Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Bakairi are a Carib-speaking group living on Upper Xingu River in the state of Mato Grosso in south central Brazil. They practice slash-and-burn horticulture in the gallery forests along the rivers. They live in seven villages on what is now the Bakairi reservation. Each village has an elected headman, although shamans have some political influence. In general, Bakairi value cooperation, harmony and peace. Division of labor is based on age and gender.


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


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.

There are seven documents in the Bakairi collection, all but one published before 1951. The German explorer Steinen (1886a, no. 1; 1886b, no. 2) wrote the earliest account of the Bakairi based on his one-month stay with them on his 1884 trip down the Xingu river. Abreu (1938, no. 3) is also an early account of Bakairi language, mythology, and religion based on 1892 Portuguese texts. Schmidt (1947, no. 4) writes the history of the Bakairi subsequent to Steinen's expedition and up to the year 1927. Altenfelder Silva (1950, no. 5) and Oberg (1947, no. 6) both write brief monographs of Bakairi culture, circa 1940's. Picchi (2000, no. 7) provides the most recent account and monograph on the Bakairi, taking a political ecology approach.

For more detailed information on the content of the individual w orks in the collection, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

This culture summary is based on the article "Bakairi" by Debra S. Picchi, in the Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Vol. 7, and South America. Johannes Wilbert, Ed. 1994. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co. Ian Skoggard wrote the synopsis and indexing notes in 2003. We thank Debra Picchi for her bibliographic advice.

Overview by

Ian Skoggard

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