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Heckenberger, M - The ecology of power_ culture, place, and personhood in the southern Amazon

Heckenberger, M - The ecology of power_ culture, place, and personhood in the southern Amazon

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  • Broken Mirrors: Amazonia as Imagined World
  • Lost Civilizations, Again?
  • History, Ecology, and Power
  • Visualizing Deep Temporality
  • The Southern Amazon
  • The Southern Periphery
  • Xinguano Cultural Schema
  • Basic Chronology
  • TABLE 3.1Chronological Periods
  • A Tale of Two Towns: The Western Complex
  • TABLE 3.2Ipavu Phase Archaeological Sites
  • Fig. 3.9 Profile of excavation trench 1 (adjacent to inner “gate”)
  • The Eastern Complex
  • A Thread of Ariadne
  • Ancient Xinguano Regime as Galactic Polity
  • War and Peace in the Age of Inka
  • A Brief History of “Contact”
  • The Construction of Xinguano Pluralism
  • Demography and Social Change
  • Fig. 5.6 Depopulation of Xinguano villages, 1880s–1990s
  • TABLE 5.2Morbidity and Mortality of 1954 Measles Epidemic
  • Making a Living
  • Fig. 6.3 Fish weir (ataca) across Angahuku River (1993)
  • Basic Diet
  • Objects as Subjects
  • Fig. 6.8 Small effigy bowl (atange) from Steinen (1896)
  • Pottery
  • TABLE 6.1Correlation of Ceramic Forms
  • Productivity
  • The Mirror World of Dawn Time
  • The Skin of the Land
  • Village and Countryside
  • Place and Place-Making: The Sites of Memory
  • TABLE 7.2Village Fissions, 1860–2002
  • Visualizing Landscape: Memory and Representation
  • Xinguano Social Memory: Enchainments
  • Chiefs and Others
  • Fig. 8.4 Kinship diagram of southern House (1993)
  • Village as “House”
  • The Xinguano Plaza
  • Making Chiefs
  • Socio-Ethnophysics
  • Plazas as Persons
  • The Symbolic Economy of Power
  • Persons Large and Small
  • Chiefdoms, or What?
  • The Structural Contradiction and the Theater State
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Orthography and Glossary of Indigenous Terms
  • Index

The Ecology of Power

CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES IN IDENTITY, MEMORY, AND THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT HELAINE SILVERMAN, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN, SERIES EDITOR Places in Mind: Archaeology as Applied Anthropology edited by Paul A. Shackel and Erve Chambers Identity and Power in the Ancient Andes: Tiwanaku Cities through Time John Wayne Janusek

The Ecology of Power
Culture Place and Personhood in the Southern Amazon AD –

Michael J Heckenberger


Published in 2005 by Routledge Taylor & Francis Group 270 Madison Avenue New York, NY 10016 www.routledge-ny.com Published in Great Britain by Routledge Taylor & Francis Group 2 Park Square Milton Park, Abingdon Oxon OX14 4RN www.routledge.co.uk Copyright © 2005 by Taylor & Francis Group, a Division of T&F Informa. Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group. This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2005. “To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge’s collection of thousands of eBooks please go to www.eBookstore.tandf.co.uk.” All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. All author’s royalties from the sale of this book will be donated to Associação Indígena Kuikuro do Alto Xingu Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Heckenberger, Michael. The ecology of power : culture, place, and personhood in the southern Amazon, AD 1000-2000 / Michael J. Heckenberger. p. cm. – (Critical perspectives in identity, memory, and the built environment) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-415-94598-4 (hb : alk. paper) – ISBN 0-415-94599-2 (pb : alk. paper) 1. Indians of South America–Brazil–Xingu River Valley–History. 2. Indians of South America–First contact with Europeans–Brazil–Xingu River Valley. 3. Indians of South America–Brazil–Xingu River Valley–Social life and customs. 4. Chiefdoms–Brazil–Xingu River Valley. 5. Xingu River Valley (Brazil)–History. 6. Xingu River Valley (Brazil)–Colonization. 7. Xingu River Valley (Brazil)–Social life and customs. I. Title. II. Series. F2519.1.X56H43 2004 981’.72–dc22 2004015651
ISBN 0-203-48662-5 Master e-book ISBN

ISBN 0-203-57708-6 (Adobe eReader Format)

Dedicated to my parents, Mary and Victor and Afukaká, teacher, friend, and “brother.”

Preface Illustrations List of Tables CHAPTER 1 Introduction xi xix xxv 1
6 14 19

Broken Mirrors: Amazonia as Imagined World Lost Civilizations, Again? History, Ecology, and Power


Visualizing Deep Temporality Culture and History: The Longue Durée

29 37
42 56 60


The Southern Amazon The Southern Periphery Xinguano Cultural Schema


Traces of Ancient Times

68 75 103

Basic Chronology A Tale of Two Towns: The Western Complex The Eastern Complex


Memory. Heroes.viii • Contents CHAPTER 4 Social Dynamics Before Europe 113 117 124 133 A Thread of Ariadne Ancient Xinguano Regime as Galactic Polity War and Peace in the Age of Inka CHAPTER 5 In The Shadow of Empire: Colonialism and Ethnogenesis 143 147 152 163 A Brief History of “Contact” The Construction of Xinguano Pluralism Demography and Social Change PART II Body. and History: The Fractal Person 255 258 269 284 Xinguano Social Memory: Enchainments Chiefs and Others Village as “House” . and History Landscape and Livelihood: The Ethos of Settled Village Life 179 191 192 198 201 209 216 CHAPTER 6 Making a Living Basic Diet Objects as Subjects Pottery Productivity CHAPTER 7 In The Midst of Others: Landscapes of Memory 223 227 230 236 242 250 The Mirror World of Dawn Time The Skin of the Land Village and Countryside Place and Place-Making: The Sites of Memory Visualizing Landscape: Memory and Representation CHAPTER 8 Houses.

Contents • ix CHAPTER 9 The Symbolic Economy of Power: Plazas as Persons 291 293 296 302 306 312 The Xinguano Plaza Making Chiefs Socio-Ethnophysics Plazas as Persons The Symbolic Economy of Power CHAPTER 10 Conclusion: The Pedigree of a Contradiction Persons Large and Small Chiefdoms. Great-Men. or What? Big-Men. and Others The Structural Contradiction and the Theater State Notes 319 322 325 331 336 349 Bibliography Orthography and Glossary of Indigenous Terms Index 361 385 397 . Chiefs.


Recent scientific attempts to characterize. It is among a handful of places where “isolated” indigenous groups still stride into the consciousness of the “civilized” world (the distant second being New Guinea. feel that the cure for a whole host of world ills. pose significant challenges to intruders: explorers. untapped fonts of valuable resources. all too often they lack even a shred of corroborating history or archaeology. classify. colonists. seem to turn up as quickly as biologists and botanists go out to look for them. because the past—the Amazonian past—is an enigma. because the lush tropical forests that dominate this vast area. Many scientists.Preface Amazonia is one of the last earthly frontiers of the modern imagination. 1999). It is a place where Western travelers and voyeurs still hope to encounter refuges of unknown or “extinct” species. which is easily the size of Europe.” some archaic state of nature or orientation of society. Even so. something preserved from ancient times: lost worlds. and scientists alike. untouched islands of natural biodiversity. everything from cancer to climate change and ecological well-being. as well as our own alter egos. such assumptions generally lack supporting evidence. in fact. It is ironic that we Western observers often look to Amazonia to encounter our “living ancestors. according to the New York Times Magazine. October 31. in complex webs of biodiversity. It is no surprise the region is shrouded in mystery. old views die hard. and catalogue the present nature of the Amazon forest or its people too frequently assume that present conditions characterized the past. and the centuries-old portrayals of the tropics as a torrid zone inhabited by primitive peoples and filled with jungle still pervade the scientific and popular xi . may well be found as the Amazon yields its secrets. creating an image of a primordial nature or human condition. isolated pockets of “Stone Age” tribes. New species. Yet.

no less so than elsewhere. Amazonia boasts a wide range of ethnographic studies from the late twentieth century that permit anthropologists to consider in detail the native peoples of Amazonia during this recent episode in their histories. Like other Native American peoples. has gained momentum in the 1980s and 1990s. in the trap of our mechanistic civilization. rather than as “pristine” bands and tribes who are today “caught. like gamebirds. The majority of native Amazonians today live at the margins of the increasingly globalized world. or a Green Hell. we know relatively little about their histories prior to this time. Writing Amerindians as active agents in complex histories. as temperate Europe.” in terms of their cultural achievements than typically assumed. Civilization in Amazonia over the past few thousand years must be measured on its own terms. North America. Certainly. and the size and often fugitive nature of social groups in the twentieth century must be seen as the result of this European colonialism impacted heavily upon the indigenous peoples of the region. and marketplaces. the Pacific Islands.” (Lévi-Strauss 1961: 42). Still. but we are still ill-prepared to consider the magnitude of colonialism’s impact or. and detailed studies bridging this gap are generally lacking in regional anthropology. palaces. but the long popular view that an adaptation to the environment or some social contract prevented population growth or social complexity also is no longer tenable. considered against the backdrop of a deep history that extends beyond 1492. particularly. such as those that explorers found hidden in . of what came before. there are generally no indigenous populations. forgotten pyramids and temples. hidden in the Amazon. heralded by lost cities. Amazonian civilizations were every bit as complex. particularly their deep histories. ancient civilizations. but was it always so? Was Amazonia always so “marginal. a Garden of Eden. in comparison to European or Mediterranean examples of towns and cities. and Africa. were far more “advanced. and not on the Procrustean bed of Western historical experience. Amazonians faced centuries of colonialism. in terms of actual human lives and the changes they experienced.” held in place by some ecological or social imperative and distanced from the pulses of imperialism that have washed across the continent for over five hundred years? The point of view taken in this work is that native Amazonian societies. The situation is compounded by the fact that in those few areas where we do know something about archaeology or early colonial periods. Twentieth-century science had seemingly dashed any hope of finding. We see them time and time again: an early condition of nature and humanity. nothing as massive as the Inka empire ever emerged here.xii • Preface imagination. temples.

