competi- 
tors, most of them young men, marched toward the plaza in a line 
accompanied by an older coach, and sat facing their opponents. Older 
men, armed with spears, formed a wide circle around them. Then 
one of the young men, entirely naked, with jingles or peccary hoofs 
hanging from his wrists, walked around the ring. A member of the 
other group, responding to the challenge, rose and also walked around 
the plaza. The adversaries advanced toward each other, retreated 
and dodged "like fighting cocks"; finally, they exchanged violent 
blows until one of the two coaches came to separate them. Then new 
fighters took their place. When all of them had met their adver- 
saries, they left the plaza in the same order as before. 

In the boxing tournaments of the Mocovi, youths of different bands 
fought each other on moonlight nights. Children were trained in 
boxing from an early age, and were matched against the boys of other 
households in their own band. 

Battles royal in which groups of women or men boxed with their 
own sex, were one of the main entertainments at the feasts celebrated 
by the Payagud, Mocovi, Mhayd, and Guana. Only Payagud men and 
women joined in the same battle. 

The Mhayd considered racing a test of virility. A formal race 
between young men was announced a day in advance by a young boy 
who beat a drum and chanted, shaking a gourd rattle. The competi- 
tors, painted and decorated with feathers, paraded around the village 
before the contest. To dispel fatigue after the race, they jabbed 
themselves with awls of jaguar bones. The vigor of their jabs added 
greatly to their prestige. 

The Mhayd, like the Araucanians, adopted several Spanish sports 
along with the horse. For instance, a galloping horseman would try 
to thrust a sword through a ring hanging from a rope (peg-pulling). 
During feasts Mhayd warriors demonstrated how they attacked their 
enemies on horseback and how they chopped off their heads. At their 
meetings, the Mocovi organized horse races on which they laid heavy 

Young people all over the Chaco are fond of a simple game in which 
a shuttlecock is kept in the air as long as possible by hand. The shut- 
tlecock is made of maize leaves with a feather stuck in the middle. 
The winner is he who does not allow the shuttlecock to die (i. e., to 
fall) {Mhayd). 

The Mhayd had a kind of ring-and-pin game which is described by 
Sanchez Labrador (1910-17, 2 : 11) as a set of 56 or 60 rings connected 

Vol. 1] 



by a string. These were thrown into the air and had to be caught on 
a stick. The players sat in a circle and each in turn tried his luck 
once. The same game is played by the Chamacoco, (See Baldus, 
1931 a, p. 111.) 

Mbayd girls and women played a game in which one of them, holding 
a pair of horns, pretended to be a deer and defended herself against 
harassing "hunters." 

A popular Mbayd amusement at feasts was to toss a child in a 

Gambling. — All Pilcomayo River Indians are rabid gamblers. Their 
favorite game is called tsuka or tsukok (from the Quechua chunka, 
"10") , which may be played by 2, 4, or 8 persons. A series of 21 holes 
called "houses" is made in the ground, the 11th hole being a "river" 
or "lake" and separating the field of the players. Small sticks, called 
"sheep," are placed in the holes as counters. Planoconvex or concavo- 
convex sticks with burned ornaments on the convex side are used as 
dice (fig. 39). A player taking 2 dice in each hand, throws them 

7 ,^ I . • • • • . . " /» 

-Tsuka game, Choroti. a. Dice ; b, arrangement of holes for game, 
from Rosen, 1924, figs. 172, 173.) 

( Redrawn 

together, striking his left shoulder with his right hand or uttering a 
gutteral cry. If 4, 2, or no sticks fall with the convex side up, the 
scores are respectively 4, 2, or 1, but if an odd number has the convex 
side up, the player does not score and the opponent receives his turn. 
Each player moves an arrow forward according to his score, and, when 
he enters his adversary's field, captures the sheep in every hole he 
reaches. There is a penalty for falling in the "river." The game is 
won when someone captures all the sheep and the opponent's arrow. 
Quechua numerals are used to reckon the score, a convention which 
indicates beyond doubt the Andean origin of the game. 

Children's games. — Children play a great many games, such as the 

A "deer" killed by a "jaguar" is defended by "dogs" against the 
preying "vultures" {Toba). 

A "jaguar" fights against pursuing "dogs" (Toba). 


Imitating the noise of peccaries by striking together two pieces of 
wood, boys run after "dogs" or "hunters" (Toba). 

Children form a long line holding each other around the waist. 
The leader carries a firebrand and tries to burn the last in line, while 
the line twists and turns in an attempt to save the threatened boy 
(Toha). A Mhayd-Caduveo variation of this game has been de- 
scribed, wherein the attacker has a straw club and is resisted by the 
leader of the line. 

Children stand with widespread legs while one of them, pursued 
by a "hunter," tries to escape by crawling between his comrades' legs 

Oiildren either hop or jump with their feet drawn together, turning 
in a circle or spiral until the line is broken. 

Mataco girls in a line revolve in a spiral until they form a compact 
group. They represent a growing tree. A boy cuts down the "tree" 
by striking the girls on their legs. The group oscillates and then falls 

A boy stands in the center of a circle of boys who lie on the ground 
and with their feet push him to and fro without allowing him to fall. 
The game symbolizes the "wasps" {Mataco). 

Children in two lines form a tunnel through which a "skunk" 
passes at full speed. Everybody falls down asphyxiated, but the 
"skunk" reanimates his victims by blowing on their faces {Mataco). 

A line of boys is attacked by a "serpent" that tries to bite off the 
last one. He renews his attacks until a single boy remains, who 
must kill the "serpent" {Lengua) . The same game is played by the 
Mataco, who call it "purchase of a girl." 

A "monkey," pursued by a "jaguar," climbs for refuge on the backs 
of his comrades, the "trees," who stoop in a long line. The "jaguar" 
may only pounce if he is exactly under the "monkey," and he may 
not jump over the line {Lengua) . 

To the tune of a song, little squatting girls jump up and down as 
long as they can without toppling over {Toha., Pilagd, Mataco). 
(PL 71, bottom, right.) 

Boys form a line. One throws a stick and the others try to strike 
it with their sticks as it reaches the ground {Choroti) . 

A boy throws his wooden "bolas" as far as he can ; other children 
throw their own "bolas" at his so as to entangle it. The one who 
succeeds, keeps the "bolas" of his adversary {Choroti, Mataco, Toba). 

Toys. — In a list of children's toys, miniature weapons and imple- 
ments come first. A favorite plaything is a "gun" consisting of a 
bamboo tube with a longitudinal slit into which a flexible bamboo 
strip is introduced as a spring to shoot pellets. Children also have 
many noise-producing objects, such as buzzers and bull-roarers. 


Mataco, Ashluslay, and Tereno children are fond of stilt walking. 
They also roll hoops made of grass. All Chaco children are expert 
in making complicated string figures (cat's cradles). (PI. 71.) 

Everywhere dolls are made of the knuckle bones of animals to 
which two shell disks are glued to represent the eyes (fig. 40, c). 
Women also model dolls of unbaked clay, which represent people or, 
less frequently, animals. These are highly conventionalized; for 
instance, a "woman" is a conical clump of clay with two breasts and 
with the hair and the facial tattooing painstakingly indicated by 
engraved lines (fig. 40, a,b). 

The Caduveo have wooden dolls which they identify with the 
Christian saints, but which seem not to pertain to a cult (pi. 65). 
Even though adult women have been observed speaking to these 
images, Boggiani (1895) and Fric (1913) regard them as mere toys. 

Singing. — Chants give all magical rites their efficacy and the sing- 
ing of a monotonous and endless melody is deemed sufficient to curb 
supernatural forces. Shamans are men who possess chants with 
mystic powers. Songs also accompany most recreational dances. 
Choirs are very much in evidence at drinking bouts and annual festiv- 
ities. Little girls have a small repertoire of songs associated with 
their games. 

Grubb (1904, pp. 95-96) says of Leiigua singing : 

The men's voices are loud, rough, slightly tremulous, and not at all flexible. 
Baritone is the most usual male voice, the compass being "B" in the second 
space below the stave to "D" in the fourth line. The voices of the women are 

Mataco and Pilagd songs are a succession of monotonous, deep 
chest tones followed by a series of pitch and volume changes. Ahipon 
singers varied the tones according to the subject of the song. Ex- 
pert singers "by a quicker motion of the throat, suspended the song 
for a while, now protracted it and now interrupted it with groans or 
laughter or imitations of a bellowing bull or of the tremulous voice 
of a kid." 

If Dobrizhoffer is correct (1784, 2 : 428-432) , the Ahipon declaimed 
epic "songs" during victory feasts, in which they enumerated in "a 
regulated number of verses" and with incredible detail, all their past 
military deeds. "By appropriate words and modulations of the 
voice" they expressed indignation, fear, threats, or joy. The Mhayd 
men would sing the praises of the chiefs. When a chief visited some 
colleague, courtesy required that a singer improvise a song in his 
honor extolling his courage, his skill as a ruler, and also the love 
his subjects bore him and the fear he inspired in his enemies. 



[B. A. B. Bull. 143 





i u 




Figure 40. — Chaco toys and musical Instruments, a, b, Mataco and Pilagd clay dolls 
(M6traux collection, American Museum of Natural History) ; c, Pilagd doll of cow 
knuckle; d, Chorotl reed flute (redrawn from Rosen, 1924, fig. 163) ; e, Mataco whistle 
of bird bone (M6traux collection, American Museum of Natural History) ; f, cross section 
of Mataco duct flute (M6traux collection, American Museum of Natural History) ; g, 
Pilagd notched flute (M^traux collection, American Museum of Natural History). 


Of the "epic songs" of the Mhayd-Cadm)eo^ Manizer (1934, p. 307) 
writes : 

They are in a dactylic form; the monotonous melody changes into a high- 
pitched and long drawn note. 

The shamanistic chant of these Indians 

begins in a low tone which grows into pathos and vociferations. Then follow 
rhythmic sentences in which animal spirits are enumerated. They are continued 
by a high and prolonged falsetto which decreases harmoniously on a low tone 
which is prolonged until the chant dies off, but starts again on a high-pitched note, 
[Manizer, 1934, p. 308.] 

Baldus (1931 a, p. 108) states that Chamaeoco songs are melodies 
without words and often imitate the cries of animals or the sound of 
a storm. They are based on a 3-beat rhythm. When several per- 
sons sing simultaneously, each sings individually, unconcerned by 
what the others do. In addition, the Chamaeoco have soloists who 
perform before audiences. Women neither sing nor chant, and the 
only music produced by them is a funeral lament with some rhythmic 

The songs of the Pilcomayo Kiver tribes have a series of meaningless 
syllables or only a few sentences, which are repeated to satiety. 
Cardiel (1915, p. 50) tells us that the Lule and Isistine sang for a 
whole night a song consisting only of two words, "Peitolo yavali" 
(run into the valley). He quotes two Paisan songs with the follow- 
ing words, "The fox is coming," and "The shaman arrives, he is 
welcome." In solo songs to drive away bad spirits, the themes are 
somewhat longer than those of the feast songs and may change as 
many as four times {Lengua). (See Grubb, 1904, p. 97.) 

During Lengua feasts, choirs relieve one another, so that the music 
never ceases.** Some Pilagd songs sung by women at parties are 
decidedly obscene. As songs pass from tribe to tribe, the Chaco reper- 
toire is very uniform within large areas. 

