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

Names and marks

Every Kaiabi individual possesses several names, which form a varied personal repertoire. Names are changed throughout life as the person enters new social categories or undergoes life-altering personal experiences. Birth of a first child is one event when the parents' always receive new names. These names may be from ancestors, supernatural beings or be related to some specific event in which the individual was involved. The oldest men of the villages, the child or the shaman, are generally responsible for the transmission of names. In the past, the main moment determining the change of name was participation in war expeditions and, more specifically, the death of an enemy.

Traditionally, all the Kaiabi wore facial tattoos which followed certain basic patterns, different for men and women. These tattoos were primarily made at the start of puberty. Just like names, tattoos served simultaneously as a mechanism of personal and group identity. Also as in the case of names, the death of an enemy was an event marked by the execution of new tattoos.