both environmentally and socially. mounting archaeological and ethnohistorical evidence from the past two or three decades makes such a view untenable. or Southeast Asia. relics of the past grandeur of Amazonian civilizations are perhaps awaiting discovery beneath the forest canopies or in the bodies of living indigenous peoples. the political apparatus of the “full blown” bureaucratic state was absent here. Peru. including the radical changes of the late twentieth and twenty-first century and based on a survey of living peoples. Indeed.Preface • xiii the forests of Mesoamerica.” as Sahlins (1985) calls them—was no more foreign to Amazon peoples than to societies elsewhere. The gap is widening between a social science that focuses on the present. gradual process. we increasingly see that such a view is historically unwarranted. the coercive power of martial force and economic alienation came late if at all in this process. Amazonia offers unique challenges to students of indigenous history. What little we do know suggests. the transition from kinship and political autonomy to class and political domination was a long. as we might today expect. timelessly preserved. reveals a grandiose and complex culture history. the evolution of the symbolic simplicity that underlies hierarchical social organizations throughout many world areas—“heroic societies. Native Amazonian civilizations are not “hidden in plain sight. when considered over the long run. This work aims to describe. The Upper Xingu is precisely one of these areas that. as it lacks much in the way of early written documents or archaeology. This book aims to bring some ethnographics clarity to the . the cultural history of a genuinely Amazonian complex society: the Upper Xingu of southern Amazonia (Brazil). much of what we call “traditional” is a response to colonialism. and the vision provided by a deeper history. over the past circa one thousand years. Yet.” as Kehoe (1998) has eloquently suggested of Native American civilizations like Cahokia. Rather. if we know how to look for them. like much of the world in 1492. in necessarily broad brush strokes. that the “rise of the State” in Amazonia. and that communities are highly mobile and technologically austere. It is little wonder that contemporary settlements and monuments are small. Although still largely circumstantial and based on generally small bits of information from widely disparate locales across Amazonia. the “idea of the State” (a term borrowed from Yoffee 2001). Yet. Without such studies it is easy to portray Amazonia as a stronghold or refuge of “archaic” societies. and much of what is considered “simple” is actually a strategic political response to aggression and the historical consequences of the “Great Dying”. which suggests that much of what we call nature is anthropogenic in origin. for which there are no better words in English than “polity” and “civilization” to describe it.

I have rejected this because of the utility and novelty. The Ecology of Power is divided into two parts. Thus. alternative histories. They have pointed out that it is too eclectic. it is important that we attempt to give some voice to a history—the ancient history and the deep temporality of contemporary Amazonian peoples—that has hitherto been unheard in any form. . To my counselors.xiv • Preface currently ill-formed debates over what constitutes “complex society” in Amazonia. such as ancient diasporas. as large as any on the planet. Several people have suggested to me that the work be broken up. of a holistic. but instead to provoke regional specialists to ask certain questions that are unavoidable at present. this is actually two books. or correct in all its parts. past and present. in my opinion. and that problems outlined here will be further pursued by myself and others in more detailed ethnographic and archaeological accounts. and regions over various time periods—generations. It is an historical ethnography (which I take to mean a contextual or direct historical approach) aligning. along with my thanks. and of spatiality and landscape. and combining an archaeology. It entreats issues of “statehood. others will undoubtedly see things very differently. including settlements. From the start. This (hi)story is not the only possible one. my intention is not to convince readers that this is the right view. settlement clusters. to the degree possible. This work represents a synthesis of ideas partially presented elsewhere. This demands the examination of the long. too confusing with its cojoining scales. a chronology and description of the major historical themes and periods. in my dissertation (1996) and Os Povos Indígenas do Alto Xingu: História e Cultura (Franchetto and Heckenberger 2001). Part I attempts to construct a basic historical framework for the Upper Xingu.” as such societies are commonly called in ancient Amazonia and elsewhere in the non-Western world. multiscalar perspective. and it attempts to reveal some of the historical processes relating to them. centuries. comes the promise that this is not the last word. It is about significant historical personages. The approach is necessarily amphibian: part archaeological and part ethnographic. colonialism. through whatever means possible.” specifically if initial expression in “chiefdoms. With this said. However. and that my analyses just scratch the surface. sensu stricto. Xinguano cultural history is a story worth telling and. not even necessarily the best. sociocultural trajectory now known from the region from start to finish. but auto-critique can wait). It is an attempt to “read” history through the lens of regional anthropology. and power. with an archaeology of the body. It is meant as a starting point and will change in the reading and retelling of it (I could already rewrite it myself. although I do not attempt to speak for Xinguanos themselves. of language.

and economic determinism cannot hope to address the variability of symbolic content and social traffic in similar “ecologies. for instance. to take what I know of the present based on previous ethnographic work including my own (eighteen-month) residence in the Kuikuru village between 1993 and 2003. as it is codified in the structure of the central plaza. ecology. their ecology. in regard to ancient Amazonians. settlement patterns (plazas. The title is a hint at the overall aim of the book. The findings of archaeology and early ethnohistory. but it equally applies to the . All things are not equal. and historical nature of resource. the social and political techniques of its expression. that is speakers of Arawakan languages and related peoples. This is based on knowledge of certain homologous cultural artifacts. even in a preliminary sense. and the Upper Xingu within it. including material culture and technology (ceramics and subsistence). and landscape (the highly constructed or “domesticated” landscapes typical of the southern Amazonian (principally Arawak) chiefdoms.Preface • xv and even millennia. regional patterns of sociality and polity. In this effort.” much less the topology of change. Chapter 10 discusses this disciplinary power. and includes the dynamic interplay between technology on one hand. and their symbolic content. which is to provoke us to question our assumptions about sociality and polity as they relate to Amerindian societies. This. perspectives. Fortunately. In this sense. that serve as windows on the past. requires us to directly confront issues of power. I have tried to make sense out of certain anthropological elements in the present that seem important or unexpected in regional ethnology. roads. is a model or metanarrative of the long term and the large scale. The “fractal person” is the apt metaphor Wagner (1991) uses for this holographic technique. and power (the deployment of technology) on the other. some of the major developmental limens of “power” across time and place in the region. flows and trophic exchanges. with respect to colonialism. It explores the deep history of the Arawak diaspora (a model or idea about a historical trace found in some Amazonian bodies). from a historical point of view. and social hierarchy. ecofunctionalism. this refers to the uniquely social. Part II is a an attempt to “read” anthropology through the lens of this history. and its imprint on human bodies. comes to mean more than simply the interactions between humans and the natural environment. the self-scaling properties of human cultural systems provide the means to consider social bodies or persons at different sizes and time frames. of course. Regional specialists have yet to map out. both things and persons must be defined as such only relative to scale and resolution. such as those who dominated the southern Amazon. agricultural life. notably settled. cultural (or symbolic). and “galactic” clusters of them).

whether that moment be yesterday or a day (one thousand years) before. my dissertation advisors. Patrick Menget. when I spent about a year (January to December 1993) with the Kuikuru community.19. Bruna Franchetto. The present work is thus something of an interim report on a decade (1992–2002) of research.xvi • Preface consideration of the nature of sociality and polity at any moment in time. Joshua Toney’s assistance.1 (1994) were taken by Jim Petersen. especially the support of Edithe Pereira. at the latter. and photos in Figures 2. the Museu Antropológico da Universidade Federal do Goiás. and began my first in-residence fieldwork with the Xinguanos. 8. I gratefully acknowledge the institutional support of the Museu Nacional. the intention in entering this new “transdisciplinary” phase is to foster dialogue to answer some of these questions. 3. In the early stages of my research. Most recently (2002–2004). Clark Erickson. and 10. provided invaluable support and guidance. Carlos Fausto. and Irmhild Wüst were critical to the conduct of the research. Morgan Schmidt. Richard Tressider and the editorial team at CRC Press (Boca Raton) and the Frame Team at Datapage were invaluable in improving the final manuscript. Throughout this time and afterward. Sandra Wellington. the archaeological research team has been aided by graduate students Joseph Christian Russell.1 were drafted by Jim Railey. 9.6.1. The Brazilian National Research Council .3 (1995).16. and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro. now entering a new phase of collaborative research with colleagues at the Museu Nacional in Brazil. Luís Claudio Symanski and Mark Donop. Of the many people who have helped me along the way.3. and 4. Figures 3. David Mead. My thinking also has benefited immensely by conversations over the past decade with colleagues in Brazil. Inquiry into the history of Xinguano peoples is an ongoing endeavor. until recently (2002).10. Jim Richardson and Jerry Sabloff. 3.17. Anna Roosevelt. Bill Balée. Terry Turner. 6. which profoundly affected the course of my studies and thinking on Xinguano peoples. Eduardo Neves. Bruna Franchetto. 3. and Neil Whitehead. and Denise Schaan. the Upper Xingu. and Jim Petersen kindly commented on the final manuscript. In Brazil. It raises more questions than it answers. Peter Gow. Joshua Toney. it has been largely the work of a single researcher (and many Kuikuru assistants). most notably. Carlos Fausto. and. and in the United States and elsewhere. and the Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi. only a few can be acknowledged here. Bruna Franchetto and Carlos Fausto. It was essentially completed a decade from when I first set foot in the Parque Indígena do Alto Xingu (PIX). 3. Vera Guapindaia. Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. Still. as.10. Jim Petersen and Bob Carneiro provided continuous support and inspiration.

teacher. without their constant support. none of this effort would be possible. and Bill Hillman. Jim Petersen. and the Institute of Historical and Artistic Patrimony (IPHAN) were all exceedingly gracious in evaluating and authorizing various episodes of research. especially my adoptive brothers and their families. Afukaká and Tabata Kuikuru. I dedicate this work to my parents. my dear friend. and host. The support of special friends. I extend my deepest appreciation to the Kuikuru community. Mary and Victor. and Afukaká. and many other Xinguano people who extended innumerable kindnesses and help throughout the project. including André Melges. the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI). and my brother Brian was critical to the success of this work.Preface • xvii (CNPq). .


forested (see Figure 1.” subsidiary to household of primary village chief (1993). after Aihkenvald 1999). 5-4-3) showing limits of Parque Indígena do Xingu and Kuikuru study area (box).2 Satellite Image (Landsat 6 TM.3 Xinguano Tradition radiocarbon chronology. X18. Figure 2.1 Atugua (whirlwind) masks in Ipatse village (1993). Figure 3. where upland forest contact river margin at 2 24 25 38 39 40 43 56 69 70 73 xix . showing large fortified settlements (large circles). Figure 3.2) Figure 3.1 Map showing location of Upper Xingu. X19. lying on high-ground forested areas: other cluster sites of X22 (located above the Legend) and X17 (located above the middle curve of the Culuene. and probable Eastern Complex sites (triangles). with inset showing position in Brazil. Figure 1.5 The Southern Amazonian Periphery. unclassified sites (small open circles).4 Ipatse cluster sites (from north to south: X6.3 Contemporary Kuikuru village 2002. sites unfortified with peripheral ditch but with plaza/road earthworks (small black circles).1 Distribution of archaeological sites in Upper Xingu.3 (a) Fish-spirit dance in Xinguano village in 1887 (from Steinen 1894) and (b) at Ipatse village (1995).Illustrations Figure 1. Figure 2. 1992. Figure 3. Figure 1. Figure 2.2 Front door of small round “radio. Figure 2. Figure 2.4 The Arawak Diaspora showing distribution of primary contemporary Arawak language groups (1–10. X13.2 Distribution of archaeological sites in Kuikuru study area. Note white unstippled areas are generally. X20) connected by the “north-south” road.

