Foto: Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, 1991

Araweté

  • Autodenominação
    Bïde
  • Where they are How many

    PA467 (Siasi/Sesai, 2014)
  • Linguistic family
    Tupi-Guarani

Material culture

arawete_15

The Araweté possess a very simple material culture within the Tupi-Guarani horizon. This can be partially explained by their state of constant alert and flight from foes in the past few decades and partially by contact trauma. In its simplicity itself, the material culture of the Araweté does not allow for approximation to any other particular Tupi-Guarani group. The absolute prevalence of maize cultivation compared to cassava also sets the Araweté apart from other Amazonian Tupi-Guarani.

The men carry a thick beard, which they grow in a goatee; they go naked except for a length of string tied to their foreskins. The women wear an outfit made of four tube-like pieces (waistband, skirt, an armsling-blouse and a headcloth) woven from native cotton and dyed with urucum. They wear earrings made from arara feathers fashioned in flower-like arrangements, pendantifs of iñã beadstrings, as well as necklaces made of the same bead. The men wear the selfsame earrings, however shorter.

Their hair is cut straight across the forehead to the ears, whence it grows to the back of the neck of the men and the shoulder blades of the women.The basic color and dye of the Araweté is the blood-red urucum, with which they cover their hair and bodies, anointing themselves uniformly. They may, however, draw a single horizontal line across their faces at the eyebrow level; one along their noses and one line each from their ears to the corner of their mouths. This pattern is also used in their festive decoration, when it is drawn in perfumed resin and covered with the minuscule bright blue plumage of the cotinga bird. The harpy’s plumes are glued to their hair.