Collection Description

Brief Culture Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Nambicuara are a small group of indigenous people living in the Rio Guaporé valley, Brazil. They earn their living through a combination of slash-and-burn horticulture, hunting, fishing and gathering berries, fruit, and insects. Traditional Nambicuara village organization was built around a group of closely related men broadly classified as "brothers," one of whom served as village leader. Nambicuara village groups maintained wide ranging ties based mainly on trade, intermarriage, and joint rituals.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


South America --Amazon and Orinoco



OWC Code


Collection Information

Number of Documents


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Number of Pages


Collection Overview

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

The Nambicuara Collection (SP17) documents, now all of them in English, cover cultural, economic and environmental information circa 1907 to 1987. The basic source, translated from French, is by Levi-Strauss (1948, no.1). This work deals mainly with family and social life, but also covers religion, kinship and subsistence activities. Information from this source is further supplemented by a brief ethnographic description originally published in the Handbook of South American Indians (Levi-Strauss 1948, no. 2) and two other works which focus on specific themes including chieftainship (Levi-Strauss 1945, no. 3) and social use of kinship terms (Levi-Strauss 1943, no. 6).

Seven documents in the collection were written by anthropologists P. David Price and Paul L. Aspelin who conducted original ethnographic fieldwork among different Nambicuara groups in 1967-1976. Five of the documents in this group revisit Levi-Strauss's data and analysis of Nambicuara economic activities (Aspen 1976, no. 13; 1979, no. 15; Price 1978, no. 14), political organization (Price 1987, no. 12) and leadership (Price 1981, no. 10), while the remaining two focus on specific themes including socioeconomic change (Price 1969, no. 1) and government efforts at resettling several Nambicuara groups (Price 1982, no. 10).

The collection also includes a work, translated from Portuguese, by E. Roqueto-Pinto (based on fieldwork conducted in 1910s) that represents the first anthropological description of the Nambicuara and their culture. This book features extensive anthropometric and linguistic data on Nambicuara groups who lived along a newly built public road crossing through the region (Roqueto-Pinto 1938, no. 7).

For more detailed information on the context of the individual works in the file, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

Overview by

Teferi Adem

Collection Indexing Notes

Aldeia - village - use "COMMUNITY STRUCTURE (621)" with "SETTLEMENT PATTERNS (361)"

Bands - use "ANNUAL CYCLE (221)" with "SETTLEMENT PATTERNS (361)"

Chicha - fermented drink - use "ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES (273)"

Hikánt'isú, the capable one - use "COMMUNITY HEADS (622)" with "SOCIAL PERSONALITY (156)"

Rocas- farm plots  - use "TILLAGE (241)"

Resettlement program - use "RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT (654)"

Indexing Notes by

Teferi Adem

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