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Nature volume 130, pages 477479 (24 September 1932) | Download Citation



Indians of Matto Grosso, Brazil.—Ethnographical and archæological results of an expedition through Matto Grosso, Brazil, to the head waters of the Xingu River in 1931 are described by Mr. V. Petrullo in the Museum Journal (Philadelphia), vol. 23, pt. 2. A number of tribes were visited, of which one, the Tsuva, had not previously been recorded, while three, the Kalapalu, the Kuikutl, and the Naravute, had not been described. At the head waters of the Xingu, although three widely distributed linguistic stocks are represented and they are surrounded by a fourth, no appreciable difference of material culture is to be observed. The villages are composed of a few houses around a clearing. The men's house is of inferior construction, and although it is the men's meeting place, it is not used for sleeping. It serves for ceremonial uses and for the entertainment of guests only, while the men of the village sleep in their own family dwellings. Usually several families live in one dwelling; and a young man on marriage lives in the house of the bride's father until he is in a position to build a house for himself. Women are the authoritative persons of the village. Inheritance and descent proceed through them; and although the men deal with strangers, the women must be consulted and their concurrence obtained before any arrangement may be concluded. Marriage is monogamous, but only as a matter of practical and economic convenience. Headmen sometimes have two wives. Most of the groups cultivate nothing but manioc, though some have maize. The Yawalapiti keep maize effigies suspended from the rafters of their huts. These are made of an ear of maize embellished with legs, arms, a skirt, and a painted visage. Some images are in the form of birds. In one village a harpy eagle was kept in a conical structure, and every man had to share with it the proceeds of his hunting or fishing, receiving in return a feather when its plumage was ceremonially plucked.

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