80 Figure 3. mapped road and trench earthworks. X34. the plaza of Maijeinei (X21) is at lower right. top) and trench 10 (2002). Note pronounced anthropogenic vegetation scars.15 Plan view map of Kuhikugu (X11) showing ceramic distributions from collection transects (small black dots). both bisecting ditch two at Nokugu. Note the anthropogenic vegetation scar correlated to site area and large low-lying (seasonal) lake to the east of the forest margin. a possible seat for palisade trunks. 86 Figure 3.5 GPS overview of Ipatse cluster sites X6 (north) and X13 (south). marshy Angahuku River bottoms to west of sites (dark). flanking (lighter) upland forest. and outer gate of road 1 and of the intersection of road 1 with the plaza (excavation units are marked by large grey dots). and (3) wide. to the top of the inside berm.14 Kuhikugu cluster sites. 98 Figure 3.8 Excavation of trench one (1993. 1999). demarcated with closed circles. 100 .6 GPS plan of Nokugu (ditches noted by thick black lines and road/plaza shoulders by thin lines). 92 Figure 3. 86 Figure 3. and X36 (dot between two) and X38 (clockwise from upper left) adjacent to black dots (inset is map of X11 earthworks.xx • Illustrations upper right) are also shown. Note (1) galeria forest and oxbow lakes associated with the Culuene River active floodplain (upper right). 96 Figure 3. including the first-order center of X11 and the smaller secondary centers of X33 and X28 (dot placed between two).12 GPS plan of Akagahïtï (ditches noted by thick black lines and road/plaza shoulders by gray). with historic period villages shown by closed circles).16 Schematic reconstruction of Kuhikugu paired ditches. 94 Figure 3.10 Schematic reconstruction of inner “gate” of road 4 at Nokugu (excavation trench one bisects the ditch and berm adjacent to the earthen overpass. 1860–1960).9 Profile of excavation trench 1 (adjacent to inner “gate”).2 meters deep from the base of the narrow funnel-shaped basal portion (≅ 1 meter wide). 82 Figure 3. Note contemporary village (white dot) adjacent to Ipatse Lake and X13 (south) on peninsula of upland forest. Note trench 10 was 5. 81 Figure 3. (2) Ipatse stream in the low-lying area (dark) east of the sites (relict floodplain). and historic period villages (c. X35. 85 Figure 3. 84 Figure 3. 99 Figure 3.11 GPS plan of Heulugihïtï (ditches noted by thick black lines and small reservoirs are filled in).7 Nokugu plaza berm (hatched white line).13 Plan of Sekú superimposed on satellite image (Landsat 7 ETM.

Figure 5. Bakairi (Carib) = BK. circa A.1 Photograph of 1887 expedition campsite (from Steinen 1896). Suyá (Gê) = SU. Figure 3. Figure 4. 1500. The plaza and cruciform radial roads of the ancient village are visible in the interconnected gardens located in the center of photo. the latter three were extinct by the mid-1900s. Figure 4. Figure 5. Figure 5. the plaza is in the center of an oval of secondary forest that abuts the eastern margin (right) of the large (> 1km) airstrip.Illustrations • xxi Figure 3. Figure 3. Yaruma (Carib) = YR.18 Eastern Complex sites at Lake Tafununu. Figure 4.6 Depopulation of Xinguano villages. 1700–1950 and schematic of the ethnogenesis of Xinguano nation. Note the similar alignments in relation to major waterbody (dark).2 Aerial photograph of Yakare (X7) (1967). Figure 5. Y = Yawalapiti.5 Map of PIX showing location of 1993 villages (numbered) and traditional “homelands” over the past century (underlined). Manitsaua (Tupi) = M. Note: Arawak = A. 1880s–1990s.17 Schematic reconstruction of (top) Nokugu (X6) and (bottom) Kuhikugu showing major earthworks.3 The North-South road as it passes from X6 to X13 and contemporary Kuikuru village (X12 locality) and its radial paths situated adjacent to Lake Ipatse.4 Satellite overview of Kuhikugu (X11) area showing dramatic anthropogenic forest alteration.1 Reconstruction of Kuhikugu Village. and reconstruction of House 1 at Tehukugu. showing circular houses (dark) and abandoned Kuikuru dwellings (lighter grey).5 Schematic of Ipatse and Kuhikugu Cluster (black circles are primary centers. Figure 3. Carib = C. Arawine (Tupi) = AW. Figure 5. Figure 5. 101 104 105 110 115 118 119 122 127 146 148 148 157 158 167 167 . Aueti = AU. Figure 5.3 1852 Warren’s Atlas Map showing fairly accurate placement of Upper Xingu (although wrongly depicting them flowing east to west). Figure 4.2 1777 map by Bonné showing approximate location of Upper Xingu tributaries. Figure 4.7 Composite depopulation. Kamayura = KM.D.19 House compound at Kuguhi (top). Trumai = TR.20 Ipatse locality (top) and reconstruction of House 1 at Ipatse (bottom). 1880s–1990s. dark gray are secondary centers.4 Population movements. and small plaza communities denoted by light gray circles). Note GPS mapped earthworks at X35 and X36 (lower right) and X21 (upper left).

the former subdivided into great or “true” (ekugu). Figure 6. Figure 7.1 Inside of house under construction (1993). Figure 6. top left).2 Anaconda basking in the sun on the Tafununu outlet stream (1993).8 Small effigy bowl (atange) from Steinen (1896).4 Kinship diagram of southern House (1993). and (3) chiefs and non-chiefs. Figure 6.3 Fish weir (ataca) across Angahuku River (1993) Figure 6. lesser (nsono). Figure 6. Figure 6. Note use-wear notch from manioc processing using wooden staves (apo).11 Thin-walled prehistoric vessel from excavation trench one.4 Jakuikatu wooden masks representing water spirits (itseke) (from Steinen 1896). Figure 8. 194 194 197 197 204 206 206 207 207 208 212 213 218 239 247 248 249 256 262 268 274 .7 and the bottom vessel is shown during manufacture in Figure 6.12 Ceramic making (A–B. like today (lower left). and female (tango) chiefs.3 Kuakutu (1995). Figure 7.4 Woman fishing with kundu trap in reservoir along Ipatse stream adjacent to X13 in dry season (1993).12. Figure 8.1 Canoe launch (from Steinen 1896).3 Etching of “father of the forest” spirit (Ahasa) and jaguar (from Steinen 1896). Figure 6.13 Wooden-hafted stone axe from Steinen (1896). buff (unslipped) black-painted designs and black-painted vessel interior (1995).6 Drawing of ahukugu form ceramic sherd from excavated prehistoric context (top) and contemporary made vessel (actual sherd from which top is reconstructed is shown in Figure 6. including the distinctions between (1) Xinguanos (kuge) and other indigenous peoples (ngikogo) and “Whites” (cagaiha). Figure 6.5 Man sitting on tafite. (2) the otomo/telo series (following Franchetto 1986: 110). Figure 8.7 Large ahukugu form (IA) sherds. Figure 7. Figure 6. Figure 6.xxii • Illustrations Figure 6. Figure 8.10 Jaguar effigy pot showing differential red slip. which preserve red exterior slip.1 Woman carrying manioc to house in tatahongo basket (1993). Figure 7.2 Hierarchically organized conceptions of otherness.9 Late prehistoric adorno. Figure 6. 1993).2 Woman cooking piquí fruit (1993). Figure 6. with three large ahukugu (Form IA) manioc cooking pots from (Steinen 1896).

Figure 9. topped with sun diadem headdresses (1994). the two primary radial roads lead off to the Culuene River and Angahuku River (exiting to left).5 Map of second Ipatse village (1982–present) in 1993.3 Chiefly redistributive payment for services rendered by the community at large (1993).4 Map of first Ipatse village (1972–1982.Illustrations • xxiii Figure 8. Figure 9.1 Oilape and other ornaments draped over painted kuarup (egitse) trunks. Note another primary road leading off to Lake Ipatse in the east (to right) and another to the south (bottom).8 Flutists with sunlike diadems playing atanga flutes commemorating deceased anetï (1993).6 Map of Ipatse village in 2002. Figure 9. Figure 9. Figure 10. Figure 9.5 Kinship diagram of northern House (1993). Figure 9.7 Flyover of Kuikuru village (2002) showing plaza village at edge of anthropogenic forest and relict low-lying floodplains of Culuene River (seen in top center). 274 297 299 300 307 308 309 309 310 346 . Figure 9. Franchetto’s 1986 map included in inset).2 Kuarup elders singing facing the tafite of the recently deceased anetï heir. Figure 9.1 Afukaká Kuikuru on stool with author (1994). and men of all ages perform on the “dancing ground” (1993).


1 Chronological Periods. 1860–2002. Table 5. Table 3.1 Select Soil Chemistry Data from Kuikuru/Ipatse I Village and Nokugu (X6).2 Village Fissions. Table 7.1 Demographic Estimates for Upper Xingu Villages. Table 5. Table 7.2 Morbidity and Mortality of 1954 Measles Epidemic. 1890–1995.List of Tables Table 3.1 Correlation of Ceramic Forms.2 Ipavu Phase Archaeological Sites. Table 6. 71 76 87 166 170 214 240 244 xxv .3 Radiocarbon Dates from Nokugu (X6) and other Sites in Southern PIX Kuikuru Area. Table 3.


