Foto: Maria Cristina Troncarelli, 2000


  • Other names
  • Where they are How many

    MT258 (Siasi/Sesai, 2014)
  • Linguistic family

The Trumai and the Upper Xingu


Before migrating to the Xingu, the Trumai say that they slept on mats (weset); they utilized the arrow propeller and (hopep) and the club (nai)as weapons. The men tied up their penises with embira and wore their hair long; the women used a band around the waist which passed between their legs (which was called tsapakuru and was made of desnit, a type of embira). After their arrival on the upper Xingu, the Trumai began to incorporate habits which were common to the peoples of the area, such as the use of bows and arrows and sleeping in hammocks. The term used for hammock is a neologism which probably was coined after they had contact with this object: esa-k ("that which dances"), referring to the fact that the hammock "dances" when it swings back and forth. The women substituted the traditional band for the uluri belt (or g-string) and the men began to cut their hair and adorn their bodies in the same way as the other upper Xingu peoples. They also incorporated various aspects of mythology and local festivities and, at the same time, they taught several of their traditions to other groups. For example, it was the Trumai who brought to the Xingu the Jawari and Tawarawan' festivals.

Although they have incroporated various upper Xingu cultural patterns, the Trumai preserve certain peculiarities which still differentiate them from the other peoples of this area. For example, they usually don't participate in the Kwarup and consume foods which are prohibited to the upper Xinguans, such as capybara and coati. Other peoples of the region see this custom as proof of the aggressive character of the Trumai.

Besides this, in the songs of the Jawari ritual, there is a notable presence of various game animals, such as the jaguar, wildcat, monkeys, etc. In Trumai zoological taxonomy, the world of the animals is divided into two groups: those "of the air" - mammals and birds: kodetl - and those of the water - the fish: k´ate. In most of the Jawari songs, birds, felines, and various mammals "sing" in their own name, which characterizes a society that is traditionally focused on hunting and not fishing. In contrast, the Kwarup of the peoples of the upper Xingu monopolizes the entities of the waters, particularly in body painting.

The specialization of the Trumai at the moment of their entrance to the upper Xingu seems to have been the production of salt (jakyr) out of aquatic leaves and a monopoly over the supply of stone axes (daka), either through the making of these axes, or through the deposit for extraction of the materials used in their making. However, the stone axes were later substituted for metal axes. The Trumai were also suppliers of cotton, pequi fruit and pequi oil.