Foto: Harold Schultz, década de 1950


  • Other names
  • Where they are How many

    MT540 (Siasi/Sesai, 2014)
  • Linguistic family

Population and habitation


Approximately 270 people (from a census by the author made in June 2001) reside in a single circular village (figure 2), with the typical Xinguano system of a central plaza and a house of flutes. Another 63 people live in other localities within the Xingu Indigenous Park (XIP).

The residential units in Piyulaga are slowly breaking with the pattern – frequently cited in the Xinguano literature – involving the cohabitation of the various kin of an extended family and their affines. Of the 17 residences existing in October 2000, 12 were inhabited by one or two couples and their children, while only 5 residences were inhabited by extended families of kin and affines. The rules of uxorilocality (a rule by which the couple lives in the woman’s house after marriage) and virilocality (the couple lives in the man’s house after marriage) exist concomitantly, seemingly without one prevailing other the other.


I conjecture that the increase in houses and the reduced number of residents per house may be related, among many other factors, to the population reduction deriving from the epidemics of the 19th and 20th centuries, and the impact of the technology of metal tools in the ‘subsistence economy.’ Using axes and other metallic objects, two men can join together to clear an area for planting and prepare a swidden sufficiently large for sustaining a small domestic unit of ten to twelve people, including children. It is probably the case that the metallic tools used in agricultural production have interfered significantly in the social organization of the family planting of swiddens. However, there is a contrast between daily subsistence – which perhaps may involve a few co-residents in a single domestic production unit – and the village’s collective efforts to obtain surpluses of food provisions during the large inter and intra-tribal festival cycles. In so far as the relations between technology, production and social organization are concerned, no hypothesis can be corroborated until a detailed study of the Wauja economy is made.