CHAPTER 1 Introduction Loffty and lucrative are the “revelations” which these young men draw from those enemies of Society—savages. Native peoples had witnessed rapid change before Europe invaded the Americas. a conjuncture in native histories. stand out as a signal episode of cultural change throughout the hemisphere. and to capture the economic. For most native peoples. often in the absence of any direct foreign influence. resulted in rapid cultural disintegration and depopulation across broad regions. at least in the historical sense. Change often occurred over many generations and centuries. notably the onslaught of imported diseases. spiritual. but when they were really the adversaries of Society they inspired only terror and disgust. For many indigenous groups. Claude Lévi-Strauss 1961: 42 The end of the fifteenth century marked a beginning in the Americas. and 1 . snowbound peaks. “Noble” they are today. of continuities and ruptures. they were not helpless to turn the tides of change. and a staggering number of lives. and impenetrable forests—which Society conspires to ennoble at the very moment at which it has robbed them of their power to harm. their unique cultures. although many lost their lands. They actively sought to cope with and comprehend their “new world. bottomless caves.” to resist the forces of domination. “contact” was not the beginning of the end but merely a beginning. but the magnitude of social and cultural disruption and the staggering population losses in the aftermath of 1492 makes the contact period circa 1500 to 1750. it was the beginning of the end as European colonialism. Most indigenous peoples survived and.

which refers to the basin formed on the northern flank of the central Brazilian plateau Fig. In many areas. Xinguano cultural history can be traced over the past one thousand years in the Upper Xingu region. early written documents. .2 • The Ecology of Power political power of the foreign interlopers.1). but over centuries and even millennia. due to a general lack of archaeology. indigenous voices muted.1 Map showing location of Upper Xingu. Brazil (Figure 1. such as the humid tropical forests of Amazonia. the complex histories of native peoples are hidden. or indigenous memories that pertain to the “olden days” of early or even precolonial times. They are exceptional in this part of the world as a living cultural tradition that extends back in time not only over a few generations. This work considers the long term history of an Amazonian people. the Xinguano or Xingu nation of southern Amazonia. 1. however.

deep into the roots of South American cultural history. Like the terms “culture” and “place. 1999. even broader landscapes and regions can be seen as “historical personages” in the long-term perspective. families. one of the four southern tributaries of the Amazon. made present in bodily dispositions and preparations. This topic is covered in detail later in Part II. Tupi-Guarani.2 Arawak speakers colonize much of the southern peripheries of Amazonia. and Gê. rather than a unit or entity that can be frozen in time and space and precisely defined. although individual human bodies can perhaps be perceived in the singular. the Upper Xingu is a geographic endpoint of the Arawak diaspora. and landscape. In particular. houses. beyond the frontiers of the Upper Xingu basin itself. as well as the expressions and traces of these individuals in broader “communities of practice”. Thus.Introduction • 3 by the headwater tributaries of the Xingu River. such as material culture.” the idea of personhood employed here refers to a dynamic and polyvalent process. when several linguistic groups. back to the origins of the great diaspora of tropical America. Xinguano history can be traced back to a critical turning point in continental history. each with unique life histories and spatial and temporal characteristics. but suffice to say that. In other words. community spatial organization. Wagner 1991). the most widely dispersed of these language families. I believe. spread across vast portions of the Amazon lowlands and adjacent areas. The initial dispersal of Arawak peoples is tied. The history of Xinguano peoples extends deeper still. among other smaller families). and broader communities are iterations of personhood. The idea of personhood and the definition of social persons—as singularities or collectivities—are thus seen to vary depending on context. scale. by extension. to the emergence of what Giddens (1984) calls the structural contradiction: the rise of rank consciousness. and perspective (Strathern 1991. social persons or bodies (subjects) cannot: social persons are defined by relationship and. plurality and multi-dimensionality. as autonomous or fixed physical objects. the plot of the (hi)story is based on correspondences and correlations between things that can be concretely visualized in the present and the past. Indeed. notably early speakers of Arawakan languages. Consideration is given to both the embodied cultural memories of individual persons. as Braudel (1987: xxiv) so eloquently argued. This dispersal was more or less coeval with that of several other language families (Carib.1 Xingu history is reconstructed by focusing on patterns that can be observed in similar recognizable forms but at different levels of historical analysis. where the closed tropical forests of the lowland Amazon break up into more open parklands of central Brazil and .

These are often quite different than the problems that dominate discussions of the recent past. based on social hierarchies themselves. or that it was a rare and late mutation of the traditional pattern of generally small. 1999).” or what we can see or interrogate directly. ultimately giving rise to the uniquely hybrid sociocultural entity today known as the Xinguano society or nation. for instance. The newcomer Arawak peoples in the Upper Xingu incorporated local autochthonous peoples. as is not uncommon in other parts of the South American lowlands and elsewhere. have yet to be asked. however. .” as such small to medium-sized polities are often called.” These chiefly societies. such power was based on hierarchical notions of value and sociality. According to these notions. wherein chiefly individuals and kindreds are ranked according to notions of ancestral (“sacred”) chiefly authority.D. are raised by recent archaeology and ethnohistory along the Amazon (Roosevelt 1991. 500. currently unknown archaeologically. Xinguano sociality and polity represent a modality of social power based upon the political institution of the chieftaincy. Considered over the long term. and it is therefore difficult to understand the nature of sociality and polity among these ancient complex societies vis-à-vis contemporary peoples. all persons are ranked relative to one another. In Amazonia. unique sociological and humanist problems emerge. and reach the Upper Xingu no later than A. questions of chiefly power. in person. the “ritual phase of political economy. egalitarian. Questions of economic and demographic scale. as traditional views either deny that such a thing ever existed in the region outright. Such a power. In light of such a deep history. and established the cultural tradition that lives on today.D. by A. extending long before 1492. Such a structure of power is perpetuated “on the ground” through a dynamic ritual process specifically aimed at the (re)production of chiefs and ancestors. Xinguano peoples. and regional.4 • The Ecology of Power the Gran Chaco. the “ethnographic present. an Amazonian variant of what Sahlins (1985) coins “the heroic mode of lineage production” or what Clastres (1987) referred to as “the One. These societies were largely destroyed in initial colonial periods. were common worldwide in 1492 (Mann 1986). hierarchical. or power and rank within so-called middle-range societies (societies that are neither autonomous villages nor bureaucratic states). semisedentary. were rooted in idioms of “divine” ancestry. as Southall (1999) calls such a modality of power in Africa. and provide a unique glimpse into the nature of a genuinely Amazonian complex society in the past and today. which over the centuries also has incorporated into its midst both Carib and Tupian peoples. In the Upper Xingu. 800. maintain a way of life that is settled. or “chiefdoms.

knowledge. Amazonia’s past. the deep temporality of local groups in the unique and highly constructed landscapes of the Xingu. Lambek and Strathern 1998. Gregor and Tuzin 2001. particularly as is relates to issues of personhood.. the body . and also how we. so to speak.e. as well as the traffic-sociality among like bodies. landscapes and even larger socio-historical persons. links certain social actors more directly to founding ancestors and communal properties. In the present context. material culture. This inclusiveness requires direct attention to questions of cultural memory and how it is tied to human social bodies. public ritual. specifically. This does not imply that “all culture is about power” but instead is meant to provoke debate regarding issues critical to developing a deeper historical understanding of native Amazonian peoples: The ecology of power refers to the complex interplay of techno-economic. of a genuinely Amazonian chiefdom. Or else.g. This work seeks to problematize the body and person in such a way as to include. contemporaneous if not equal. it is viewed as an entirely postcolonial creation. This book is a life history. a term I use heuristically to draw our attention to certain critical issues that have yet to be adequately addressed in regional ethnology. and political forces in discrete geohistorical contexts and. communities. a topic of great relevance in recent discussions of Amazonian and general anthropology (e. in real-world settings. the idea of deep temporality as it relates to ecology or power raises problems relating to how bodies or persons are defined. rather than exclude. Specifically it involves that form of political power variably referred to as structural.3 First and foremost. Bodies and persons come in different sizes. This power. in turn. landscapes that over the past one thousand years have changed as much because of political as ecological factors.. (i. symbolic. The move to consider Xinguano cultural history through ideas of memory (rather than text). This discussion of scale. domestic life. Therefore our discussions must address the topology of bodies as scale and perspective change from small to large or short to long-term. may be extended to include not only human beings but houses. how bodies are objectified in practice. the persons of yesterday. as anthropologists. social. and bodily dispositions. tactile. or the perspectives that persons have of other persons. and disciplinary power—not direct physical coercion or economic exploitation between discrete social actors—that is manifest or contained in the control of the ritualized spaces. the idea of the chiefdom or complex society implies power. Viveiros de Castro 2001). visualize these elements across time. landscape). and that political coercion and economic exploitation were absent prior to 1492.Introduction • 5 and atomistic Amazonian social formations.

to measure patterned relations we must freeze either time or space. what Wagner (1991) has aptly called the fractal person. It focuses on certain characteristic or “essential” features of Xinguano culture through time (i.” Before considering Xinguano history. how existing societies have lodged themselves in our descriptions. both scientific and popular.” as Thomas (1989: 103) puts it. specifically. Lévi-Strauss (1961: 49) once remarked.. The task then is not to select the appropriate terms. notably their settled way of life.” This history of Xinguano peoples is provisional and incomplete. and regional patterns of politico-ritual integration and sociality. Particularly important are problems of scale-shifting and self-similarity across scales. that lingers today. social hierarchy. descriptions from one society thus lodge in another. has very deep roots in the Western historical imagination. as though the substance of particular ethnographic cases were flowing between the texts. almost an archetype. a first attempt really to reveal a very complex cultural history. as Strathern (1999: 235) points out. continuity). and persons (rather than individuals or groups) is obviously strategic. In other words. is “an unsystematic residue. “must be that exact opposite of our own. a brief discussion of the history or intertextuality of Western representations of Amazonian peoples and. Broken Mirrors: Amazonia as Imagined World The native people of the neotropics play a crucial role in Western formulations. methods. or along the line. Like all interpretations. and representative of a “primitive” or “archaic” human condition. simple.” Tropical countries.e. issues of scale and perspective are central.” and what more tropical country than Brazil or more . “inevitably. or even instruments of measurement beforehand. questions. interpretive and contextual. but instead to find correspondences between things that can be visualized at different scales within the same sociohistorical context.6 • The Ecology of Power (rather than language). from “a world already occupied by ‘societies’” and. The enterprise is. As an experiment in historical ethnography (which I take to mean the study of an “ethnos” through time. which is not exactly amenable to rigorous [quantitative] analysis. these reconstructions are formulated. of diachrony. of the “primitive other. Particularly the idea that Amazonian peoples are and always have been small. by necessity. is useful. “What falls within the space.5 knowing full well that diversity and discontinuity become apparent from other perspectives. and one that extends deep into Amazonian antiquity. through whatever means possible). but to get the picture moving again requires not measurement but translation and interpretation.