The importance of singing and chanting in Chaco societies is shown 
by some practices of the Mataco^ Pilagd^ and Chamaeoco. To become 
a good singer, a Mataeo or Pilagd man must dream of some singing 
bird — actually a spirit in the guise of a bird — and then eat the meat 
of birds reputed to be good singers. Many young men go to the bush 
in search of revelations of songs. A Pilagd may bequeath his song to 
his son, who sings it on special occasions, such as a scalp dance. Sing- 
ing for days on end without stopping is for Chamaeoco youths a test 
of manhood. The singer holds a gourd rattle and dances continuously 

« "The theme of every chant is short, and even the most joyous Is in a minor key. 
The theme is repeated indefinitely ; If it be a quick measure, it is kept up till the singers lose 
their breath ; if it be slow, till they are tired, when, if the occasion be a feast, which may 
continue sometimes for days together, they are relieved by another choir of singers, so 
that the music may not cease" (Grubb, 1904, p. 96). 


until a flow of blood from a broken vein demonstrates that he has 
reached the limit of his strength. Fearing the hardship of the ordeal, 
some young men secretly pierce their gums to simulate a hemorrhage. 

Musical instruments. — The only musical instruments native to the 
Chaco seem to have been a few idiophones (rattles and jingles) and 
the musical bow. The origin of the Chaco drums, flutes, and whistles 
must be sought in the Andean area. 

Rattles. — Hoof rattles are fixed to the end of long poles which the 
women {Mataco^ Choroti, Ashlnslay, Toha, Pilagd, Lengua) strike 
on the ground when dancing around a menstruating girl. When per- 
forming a cure, Mataco shamans wear jingles of deer hoofs or of 
snail shells around their waists or their ankles. Everywhere mothers 
amuse their babies with bunches of deer hoofs. Jingle rattles of fruit 
shells are found among the SaTiapand and Chamacoco^ but are lack- 
ing in the southern tribes. From the Negroes of Matto Grosso, the 
Mhayd-Caduveo have acquired the timbrel rattle : metallic disks strung 
on a wire stretched between the limbs of a forked stick. 

The gourd rattle is the accessory, par excellence, of the shaman, 
but its use is not his exclusive privilege. Every adult male among the 
Toha has a rattle which he shakes when he chants. Chamacoco women 
are forbidden to handle the sacred rattles. Most Chaco rattles are 
hollow gourds from which the seeds have been removed through a 
hole, which is then stopped with wax. The stem of the fruit forms 
the handle, and sometimes it is perforated and closed with a wooden 
peg to which a red wool loop is attached. The sides of rattles are 
often pierced with long cactus thorns (now nails or wires), which 
add a faint metallic quality to the sound — an improvement restricted 
in South America to the Chaco area. The Mhayd-Caduveo and 
Chamacoco rattle has the handle lashed to the gourd. Some Chama- 
coco rattles are made of two turtle shells fastened together with a 
string (Boggiani, 1894, fig. 33). Rattles, as a rule, are undecorated 
except for rudimentary incised or burned lines and some glued-on 
beads. The ancient Kaskihd painted theirs with red, black, and yel- 
low streaks and trimmed them with seeds, feather tassels, and animal 
teeth (Cominges, 1892, p. 193). 

Drums. — The Chaco drum is merely a cooking pot or sometimes 
a wooden mortar half filled with water and covered with a rawhide 
head. The drummer sits with his drum between his legs or, if he 
prefers to stand, lashes it between two upright digging sticks. He 
always uses a single stick (pi. 71). Some musicians accompany 
their beating with rhythmic body movements which make the jingles 
of their belts tinkle. Among the Mhayd, drummers held the stick 
in one hand and shook a gourd rattle with the other ; they alternately 
struck the middle and the edge of the drum. Various traditional 


beats were distinguished by special names, such as the "beat of the 
wild vulture," or the "beat of the jaguar." 

Bull-roarers. — The Mhayd-C aduveo have bull-roarers decorated 
with their characteristically involved designs. They are said to whirl 
them during funeral ceremonies, but, like the Mataco, they give them 
to the children as playthings. Children in most Chaco tribes make 
for their own amusement buzz-disks with pieces of calabash or 

Clarinets. — The clarinet, probably a post-Columbian instrument, 
was already popular in the Chaco in the 18th century. The Ahlpon 
were roused to battle by the sound of clarinets, and their war parties 
were said to have had more trumpeters than soldiers. The mouth- 
piece consists of a reed with a tongue cut in it, which nowadays is 
fitted into a sawed cow horn. Formerly, an armadillo tail (Ahipon) 
or a gourd served as the bell. Baucke (1870, p. 221) refers to trum- 
pets of light wood used by the Mocovi. When they performed a 
cure, Payagud shamans blew into a calabash 2 feet (0.6 m.) long 
and open at both ends, which served as a rudimentary trumpet to 
modify the tone of the voice.*^ 

Flat whistles. — Characteristic of Chaco culture are the flat wooden 
or resonator whistles which men suspend as ornaments from their 
necks (figs. 40, 41). These have the blowhole on the lower edge and 
two stops on the sides. One surface is invariably engraved with a star- 
like design within a circle and with a cogwheel motif around the edge. 
The Chamacoco, Moro^ and Mhayd-Caduveo whistles are of the same 
type but larger and shaped differently. They are either rectangular 
or square with the upper and lower edges slightly concave. Many fea- 
tures of these resonator whistles seem to have had an Andean origin, 
though wooden whistles of this shape have never been found in Peru. 

Serere whistles. — The serere whistle of the Chiriguano., a long dia- 
mond-shaped piece of wood perforated lengthwise, has been crudely 
copied by the Mataco and Toba who live in close contact with these 
Indians. The whistle is held vertically against the mouth so that the 
player may blow across the larger hole while closing the other with one 

Animal skull whistles. — Mataco and Choroti make crude whistles 
of rodent skulls with all the orifices except the foramen magnum 
stopped with wax. 

End -flutes. — End flutes are comparatively rare in the Chaco. They 
are made of bamboo and provided with three rectangular stops, drilled 
on a planed surface, and a thumb hole. All the septa of the reed are 

** "Aplica despu^s la borda del agujero mayor entre la nariz y el labio superior de mode 
que la boca queda expedita en medio del agujero y habla fuerte como cantando, de forma 
que las voces suenan de un modo extraflo y vivo" (Azara, 1904, p. 356). 



[B. A. E. Boll. 143 

Figure il.—Pilagd flat wooden whistle. (MStraux 
Natural History.) 

collection, American Museum of 

Notched flutes. — Most Chaco flutes have notched blowholes and 
therefore may be called either notched flutes or, like their Andean pro- 
totypes, quenas (fig. 40, c?, ^). Izikowitz (1935, p. 314) distinguishes 
two types of quena in the Chaco : that which is identical with end flutes 
with a notch added ; and that which has "no planing or carving but has 
a stop for the little finger which may be placed either to the left or the 
right, evidently depending on which hand the musician holds nearest 
the distal end. It has six stops, the top one being placed at the middle 
of the flute." 

Duct-flute. — In their magical performances, Mataco and Ghoroti 
shamans use duct flutes (bird-bone whistles) without stops (Izikowitz' 
Mataco whistles (fig. 40, e, /.) ) . These instruments are so constructed 
that the air current blown at one end is directed by a deflector, in this 
case a wax plug, against the sharp edge of the sound orifice, which 
is located near one of the ends or toward the middle of the flute. Bone 
duct flutes are also known to the Ashluslay^ Lengua^ and Chamacoco^ 
but there is no reference to their ceremonial usage in these tribes. 
The flutes of rhea bone of the ancient Mhayd probably belonged to the 


same category of instruments. Flutes of this type are occasionally 
made of bamboo or wood {Mataco, Tola). The Chamacoco hang a 
bunch of these flutes from their necks. 

Plug f.utes. — Both Tereno and Mhayd-Caduveo have reed flutes with 
a wax plug, four or five stops, a thumb hole, and an obliquely cut proxi- 
mal end. Such instruments, typical of tropical South America, prob- 
ably came to the northern Chaco with the new Arawaham, invaders 
(Izikowitz, 1935, p. 354). 

Panpipes. — ^The Zamuco in the Chiquito missions played the pan- 
pipes, which they certainly borrowed from the Chiquito. 

Stringed instruments. — The musical bow is a favorite instrument of 
young men {Mataco, Toba, Lengua., Gucmci)^ who spend many leisure 
hours playing it (pi. 71). It consists of two interlocked bows strung 
with horsehair. One bow is held against the teeth and the other used 
like a fiddle bow. The faint sound is audible only to the player. 
The Mhayd-Caduveo make guitars and violins, the parts of which they 
paste together with a glue extracted from an orchid bulb. 

Dancing. — A characteristic aspect of Chaco culture is the impor- 
tance attached to dancing. During seasons of abundant food and 
favorable weather, young people dance every night from sunset to 
dawn. Such dances are mainly recreational. On particular occa- 
sions, dances have ceremonial value ; these are described in the section 
dealing with religion. 

The principal diversion of young men of the Pilcomayo and Bermejo River 
villages is a dance in which the participants, dressed in their best attire, form 
a circle, each embracing his neighbor's waist. One dancer starts a low chant 
and everybody stamps the ground rhythmically with the right foot. After a few 
notes, the other dancers begin to sing. The rhythm grows livelier until the 
stamping turns into a rapid walk. Soon the girls, at first passive on-lookers, 
participate. Each places herself behind some favorite dancer and, seizing his 
belt or putting her hands on his shoulders, dances with him. Several girls may 
attach themselves to a popular man. 

In another type of dance, men and women hold one another's shoulders or 
waists and form a long line. As the dancers move forward and backward, 
the dance leader standing out in front points at a dancer at each end of the 
line, who steps out and forms a new line behind him. This is repeated 

In the Toha nomi dance, men form a semicircle with their arms on each 
other's waists. They run alternately to the right and left while moving forward 
across the dancing place, where the chain of performers is broken. Then in 
the same way they move back. The dancers themselves loudly chant the 
measure of their steps. 

The Mataco perform a unique variant of this dance: Once the semicircle has 
started moving forward, it breaks up suddenly into several groups of dancers, 
who first stamp in the same spot, then start to run, and form a spiral which 
grows tighter and tighter. When all movement, except stamping, is impossible, 
the spiral begins to unwind, at first very slowly, then more quickly. 


In a purely recreational dance of the Mataco, the dancers form a line and 
slowly start to move forward ; at the same time the man in the center of the 
line whirls around, pivoting the line so that those at the ends of the line run 
faster than the others. 

In the Lengua kyaiya dance, a man in the circle of dancers keeps pointing 
to the four cardinal points. Held in the spring, it is a rejoicing in anticipation 
of the new food supplies ; in the summer, it is a thanksgiving for the algarroba 
bean harvest ; in the autumn, it celebrates the harvest of the main garden 
crops (Grubb, 1913, p. 178). 

The Caduveo have a dance, based on a pattern of four steps, in which young 
men and girls, each holding his neighbor's waist or hand, form separate lines 
and move forward and backward to the music of flutes and drums. Now and 
then the men break their line to revolve around the girls, or pairs execute a 
series of turns. The pattern of steps is always the same : two slow steps and a 
rapid, jerky one forward, and then a return to the initial position. The body is 
bent forward slightly, but is thrown backward on the third beat. The dance is 
apparently recreational in nature, but a ceremonial origin may be inferred from 
the presence of masked figures, some probably impersonating ghosts and others 
playing the part of clowns. 

At formal receptions, Mbayd-Caduv^o women honor their guests with songs 
and dances consisting of a succession of short steps while the body sways and 
the hands move. 

Some Tereno dances are really parades before the chiefs, whom men and 
women salute while marching by. The homage is repeated several times with 

Certain women's dances of the Guarafioca, a Zamuco subtribe, dramatize such 
economic activities as sowing or collecting pavi fruits or such commonplace 
incidents as the chase of an ant which has bitten a person (D'Orbigny, 1835-47, 

Among dance accessories were the tufts of red feathers which Pilagd and 
Mhayd dancers brandished. 

Tobacco. — Chaco Indians smoke far more than any other South 
American natives. They are ready to trade their most prized posses- 
sions for strong, black tobacco, lack of which is deemed a painful 
privation. Even with little agriculture, Indians such as the Pilagd 
grow tobacco. The Mhayd horsemen, who were passionate smokers, 
were supplied tobacco by their Guana serfs, who raised several vari- 
eties of it. 

