Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Sirionó are a group of foragers inhabiting an extensive tropical forest in northern and eastern Bolivia. Their subsistence depends largely on hunting, fishing, and gathering, in that order. They also practiced some plant cultivation. Traditionally they lived in bands under a headman with limited power in the community. These headmen or chiefs were chosen on the basis of their prowess as a hunter and warrior.


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


South America --Amazon and Orinoco



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Collection Overview

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

The SF21 Sirionó collection consists of seven English language documents (plus this culture summary), covering a time span from approximately 1900 to 1984. The Holmberg (1950, 1946, nos. 1 and 2), and Stearman (1987, no. 6) studies are the basic works providing a broad general coverage of Sirionó ethnography. Holmberg is the “classic” study of the Sirionó based on his fieldwork among these people in 1940-1941. Stearman is largely a review of Holmberg’s fieldwork with an update of ethnographic material to about 1984. She describes the affects of acculturation on the Sirionó since Holmberg’s visit, and provides additional data on the general economy in the post Holmberg era. Material culture is described and illustrated in Ryden (1941, 1941, nos. 4 and 7) and in Radwan (1928, 1928, nos. 5 and 8). Radwan (1928, no. 5) also presents some brief comments on general ethnography and on contacts with missionaries.

This culture summary is based on the article “Sirionó”, by Mario Califano (translated by Ruth Gubler), in the Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Vol. 7, South America, Johannes Wilbert, ed. Boston, Mass.: G.K. Hall & Co., 1994. The indexing notes and synopsis were written by John Beierle in August 2005.

Overview by

John Beierle

ERERECUA – headman - use COMMUNITY HEADS (622)

TUYUA – a hut constructed of piled-up MOTACU fronds - use DWELLINGS (342)

Indexing Notes by

John Beierle

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