“Tropicality” is what Suzanna Hecht (personal communication. of course. “has remained remarkably consistent over 400 years. and. 2001) calls this unique form of Orientalism.” Homer believed. because it was Amazonians—once removed—who met Columbus in the Caribbean and Cabral in coastal Brazil at the end of the fifteenth century. were the progeny of Arawak-speaking peoples that colonized the islands from the mainland South America some twenty-five hundred to three thousand years ago. The coastal Tupi. The chronicles of Columbus and other early voyages told of many strange races. is the resiliency of this image of the Amazon as wilderness and its people as archaic.” The Amazon. The Taíno. as Henley (1996: 229) notes.” What is truly remarkable. that the Amazons lived just up over the mountains . who ventured out to met Pedro Cabral off the coast of Brazil in 1500. that. of cannibals. that had animated European mythology and geography since before Homer’s time—the archetypes of Europe’s “others. warrior women—Amazons. rivaling those of Africa (Bantu languages) and the Pacific (Austronesian languages). as much as anywhere. their close cultural relatives were encountered time and again across much of the lowland tropics. where modern notions of the “primitive” were born. and launched his campaign against the mighty Inka empire of Tahuantinsuyu. the Tropics. were likewise an offshoot of an Amazonian cultural lineage—the Tupi-Guarani—who colonized the coastal tropical forests (the “Mata Atlántica”) around the time the earliest Arawak peoples entered the Caribbean sea. As two of the largest tropical diasporas of the ancient world. the native peoples who dominated the West Indies in the 1490s. civil society (civitas) and how could it be otherwise: humans define themselves through “others. the Amazon fits so well the evolutionary schemas of Western philosophy. however. Amazonia exemplified that pre-civ il condition of societ y (societas) that is paradigmatically opposed to European visions of itself. Not surprisingly. if not natural. and the Historical Imagination It is no surprise that the Amazon is so deeply rooted in the Western imagination. as it was here.Introduction • 7 tropical place in it than Amazonia. Images of these Amerindians flowed across Europe by word of mouth and official reports decades before Cortes ever set eyes on the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan or Pizarro landed in northern Peru. these images were by no means unfamiliar to Western minds. where the “other” is not only subordinate and backward but truly archaic and unchanging—naturvölkern. of course. Although exotic. the hoi barbaroi. and “men with only one eye and others with dogs’ snouts” (Lestringant 1997: 15). They were the same savage races.

and civility. a “state of nature. as a mirror to European civil society. Some low level of civil government and science. their alter egos.” The Caribbean itself. the first to descend the river. Thomas Hobbes was among the first to explicitly posit a stage of human development. anarchy. and one set of conditions (the family. was easily transformed into an imagined past through which Western peoples had passed in ancient times (Fabian 1983): “In the beginning. and live at this day in that brutish manner. a pristine condition of humanity. … there is no place for Industry. located them. solitary. and other monstrous beings were turning up. all the World was America” (Locke 1690. in general.” Hobbes marks an important shift in political theory. of course. before the more dangerous and strangely “other” men. He. and which is worst of all. giants. poore. he admits. the priest who accompanied and chronicled Orellana’s expedition. . Friar Gaspar Carvajal. no Society. “the savage people in many places of America. owes its name to this Arawak word for its archetypal “others”—the “wild Indians”or the cannibals. and danger of violent death. continuall feare. cited in Kehoe 1998: 55). painted a rather bleak picture of this place: where everyman is Enemy to everyman. but. And the life of man. were present in the empires of Peru and Mexico. as I said before. The differences between “races” were seen as stages of human histories.8 • The Ecology of Power from Greece in Asia Minor. in 1541. of course. The general vision of primitive society derived from the Americas and other far-away places. By 1576. but. except the government of small families … have no government at all. polity. the land of the “Canibali. no Arts. dwarves. the vast region between the Amazon and the La Plata was. because the fruit thereof is uncertain … no Knowledge of the face of the Earth. cyclops. Non-Western peoples represented earlier stages of man. This viewpoint crystallized during the Enlightenment as Europeans struggled to make sense of the unexpected variation of human cultures. and struggle) inexorably gives rise to the other. seeing political development as occurring in evolutionary stages rather than being rooted in the idea of the fixity of species and races laid down by divine design in earliest times. just where so many of Europe’s other legendary races. brutish. no account of Time. and short. seemingly untenable under biblical explanation. no Letters. at least according to Sebastian Münster’s Cosmologie Universalis. the Europeans. nasty. once and for all. order. sailed abruptly into the Amerindian imagination.” which was not only “other” and inferior to but prior to European Society. in the vast. unexplored wilderness of tropical America.

This is the Generation of that great LEVIATHAN. or rather … of that Mortall God. and the Historical Fallacy in Amazonia There was a significant gap between the earliest explorers of the Amazon. ostensibly in the name of science. is called SOVERAINGE. the juggernaut of European colonialism had already swept across the Americas. (Hobbes 1996: 120) This assessment of the State as a managerial improvement has been popular among evolutionary minded social scientists. that though give up they right to him. to this Man. And he that carryeth this person. a condition only overcome by the appearance of order and progressive change heralded by the rise of a “monarch. eager to bend fortune to their wills. the multitude so united in one Person. our peace and defence…. see also Clastres 1987). social hierarchy was deemed not only divine but natural. The theory builds on Machiavelli’s ideas of manifest destiny. alternatively its dark or luminous faces.” But. through a clever allegorical twist. “archaic. even for those such as Rousseau.” for being noble: “noble they are today. what Fabian (1983) calls “the denial of coevalness. and Vieira. Many commentators would stridently disagree with Hobbes’s assessment of “the natural condition of mankind” as a barbaric condition marked by strife and shortage. ostensibly in the name of God and country.” that turns differences in space into differences in time. Either way. a managerial improvement over the virtual chaos of nature: I authorize and give up my Right of Governing my selfe. This done. to which wee owe under the Immortal God. Nature. Culture. places like the Americas were an ontological mirror or prism for the West. non-Western peoples were no less savage. Léry. By the time the first scientists arrived in most areas. and Authorise all his Actions in like manner. but when they were truly enemies of [Western] Society they only inspired terror and disgust” (LéviStrauss 1961: 42. and said to have Soveraigne Power.Introduction • 9 except where it is prevented from doing so by some cultural or natural defect or deficit. on the condition. circa 1750–1850. However. Not only did many living populations become increasingly small and fugitive. among others in the Americas. and who emphasized “natural” harmony and beauty. progress. “regressed” from the settled and . deeply stirred by the eyewitness descriptions of Las Casas. is called a COMMON-WEALTH. and the natural historians who took to the river in the late 1700s. reflecting its own values and preoccupations. or to this Assembly of men. in latine CIVITAS. and divine mandate. who saw the rise of the state as the corruption of natural society (equality).

His commentary rings equally true for Amazonia: … there exists in Africa a huge area—as large as the arable part of Africa to the west of the lower Niger. at least in terms of the overall numbers of people. are particularly recalcitrant to outside invasion and exploration. however. like equatorial Africa. at least among the more settled. and regionally integrated of them. as large as the United States east of the Mississippi. hierarchical. North America. There are few eyewitness accounts from early colonial periods and archaeological sites remain hidden in the deep terra firme forests and seemingly endless labyrinth of bottom lands. although it did not erase indigenous culture. such as the Caribbean. Nevertheless. Vansina (1990) notes this bias. this lacuna is an artifact of difficult access and low visibility: the tropics are difficult to penetrate and explore. Others held and still hold that the peoples living there “were too busy surviving in such a hostile . Mesoamerica. Amazonia. In part. and Peru. our understanding of early colonial and precolonial periods has increased dramatically in many areas. and other tropical forest regions. an artifact of the ravages of colonialism. in fact. almost as large as Western Europe—which remains terra incognito for the historian. Oceania. the “voids and blinders” of Western historiography. Southeast Asia. critical details. By 1750. Amazonia. The humid equatorial forests of South America. like Amazonia. Regional populations everywhere were severely denuded. … Why has this part of the world remained without a historiography? Some blame only the lack of historical sources. unavoidably. the worst was already over in most areas. and even in better known areas. events. particularly in the context of the Columbian quincentennial. and by the time “science” discovered the Americas. in other words. but many were simply wiped out as discrete cultural entities. and periods are poorly known.10 • The Ecology of Power productive agricultural economies of before (Balée 1995). Thus. the gaps of historical knowledge and biases of its authors. it also becomes inescapable that even the areas most isolated from direct colonial activities. labor. the anthropological object was already. were not insulated from the major historical flows set in motion by sixteenth-century European colonialism. Coverage is still spotty. the period after 1750 is perhaps not the best vantage point to consider many aspects of “traditional” Amazonian cultural patterns. or. or knowledge.” In Africa. In the Americas. whether for goods. As the dimensions of change after 1492 become apparent. did generally speed the rate of change. European colonialism. is still commonly seen as the perfect “ethnographic laboratory” to study the “primitive society.