Tobacco leaves are inserted in a split stick, dried over a fire, and 
crushed into a coarse powder. The ancient Mhayd^ like modern 
Lengua^^ pounded the leaves in a mortar and kneaded the mass into 
small cakes that were exposed to the sun or to fire. When the tobacco 
had turned black, it was minced, crushed, and left for a time in the 
sun (Sanchez Labrador, 1910-17, 1 : 184) . These Indians stored their 
tobacco in artistically engraved gourds; modern natives carry it in 
embroidered skin pouches. 

■x" Grubb (1913, p. 73) adds the following details about the Lengua: "The pulp is then 
made into small round cakes, moistened with saliva and pressed between the hands. They 
are not allowed to bake in the sun until quite hard. A hole is made in the centre of each 
cake, and several are strung together for convenience." 


Pipes. — The Choroti used crude pipes made of a bamboo section, 
but these are exceedingly rare. As a rule, Chaco pipes are carved of 
^'ood — among the Mhayd and other northern groups, of palisander 
wood, which exhales a pleasant odor when hot. Clay pipes, both 
tubular and curved, occur in various tribes (Mafaco, Pilagd, Lengua), 
but they are quite uncommon today (fig. 42, c). They may have 
been more popular before steel tools simplified the carver's task. 
In fact, the Lengua word for "pipe" means also "clay." 

Several types of pipes may be used by a single group. Thus, the 
Pilcomayo River Indians have tubular (fig. 42, e), elbow, monitor, 
and composite pipes (i. e., with a stem fitted into a bowl). The 
composite pipe seems to predominate among the Mhay^-C adimeo and 
other northern tribes. 

Tubular pipes are drilled at one end for a bowl from which a 
perforation runs to the mouth end and are often decorated with a 
flange at both ends. Some specimens are constricted in the middle; 
those of the Mataco^ Toha, and AsJduslay flare characteristically into 
a flat, wide mouthpiece (fig. 42, g.) 

Some pipes have the bowl set somewhat back from the distal end 
and resemble the monitor pipes of North America. 

Elbow (fig. 42, d) and composite pipes may be imitations of the 
European form; the bowl of the composite type is often the tra- 
ditional tubular pipe fitted with a stem. 

Pipes are often decorated with raised flanges or with incised or 
fire-engraved designs, but their main esthetic value is their elegant 
shape and their polish (fig. 42, «, 6, f-h) . 

The bowls of the Mhayd-Caduveo pipes carved as human figures 
and the Ashhislay pipes shaped like animals may be regarded as the 
best wood carvings in the Chaco. The ancient Mocovi had also 
zoomorphic pipes (Kobler, 1870, p. 221). The long tubular pipes of 
Payagud shamans were covered with engraved biblical scenes, mainly 
of Paradise and the story of Adam and Eve. (See Steinen, 1901 a; 
Koch-Griinberg, 1903 b; Outes, 1915.) 

The Pilcomayo River Indians plug their pipes with a fiber or moss 
filter. A few specimens have the mouthpiece covered with a small 
perforated calabash disk. 

The Indians inhale and blow the smoke out through their noses. 
After a few puffs, they pass the pipe around to their companions. 

Chewing. — Among the southern Guaicuru {Ahipon, Mocom), both 
sexes were fond of chewing tobacco. Among the northern tribes 
{Mhayd, Payagud), on\y the women chewed; they are said to have 
kept their quid constantly between their lips and gums. Chopped 
tobacco leaves for chewing were impregnated with saliva and mixed 
with bone ashes {Mhayd, Mocovi) or with salt {Ahipon, Mocovi). 



: t rj 




FiGDBB 42. — Chaco tobacco pipes, a, b, d, f, g, Pilagd wooden pipes ; c, Mataco clay pipe ; 
e, h, Mataco fire-engraved wooden pipes. (All % natural size.) (M6traux collection, 
American Museum of Natural History.) 


The Mocovi carried their tobacco in a cow horn attached to their 

As a substitute for tobacco, the Tdba and Chunupi chewed or 
smoked a root called koro-pa. 

Coca chewing. — Many Chaco Indians who work in the sugar fac- 
tories have acquired the habit of chewing coca from the Quechua^ a 
habit which has spread in recent years almost to the Paraguay River. 

Drinking bouts. — Any social event is a pretext for a drinking bout. 
Among the Ahipon, the occasions for a spree were a victory, an 
impending war, funeral rites, the birth of a chief's son, the shaving 
of widowers or widows, the changing of a name, the proclamation 
of a new captain, the arrival of a distinguished guest, a wedding, 
and, most commonly, a council of war. These are still the occasions 
on which other Chaco tribes get drunk. The biggest sprees among 
the Pilcomayo River Indians, however, take place from November 
to February when algarroba is ripe. 

The Mhayd rationalized their orgies by saying that when drunk 
they dreamed of beautiful things. The Ahipon contended that "they 
were never more wise in council or braver in fight than when they 
were intoxicated." The Mascoi ascribed to fermented drinks the 
power to give men supernatural clear-sightedness. The Chamacoco 
show great respect for a drunken man, believing him to be possessed 
by a spirit. 

The native beer is brewed of algarroba pods, or, when these are not 
available, of tusca or chaiiar fruits. The Mataco and Choroti are 
said to prepare a beverage of melon or watermelon. 

All Chaco Indians are extremely fond of mead, but, though honey 
is perennially available, it is rarely collected in sufficient quantity to 
satisfy a large group of guests. 

The algarroba pods are pounded in a mortar and mixed with hot 
water in a hollowed bottle tree or an improvised container made of a 
squared cow or goat skin with the edges raised off the ground {Ahipon^ 
Mocovi, Choroti), Sometimes, to accelerate fermentation, a small 
quantity of pounded algarroba which has been chewed by old women 
is added. Tusca beer is prepared of the crushed fruits sprinkled with 
water. Chanar fruits are boiled, and the juice is left to ferment. 
Mead is prepared of honey and water mixed in a large, narrow-necked 
calabash, and heated in the sun or by a fire. 

The Mb ay a drank the slightly fermented sap of the mbocaya palm 
{Acrocomia sp,). Sometimes they allowed the mush made of the 
fruits of this palm to ferment, but this beverage was hardly alcoholic. 

Men sing, shake deer-hoof or gourd rattles, and drum all night 
around the beer trough to hasten the fermentation magically and make 


the beverage really strong. These rites are deemed as important to 
the preparation of the beer as the mechanical activities. 

No young women are allowed to participate in a drinking bout, but 
old women attend to look after the men and sometimes to dance or 

In all tribes certain rules of etiquette are scrupulously obseirved. 
The participants paint and decorate themselves profusely. The most 
distinguished guests are always served first. The Mhayd sat in a circle 
and were served by a hostess. Women rushed toward those who 
vomited to hand them a vessel. A drummer, generally a young man in 
his best attire, chanted the virtues of the guests, while other men 
blew clarinets (see p. 343) , or sounded whistles to encourage the guests 
to drink. "V\Tien the drinks were exhausted at one house, musicians 
urged the crowd to move to the house of another nobleman where 
beer or mead had also been prepared. Probably to avoid any quarrel, 
it was regarded as unwise to refuse anything asked by a drunken man. 

The Ashluslay wave their hands at those who drink, and anyone 
leaving the party has to make a friendly gesture with the hand. A 
well-bred Pilagd only drinks half of the calabash handed to him and 
passes the rest to his neighbor. 

The carousal lasts as long as the beer — sometimes for several days. 
The intoxicated Ashlmlay or Pilagd sing, whistle, and deliver long 
speeches boasting of their courage and achievements. Very fre- 
quently those who nurture a secret grudge take advantage of the 
general excitement to give vent to their repressed resentment. In- 
sults and threats are exchanged and fights start which, however, 
rarely end in casualties, thanks to the vigilance of the women, who see 
to it that no weapons fall into the men's hands and promptly intervene 
to prevent a verbal quarrel from degenerating into a dangerous brawl. 
When a man becomes obnoxious, his relatives take him to their hut, 
where he sleeps it off. The Mhayd and other tribes cure their hang- 
overs by chewing the bark of certain trees. Sorcerers are likely to 
take advantage of a drinking party to "poison" their enemies. 


Supernatural beings. — Missionaries have always failed to find the 
concept of a Supreme Being in the religion of the Chaco Indians. 
Peritnalik, Asin, and the bird Carancho {Polyhorus plancus) are 
mythic culture heroes, but certainly not deities. The Beetle (escara- 
bajo), who, according to the Lengua^ made the Universe and peopled 
it with spirits and men, remains aloof from his creation and is never 
invoked. The only mythological character who approximates a 
supreme god is Eschetewuarha of the Chamacoco. She is the mother 
of countless spirits (guara) ; she dominates everything, and makes 


sure that the Sun does not burn the earth and that mankind obtains 
water. She expects men to sing every night for her and punishes 
them if they are remiss in this duty. 

Some Chaco tribes personify celestial bodies or natural phenomena, 
and consider them to be helpful or dangerous, but there is no evidence 
that regular cults are rendered to them. The Abipon and Mocovi 
referred to the Pleiades as if this star cluster were a living being, and 
called it "Our Grandfather." They attributed the stars' annual dis- 
appearance to illness, and rejoiced when they returned. They even 
congratulated them as if they were actually men, but the feast which 
followed their rise above the horizon cannot be construed as a formal 
astral cult. Prado (1839, p. 35) says expressly that the Mhayd cele- 
brated the appearance of the Pleiades not because they held them to be 
a deity, but only because they announced the season of the mbocaya 
nuts. The Payagud ^^ and Tereno regarded the return of the Pleiades 
as a signal for the performance of magic rites and for various fes- 

When the new moon shone in the sky, the Mhayd^ the Toha, and 
Mocovi showed signs of great contentment, which has been errone- 
ously interpreted as expressions of a lunar cult. The Mocovi^ how- 
ever, asked the new Moon for physical strength, and young men pulled 
their noses to improve their shape. The Mhayd also saluted the Morn- 
ing Star, saying, "Here comes our master," an expression void of any 
deep significance. The Mataco shamans speak of the Sun as a wise 
man whom they like to consult in spite of the many dangers of doing 
so. The Tumerehd believe that the Sun is a powerful demon who 
sends diseases and who selects those whom he wishes to become 

The Mataco attribute menstruation to the young girl's mysterious 
intercourse with the Moon. Lengua girls asked Lightning for a hus- 
band. In Pilagd myths, Kainbow kidnaps children and kills people 
by moving his tongue all around his head. Lightning is a little hairy 
woman or man who needs smoke to return to the sky {Toha^ Pilagd). 
The Abipon and the Lengua looked at the whirlwinds as the manifesta- 
tions of a spirit. The former threw ashes, the latter sticks, to drive 
them away. The Mataco also personify the Big Fire that burns at 
the end of the world. 

Epidemics are generally thought to be caused by demons. The small- 
pox demon lives in the mountains and has a face covered with small 
pits (Mataco). The Lengua greatly fear the White demon of the 
swamps or lagoons, who supposedly sails over the waters. The for- 

^^ "La superstici6n con las Pleyadas no es mas que ser 4poca de una festividad bacanal 
en los primeros dias de su aparlci6n vespertina y nos consta sucede lo propio entre los 
Bayas y otros Indios" (Aguirre, 1911, p. 357). 


ests and rivers are haunted by special demons (the "Water-dwellers of 
the Pilagd) ; their meetings with human beings are related in many 
tales. The forest demons (Guara) of the Tmnerehd have some fea- 
tures of dogs, which they derive from their father, a mythical dog who 
mated with a woman. 

