The Yawalapiti Tribe

The Yawalapiti tribe, population 156; a happy, beautiful, healthy, loving, and peaceful tribe.

It was first contacted by the German anthropologist Karl von den Steinen in 1887. They separated among various tribes and now live in the Mato Grosso region of the Xingu National Park.

Yawalapiti use weapons only for fishing, which is accomplished in lagoons. Land mammals are considered sub-spirits and are therefore deemed unfit to eat. Their main protein source is fish and fowl and not surprising they all have healthy teeth and bones. Yawalapiti meals also include jacu, curassow, macuco, and doves. Monkeys are also occasionally eaten.

They supplement their diet with manioc (jucca family), which is consumed as bread and flat cakes. Manioc is planted by men, when mature women will pull up the roots, skillfully squeeze out the cyanide poison, and prepare the manioc.

Women fetch the water for the village; they spin cotton, weave hammocks, prepare dye used in body ornaments (no tattooes or piercings) and make ceramics that are traded between villages. Men build houses, make baskets, ceremonial instruments and take care of all the woodwork.

The relations based on the sharing of physical substance, established through procreation, are very important in forming social groups and categories. Thus, parents, children, and brothers/sisters (but not spouses) are connected throughout their lives. Because siblings share ties of genetics, they are affected by what occurs in each other’s bodies.

The Yawalapiti never hit their children. They believe this will not enforce better behavior. On the contrary, they think it will lead to violent behavior. Homosexual activities, rapes or any violence are unknown. Marrying between relatives is taboo. During the marriage ceremony, the girl’s bangs are cut to her eyebrows after they have grown out to symbolize her new vision of the world as a responsible adult. Marriages are usually arranged before a girl is three. There is no evidence for conflict of interest over these arrangements.

Women bathe separately from men, except when with husbands or close family . There is a house that is in the center of the plaza that is specifically where the sacred flutes are hidden. The men talk on the benches in front and they paint themselves for ceremonies. They sleep in hammocks, using buriti fibers that the women weave.

They believe that the creation of humans came by Kwamuty, who blew tobacco smoke over wooden logs, bringing them to life. He created women, and the mother of Sun and Moon.

The Yawalapiti are known for sexual expressions and for playing flutes. Women are permitted to hear the flutes, but prohibited from seeing them. Therefore, they are stored in the men’s house.The yawalapiti also do sportive wrestling matches between villages, known as huka huka.

One Response to The Yawalapiti Tribe

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