Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Shipibo occupy the central Río Ucayali region of eastern Peru and its major western tributaries. The Shipibo collection includes information on the closely related Conibo and Shetibo. The Shipibo language belongs to the Panoan family. The Shipibo practice slash-and-burn horticulture and subsist primarily on plantains and bananas, supplemented by other crops and foraging. Now some Shipibo are producing rice to sell in regional markets. The Shipibo are known worldwide for the complicated geometrical motifs with which they decorate objects. Women make ceramics, cotton textiles, baskets, and bead work, both for personal use and for sale to tourists.


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South America --Amazon and Orinoco



OWC Code


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Collection Overview

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 Shipibo file consists of twenty-four documents, three in Spanish (Campos, 1977, no. 8; Eakin, 1980, no. 9; and Karsten, 1955, no. 13), and the remaining twenty-one in English. The major time focus for these studies ranges from the 1950s to the 1980s. Most of the works consist of community studies centering around villages located in the Pisqui and Ucayali River areas of Peru (e.g., the villages of Nuevo Eden, Panaillo, Paococha, Yarinacocha, Roboya, and San Francisco de Yarinacocha). There is no single comprehensive work providing ethnographic coverage for all the Shipibo in Peru. The two works by Eakin, however -- one in Spanish (Eakin, 1980, no. 9), and the second an updated version of the first but in English (Eakin, 1986, no. 25) - do provide a wide range of cultural data on the Shipibo of the Ucayali River area. In addition to these, Behrens (1988, no. 1), provides comparable information on the village of Nuevo Eden, located at the headwaters of the Pisqui River. Other major topics discussed in this file are: food, food production, agriculture, and diet, described in Behrens (1986, 1989, 1981, 1986, and 1991, nos. 2-6), Bergman (1980, no. 7), Campos (1977, no. 8), and Abelove and Campos (1981, no. 16); the Shipibo ceramic industry, Lathrap, (1976, no. 14), Roe, (1981, no. 15), DeBoer and Lathrap (1979, no. 20), and DeBoer and Moore (1982, no. 23); fertility and contraception in Hern (1976, 1977, nos. 10 and 11); puberty rites in Roe (1982, no. 19), and in the study by Karsten (1955, no. 13); and kinship behavior and kinship terminology in Tschopik (1958, no. 21), and Abelove (1978, no. 24).

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 "Shipibo", by Clifford A. Behrens in the Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Vol. 7, 1994, Johannes Wilbert, editor. Boston, Mass.: G.K. Hall & Co. The synopsis and indexing notes were written by John Beierle in April 2001.

ANI SHREATI -- puberty rites -- category 881

backswamp -- category 133 (sometimes with 137)

CALLE -- street -- category 363

CHACRA -- fields or swiddens -- category 241

COCHAS -- lakes -- category 133

COCINA -- cooking structures -- category 343

CUSHMA -- the native Shipibo costume -- category 291

KAYÁ -- concepts of the soul -- category 774

NISHI -- a narcotic substance used by a Shaman to induce a trance state, in curing -- category 276

SOBO -- houses -- category 342

SOCIOS -- a cooperative -- category 474

TOÉ -- a narcotic substance used to induce a trance state by a sorcerer -- category 276

YOSHIN -- the souls of the dead, especially those of shamans or sorcerers -- category 775

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