Some animals have a Master, a spirit who prevents their wholesale 
destruction by hunters. For example, the Master-of-the-fish is an- 
gered, according to the Pilagd^ when fish are caught and then left to rot. 
In addition to tTiese demons, the Indian's world is crowded with un- 
personified spirits which are either goblins or ghosts. It has been 
said that any object or animal which inspires fear or awe in a Chaco 
Indian is the receptacle of an evil spirit. Such a view is based on 
arbitrary interpretation rather than on actual statements by the na- 
tives. In Toha^ payak means a spirit, but the word is applied as an 
adjective to all kinds of phenomena and animals which appear strange, 
mysterious, supernatural or uncanny, and does not necessarily imply 
that the payak object or being is actually possessed by a spirit. Thus, 
whirlwinds, black beetles, and the objects that a shaman extracts from 
the body of a patient are all payak. 

The Mataco distinguish between the husek, which is the soul of a 
person, and the ahat, or ghost. The souls of the dead are greatly 
feared, but no more than spirits, such as the Inhabitants of the Earth 
and the welan who reside in trees, especially the large bottle trees. 
Among the Mataco-Nocten of Bolivia, aitax seems to have had the 
same meaning as payak in Tola, if Karsten's definition (1932, p. 119) 
is correct. 

Chaco Indians do not actually live in the constant fear of spirits that 
some authors have ascribed to them. They admit that spirits and 
ghosts are especially obnoxious at night, and are ready to interpret 
any queer noise as evidence of the presence of a spirit; but during 
the day they show little concern, unless something strongly suggests 
supernatural interference. Above all, spirits bring illness. Any com- 
munity in which a death has occurred is exposed to attack by the ghost 
of the deceased. A hunter must take precautions to prevent revenge 
by the slain animal's spirit. For this reason, a man who has killed 
a bird, plucks its neck feathers and scatters them on the road, hoping 
that while the bird's spirit is collecting the feathers, he can reach 
home safely. 

The Lengua believe in a spirit, called Hakumyi, who now and 
then helps men in their gardening. They also speak of another spirit 
that is harmless but has thievish proclivities. 

A spirit is deemed good only when it is at the service of a shaman 
or of a man who has had a vision. Only a person who has established 
personal contact with a spirit may rely upon its help. A sick Tola 
may say to his familiar or guardian spirit, "Let no more evil befall 


■■Fm - *i 


•> m 

Plate 46.— Chaco landscapes. Top {kflj: Xeropliylic forest (monte ralo) near San Patricio, Salta, Argen- 
tina. Top (right): Mataco children bathing. Bottom (left): Xerophytie forest. Bottom (right): Matnco 
granary, San Patrieio. (Courtesy .\lfred Metraux.) 

• --'^w:^ 
> I 

Plate 47— Chaco Indians, 19th century. Top (left): Mbaya man. Top {right): Tereno man. Bottom. 
Mbayd camp, AlbuqucKiiK-, Matto Grosso, Brazil. (After Castelnau, 1852, pis. 37, 38, 53.) 


\ \ 


Plate .50.— Chaco houses. Anhlualaij huts. ( Court o.'jy Max Schmidt. 


'I. ATK M (haco houses, yranaries. an<l 
torn (left): PUagd girl earryins water jar I 
tesy Alfred Metraux.) 


. i;,,.: l;in,i<, \ !ll:,L'r M',,iirtesy Mann i lUI- 
nn/toin iniihh: Miitiicd (ir J'ilnaa granary. (I'oiir- 


^ h 





'«&«» / 



Plate 02.— Chaco houses. Top: Interior of Mbaya hut with sleeping platforms. Village of Nalike. 
Bottom: Pa]m-thatched Mbayd communal houses, Nalike. (Courtesy Claude Levi-Strauss.) 




Plate 53.— Chaco costumes. 7'o/j iliii': isli/n^'aii iiiini w ill i shell necklaces. Tvp (right): Ashluslay man 
wearing a poncho. Bottom (left): . lx/i///s-/';// woiikiii wiili w riip-arbund skirt. Bottom (center): Pilagd 
man with shell necklaces. (Courtcsx Allivil Mriiiuix.) Bultoin (right): Pilagd child wearing necklace 
of glass beads and netted shirt. (Courtesy .\llred Metraux.i 

Plate jj.— Chaco face and body ornaments. Top: Mocon chin ornament (tohaceu luirn below), liollor 
Mocoi'i tattooed designs and woman tattooing a man. (After Baucke, 1935, figs. 10, 11.) 

Platk ."iii. Chaco costumes. Vd//.- Mi^ciiii huntci' wilh (:iiiitciiin-\\\\v luiismr. linliuiii: Cnm-i. 
warriors \\ ith tattoo ami wi'aring painted skin rolics. Note lattouiut;. (AfttT Jianckc, Wi't, hfi.s. i:i. 14. 

re* u.ifi<j 

Plate .'.T.— Chaco head ornaments and bags, n, c. Pilagd headod bag; b, Pilagd netted bag; d, Chulupi or 
Ashluslaij iguana-skin [jouch; e, f, Pilngd hair nets decorated with shell disks; g, Pilagd frontlet with 
flamingo feathers; b. Mntnco jaguar-skin frontlet; i, Pilngd child's frontlet of plaited palm leaves. (Cour- 
tesy American Museum of Natural History.) 









^■r -::"-v "^ 



PLATE r.H -Chaco costumes. Top: Ashluslan poncho. Bottom: Pilagd paintcMl divr-hi-le skirt,. (Courtesy 
.\nK"rican Musoum of Natural History.) 


Plate 60.— Chaco bags, a, Mataco looped carrying bag; b. Pilagd netted bag for removing fuzz from cactus 
fruit; c, Pilagd finger-woven woolen pouch; d, Pilagd looped bag; e. Pilagd macrameli'ke bag decorated 
with glass beads; /, Pilagd bird-skin bag. (Courtesy American Museum of Natural History.) 




« 1.1 


PLATEiil.Chaco textile manufacture. Top: Toba small loom for fingtT \vt 
knitting a bag. (Courtesy Alfred Metraux,) 

lioltom: Main 

Plate 62.— Toba spinning wool. (Courtesy Mann.) 

I'LATE i;:;. Toba woman tnakinj; carryinji n 

Plate (i4,- Chaco pottery man u far lure. Tup: T<ii)ii uiakini; rim slri|). (Courtesy Manti.i Hcllnm 
(left): Piiaga woman forming coil. Bottom (rkiht): Matnco woman seraping inside of i)ot. (Courtesy 
Alfred Mfitraux.) 



Plate 05.— Chac-o wood carving. Chamacoco wooden fisiurines and throwing elul) (at rislit). (Courtesy 
Museo Etnografico, Buenos Aires.) 

Plate Gfi.—Chaco children. Top; Pilagd delousing child. Bottom (left): Pilagd grandmother and child. 
Bottom (right): Mataco girl. (Courtesy Alfred Metraux.) 

I ^. 

m J 

/ s 



Plate 69.— Chaco death customs. Top: Pilaga 
seclusion hut for widow. Center: Pilaga log 
covered grave. Bottom: Mataco widow's se- 
clusion hut, with annex. (Courtesy Alfred 


Plate 70.— Mataco tree burial. (Courtesy Enikjue Palavecino.) 

'LATK71. Chaco recrealion. l'i>i, ihf/): Cadiinii wnniiiii iiiiikiii'J a "cat's cradli'." (('(lUiicsy (Matlclo 
Lrvi-Straus'.) Tap (right): I'ilagd boy playing musical bow. (Courtesy Alfred Metraux.) Bottom 
(left): AshluMnu drummer. Bottom (right): Pilagd girls dancing. (Courtesy Alfred Metraux.) 

I; ?|,,^^j^^l^1 

Plate 72. Chaco religion and games. Top: Mataco ritual to oxpel evil. Center: Pilaga chief shaking 
sliaiuau's r;itllL' and chanting. Bottom: Mataco hoclcey game. (Courtesy AKred Metraux.) 

Plate 73.-Chaco shamanism. Top: Caduveo shaman's outfit. (Courtesy Claude Levi-Strauss.) 
Bottom: Pilagd shaman blowing on sick person. (Courtesy Alfred Metraux.) 


^ ' f^. 

Plate 74.— Chaco Indian types. Top: Toba scalp dance, with scalp on top of post. Bottom: Mataco 
suflering from starvation. (Courtesy Alfred M^traux.) 

Plate 75.-Chaco Indian types. Top (left): Toba man. Top (right): Pilaga mau. Bottom (left): Pilagd 
man. Bottom (right): Pilagd woman. (Courtesy Mann.) 

Plate 7(1. Chaco Indian types. 
{left): Mataco man. 

Top (letf): Toba chief. Top (right): Mataco man, tattooed chin. 
Bottom (right): Maca girl, painted face. (Courtesy Mann.) 


me, I have already suffered much" (Karsten, 1932, p. 172), but there 
is no record that other tribes prayed to spirits. On the other hand, 
magic treatment of diseases among the Toba and the Mataco always 
includes a mock offering to the spirit or demon which has caused the 
illness. All kinds of valuable objects are piled up and presented to 
it with the undertsanding that it will be content with the immaterial 
essence of them. 

Ritual. — The magic ritual of the Chaco Indians follows, as a rule, 
very simple patterns. Most of their ceremonies have a coercive char- 
acter and are aimed either at curbing some malignant power or at 
directly influencing nature or men. Such great power is attributed 
to chanting and to the sound of the gourd rattle which accompanies 
it that most of the Chaco magic rites consist of the monotonous repeti- 
tion of a melodious theme with meaningless words or syllables. Only 
rarely, the conjuration includes a short sentence, generally a request 
that the evil go away. The chanter usually starts with a low murmur 
which rises gradually and then falls into a deep tone. A Pilcomayo 
River Indian will chant and shake his rattle (pi. 72, center) on many 
occasions : To keep evil spirits at a distance, when he wakes up after 
a bad dream, when some danger threatens at night, to gain the favor 
of a girl, to bring good luck to women who collect fruits, to insure 
a big catch of fish or game, and to help the fermentation of algarroba 
beer. Wlien a group of Pilagd men are about to leave for a journey, 
old women hop around them raising both arms and singing a sort 
of blessing. Among the ancient Ahip6?i, one of the main duties of 
female shamans was to dance and sing in any sacred circumstance. 

Beating a drum, although less used, has the same ritual power as 
the tinkling of a gourd rattle. The Mataco drum to hasten the ma- 
turity of algarroba pods and to help girls in the critical period of their 
first menstruation. Spirits are easily frightened off by the jingle of 
the deer hoofs or bells, which the shamans and their assistants attach 
to their ankles and belts when they cure a sick person by expelling the 
supernatural intruder. Unusual magical power is attributed to rattles 
made of a special kind of gourd and filled with sacred beetles. Round 
wooden whistles and bone whistles in the form of flutes also have magi- 
cal uses. Toba shamans are said to whirl a sort of bull-roarer in order 
to bring rain (Ryden, 1933). 

Many Chaco dances have a definite ceremonial value. Thus, at the 
end of the dry season Toba women, directed by a shaman, dance and 
fling themselves to the ground as if seized by a sudden illness. Sha- 
mans pretend to cure them, while other dancers turn around them, 
stamping the ground, yelling, and shaking their rattles. This dance 
is to assure the health of the women during the summer. The jaguar 
dance of the Toba is supposed to protect women from jaguar attacks. 

583486 — 46 23 


Boys and girls dance in a circle, each boy lashing the loins of the girl 
in front of him with a cloth. The girls fall to the ground, when a 
shaman, acting the part of a jaguar, sucks and blows on them (Kar- 
sten, 1932, p. 150). When girls come of age {Mataco^ Ashluslay, 
Lengita), the women and boys ritually dance to dramatize the attacks 
of the spirits and their final defeat. 

By chanting and dancing to the point of exhaustion, the Toha try 
to hasten the maturity of chanar fruit. The Choroti dance around a 
fish in the hope that the ceremony will make fish come in great quan- 
tities to a certain place. 

