Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Terena are a subgroup of the Guana who lived originally in the northeastern area of the Paraguayan Chaco. By the mid-nineteenth century, mainly under pressure by other ethnic groups, they migrated to the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, where they are mostly found today. The Terena language is part of the Arawak Language Family. Subsistence is largely based on agriculture (maize, cassava, rice, beans, and sugarcane are the traditional crops) supplemented by raising poultry, and by hunting, fishing and collecting of wild food plants. Terena society traditionally featured two major social strata; chiefs and their kin, the common people, and a possible third level made up of individuals from other ethnic groups who have been absorbed into the society.


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


South America --Southern South America



OWC Code


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Collection Overview

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

The Terena collection consists of several documents from English, German, and Portuguesee. Oberg (n.d., no. 2) is a study of culture change in Terena society resulting from contact and interaction with the Caduveo, the Mbayá, and Brazilian culture in general. The theme of culture change is continued in Oliveira (n.d., no. 3), which attempts to record and interpret the processes of social interaction between Terena and Brazilian society with the goal of determining the operative socio-cultural mechanism affecting the more specific process of assimilation. Baldus (n.d., no. 4) is a study of the succession to chieftainship within a Terena group living near the city of Miranda in the southern part of the Brazilian Mato Grosso. This study also contains some incidental information on such aspects of Terena ethnography as names and naming, eschatology, conception and pregnancy, marriage regulations and arrangements, and kinship terminology and relationships. Oliveira ( n.d., no. 6) is a structural analysis of the Terena marriage and social stratification system.

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this collection see the abstracts in the citations preceding earch document

Overview by

John Beierle

Aldea –a small village, hamlet, or small farm– Use SETTLEMENT PATTERNS ( 361)


Bolicho –small roadside stores– Use RETAIL MARKETING ( 443)

Chupu –manioc– Use CEREAL AGRICULTURE ( 243)

Itishovoti –moiety council meetings– Use MOIETIES ( 616) with COUNCILS ( 623)

Itukoviche –the high god– Use SPIRITS AND GODS ( 776)

Iyoti –puberty ceremonies for girls of the commoner class– Use PUBERTY AND INITIATION ( 881)

Kauti –prisoners of war and/or slaves– Use AFTERMATH OF COMBAT ( 727) and/or SLAVERY ( 567)

Kayenóne –the betrothal ceremony– Use ARRANGING A MARRIAGE ( 584)

Koixomuneti –the shaman– Use SHAMANS AND PSYCHOTHERAPISTS ( 756)

Koyenóti –the wedding ceremony– Use NUPTIALS ( 585)

Mopo –an alcoholic beverage made from honey– Use ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES ( 273)

Ohéo'koti –the annual shamans' festival– Use SHAMANS AND PSYCHOTHERAPISTS ( 756) with ORGANIZED CEREMONIAL ( 796)

Shumonó –"wild people" a Terena moiety– Use MOIETIES ( 616)

Shuna'asheti –war chief of the warrior class– Use LOCAL OFFICIALS ( 624)

Sukirikionó –"gentle people" a Terena moiety– Use MOIETIES ( 616)

Tima –adolescent puberty ceremonies for the sons of chiefs– Use PUBERTY AND INITIATION ( 881)

Unati ashé –a moiety chief– Use COMMUNITY HEADS ( 622) with MOIETIES ( 616)

Washereshane –the commoners– Use CLASSES ( 565)

Indexing Notes by

John Beierle

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