Foto: Emerson Guerra, 2005

Naruvotu

  • Other names
  • Where they are How many

    MT81 (Fiorini, 2003)
  • Linguistic family
    Karib

Naming system

Among the Carib of the Upper Xingu each individual possesses at least two names, one inherited from the paternal grandfather or grandmother and the other from the maternal grandfather or grandmother. Hence each father generally calls his son or daughter by one of the names of his parents, while each mother equally calls her children by the names of her own parents. Reflecting the social rules of the Xinguano Caribs in general, a prohibition exists on pronouncing the names of people with whom one establishes kinship ties through marriage, meaning that sons-in-law and daughters-in-law cannot pronounce the names of their parents-in-law. Parents cannot, therefore, use the alternative names for their children that correspond to the names of the parents of the people with whom they are married. There is no agnatic rule (giving preference to paternal descent) in naming: an individual’s identification is determined through gender.

In the Naruvotu naming system, if an individual is male and one of his grandfathers was Naruvotu, he will also be Naruvotu. Likewise if a woman has (or had) at least one Naruvotu grandmother, she too will be Naruvotu. Mixed marriages, therefore, are not enough to eradicate identity, whether Naruvotu or any other.