Dancing figures in the treatment of disease : While the Mataco or 
Toha shaman blows and murmurs incantations over a patient, assist- 
ants wearing belts with bells attached and deer-hoof anklets, perform 
a sort of rhythmical, half -jumping walk. Dancing, according to the 
Mataco^ frightens the disease demon away or makes him tired, as he 
feels compelled to join in the dance. 

When rain falls without thunder — a sign that the spirits are kindly 
disposed — the Ghwniacoco dress in their best ornaments, with jingles 
attached to hands and feet, and indulge in demonstrations of wild joy. 
They throw themselves to the ground and play tricks on one another. 

Collective rites. — When a community is threatened, everyone may 
join in a ceremony to ward off the impending evil. When a Mataco 
band dreads an epidemic, it symbolically fights the spirits or disease 
demons. Both sexes wearing red head bands with feathers, necklaces, 
and red waistcoats line up behind a row of arrows stuck into the 
ground (pi. 72, top). They begin the counter-offensive with magical 
songs accompanied by gourd rattles. At intervals the shamans take 
a snuff of hatax (cebil, Piptadenia macrocarpa) powder to achieve a 
mild state of trance, when their liberated souls go to the sky in the 
form of birds to challenge the hostile spirits. Then everyone threat- 
ens the invisible enemies with rattles and bunches of feathers, marches 
against them, and steps on them as if to crush them. The ceremony is 
concluded with a general disinfection : The performers blow on each 
other, tinkle their rattles all over their neighbors' bodies, and dust 
them with feather bundles. The souls of the dead shamans may be 
invited to participate in the ceremony, and some cebil powder is 
dropped on the ground for them. 

Wlien a strong south wind blows, the Lengua shake their blankets 
in hope of throwing the sickness out into the wind, a rite which was 
also practiced by the Mhayd and by the Patagonian tribes. 

Ceremonial objects, charms, and amulets. — The Lengua regard 
red head bands with feather fringes as a protection against evil spirits, 
especially water demons. When a Mataco deals with the super- 
natural world, he also puts on a red head band, and possibly a red 
knitted wool shirt. Thread crosses inserted in head bands deter in- 


visible enemies. Everyone who takes part in a rite or who must face 
clanger paints his face with black or red designs to insure his safety. 
All Chaco Indians use hunting charms. The Toba wear around their 
waists an elongated bag made of a rhea's neck containing diverse 
plants and animal exuviae, which they expect to bring abundant game. 
The Lengua use wax images to bring good hunting luck. The Mataco 
and the other Pilcomayo River Indians usually wear around their 
necks one or more pouches containing medicinal plants. Mocovi men 
attached deer hoofs around their wrists and ankles in order to become 
faster runners (Baucke, 1870, p. 120). 

Boys and girls employ charms and talismans to assure the success 
of their love affairs. (See Arnott, 1935, pp. 294-296.) 

In most Chaco tribes, if a man engaged in heavy work feels tired, 
he draws blood from his limbs by pricking the skin with an awl made 
of rhea or jaguar bone. The 6^wa?!<7wrwan-speaking Indians give much 
importance to these scarifications and encourage even small children 
to jab themselves. During drinking bouts, the Ahipon pricked their 
breasts, arms, and tongues with a bundle of thorns, or with the sharp 
bones of a caiman's back, with much loss of blood. On similar occa- 
sions, Payagud men had shamans pierce their skin with wooden skew- 
ers or stringray darts. Some, like the Ahipon, wounded their penises 
and allowed the blood to drip into a hole in the ground. Famous 
warriors voluntarily had their tongues perforated with a wooden awl 
(Aguirre, 1911, p. 367). 

The Ahipon and the Mocovi credited caiman's teeth with great 
virtue to heal serpent's bites when applied againsts the wound or worn 
around the neck. 

Omens and dreams. — Chaco Indians pay close attention to some 
natural phenomena which they interpret as presages or omens. The 
Mocovi attributed ominous significance to the cry of a bird, which was 
supposed to say, "Flee away lest you be swallowed by the earth," and 
to the heron's call. The Toha do not like certain black birds to sit 
on their huts. When a flock of these birds fly by their village, they 
make noises to chase them away. 

When a war party comes upon a wildcat or a jaguar scratching the 
earth, the warriors prefer to return home. If they witness a fight 
between two yulo birds, they observe carefully the direction in which 
the defeated bird flies, and believe they are sure to win if it goes toward 
the enemy. 

A comet is regarded as the harbinger of an epidemic ; a meteor fore- 
tells the death of a witch doctor. (See Grubb, 1914, p. 124.) 

Dreams play a very important part in the life of an Indian, and to some extent 
govern many of his actions. 

This statement by the missionary Grubb (1913, p. 127), has been con- 
firmed by observations made in several Chaco tribes {Toha, Mataco, 


Ashluslay, and others). The Lengua explain that during sleep the 
soul leaves the body and has many adventures which often are con- 
strued as real. Dreams are regarded by the Indian "as warnings and 
guides to his conduct" (Grubb, 1913, p. 127). The actions of a person 
seen in a dream are often regarded as the expression of his actual in- 
tentions, and the dreamer subsequently acts accordingly. 

Religious feasts. — The tribes of the Bermejo 'Rix&v—Paisan^ 
Atcdala, and probably Mataco — celebrated ceremonies which brought 
them, symbolically, in direct contact with the supernatural. Such 
feasts contained a dramatic element which seems absent from the re- 
ligious life of modern Indians in the same region, and may either have 
vanished or escaped the attention of modern observers. There is, in a 
text by the Jesuit Camaiio y Bazan (1931), a detailed account of one 
of these "mysteries." 

The Vilela planted in the ground 10 or 12 poles decorated with 
painted designs. The assembled shamans designated a young man 
to impersonate a god called Gos (in Vilela, "spirit"), and appointed 
a girl to be the god's wife and a group of boys to be his servants. 
Near the poles, two huts were erected in which the spirit and his suite 
were lodged before and during the ceremonies. On the appointed day, 
the youth of the village, covered with feathers and smeared with paint, 
came to the sacred spot carrying jars of beer. They danced and 
addressed prayers to the spirit begging for rain and imploring his 
protection against epidemics, after which Gos, with his wife and ser- 
vants, emerged from a grove where they had hidden the day before. 
The boy impersonating the god wore a huge tapering headdress of 
straw, provided with "horns," and concealed his whole body under 
skins and bundles of straw. His wife was naked but for a net apron, 
and his followers wore only feather belts. They all concealed their 
faces behind small painted sticks. The divine couple and their escorts 
danced around the poles, shouting, grimacing, and striking the poles 
with painted sticks. After a while, they retired to their hut. At 
noon and in the evening of the following days, they repeated their 

The same ritual pattern was followed on other more festive occa- 
sions. Young people with feather headdresses, bracelets, belts, and 
anklets danced around a quebracho bianco or a guayacan tree, whistling 
and shouting. A naked girl accompanied the dancers. During other 
ceremonies young people of both sexes ran around the village carrying 
sticks trimmed with f eathers.^^ 

Father Remedi, who was well acquainted with the Mataco of the 
Bermejo River, was told that they celebrated a feast during which the 

"In another version of the same feast given by Father Alonso Sanchez, it is said that 
on the last day of the feast, just before dawn, the dancers broke the beer jars (G. Fflrlong. 
1939, p. 57), 


"devil" came from the bush where he had been in hiding and danced 
with the people, amusing them with his leaps and antics. Suddenly 
everyone stood silent while the god-impersonator made prophecies 
about the next harvest, the abundance of game, and impending dis- 
eases, and answered the individuals who consulted him about their 
own future (Lafone-Quevedo, 1896 a, 17: 348). ^^ 

The appearance of the Pleiades above the horizon in April or May, 
which marked the new year, occasioned much rejoicing among the 
tribes of the Guaicuruan stock and the Guana under their direct influ- 
ence. The Ahipon congratulated the star cluster as if it were a man. 
They drank mead, and a female shaman danced to trumpets, while the 
spectators shouted, each striking his mouth with his hands. During 
the ceremony, the female shaman made the warriors swift by touching 
their thighs with her rattle. This feast quite often coincided with the 
formal initiation of male and female shamans. 

The feast of the Pleiades, one of the major religious events of the 
year, was in every Mhayd village the occasion for stripping the huts 
of their mat coverings, which they struck with cudgels to drive away 
any evil influence which lurked there. This general disinfection, 
strongly reminiscent of the expulsion of the Gualichu among tYiQArau- 
canians and Patagonians, was to ward off epidemics and disasters dur- 
ing the coming year (Sanchez Labrador, 1910-17, 2 : 13) . 

The ceremonial life of the Tereno and probably of all the Guana 
also was particularly intense when the new year began. It is difficult 
to ascertain whether these Indians adopted the Mhayd rites and added 
a few traditional elements of their own, or whether ceremonies already 
present in their own earlier culture corresponded to the Pleiades feast 
of the Mhayd. 

During the 3 months preceding the rising of the Pleiades, all the 
Tereno shamans of a village chanted and shook their rattles in front 
of their huts every night. A shaman, whom his colleagues designated 
master of ceremonies, instructed the villagers to prepare for the com- 
ing feast. One of the first rites of the festival was a simulated attack 
against the chief's hut by an old shaman who, armed with a horn, and 
with his face veiled by a net, impersonated a spirit. The chief placated 
the spirit by presenting him and his colleagues with a bull. Then an 
old man with a spear turned to the four corners of the earth, and 
announced, "I am the Grandfather of the chiefs of the East ; ... of 
the West ; ... of the North : and ... of the South." He also enu- 

" According to a letter by CoUins M. Smith, a Protestant missionary among the Mataco, 
a similar ceremony was celebrated in 1941. "It would appear that one or two witch 
doctors cooperated, one of them impersonating some well known witch doctor of bygone 
days, known by reputation only, even to the oldest of the present generation. All kinds 
of gifts were brought to them, and after the usual chanting, palavering, etc. he appeared 
from the depths of the leading witch doctor's hut, having come up out of the ground, and 
spoke to the assembly." 


merated the important men who lived in each direction. He then 
lifted his eyes toward the Pleiades and asked of them rain for the fields, 
and protection against war, diseases, serpent bites, and other evils. He 
prayed for an hour and concluded with a cry, whereupon the whole 
band jumped, shouted, and made every possible noise, even with fire- 
arms. Amidst this tumult, the old man returned to his hut (Rhode, 
1885, p. 409). These performances were followed by sportive amuse- 
ments, especially boxing. 

The climax of the celebration was the Dance of the Rhea Feather 
Dress. The members of the Bad Moiety, who had made a nuisance of 
themselves by breaking pots and destroying everything in sight, were 
finally challenged by those of the Good Moiety, who appeared in war 
array, each man grasping a painted stick. Then, for a whole day, 
each moiety danced in a line facing the other and alternately dealt 
and parried blows at their opponents with their sticks. 

The religion of the southern Arawakan tribes living north of the 
Chaco {Mojo, Paressi, Pawmari) was characterized by ceremonies in 
which masked men impersonating spirits terrified the women and 
levied from them tributes of food or drinks. Certain aspects of Tereno 
feasts were survivals of such ancient ceremonies, though they may 
have degenerated into mere amusements with little ritual significance. 
Hidden in some secret spot, the men painted themselves to conceal 
their identity and pretended to attack the village. The women, in- 
stead of running away, defended themselves in a mock battle. A man, 
painted in black and red, with feathers on his head and covered with 
twigs, entered the village plaza, where he amused the audience by his 
antics. The men also built a temporary house on the plaza which was 
taboo to women. There they disguised themselves with rhea feathers 
and with facial paintings ; then for several successive days they danced 
for hours around the men's house (Rhode, 1885, p. 409) . 

The ancient Mhayd had a similar feast, but the masked person was 
a sturdy girl who smeared her face with charcoal and covered herself 
with branches. A group of naked boys surrounded her and, despite 
the opposition of the village girls, attempted to strip her of her foliage 
outfit. When finally they caught her, they took her to a river to wash 
her face. Such games were played in honor of the chiefs, who after- 
ward appeared masked with boughs. 