Peoples there supposedly still live today as they have done for centuries or millennia. By the mid-1900s. dark. or tropes. a reasonably good representation of Amazonian peoples. dangerous animals and.” a riverine world of unimagined proportions (for Europeans) and brimming with pestilence and disease in an endless maze of hostile. cannibals and other “savages. and egalitarian social groupings “at one” with nature) is. come down to the present in the form of evolutionary ideals. for one reason or another.” One is tempted to call them Stygian narratives. which view progress or stasis as the result of some demographic imperative.e. the idea of a typical cultural pattern was canonized in the Handbook of South American Indians . priests.” as Slater (1996) calls it. In other words. or Southeast Asia were awaiting discovery in the overgrown forests of the Amazon. many authors speak of the region as a “green hell. The State was an entity imported to Brazil only after 1500 as part of the “Columbian exchange” that accompanied the expansion of the European World System into the Americas. toothy. The two narrative moods. relatively self-contained. by and large. and the like—in other words. environment determines history and the unlucky peoples here have no history because they never changed. One form is the “Edenic narrative. Rousseau. the image that has come down to us over the centuries (i. In Amazonia. So confident were they. if not wholly untenable. built upon the archetypes of Western historical discourse discussed earlier. Most commentators—and here we can include most anthropologists and historians—were confident in their belief that. and hopeless places. Conversely. most anthropologists were fully convinced that native Amazonian peoples were precisely what Hobbes. kings. based on the European tropes of a primordial garden and human groups living in a pristine condition of natural harmony and abundance. Peru.Introduction • 11 environment” to change. Twentiethcentury science had seemingly dashed the hopes that anything like the great tropical civilizations of Mesoamerica. Were the “archaic” peoples of the Amazon and elsewhere best seen as noble savages in a primordial condition of natural abundance and harmony. that the very notion of native cities. was not if they were primitive but why. small-ish. of course. The question that guided inquiry then. the idle dreams of wanderers and adventurers. the State—seemed startling. and filled to excess with water.. and others had thought: “primitive. plants. and simply chose to stay that way? Or were they hapless primitives stalled in a state of demographic and evolutionary stasis because of natural misfortune? In Amazonian anthropology. in fact. commentaries commonly adopt a profoundly naturalistic imagery. regional bureaucracies.” our contemporary ancestors. slaves.

how culture orders nature. Henley 1996. inspired by the ecofunctional and evolutionary paradigms of Julian Steward. Service 1962.. history. and recognized the value of the earliest documents. The “tropical forest culture” was the quintessential example—a type case—of the small. Indigenous notions of time. The second camp included the Franco-Brazilian structuralists.12 • The Ecology of Power (Steward 1946–1950). Regional specialists were polarized into two camps. Steward and Faron 1959). in “primitive” or “archaic” society has colored much critical debate. warfare and shamanism. Hugh-Jones 1995. Whitehead 1994. according to the measure of world historical schemas. forces us to radically revise our general images of Amazonia (Chernela 1993. and Marvin Harris. or that society is unwilling to support the necessary transformations in society. 1994a. both sides seem to agree that some dynamic equilibrium is maintained between the two—between nature and human culture—keeping social groups relatively small. in the end. then. history. kinship and exchange. Viveiros de Castro 1996). several anthropologists have long noted the “laconic” evidence of Amazonian civilizations. Leslie White. acephalous type of society that. and social inequality minimal and contingent. Indeed. 1996). before Europe’s expansion into the New World. productivity relatively low. not only did wheels of history move slowly. at least many of which were organized into hierarchical. Viveiros de Castro 1996. 1993). The questions of whether or how nature imposes order on culture or. exploring the domains of mythology and cosmology. conversely.g. regionally integrated polities (chiefdoms). . following the lead of the French master Claude Lévi-Strauss (e. is not why complex societies emerged in the region. However. and focusing on general characteristics of techno-economics and demography. The recognition of large. and prehistory of Amazonian peoples. Moreover. any marked expression of the type of social inequality that concentrates resources and political power in the hands of a few. by the 1960s. but Amazonians themselves denied it. and society seemed to lack.4 These studies document that. Roosevelt 1980. the image of Amazonian homogeneity was eroding in the face of more detailed studies of the human ecology. By the 1970s. but the more common tendency was to ignore them as uniformly unreliable as a basis for scientific study. Gross 1985. sedentary societies in portions of the Amazon floodplains (várzea). but why not: the all-too-handy answers being that either the natural environment is unable. The question anthropologists have most commonly asked. became generally known as the “tribe” (Fried 1967. The first of these were the North American cultural ecologists. rare as they are. there were large and densely settled societies along much of the Amazon River. to indigenous history (Lévi-Strauss 1973: 271. if not impede. and symbolic ecology.

as small to medium-sized. Otherwise. quite simply. enabled or compelled floodplain societies to increase in size and density. In other words. along a sociohistorical trajectory radically divergent from their hinterlands neighbors. in some respects. who. settlement permanence.Introduction • 13 Early accounts and archaeology from the Amazon River have had only a limited impact. however: it is backward. and now largely extinct. and we ought to be skeptical of a comparison that places a várzea “derived” social form. as a group. an unanticipated (and unfortunate) consequence of our broadened understanding of Amazonian history (or prehistory) has been to create an image of many past Amazonian societies that seems. It is. only existing in ancient Amazonia. a rupture. and egalitarian communities—are.” There is something wrong with this historical picture. The exception is the ancient. societies that inhabited the sliver of floodplain land along the Amazon (the várzea). but merely that this is a historical problem and not something that can be distilled from contemporary distributions alone. The “complex” societies of the Amazon floodplains (várzea) region are seen as a unique and highly restricted mutation of an otherwise egalitarian pattern that is ubiquitous throughout the rest of Amazonia. alongside a “primitive” or “aboriginal” form. The reasoning for the “várzea model” is well rehearsed: unique demographic and economic conditions propelled floodplain societies. of course. autonomous (even isolated). have we questioned thoroughly enough. transformed the underlying structure of these Amazonian societies and provided the basis for large settled populations. continued to follow a more “aboriginal” Amazonian pattern. also as a broad group. a historical fallacy. and sociopolitical complexity. commonly attributed to the propitious and unique. who are known solely through archaeology and ethnohistory. ecological conditions of the várzea (less than 5 percent of greater Amazonia). however. So. “non-Amazonian. our ethnographic stereotypes? . impermanent. This is not to say that. largely distillations of what we know about the present or recent past. The transition from personal equality and local autonomy to hierarchical authority. Generalized anthropological images of Amazonian peoples— for example. after all. such comparisons are erroneous. But. political economy. hierarchy is (or was) foreign to the Amazonian social body. from a deeply historical perspective. some technological or extratechnological mutation. was the result of extraordinary conditions of superabundance (and population growth) or diffusion. on general ethnographic and popular portrayals of Amazonian peoples. and regional integration. Some technological or extratechnological mutation. sociocultural complexity and inequality—the initial rumblings of the State. known almost entirely from recent times. aside from this extraordinary case.

and elaborate ritual and mythical traditions. political. Conversely. let alone stable social. and not as the descendants of First Nations peoples. and secret men’s cults. in those areas where intact native communities have survived into the twentieth century. or economic hierarchies. most anthropologists have dealt with these peoples as artifacts of colonialism. Again? An unintended consequence of “revisionist” perspectives on Amazonian history has been to create a rift between ethnographic and historical perspectives. social relations based on marriage and kinship alliances. . Parker 1989). perpetuate naturalistic views on “tropical cultures. the regional.” as uniquely determined by ecological determinants and expressive of basic human nature: In large part the Amazonia-Melanesia similarities consist of. there is precious little known about early colonial or pre-1492 times. procreativity. but many deny their Indian roots and.g. For instance. Roosevelt 1994) posit a rupture or discontinuity between. Where there was once common ground. or are traceable to. and foraging. the autonomous villages or “tribes” of the “terra firme”. hunting. on the other hand. albeit infirm (based on the myth of the tropical forest tribe). Thus. many societies in both regions display the following characteristics: subsistence systems based on swidden horticulture and supplemented by fishing. a pronounced sexual division of labor. with flexible membership rules. the limited possibilities imposed by conditions of tropical rainforest adaptation. which are known largely from the ethnography of the past century or so. in the so-called terra firme.14 • The Ecology of Power Lost Civilizations. on the one hand.. hierarchical chiefdoms of the Amazon “várzea”—things of the past and known exclusively though archaeology and early colonial ethnohistory— and. often centered on concepts of the body. descent groups nonexistent or of weak corporate constitution. warfare and raiding as the normal state between enemy and stranger groups. and egalitarian ethos disfavoring heritable rank. the new “syntheses” (cf. This situation is compounded when Amazonian peoples are placed into larger comparative frameworks and world historical schema. few surviving indigenous groups remain in those areas where there is evidence of social formations during the hundred years or so before and after 1492. dispersed settlements rarely containing more than a few hundred inhabitants. Cultural continuity between diverse “mixed blood” peoples and indigenous populations of the Amazon is clear (e. along with other forms of gift exchange. Gregor and Tuzin (2001: 337–338). In other words. at least.

The comparison between Amazonia and Melanesia is revealing. past and present.Introduction • 15 The historical problem is not the inadequacy or incorrectness of this representation.e. ideology and ritual.. there are symbolic and economic features that are characteristic of a wide range of non-Western complex societies. most now extinct as discrete cultural entities? European colonialism and catastrophic depopulation are obviously important. including aspects of political economy. notwithstanding the unwarranted environmental determinism. a hierarchical model of sociopolitics based on . were there societies like those of Polynesia in ancient Amazonia? If so.” namely. for instance.” For some groups. then why are the sociopolitical features of such societies so conspicuously absent from the ethnographic record of Amazonia? Viveiros de Castro (1996: 194). a uniformity that is largely isomorphic with the ethnographic present (i. what happens if we expand the comparison to include the past as well as the present. in terms of their size and sociopolitical organization? Also. such as Oceania? This begs the question. but the apparent incongruity between ancient and recent social formations also relates to the assumptions that guide anthropological inquiry in the region. the demographic nadir of Amerindian populations (the absolute low perhaps being reached circa 1950). that so much of what we know about recent social formations “points to the overwhelming ideological importance assigned to hunting in contemporary indigenous cosmologies (even those present in full-blown horticultural societies). but the homogenization of variance in Amazonia perpetuates the old view of cultural uniformitarianism. as the latter is a mere fraction of the size and diversity of the former. the twentieth century). notes an intriguing problem with “the picture of an Amazonia dominated by agricultural chiefdoms. as Descola (1996a: 330) notes. does describe the majority of groups studied in the twentieth century. which. Where do pre-Columbian Amazonian societies fit within the universe of world populations. First. or expand the analysis to encompass geographic areas of similar size. a view of the relations with nature that privileges social and symbolic interactions with the animal world and in which shamanism is the central institution … and a widespread ideology of ontological predation as a regime for the constitution of collective identities. The problem is that of representativeness: What precisely does the ethnography of upland or small riverine groups tell us about the variety and nature of large river and coastal peoples. This paradox may be more imagined than real in two respects. it would be hard to imagine a way of life more antithetical than that apparently taken by the polities of the Amazon mainbranch. The feature most germane to the current discussion is the chieftaincy.

