Collection Description

Brief Culture Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Kogi live in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, in northern Colombia where they cultivate different plots within an area ranging from 500 to 2,500 meters above sea level. Descendents of the Tairona Indians, they offered stiff resistance to Spanish intrusion, but were finally crushed in 1600. Many Kogi have become nominal Catholics, but maintain older religious and cosmological beliefs.


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South America --Northwestern South America



OWC Code


Collection Information

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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in this eHraf collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

The file contains eleven sources, nine of them written by Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff, the leading authority on the Kogi. His writings are based on field work carried out over three decades from 1950 to 1980. His major two-volume ethnography on the Kogi was written in Spanish and covered material culture, economy, social organization, life-cycle, values, religion, mythology, and psycho-cultural patterns (Reichel-Dolmatoff 1949/1950, no. 1; 1951, no. 2). His subsequent work included in the file focuses on specific cultural behavior: funeral ceremony (1974, no. 11); the training of Kogi priests (1976, no. 9); the religious symbolism of the loom (1978, no. 12; 1990, no. 8); environmental adaptation (1982, no. 10); and cosmology (1984, no. 13; 1987, no. 14). The two other sources included in this file are Preuss (1926, no. 4), also on Kogi mythology and religion, and Park ( 1946, no. 5), which is the entry on the Kogi (Cagaba) for the Handbook of South American Indians For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this file, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

This culture summary is from the article "Kogi," by Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff, in the Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Vol. 7. 1994. Johannes Wilbert, ed. Boston, Mass.: G. K. Hall & Co. The synopsis and indexing notes were prepared by Eleanor C. Swanson and Ian Skoggard.

Overview by

Eleanor C. Swanson


Ian Skoggard

Collection Indexing Notes

ALUNA--no exact term in English: pure thought, imagination, human virtue, soul, heart, spirit, sentiment, memory, and passion--577, 774

MAMA--Kogi native priests--793

SEIVAKE--a desired state of innocence and purity to be achieved by leading a "balanced" life--783

SEWA--sacred objects used as "permits" which are dispensed by priests to lay persons and confer rights to specific resources, territory and activities--778, 423

Indexing Notes by

Eleanor C. Swanson


Ian Skoggard

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