Tfie Andposo feast of the Chamacoco. — The Anaposi) feast is cele- 
brated at the end of the initiation in which the young men are taught 
the lore of the band and told that the spirits which they have previ- 
ously greatly feared are only masked men. 

As soon as the date of the feast is fixed, the men open a circular 
clearing in the forest, some 60 feet (18 m.) in diameter, which is ap- 


preached by a narrow, winding path. Opposite the path, an avenue, 
9 to 11 feet (2.5 to 3.5 m.) wide, runs a short distance into the bush. 
A tall tree surrounded by underbrush stands in the center of the plaza. 
For 5 or 6 days the feast is heralded by the shrill and distant voice of a 
spirit which is heard in the village at dusk. The first night only a 
shaman answers the call ; on the following night more and more people 
sing and rattle their gourds to invoke the mysterious visitor. On the 
7th or 8th day, the men go to the dance ground and post a sentry on the 
path. The women go some distance from the village and sit under the 
guard of young uninitiated boys, who prevent their walking into the 
forest. Every woman knows that too much curiosity may be fatal. 

On the dance ground men stand by large fires, where they sing and 
shake their rattles. The fastest runner circles the central tree, fol- 
lowed by two men blowing whistles said to be made of a woman's 
bones. A line of young and old men follow them. Whenever an 
exhausted runner stops to rest, he is derided by the spectators. The 
whistlers are relieved without a single interruption in the alternate 
rhythm of the whistling. Suddenly the call of a spirit sounds at a 
distance. Everybody squats around the fires, except the first three 
runners and a shaman, who starts a chant. The spirit's second call is 
received with shouts, and a man holding a firebrand turns rapidly 
around the tree in the opposite direction to the three runners. 

This wild running around the tree alternates with the spirit's calls 
during this and 3 or 4 successive nights. On the 4th or 5th night, 
everyone paints himself red with white stripes across the chest. Old 
men eat the best morsels of an armadillo and pass the remainder to the 
younger people. During a general silence, the voice of the spirit is 
heard and greeted with shouts of joy. The chief converses with the 
spirit, who is then recognized as the messenger of the Great Anaposo, 
and conveys through him a formal invitation for all the Anaposo to 
dance at the village. The spirit retires, his voice gradually dying 
away. The men dance and shout in joy, while runners continue to 
circle the tree. 

On the following day, the Anaposo formally appear on the village 
plaza. Their impersonators have tightly netted bags pulled over their 
heads and hammocks wrapped around their bodies ; they are profusely 
decorated with feathers, and the bare parts of the body are painted 
red, black, and white. Suddenly shouting, running, and jumping like 
madmen, the Anaposo rush upon the encampment, where they begin 
the dance, always keeping up their shouting. The women hide be- 
hind a wall of mats, mosquito nets, and rags, where they remain 
silent with their backs toward the dancing place. Knowing that the 
sight would bring death, none dares to look. Some even press their 


faces against the ground. It is believed that if the women were ever 
to discover that the spirits are really human beings, the whole tribe 
would perish. (See Metraux, 1943.) 

In some bands, the Anaposo feast has lost much of its sacred 
character. Among the Tvmerehd^ a Chamacoco subtribe, it is merely 
a dance of the clowns, who sing and go through antics. On the last 
day, they remove their masks openly and paint their faces red. 


Every Chaco band has many individuals who are capable of treating 
a sick person or chanting to avert some impending disaster. It is, 
therefore, sometimes difficult to distinguish between a person with a 
smattering of magical arts and a professional shaman. 

Initiation and training. — Among the Lengua^ the profession of 
shaman often runs in a family, but, here as elesewhere, it is not strictly 

In theory, all the power and knowledge of the Mataco shamans come 
from spirits. A spirit abducts the soul of the would-be shaman, 
teaches him the spirit language, and treats him as he will later treat 
his own patients. Among the Toha^ a novice, in order to become a 
fullfledged shaman, must receive a revelation in which he sees a spirit 
who teaches him a new chant. But, in both cases, the candidates also 
observe the manipulations of professionals and learn from them the 
methods and secrets of their calling. 

Before practicing his art, a medicine man must live in solitude, 
wandering aimlessly in the bush or sitting in a tree ; during the period 
of retirement, he observes a rigorous fast, eating only such foods as 
raw dog meat {Toha, Mataco) or toads and snakes {Lengua). The 
diet of the Lengua novice includes little birds plucked alive which 
transmit to him their power of singing. During his apprenticeship, 
the candidate repeats his medicine chant continuously as though im- 
pelled by a superior force. Afterward an old shaman shoots a small 
stick at him which penetrates his body without, however, causing any 
injury {Tdha). This stick is probably the same one which the shaman 
is supposed to shoot into his enemies' bodies. When a Mhayd appren- 
tice shaman, male or female, had acquired proficiency in chanting, all 
the shamans of the community gathered in his hut for 2 days to chant 
special songs while brandishing tufts of rhea feathers. The teachers 
drank at the expense of the disciple, who spent a whole night chanting 
and rattling his gourd to show his skill. 

The Kaskihd novice shamans have to fast for about 3 months before 
practicing. Throughout this period, they endure periods of several 

Vol.1] ethnography OF THE CHACO METRAUX 361 

days of complete abstinence from food and water, followed by brief 
intervals during which they may drink water and eat sweet potatoes.^* 

The training of the Tereno shaman starts in childhood. During 
the last year of training, he must abstain from fresh meat, fat, salt, 
manioc, and fruit. On a certain day the instructor produces from 
his mouth a frog, a small snake, or a tarantula, and gives it to his 
pupil to eat. Finally, the novice must chant at night until a spirit 
reveals itself to him. 

In most Chaco tribes, old women often have medical knowledge 
and are called to treat a sick person. They also know charms and 
dances which prove helpful in many circumstances. But true shamans 
are usually men, except among the Abipon and Tereno, where some 
female "jugglers" seem to have had great influence and were constantly 
active. Among the Mbayd some young girls practiced medicine 
(Sanchez Labrador, 1910-17, 2:32). 

Techniques of the shaman. — A shaman has at his service a familiar 
spirit who performs all the difficult tasks on his behalf and informs 
him of secrets or future events. Lule and Mataco shamans snuff a 
powder made of the seeds of the cebil {Piptadenia macrocarpa) to put 
themselves in a state of mild trance or excitement, when they send 
their souls in the form of yulo birds to the other world. Their meta- 
morphosis is facilitated by blowing a whistle made from the leg bone 
of a yulo. The shaman's soul goes to the land of the spirits or visits 
the Sun, who is a medicine man of great wisdom. If it meets a rival, 
a battle ensues in which the life of one of the contenders is at stake. 

Lengua shamans hypnotize themselves by "sitting in a strained 
position for hours, fixing their gaze upon some distant object'' (Grubb, 
1913, p. 146). In this condition, they are supposed to throw their 
souls out. 

Spirits appeared to the Tereno shaman in the guise of hawks {Her- 
petotheres sp.), which they conjure up by chanting and rattling their 
rattles for a whole night, often with the assistance of their relatives. 
Familiar spirits sometimes took the appearance of jaguars {Mhayd). 

The curing function of the shaman. — In native eyes the main 
function of shamans is to cure sick people. There are two theories 

'< Additional details on tlie Kafikihd shaman's initiation rites are given by Hassler 
(1894, pp. 356-67), -who unfortunately is not reliable. The profession is hereditary in 
the male line. To consecrate his son, a shaman builds a special cabin, in each corner of 
which he places a small pot containing herbs soaked in water. The decoction varies with 
the points of the horizon. During 5 days, the hut is taboo to all except the father. Then 
the son is taken inside amidst the howls of women. He finds a ceremonial vessel made 
according to strict rules. The father pours out the contents of the pots, beginning with 
the one in the east corner. The novice drinks the fermented and ill-smelling beverage, 
and his father breaks the ceremonial vessel on his head. The candidate then retires for 
several days in the new hut and observes a strict fast. The power of the shaman resides 
partly in his saliva impregnated with the magic force of the beverage he has absorbed as 
a novice. Those who specialize in curing serpent bites suck a serpent and eat raw slices 
of its flesh. 


about the nature of diseases : they may be caused by the intrusion of 
some object or animal into a person, or by the loss of the soul. Spirits 
acting either of their own accord or through the will of some witch are 
held responsible for the presence of pathogenic substances in the 
patient's body. Some Indians even believe that the pathogenic objects 
or animals are transformed spirits. For instance, when a person is 
bitten by a snake, the spirit of the snake enters the body, but it is con- 
ceived to turn then into an actual serpent {Pilagd). The Lengua, 
Tereno^ and Mataco ascribe their ailments to the presence in the body 
of spirits in the form of snakes, rats, goats, kittens, or beetles. The 
Lengua fear a beetle flying by because it is regarded as the material- 
ization of the evil which the shaman extracts from his patients' bodies. 

The view that diseases are caused by the kidnapping of the soul by 
some demon or spirit occurs simultaneously with the intrusion theory 
among the Toha^ Lengua, Mbayd, Tereno, and probably other Chaco 

Some diseases and accidents are attributed to the violation of a taboo 
by the victim or his relatives. The Mocovi traced any infant's ailment 
to an imprudence of the father, who might, for instance, have eaten 
tabooed food. 

If disease is caused by an intrusion, the shaman, in order to remove 
the pathogenic substance, proceeds in the following way: He blows 
(pi. 73) and spits on the patient and chants monotonously in rising 
and falling tones. The chant has no words, although the shaman may 
order the evil to go away.°^ The blowing is followed by violent suction 
which often draws blood. Some Toha shamans scratch the ailing re- 
gion with a knife or with a small board engraved with designs pur- 
ported to represent a person (Ducci, 1904, p. 173). The shaman, 
contracting the muscles of his face, acts as if he will vomit, and spits 
out mucus, which he may claim to be fragments of the object or animal 
that he has removed from the patient. Often he exhibits a beetle, a 
piece of wood, or a pebble, which he pretends to have extracted. Among 
the Lengua, the shaman announces in a special chant that the intruding 
spirit has been cast out and that it is, therefore, safe for the absent soul 
to return (Grubb, 1913, p. 134). 

If the disease is the consequence of soul loss, the shaman sends his 
familiar spirit or his own soul to discover its whereabouts and to 
rescue it. 

The Mhayd shaman cured sick people in a round enclosure made of 
mats, which nobody could enter lest he lose his sight or his life. He 
chanted, shaking his rattle, then became silent, when his soul went to 

w Payagud shamans, naked except for a rope around the neck, began their treatment by 
smoking tol)aceo In a long pipe, then proceeded to frighten off the disease by a variety of 
sounds from a trumpet made of two halved calabashes sewn together. The cure subse- 
quently followed the usual pattern. 


the cemetery to bring his patient's soul back. Sometimes he might 
declare that his own soul was wandering through the bush in search 
of the vagabond soul. After the quest, he always sucked the patient's 
body and spat out objects, which he buried in a hole. When extracting 
foreign bodies, shamans pressed heavily on the patient's stomach with 
their fists. During the whole treatment the patient was not allowed 
to open his eyes. 

If, during the search for the wandering soul, the Mlayd shaman 
saw it mounted on a horse, he knew the case to be hopeless and aban- 
doned the patient to his fate. Nevertheless, he generally asked the 
relatives to pay him, though, infuriated by his failure, they might 
pelt him with firebrands instead. When resentment against an un- 
successful shaman was great, he often joined some other band lest he 
be murdered by his patients' kinfolk. 

The Tumerehd blame illness on the sun. Their shamans treat a 
sick person by spitting in their hands and rubbing the ailing parts 
of the patient's body. The cure is accompanied by chants and dances, 
in imitation of the voice and behavior of animals which are regarded as 
demons (Baldus, 1931 a, p. 89). 