We can expect to find that more “evolved” social formations (chiefdoms). the fate of the structures of settled life and hierarchical patterns of sociality and polity was tied to decreasing demographic and economic scale. as yet. agricultural villages. Thus. Roosevelt 1980. Carneiro 1970.g. and less evolved populations (tribes) were held in demographic and. distribution.. Lathrap 1970. foraging. to conclude that political power—which is exactly what is considered critical about chiefdoms elsewhere—is unusual or even absent in native Amazonian societies is premature. see Denevan 1992. both along the Amazon and. It is precisely the question of power and how it is manifest and perpetuated in daily life and bodily conditions. the problem is fairly easily resolved. The coastal Tupi. understanding the parameters of production and settlement will not automatically resolve issues of social. ritual. Second. or ideological systems. due in large part to a lack of well understood sociohistorical sequences. After 1492. away from the rich alluvial floodplains. occasional management of rich aquatic resources. In other words. economic and technological causes (e. who also lived in large. Even if community populations commonly numbered into the low thousands and were densely settled in large regional populations (well into the thousands. generally based on intensive farming. In other words. as we know from cases like the Upper Xingu. for instance. the principles that underlie political formation should be considered in and of themselves and do not correspond uniformly to the scale of demographic or economic conditions. 2001). political. For many anthropologists following in a North American ecological determinist tradition (see Carneiro 1995). this does not mean that we can assume that hierarchical social structures were present in all these areas as well. if not tens of thousands). Cultural evolution is determined or set in motion as a result of changes in broad demographic and technoeconomic conditions. apparently lacked the types of rigidly hierarchical social structures . and diverse supplementary terrestrial resources (here meaning nonextensive. As noted earlier. 1999). settled. the histories of the pre-Columbian societies that would best characterize these features are. therefore. the debate has focused on the presence of large population aggregates and highly productive subsistence economies. evolutionary stasis. and nature of the complex societies remains unanswered. Until recently. little explored. the question is largely ecological: wherever environmental conditions (notably fertile alluvial soils and rich aquatic resources) are present that can support population growth and economic intensification. The cultural ecologists have generally found issues of sociality and politics “epiphenomenal” to deeper demographic. The origins.16 • The Ecology of Power hereditary rank. however. and ideology that has yet to be addressed. however. ritualized actions.

Fausto 1992. author’s translation). social time is not genealogical time: time depth is a notion the Amerindians tend to avoid and even war against. hierarchical modes of sociality (Descola 1996. but it is important to recognize that: (1) the ecological parameters of most parts of Amazonia. Surely ecological conditions are important factors in differential cultural development. they do not stratify their pasts in accordance with a order of genealogical successions. Cultural development in many world areas. Furthermore. corresponds to a riverine-upland (or coast-interior) dichotomy. Viveiros de Castro 1996). particularly. in terms of economic productivity. (3) other factors. and specific histories. studies designed to examine what types of social groups were present in certain areas in the past. generally speaking. regional interaction. Menget 1993a. are uniquely inimical to cultural development (Whitehead 1993). or changes in the relations of production (e. or.e. . they see them as a thing of the past and restricted to a narrow range of environmental settings (see. Descola 1988. Fausto 1992). (2) highly productive ecological settings. that is. and. Descola 1996a: 330). We must also recognize that it has not been demonstrated through historical research (i. chose not to pursue a strategy that led to population growth. it might also be noted. Viveiros de Castro 1996). such as cultural choice. Structuralist-inspired anthropologists.” This view is still shared by many anthropologists today: “the societies of the tropical forest do not base their reason for being on an accumulation of events from a point of origin until the present. while suggesting that economic and demographic changes are necessarily preceded by symbolic and social reorientations.g. Clastres 1987. settled village life. are poorly known. particularly. riverine settings with abundant resources. not even relative” (Menget 1999: 153. suggests that “for the Amerindians of South America. 1996. or in more general terms. living in highly productive riverine and coastal settings. it can be clearly shown that some cultural groups. hereditary or institutional inequality) commonly attributed to chiefdoms in many other areas (Clastres 1987. they do not order their accounts of past things following a chronology.e.. Like cultural ecologists. have not generally explored the nature of these transformations. as a principle dangerous to their own social existence. for example. summarizing the consensus view of the 1970s. particularly the generally higher productivity of riverine settings..Introduction • 17 (i. are more widely distributed than commonly assumed. are also involved.. rather than what we believe ought to be present based on recent distributions) that Amazonian environments. Overing (1981: 151).

. cannot be adequately understood abstracted from cosmology. that is reciprocity in a “gift economy” (i. coasts.e. how can we fully know the origins and limits of coercive power in the region when the history of those peoples most likely to embody such a power. Peru. and (3) tend not to develop strong patterns of political leadership. and how did they differ from political systems in. and other areas exhibit demographic and technological characteristics that fit patterns of social complexity elsewhere. which attempt to contextualize these diverse factors in specific .. coercion. ancestor veneration. “is to add to the intellectual apparatus of domination. the symbolic underpinnings of human actions).18 • The Ecology of Power “To insist on dividing ‘primitive’ from ‘historical’ societies. economy.e.” disfavoring heritable rank and lacking stable hierarchies. in evaporating this Western duality. except in the context of warfare and shamanism. or exploitation characterized Amazonian politics in 1492. to build a sort of indigenist Orientalism. 1100 or 1900 in. and cultural aesthetics (i. the societies of Amazonia’s distant past. Certainly many ancient Amazonian societies of the várzea. technology. lacking “property” or other “commodities”). Before we investigate the causes of cultural complexity in Amazonia. say.. are so little known. turning them into timeless caricatures of what we know from Western historical imaginings alone (Kehoe 1998): the “cannibal instincts of the historical process” (Lévi-Strauss 1961: 42). Regional ethnology has consistently shown that demography. North America. ideology. say. is what kinds of power. also construed as a form of reciprocal exchange between more or less equal social partners. the nature of these systems) has been least developed (Hugh-Jones 1995). we must consider what exactly is meant by “complexity” in the first place: what should we expect to find in the region. The question that has yet to be posed. politics.” But.” Ramos (1988: 230) argues. ecology. (2) base themselves on generally balanced exchange.e. but interpretive approaches. or descent groups. simply assuming that “at the root of the transformations triggered by contact … is the passage from a system characterized by the politics of persuasion to one defined by the politics of coercion” (Ibid. and conceptions of time and personhood that critical debate over images of Amazonian social complexity (i. but do they share other cultural features of complex societies? It is precisely in the domains of sociality. A. temperate Europe. We must be careful not to perpetuate a naïve “tropicality” that negates the grandeur of ancient non-Western social forms. in any systematic way. we must be careful not to extinguish the voices of the historical personages of ancient Amazonia. or within Amazonia itself. Although this is surely true in some respects. It is particularly important to consider the entrenched views that Amazonian groups (1) maintain an “egalitarian ethos. and so on.: 237).D.

Manao. and Yanesha. riverine populations. In this smaller ethnographic universe. among others). Caquetio. have played little part in discussions of the Amazonian past The task that now faces us is to consider what. Given the radical changes in the aftermath of 1492 and. Most regional specialists agree that cultural variation correlates. at any rate. specifically focusing on the relationship of human populations to the land and nonhuman biota (e. Specifically. Increasing interest in historical ecology demonstrates the futility of any ahistorical analysis that does not consider the massive impacts of European colonialism on Amazonian peoples. Such an approach is too narrowly focused on the relationships between humans and the natural environment and defined in terms of energetics. and Terena. we must be extra careful of sampling bias in ethnographic comparison. Descola 1992. Achagua. Meggers 1996. Ingold 2000). Ecology. hierarchical social formations in Amazonia is little known and little studied. to ecological patterning. particularly. it is increasingly recognized that human ecology cannot be defined according to a natural scientific model. political and social dimensions of ecology into its analyses (e. Bauré. or hierarchical. were the forms of sociopolitical organization of these large.Introduction • 19 sociohistorical trajectories. Biersack 1999.g. trophic exchanges. Terena. Moran 1993). In other words. Balée 1995. more permanent communities along major rivers (see Carneiro 1995). Specifically. a common pattern in many world areas. in part. what precisely constitutes sociopolitical complexity and. the actual nature of regional. or calories. and Power Human ecology has been a leitmotif of Amazonian ethnology throughout much of the twentieth century.. in terms of the specific social and political relations and ideologies they involve. the contrast with many other Amazonian peoples is even more marked..g. such as the contemporary Xinguano. exactly. Pareci. A properly holistic approach must incorporate the symbolic. 1996a. History. northwest Amazon. Arawak speaking groups. Erickson 2002. thus. regional societies. among others stand out. shared remarkable . how we approach looking for it in the past or present. Bauré. such as the presence of generally larger. The relationship between ecology and cultural variability is far more complicated and historically contingent than has been commonly assumed. regional specialists are well advised to consider first those groups that appear unusually large. the virtually wholesale destruction of settled. Minimally. and Pareci. Lokono. regional. If we include ethnohistoric sources of peoples such as the Taino. The largely Arawak-speaking peoples of the southern Amazon (Xinguanos.

the concept of chiefdoms draws our attention to certain things. and (2) a structure of power. Hierarchy. making them exclusive (a package) of other societies. 1955) had first coined the English word chiefdom. who are more closely related to older culture heroes. economic inequality and “tribute. a term later borrowed by Steward (and his students Sahlins 1958. . as Schmidt (1917) noted nearly a century ago. embedded within an ideology and ethos of “aristocracy” and regional social organization (cf. specifically. and political flows seem to apply. ultimately. and. based upon the Amazonian pattern. that such a cultural solution is inevitable given certain (usually techno-economic or demographic) conditions. but instead. with significant variation in the nature of property and ownership. such as described below for the Upper Xingu. Hierarchy is about how people define the status and role (identity) of other people within social formations. refers specifically to an ideology that divides society into lower and upper social strata. The social logic of these southern Amazon societies is precisely that so commonly noted among the minimally to moderately stratified societies commonly referred to as chiefdoms elsewhere in the world. This is not to suggest that there is anything natural or given about it. in fact. Divine chiefdoms and kingdoms sit at the opposite ends of a continuum. in terms of rights and access to certain material and symbolic things. was magnified to state significance” (Steward and Faron 1959: 2). genealogy. place. As a heuristic device. most notably the emergence and nature of the political institution of the chieftaincy: a symbolic model of society that posits permanent “offices” of chiefs and some degree of hereditary succession to these offices. where the inheritance of the past. Kopytoff 1999).20 • The Ecology of Power commonalities. that is. is an example of an indigenous historicity. the deities. The Upper Xingu. but it refers to two related but separate things: (1) an ordered segmentation of society. It was here. that may be purely symbolic.” but they are both founded upon the same cultural principal: the elite are more directly descended from local ancestors. is a critical element conditioning social relations and is conceptualized according to principles of social hierarchy. regional and hierarchical life ways. Service 1961) and where he noted that the “men’s ceremonial house. notably tied to distinctive conceptions of history. it is used as a very general (and convenient) gloss for societies in which certain social. a type of history. based in large part on genealogical “substance” (see Chapters 8 and 9). that Oberg (1949. and personhood. nor is it meant to deny the multidimensional nature of power relations within and across genders and ages in all societies. among which were their settled. In this sense. economic. “chiefdom” refers not to some group of societies sharing a requisite list of invariant features.

