Foto: Miltom Guran, 1978

Kamaiurá

  • Other names
    Kamayurá
  • Where they are How many

    MT467 (Ipeax, 2011)
  • Linguistic family
    Tupi-Guarani

Social organization

kamaiura_11

The Kamaiurá village is formed by a group of houses, each of which is occupied by a domestic group comprised of a core of brothers, to which are added parallel cousins and eventual members of ascending generations. The leader of this domestic group is the “owner of the house”, morerekwat, who coordinates productive activities and other daily tasks that include the participation of all the nuclear families.

Ideally, residence rules define that in the first years of marriage, the husband should live in the house of his wife’s parents, paying through his services for the concession of their daughter. Having completed this period, the married couple can choose a new residence, which is generally the husband’s house of origin. This rule does not apply to the house-owners, the leader of the village (morerekwaratuwiap) or to those who are already married with another woman. In these situations, the wife from the beginning goes to live in the house of her husband and payment is made with goods. Preferential marriage is, ideally, between cross-cousins. The tie between the houses is established through alliances established by marriages and by common support to the leader of the village.

The formation of the Kamaiurá person implies a period of seclusion at puberty. In the case of the men, they receive systematic instruction on the techniques of male labor. The young man learns how to tie the feather onto the arrow, to make a comb, to weave a basket and to make a feather-crown. At the same time, he is regularly trained in huka-huka wrestling. Seclusion is more prolonged for those who are to assume greater social responsibilities in the community, such that possible leaders can extend their period of seclusion for up to five years, interrupted by short periods of leave.

Thus, the longer the seclusion, the greater the benefits for the young man. In the periods of leave that interrupt the times of seclusion, the parents seek to prevent the young man from having sexual experiences, for their energy can be jeopardized. The parents seek to put off initiating their son into sexual life until he has turned into a good wrestler.

Young girls go into seclusion at the time of their first menstruation, at which time they learn to makes mats, weave hammocks and perform female tasks in the preparation of food. Their seclusion does not last more than a year, a period in which she does not cut her hair (with her bangs growing over her eyes). On coming out, she has a new name, is considered an adult and ready for marriage.

In the Kamaiurá life cycle, the Indian is born and receives from the father one of the names of his paternal grandfather; from the mother, the child receives the name of his/her maternal grandfather. In childhood, their ears are pierced and the child receives another pair of names, also from their paternal and maternal grandfathers, which children will keep for the rest of their lives. In adolescence the boy goes into seclusion to come out a man. He marries and works in order to feed his family. He cuts down the forest, plants, fishes, hunts, creates objects. He dances, sings, wrestles. He dies, leaving his names for his future grandchildren. The woman’s life pattern is very similar. She receives her first names which will be replaced at puberty. She marries, has children, works for the family, dances, watches wrestling matches and festivals. On dying, she also passes her names on to her grandchildren.