The Guaraní are heterogeneous wide-ranging groups inhabiting sub-tropical regions from the Andes to the Atlantic Ocean. The Guaraní language includes a variety of dialects. In the seventeenth century, Catholic missionaries used the Guaraní language to communicate with indigenous peoples throughout South America's lowlands. The Guaraní migrated out of the Amazon Basin onto the Paraná plateau early in their history. At the time of the Spanish arrival there were over a million Guaraní in small communities throughout South America's southern cone, albeit in the ensuing years that population was greatly reduced.
Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.
South America --Eastern South America
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Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.
The Guaraní file consists of nine documents: two are translations from the Portuguese (Schaden 1962, no. 2, and V. Watson 1944, no. 4); one from the German (Hanke 1956, no. 1); and the remaining six are in English. The time span of coverage for these works ranges from approximately the fifteenth century to the early 1990s. The general focus of the file is rather diffuse ranging from southern Brazil, southern Mato Grosso, Paraguay, and the border areas of Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil. The best general coverage of all Guaraní groups is that found in Métraux (1948, no. 5), which is based on a wide range of secondary source material including many historical records. Schaden's material (1962, no.2) concentrates on the Guaraní subgroups of Mbyá Ñandevá, and Kayová; Hanke (1956, no. 1) and the Watsons (J. Watson, 1952, no. 3; V. Watson, 1944, no. 4; J. Watson, 1945, no. 6), focus their attention on the Cayua (Kaiowá). The specific location of th e Watson's fieldwork centers on the village of Taquapir. The more recent studies by Clastres (1995, no. 7), and Ganson (1994, no. 8), deal primarily with the historical Guaraní population in Paraguay and the mission areas on the borders of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. Reed's work on the Chiripá of Paraguay (1981-1984) is an exploration of the various social and economic factors which has permitted this group to maintain their own distinct culture and society even after many years of contact with the dominant Paraguayan society. Major subject coverage in this file is on acculturation in various forms -- in terms of the Guaraní economy, religion, material culture, community and family structure, music, and folklore (all represented to varying degrees in the works of Hanke, Schaden, and the Watsons).
For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this file, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.
The culture summary was written by Richard Reed in April 1997. The synopsis and indexing notes were written by John Beierle in May 1997. The Human Relations Area Files wishes to acknowledge with thanks the assistance of Richard Reed in the selection of documents for inclusion in the Guaraní file.
ALCALDES -- constables -- category 625
ANGUÊRY -- the soul after death -- category 775
ASSOCIAI[unavailable] DE PARCIALIDADES INDÍGENAS -- category 664
ATS Ý YGUÁ --a part of the soul representing the animal character of the person -- category 774
AYVU -- one of the components of the soul -- category 774
CABILDANTES -- category 632
CABILDO -- town council (introduced by the Spanish); headed by an Indian CORREGIDOR -- category 632
CACICAZGOS -- hereditary chiefdoms -- category 631
CACIQUE -- under Spanish rule, a community head -- category 622
CAPATACES -- Chiripá crew bosses -- category 466
CAPITÃ0 -- captain, chief, leader concerned with civil affairs and appointed by the SERVIÇODEPROTEÇÃO A0S INDIOS -- category 624
CAUDILLOS -- patrons or bosses -- category 466
CONFRADÍAS -- religious brotherhoods -- category 794
COTY-GUAZU -- cloistering of women -- category 562
ENCOMIENDA -- category 466
HECHICERIA -- witchcraft -- category 754
JANGADEROS -- yerba gatherers -- 464, 272
KANGUIJ[unavailable] -- an alcoholic drink made from corn -- category 273
KARAI -- prophets -- category 792
Land without Evil -- categories 772, 775
MARACAS -- calabashes carved in the shape of a human head; also used as musical instruments -- categories 778, 534
MAYORDOMO -- category 624
ÑANDERU (Ñ ANDESY) -- the third level of shamans attained by men and women -- category 756
ÑBO'É -- religious ceremonies -- category 796
ÑEE -- see AYVU
NIMONGARAI -- the most important feast of the Apapocuva-Guaraní -- categories 796, 553
PAÍ (ÑANDERÚ) -- chief / priest, (doctor-sorcerer) -- categories 622, 756
PAJE -- shamans -- category 756
PATRONES -- mestizos who contract for Chiripá labor and buy their products for resale -- categories 563, 439
PORAÉ -- meditative chants; also shamans -- categories 533 and 756
PORAHÊ I -- prayers -- categories 778, 782
REGIDORES -- administrative aides -- category 624
SARGENTOS -- members of the political bureaucracy with military/police powers -- categories 624, 625, 701
TAMOÍ -- religious leaders -- categories 756, 554
TEKOA -- settlements -- category 621
YERBA MATÉ -- a stimulent tea -- category 272
YVYMARANE'Y -- see Land without Evil
YVYRÁÍDJÁ -- assistants to the PAÍ -- category 624