Other functions of the shamans. — An important duty of shamans 
is to protect their band by chanting and shaking their rattles at night 
when there is a danger from the supernatural world. 

Wlien the Ahipon sensed impending danger, they consulted their 
female shamans, who gathered in a hut and spent the night beating 
two large drums and muttering incantations, accompanied by a con- 
tinual motion of the feet and arms. The next day, the singers re- 
ceived presents, and were anxiously asked what the spirit had said 
(Dobrizhoffer, 1784, 2:83). Wlien a storm arose, Mhayd shamans 
chanted, shook their rattles, and blew at the clouds to disperse them. 
Lengua shamans provoked rain by tossing the blood of a certain kind 
of duck upward. Mhayd^ Lule, and Mataco shamans dispatched their 
souls to the sky to bring back rain. 

Shamans also can learn about the future by traveling at night to 
the land of the spirits. Mataco medicine men send their souls to the 
Sun for the same purpose, but the journey is perilous, as the Sun, 
a great Cannibal, does not wish to be bothered by visitors. He 
places in the shamans' way various traps which they must avoid before 
they can come near him. Yet, if they succeed, the Sun is ready to 
answer all their queries. 

Formerly, when a Mhayd, Ahipon, Toha, or Mataco shaman wished 
to consult a spirit — among the Ahipon, the soul of a relative — he crept 
under a blanket, shook his rattle, and muttered incantations. After 
a while he trembled and felt a shock, which was unmistakable evidence 
that a spirit had arrived. The shaman then conversed with the spirit, 
who answered in a characteristically shrill voice. 


Mhayd shamans not only could forsee future events, but by their 
magic they could prevent their realization. Thus, they could forestall 
diseases, wars, and famines that might have destroyed their people. 
Shamans among the Gnaicimmn-ST^^dkmg tribes accompanied military 
expeditions and by their charms brought victory to their party. They 
were credited with power to kill their enemies merely by blowing at 
them. When a Mhayd band traveled, the shamans chanted every night 
to insure the success of the journey. 

Influence and prestige of shamans. — The influence of the shamans 
on their community is often considerable, and now and then they 
become the actual leaders of the band. On the other hand, chiefs are 
often shamans. Some shamans perform miracles to increase their 
prestige. Lengua medicine men claimed to be able to eat a very 
poisonous root without feeling any ill effect. By simple tricks, they 
made the Indians believe that they could spit seeds which promptly 
developed into full-grown ripe pumpkins. 

Tereno shamans knew many sleight-of-hand tricks : They extracted 
feathers from their nose ; swallowed arrows ; and pretended to remove 
a limb, arm or leg, which they later replaced. They also were serpent 
charmers. Mataco shamans walk on hot ashes without suffering harm. 

The Abipon, fearing vengeance, accounted it a crime to contradict 
their shamans' words or to oppose their desires or commands. 
Throughout the Chaco, shamans derive substantial benefits from their 
profession. After an expedition, the AMpon awarded the shaman 
who had accompanied them the best part of the spoils. Dobrizhoffer 
(1874, 2:87) remarks that medicine men "had plenty of excellent 
horses, and domestic furniture superior to that of the rest." Toha 
shamans insist that their clients pay them speedily on the ground that 
if they are remiss, the offended spirit will punish both the doctor and 
his patient. 

Witchcraft. — There is in the Chaco great fear of sorcery, which is 
held responsible for most evils. The Abipon told Dobrizhoffer that if 
it were not for sorcerers, people would probably live forever. Even 
such accidents as snake bites and violent death at the hands of enemies 
are often regarded as the work of some ill-disposed shaman. 

Sorcery follows the common pattern of imitative and contagious 
magic: the sorcerer secures some exuviae of the person he wishes to 
harm and subjects them to manipulations symbolic of the fate he 
wishes to bring upon his victim. Even Christianized Mataco are re- 
luctant to give up specimens of their hair lest they be bewitched. Few 
Indians, even those familiar with civilization, will allow a stranger 
to take their pictures, since they believe these may become the instru- 
ment of their ruin. 


Sorcerers may cause disease or death by shooting their enemies 
with invisible sticks or thorns, which they keep inside their own 
bodies (Ashluslay, Toha). A charm or spell suffices to direct the 
missile against the victim. 

The shamans are said to have the power of changing themselves into 
jaguars in order to attack and devour people. Only a few years ago, 
a Pilagd Indian in Sombrero Negro made several attempts to turn him- 
self into a jaguar, hoping to avenge his grievance against one of the 
local chiefs. He painted his body with black stripes, and pranced 
around his hut roaring and shouting, "I am a jaguar." He pounced 
upon his enemy like a jaguar, and some people even maintained that 
his nails had turned into claws. 

Similar scenes were witnessed by Dobrizhoffer (1784, 1 : 87) : 

When these bugbears think anyone inimical or injurious to them, they will 
threaten to change themselves into a tiger and tear every one of their fellow men 
to pieces. No sooner do they begin to imitate the roaring of a tiger, than all the 
neighbors fly away in every direction. From a distance, however, they hear the 
feigned sound. "Alas ! his whole body is beginning to be covered with tiger spots !" 
cry they. "Look, his nails are growing," the fearstruck women exclaim, although 
they cannot see the rogue, who is concealed within his tent ; but that distracted 
fear presents things to their eyes which have no real existence. 


Extensive collections of Chaco folklore exist only for the Toba and 
tYi^Mataco (Nordenskiold, 1912; Karsten, 1932; Metraux, 1935, 1939, 
1941; Palavecino, 1940). For the other tribes {Lengua^ Chamacoco) 
our information is based on scattered and often fragmentary material. 
(Grubb, 1914; Baldus, 1931 a ; Alarcon y Caiiedo, 1926.) 

Cosmogony. — Many stars and contellations are identified with per- 
sons, animals, or objects which figure in the mythology. Thus the 
Southern Cross and Coalsack nearby represent a fabulous rhea pur- 
sued by two young men, a and ^ Centauri, and by their dogs, a and 
^ Crucis {Mataco^ Toba^ Mocovi) . The Milky Way is a road followed 
by mythical people {Toha)^ or the ashes of a celestial tree which was 
burned down {Mocovi). The Mataco and the Tola see a big yulo bird 
{Tantalus cristatus) in a constellation formed by the Pleiades, the 
Hyades, and the Belt of Orion. To the Toha, the "Tres Marias" (a, e, 
and ^ Orionis) are three old women who live in a large house with a 
garden (Betelguese, Bellatrix, and k Orionis). t, 1 and t, 2 Scorpii 
are two "grandchildren" {Mataco). The Hyades are visualized as 
a chufia bird {Chunga hu/vneisteri). The Toha say the Magellanic 
Clouds are algarroba flour pounded by a Star Woman (Venus) in her 
celestial mortar (Magellanic Clouds) {Toha). (For the star mythol- 


ogy of the Chaco Indians, see Lehmann-Nitsche, 1923 b, c ; 1924-25 a, 
b, d, e;1927.) 

Sun and Moon. — To most Chaco tribes, Sun is a woman and Moon 
a man. Among the Mataco and GhamacoGO., the sun and moon appear 
in tales of the type of the Twin stories, so common in South America. 
Sun is a clever person who succeeds in all his undertakings while 
Moon, always anxious to imitate him, fails and is finally killed. Sun 
calls on Mosquito, who has a beautiful field, and receives manioc and 
other foods from his friend. Moon wants to do likewise but does not 
notice Mosquito, whom he almost tramples to death. Mosquito bites 
Moon, who dies, but Sun resurrects him {Chamacoco). 

Sun fishes for piranha, using his son as a bait. Moon wants to do 
the same, but the piranha eats his child {Chamacoco). 

Sun catches ducks by changing himself into a duck. Moon uses the 
the same stratagem, but is detected and scratched by the infuriated 
birds, hence the spots on the Moon {Mataco). 

Eclipses. — As a rule, eclipses are interpreted as attacks on the Moon 
or the Sun by a celestial jaguar {Toha., Ahipon, Mocovi, Mataco, 
Vilela). The ancient Lule believed that the phenomenon was caused 
by a large bird which hid the Sun with his wings. 

Meteoric phenomena. — Like many North American tribes, the 
ChoTOti, Lengua^ and Ashluslay hold that thunder is produced by 
mythical birds. According to the Ashluslay, thunder is their cry and 
lightning the fire which they drop over the earth. 

In Toha lore, the thunderbolt is an old hairy woman who falls during 
a storm and can return to the sky only in the smoke of a fire kindled 
by a friendly passerby. 

The Mataco, Toha, and Chamacoco speak of Eain as a person (a 
spirit) who rides across the sky. The Chamacoco see clouds as large 
birds full of water, but also believe that rainfall depends on the good- 
will of spirits who guard a big celestial jar full of water. The Ash- 
luslay say that rain is produced by the Thunderbirds, who in their 
anger open a celestial container full of water; and that the rainbow 
is a huge serpent. 

The Universe. — Many Chaco Indians describe the universe as 
formed of many superimposed layers. The Mataco divide it into three 
strata : the sky, the earth, and the underworld. The Chamacoco dis- 
tinguish seven skies or layers, five above our earth and two below, each 
of which corresponds to a different color. 

The Mocovi, Toha, Mataco, and Chamacoco have a myth about a 
gigantic tree which once connected the sky and the earth and by which 
the men of this earth climbed to hunt in the world above. Finally, a 
vengeful woman — in some versions a man — burned the tree. The 
people who remained in the sky were changed into the Pleiades 


At the end of the earth there is an unextinguishable fire (Mbayd, 
Mataco ) , which the Mataco associate with the fire spirits. These spirits 
once set fire to the world to take revenge on the honiero bird {Fur- 
narius rufus)^ who could not conceal his merriment when he saw fire 
issuing from their buttocks during a dance. 

Creation myth. — The Lengiia attribute the creation of the Universe 
to an enormous beetle. First he caused evil spirits to come out from 
under the earth and then produced a man and a woman from the 
"grains of soil he had thrown away." The first couple was glued 
together until Beetle separated them. 

The ancient Mhayd had three different versions of the origin of man- 
kind: (1) Men lived underground; a dog scented their presence and 
dug them out. This motif is still remembered by modern Oaduveo. 
(2) The first men were hatched by a large bird which nested in a big 
hole on top of a mountain. (3) Mankind originated in a large pit, 
located in the north. 

The Tereno tell of two mythical brothers who were catching birds 
in a trap. Following the bloody tracks of some which escaped, they 
arrived at a hole leading far down into the earth. Then out of this 
hole the Tereno came, blinded by the sunlight and shivering with cold 
(Hay, 1928, p. 124). 

In a myth common to both the Toha and Mataco^ women are said 
to have come from the sky. They climbed down by a rope in order 
to steal the food of men, who then were animals. A bird cut the 
rope and the women were obliged to remain here. Men could not 
have access to them until Carancho, the culture hero, broke their 
vaginal teeth. 

The first Chamacoco were imprisoned in a quebracho tree so huge 
that they could play a ball game in it. A man cleaved the trunk, 
thus allowing mankind to emerge. 

Cataclysms. — According to Chaco mythology, four different 
cataclysms destroyed the world: (1) A flood was caused by a men- 
struating girl who went for water and thus offended a water python 
(Rainbow) {Toha^ Mataco^ Lengua). (2) A big fire started by the 
fall of Sun consumed the world. (3) A wave of cold killed all the 
people. (4) Absolute darkness sat upon the earth for a whole year. 
As a result of each catastrophe some people were transformed into 
birds and animals ( Toha, Mocovi, Mataco, Choroti) . 

Origin of fire. — Rabbit is represented either as the jealous guardian 
of fire who was robbed by Hummingbird (Toha), or as the hero who 
stole it from jaguar, its former owner (Mataco). Rabbit is also 
the inventor of the fire drill, but it is Carancho who taught men how 
to use it {Kashihd). 

