Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Trumai were one of several indigenous peoples of Central Brazil living in small, ethnically based, village communities widely dispersed in a region that formed the headwaters of the Upper Xingu River, one of the largest tributaries of the Amazon. Subsistence was based primarily on slash-and-burn horticulture, supplemented by fishing, hunting, and the gathering of wild fruits and turtle eggs. The Trumai population in 1938 was only forty-three people, living in four household units. The village was governed by a chief, whose authority was limited to facilitating village-wide cooperation for hunting, gardening and fishing expeditions.


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South America --Amazon and Orinoco



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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 Trumai Collection (SP23) is small. The main document by Murphy and Quain (1955, no. 1) is the only available primary ethnographic account on the Trumai. This document provides a first hand account of Trumai culture and society as observed by anthropologist Buell Quain in 1938. The document is especially comprehensive in its coverage and analyses of the Trumai personality, ethos, life cycle, and interpersonal attitudes and behavior, but less extensive on material culture and religion. The document also incorporates important ethnographic data from the work of Karl Von den Steinen who visited the Trumai in 1884.

For more detailed information on the context of Murphy's and Quain’s book, see the abstracts in the citations preceding the document. For information on other culturally related indigenous ethnic groups in the Upper Xingu River, see Bakairi Collection (SP07).

Overview by

Teferi Adem

Aek - village chief - use "COMMUNITY HEADS (622)"

beiju - fish cakes offerings during the ole ceremony - use "PRAYERS AND SACRIFICES (782)" with "ORGANIZED CEREMONIAL (796)"

Jau'kath - individual shamanistic curing - use "MAGICAL AND MENTAL THERAPY (755)" with "MEDICAL THERAPY (757)"

Kevere – treating illness with group ceremonies - use "MAGICAL AND MENTAL THERAPY (755)"

Ole - manioc ritual- use "ORGANIZED CEREMONIAL (796)"

Okei - sorcery - use "SORCERY (754)"

Trade games - popular pastime activities in which each man successively offered items for exchange with the items of another man - use "EXCHANGE TRANSACTIONS (437)" with "LABOR AND LEISURE (461)"

Uluri – traditional women's cloth covering pubic area - use "NORMAL GARB (291)"

Waniwani, the village of the afterworld - use "ESCHATOLOGY (775)" with "COSMOLOGY (772)"

Indexing Notes by

Teferi Adem

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