Foto: André Ricardo, 2007

Kaiabi

  • Other names
    Kawaiwete, Kayabi, Caiabi, Kaiaby, Kajabi, Cajabi
  • Where they are How many

    MT2.202 (Siasi/Sesai, 2012)
  • Linguistic family
    Tupi-Guarani

Subsistence and production of artefacts

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The Kaiabi are a people with a strong agricultural tradition, which was maintained despite their migration to a new territory. Their horticulture is extremely diversified, comprehending dozens of varieties of cultivated plants and a fairly elaborate agricultural system. As among other indigenous groups, the agricultural calendar includes periods of felling and clearance (May and June), burning (August) and planting (September and October). The harvesting periods vary depending on the form of cultivation. There are two basic types of Kaiabi swidden: polyvariety manioc swiddens and polycultural swiddens. Planted almost exclusively in the first are the different varieties of manioc used for the production of flour, bread and porridges. Planted in the polycultural swiddens are various species demanding better soil types (areas of black earth): maize, cotton, peanut, potato, yam, banana, beans, sugarcane, pumpkin and watermelon.

Just like their agriculture, Kaiabi cuisine is highly diversified. The staple diet of manioc flour and fish is complemented by cassava bread plus various drinks and porridges based on manioc, maize, peanut, banana, wild fruits, etc. In the past, game played a more important part in the diet, but the greater sedentarization of the group on the shores of the main rivers, allied, among other factors, with the increased scarcity of certain animal species, contributed to fishing becoming the group's main source of animal protein. The Kaiabi have an elaborate and highly varied material culture. However, the items that most distinguish and identify them are their sieves, apás (a type of sieve) and baskets (woven by men), decorated with a large variety of complex graphic designs, which represent figures from the group's rich cosmology and mythology. The most elaborate artisan work made by women is woven cotton used to make hammocks and slings. Nowadays, the most frequently produced items are collars made from tucum palm, either smooth or decorated with zoomorphic figures, also made by women.