According to the Ashluslay, fire was formerly the property of the 
Thunder Birds, who had been hatched from hummingbird eggs. 


Men discovered the properties of fire when they tasted a snail the 
birds roasted. The Thunder Birds resented men's discovery so much 
that they have since been their worst enemies. They terrify them 
with their cries (thunder), produce sparks with their wings (light- 
ning), and throw thunderbolts at men and tall trees. Fire was a 
gift from Carancho to the Chamacoco. The culture hero received it 
from Owl. 

The culture hero. — The culture hero is an outstanding figure in 
Toha folklore, in which he is identified with Carancho, a hawk (cara- 
cara) {Polyhoi^s plancus), common in the Chaco. He is, above 
all, the exterminator of cruel and evil people; for instance, he kills 
the man with the sharpened leg, the man-eating bird, and the monster 
who catches people in a trap. His actual contributions to culture are 
few, though he showed men how to make and use the fire drill, how 
to treat the sick, and how to hunt game. In many a story, Carancho 
appears together with Fox, the Trickster; the pattern of their com- 
mon adventures corresponds to that of the cycles of the Mythical 
Twins, found in much other South American folklore. Carancho 
plays the wise and clever brother, Fox the stupid and mischievous 
one. Carancho was also a culture hero to the Mhayci and the Kaskihd. 

Other mythical characters helped mankind in their struggle for 
life : Thus, in Toha folklore, Kosodot, the little man, taught men how 
to hunt, and his wife, Kopilitara, showed women how to make pots; 
Spider was the first weaver. 

The transformers. — In many South American mythologies, one 
of the culture hero's main functions is to transform animals and men 
into new shapes. In Toba folklore, Carancho sometimes assumes that 
role, but the Transformer, par excellence, is Nedamik, an aquatic bird. 

Wondermakers. — The wondermakers are legendary characters en- 
dowed with great magic power. They usually appear as children or 
abused persons who later prove their mettle and punish their offenders. 
The Asin of the Toba is a bald, big-bellied individual who turns out 
to be a great warrior and a man capable of producing food from under 
his skin robe. The Child-born-in-a-pot, thanks to his miraculous 
arrow, becomes a famous hunter and fisherman {Toha^ Mataco). 

Trickster. — The trickster is a favorite character of Toha and 
Mataco folklore. Among the former, he is personified by Fox ; among 
the latter by a man, Tawk'^wax. In both tribes he is a most colorful 
creature, greedy, lewd, boastful, and easily fooled. Out of bad temper 
or to satisfy his vanity, he throws himself into countless adventures. 
Invariably he is made into a public laughing stock or dies an unpleas- 
ant death. The trickster is responsible for several unhappy features 
of our world; for instance, he made the snake venomo^is, he immo- 
bilized fruit trees which formerly responded to the call of men, he 


created the stingray, and he caused a flood by shooting the fish in 
the big yuchan tree {Chorisia insignis). 

Spirits.— Spirits and ghosts sometimes appear as the protagonists 
in Chaco folklore, but, judging from our available material, they seem 
to figure less prominently in the oral literature of the area than they 
do in other regions of South America; for instance, in the Amazon 
Basin. Spirits are represented as people who live like men, though 
they are distinct from them in many respects. They are eager to marry 
or kidnap the men and women of this world. According to Lengua 
folklore, the golden age ended when a girl responded to the call of a 
tree spirit ( Alarcon y Caiiedo, 1924, p. 76) . A Mataco was kidnapped 
by the Inhabitants-of-the-earth, and married one of them. From his 
wife he received an eyelash which enabled him to see in the dark. 

Animal stories. — Animal stories are very popular, but in most 
cases are interwoven with the adventures of the culture hero or of the 

The themes of Chaco folklore. — Many folkloric themes which 
occur in the Chaco have a wide distribution in South America. For 
instance, there is the story of the girl who is made pregnant by magical 
means and of her baby who picks out his disguised father from a crowd 
by handing him a bow. The theme of the Tree of Life, which is so 
common in the Guianas and which also occurs among the Arawakan 
Cham, may have inspired the story of the huge yuchan tree {Chorisia 
insignis) full of fish. The people of old might shoot the fish which 
swam in the tree, provided they did not harm the big ones. The trick- 
ster, ignoring their warnings, struck a big dorado fish with his arrow, 
and caused it to break the tree with its tail. The world was flooded, 
but Trickster stopped the water by sticking his spear into the ground. 
He then led the water to the sea (Mataco, Ashluslay). 

The story of the man who marries a star and then dies in the sky is 
extremely popular in the Chaco. Like many other themes, it offers 
an interesting parallel with North American mythology. Likewise 
the tale of the woman who mates with a dog {Choroti, Mataco, Chama- 
coco) suggests a well-known Arctic myth. 

The coexistence within a tribe of different stories based on a single 
fundamental theme, such as the theft of fire, indicates that folklore 
motifs, like so many material traits, reached the Chaco from various 
culture areas. Yet Chaco myths, as a whole, have little in common 
with those of the Amazon Basin, and seem not to have been much 
influenced by Chiriguano folklore. 

Although the Andean folklore is still imperfectly known, it is not 
unlikely that it has many themes which also occur in the Chaco. The 
importance of Fox among the Quechita and Aymara also points to the 
Andes as the possible source of many Chaco folkloric motifs. 

583486—46 24 



Adam, 1899; Aguirre. 1911; A1arc6n y Cafiedo, 1924; Almeida, 1845, 1850 
Ambrosetti, 1894 a; Araerlan, 1882; Arfioz. 1884; Arenales, 1833; Arias, 1837 
Arnott, 1934 a, 1934 b, 1935; Azara. 1809, 1904; Bach, 1916; Baklrich, 1889, 1890 
Baldus, 1927, 1931 a, 1931 b, 1932, 1937 a, 1937 b, 1939; Barcena, 1885, 1893 
Barco Centenera, 1936; Bflrzana, see Bflrcena ; Baucke, 1870, 1908, 1935, 1942-43 
Belaieff, 1930, 1931, 1934, 1937, 1940, 1941 ; Boggiani, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1897, 1898-99, 
1900 a, 1900 b, 1929 ; Boraan, 1908 ; Brinton, 1898 ; Cabrera, P., 1911 ; Camafio y 
BazSn, 1931 ; Campana, 1902 a, 1902 b, 1903, 1913 ; Campos, 1888 ; Canals Frau, 
1940 b ; Cardiel, 1915 ; Cardfis, 1886 ; Carranza, 1900 ; Cartas Anuas de la Provincia 
del Paraguay, 1927-29; Castelnau, 1850-59; Charlevoix, 1757; Chom4, 1819; 
Clark, 1937; Colinl, 1895; Comentarijos de Alvar Nuuez Cabeza de Vaca, see 
Hernfindez, 1852; Cominges, 1892; Cornejo, 1836, 1837; Corrado, 1884; Coryn, 
1922 ; Debret, 1940 ; Demersay, 1860-64 ; Dfaz de Guzmftn, 1914 ; Die Payaguas, 
1878; Dobrizhoffer, 1783-84; 1784; Domfnguez, 1904, 1925; Ducci, 1904, 1905, 
1911-12; Elliot, 1S70; Feick, 1917; Fernfindez, 1895; Fontana, 1881; Fri?, 1906 a, 
1906 b, 1906 c, 1909, 1913; Ftirlong Cardiff, 1938 b, 1938 c, 1939, 1941; Gandla, 
1929; Giglloli, 1889; Grubb, 1904, 1913, 1914; Guevara, 1908-10; Hassler, 1894; 
Hawtrey, 1901 ; Hay, 1928 ; Haze, 1819 ; Henry, J., 1940 ; Henry, J., and Henry, Z., 
1940, 1944; Hernandez, 1852; Herrmann, 1908; Hervfis, 1800-1805; Host, 1874; 
Hunt, 1913, 1915, 1937, 1940; Huonder, 1902; Hutchinson, 1865; Izikowitz, 1935; 
Jolis, 1789 ; Kamprad, 1935 ; Kai-sten, 1913, 1923, 1932 ; Kersten, 1905 ; Kobler, see 
Baucke, 1870 ; Koch-Grunberg, 1900, 1902 a, 1902 b, 1903 a, 1903 b ; Krieg, 1934, 1939 ; 
Kysela, 1931; Lafone-Quevedo, 1893 (see Bdrcena and Tavolini), 1894, 1895 a, 
1895 b, 1896 a, 1896 b, 1896 c, 1896 d, 1897 b, 1899, 1911 ; Lehmann-Nitsche, 1904, 
1908 b, 1910-11, 1923 b, 1923 c, 1924-25 a, 1924-25 b, 1924-25 c, 1924-25 d, 1924-25 e, 
1927, 1936; Lettres ^diflantes et curieuses, 1819, see Haze; L^vi-Strauss, 1942; 
Lizrirraga, 1909 ; Lothrop, 1929 ; Loukotka, 1929, 1930, 1931 a, 1931 b, 1933 ; Loznno, 
1873-74, 1941 ; Macheni de Cerdena, 1732; Manizer, 19^4 ; MJlrquez Miranda, 1942; 
Martin de Moussy, 1860-64 ; Massei, see Lafone-Quevedo, 1895 b ; Matorras, 1837 ; 
Medina, 1908 a ; M^traux, 1935, 1937, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942 ; Milldn, 1932 ; Moreno, 
1921, 1929 ; Morillo, 1837 ; Moure, 1862 ; Muriel, 1918 ; Nino, 1912, 1913 ; Norden- 
skiold, 1902-03, 1908, 1910 a, 1910 b, 1910 c, 1910 d, 1912, 1919, 1925, 1931; 
Nusser-Asport, 1897 ; Oefner, 1942 ; Olmos, 1929 ; D'Orbigny, 1835-47 ; Outes, 1915 ; 
Oviedo y Vald^s, 1851-55 ; Palavecino, 1928 a, 1928 b, 1930, 1931, 1933 a, 1933 b, 

1935 a, 1935 b, 1936, 1939, 1940 ; Pape, 1935 ; Pardal, 1937 ; Parodi, 1935 ; Pastells, 
1912; Paucke, see Baucke; Pelleschi, 1881, 1886, 1896; Pires de Campos, 1862; 
Pittini, see AlarcSn y CaSedo, 1924; Prado, 1839; Pride, 1926; Radin, 1906; 
Relaciones geogrfiflcas de Indias, 1881-97; Remedi, 1896, 1904; Rengger, 1835; 
Rhode, 1885 ; Rivasseau, 1941 ; Rivet, 1924 ; Rosen, 1904, 1924 ; Ryd6n, 1933, 1935 ; 
Sanchez Labrador, 1910-17 ; Schmidel, 1903, 1938 ; Schmidt, M., 1903, 1918, 1936 a, 

1936 b, 1937 a, 1937 b, 1937 c, 1938 ; Schmidt, W., 1926 ; Serrano, 1938 a, 1940 e ; 
Steinen, 1894, 1985, 1901 a; Taunay, 1913; Tavolini, 1893; Techo, 1673, 1S97; 
Tolten, 1934 ; Tommasini, 1937 ; Vellard, 1934 ; Vervoort, 1932 ; Wavrin, 1926. 


By Juan Belaieff 


The modern history of the eastern Chaco begins in 1907, when most 
of the country was sold as private property. The tanning industry 
soon appeared in Galileo, Pinasco, Casado, Sastre, Talavera, and 
Guarany, and the margin of the Paraguay Chaco was opened to herds- 
men and their cattle (map 1, No. 5; map 5). 

Previously, the missionaries had penetrated the untrodden parts of 
the Chaco. An English mission was established at Caraya Vuelta 
near Confuso. Just before the Chaco war, Catholic missions, author- 
ized by the Bolivian Government, appeared in Esteros and Escalante, 
and a Salesian mission on the banks of Napegue I. 

There were three mission centers : The first had about 300 Paisiapto- 
Lengua and some San