. that is. There is much in Xinguano life that falls outside the realm of what I loosely call power. “heterarchical. age. particularly among the large Arawak and related societies that dominated many riverine areas in the southern Amazon and elsewhere. it plays a singular role in the definitions of cultural identity and categories. from “primitive communism” and populism to patrimonialism and autocracy. is continuous as well as discontinuous. but the Xingu is one of the only areas where such a historicity can be clearly identified in more recent times. such as how birth-order and bloodline are symbolically transformed into cultural categories of rank and political power. inexorably. It also involves the evolution of conceptual simplicity. which does not necessarily require economic and administrative hierarchy (i..” as Giddens (1984) refers to this dialectic between coercion and resistance.e. as well as forming a primary dimension of power struggles. Complex society or social complexity traditionally refers to the hierarchical division of society. and it is resistance perhaps that plays a privileged role in catalyzing change (Foucault 1980). and no doubt the transition from institutional equality. Xinguano history. however. in large part. the “One. be tied to birth. that classlike form of difference that must. Surely power is multifaceted in all human societies. where differences are based on gender. to inequality. this not only involves changes in economic and administrative functions— economic centralization. and a composite (multicommunity).Introduction • 21 In other words. The term “social complexity” means very different things to different people and most anthropologists agree that it involves diverse processes (McGuire 1983). at any rate. and how . This mode of conceptualizing history may have been quite common in ancient Amazonia. meritocracy. As Yoffee (2001) notes. and personal characteristics. there are important shifts. what is commonly seen as the evolution of social complexity. leads us. Most anthropologists accept that all societies have such ranked power or hierarchies (e. transformations. Godelier 1986). but its centrality is clear. and integration—that is. to questions of power and the body. by restricted and even exclusive access to valued resources as a result of birthright. there is a fundamental difference between societies that divide themselves by hereditary rank. bureaucratic inequality. and those that do not.5 But. classic central-place models).” and characterized by a “duality of control.g. a separation of people into upper (elite) and lower divisions within. Wherever such a hierarchy exists. regional nature of their social structure. heterogeneity. because—contrary to what we might expect from much twentieth-century ethnography—the latter seems so accustomed to the disciplinary manipulations of the former.” as Clastres (1987) referred to it.

is a forest and river world. but regardless of whether some form of social complexity is accepted or not. To the north of the Xingu. For many regional specialists. the Upper Xingu refers to the large erosional basin or peneplain formed by the headwaters of the Xingu River along the northern flanks of the central Brazilian plateau (Planalto Central). In fact. or “sertão” as one goes from east to west. it still remains to be described in detail beyond the very crude and generic. however. is dominated by closed tropical forest. the “weapons of the weak. persons. which. which are characterized by savanna and parkland vegetations. east. However it does suggest that Amazonia was no different than any other major world area in 1492 insofar as a common modality of power was some uniquely Amazonian variant on a very typical form of political power in the ancient world: a “divine” authority rooted in the metaphors of kinship and ancestrality. The ecology of the Upper Xingu. was traditionally occupied by Tupian and. The Upper Xingu.22 • The Ecology of Power things. marshy channels of smaller rivers that emanate within the basin.” as this vast parkland area is often called. this assertion would come as no surprise.8 The ecology of the Upper Xingu is neither várzea nor terra firme. which below Morená is the upper Xingu River proper. the regional ecology is somewhat unique in Amazonia. like most of Amazonia. These ecological zones are interpenetrating but can be generally grouped into . the primary origin place of Xinguanos. near Morená. if not pro forma. By way of introduction. Kayapó peoples. It is surrounded to the south. 7 This “bottleneck effect” is precisely what causes the large seasonally inundated bottom lands of the principal rivers that descend from the Planalto Central and the broad. but. although tropical forest covers the majority of the area (roughly 80 percent). models of differential evolutionary pathways linked to ecological variability. with regard to the numerous large lakes. like the basin itself. The view of social hierarchy adopted here (essentially conforming to that described by Dumont 1970) does not to deny that multiplicity of power or the importance of resistance to dominant groups and ideologies. for instance.” to borrow Scott’s (1985) apt metaphor. the region is a unique mosaic of distinctive ecological zones. cannot be reduced to any general Amazonian pattern. The “cerrado. more recently.6 Ridges that extend from the highlands to the east and west literally “pinch-off ” the basin at about this spot and the multiple headwater tributaries are forced into a bottleneck. was almost exclusively occupied by Ge-Bororo peoples. The Xingu River is formed by the meeting of the headwater rivers. in the classic sense. but is something of a “halfway house” between the two (Carneiro 1995). and places are transformed into containers of power. and west by topographic highs created by the less eroded geological formations.

is the degree to which it has been altered or “domesticated” by Xinguanos. is transitional between the humid forests typical of lowland Amazonia (called floresta ombrofila in Brazil) and the semideciduous forests in areas where there is a pronounced dry season (floresta estacional).Introduction • 23 four major types. creating vast anthropogenic landscapes (Baleé 1989).3). and road systems. dominated by buriti palms (Mauritia flexuosa). Unlike Marajó Island or lowland Bolivia.. Nonetheless. broad roads. (3) marshy. and. the conclusion that much of the landscape was not only anthropogenic in origin but intentionally constructed and managed is inescapable the more the scale of ancient settlements and their “monuments” (e. When I first lived in the Kuikuru (Xinguano) community in 1993. including rivers. of the upland (noninundated or terra firme) forests and adjacent wetlands have been dramatically transformed by human actions over the past millennium or so (Figures 1. plaza and causeway peripheral mounds and massive ditches) are investigated. including major transportation canals. The scale and constructed nature of the Xinguano landscape also draws attention to the fact that the fixity and intensity of land use was .2 and 1. and (4) natural savannas (oti). oxbow lakes. marshy wetlands. significantly. (2) galeria forest on sandy levees of primary rivers. A large portion. hydrological. among other features.g. the ancient occupational remains in the Upper Xingu are entirely covered in forest. wells. Today. I now envision tree-lined causeways. and pedological conditions: (1) high tropical forest. improved fishing. Meggers and Evans 1957). In place of small paths in the forest and minor openings related to plaza villages and gardens. perhaps as much as 50 percent or more. it took me some time to discard my own preconceived notions of tropical forests and realize just how constructed and artificial the landscape was. which is an unusual feature throughout southern Amazonia. the presence of numerous natural lakes. Second to forest areas in importance are diverse wetlands. where major earthworks in open grasslands had been known for many decades (Denevan 1966. large. I would not assume that any part of the forest is “pristine” without a detailed examination on the ground. well maintained. patchy tracts of agricultural fields leading out from the towns and villages that make up the skeleton of Xinguano history. raised causeways. each more or less confined to areas with the same topographic. many apparently quite deep. ponds. waterlogged areas associated with secondary and tertiary steams. raised fields. streams. both forests and wetlands. One of the most critical features of the land. and an equally well-constructed wetland environment. The high forest. managed ponds. drinking and bathing reservoirs.

. 5-4-3) showing limits of Parque Indígena do Xingu and Kuikuru study area (box).2 Satellite Image (Landsat 6 TM. 1. with inset showing position in Brazil. 1992.24 • The Ecology of Power Fig.

is a useful counterbalance to previous views that vertical hierarchy—the line from king to commoner—necessarily lies at the heart of political destiny (e. are tied not only to where one lives. until now.Introduction • 25 Fig. 1. has only been vaguely hinted at in Amazonia. in part.g. power involves the “tactics and strategies deployed through implantations. Most political anthropologists would likely agree that “political succession in chiefdoms and early states is almost invariably hereditary” (Lewellen 1992: 85) and involves some form of social hierarchy. and it will be taken up in greater detail later. or walks. Space and control over it is thus an important instrument of power and ritual centralization. Space is obviously an important element in the constitution of power and social control. but also tied to where one sits. even in the absence of economic or administrative centralization. for instance. and is always. The multi-sited and reticulate nature of relations of power and knowledge. but what is particularly important here is that the Upper Xingu represents a modality of power that. Crumley 1987). Power is a complicated subject and has diverse meanings (see Wolf 1999). demarcations. distributions.3 Map showing location of Upper Xingu. Appadurai 1988. control of territories and organisations of domains” (Foucault 1977). but space was much more tightly controlled. or sleeps. a reflection of spatial relations (Soja 1989). . higher in the past and that not only were populations significantly larger. in other words. Thus. an ecology of power at local and regional levels. Hierarchical social relations in the Upper Xingu. called “heterarchy” by many archaeologists. in relation to other house and village members. it forms a distinctive aspect of power critical in many non-Western chiefdoms and states. or what area of the village a house is located. Nonetheless..

the basis of what Geertz (1980) has called the “theater state” in .” and hierarchic (high/low) distinctions that structure ritual are duplicated in the practice of everyday life: the “learning of this high/low distinction and. the master ritual of Xinguano society and the key symbol of their identity (when chiefs become ancestors). deal as much or more with practical rather than discursive logic. “Replacing the ancestors. the spatial center. are inseparable from the process of achieving mastery of the body. Through time and space this is spatially and objectively concentrated in a point. political power always dependent on ritual. which establishs an idealized succession by identifying future chiefs (when persons are constructed as future chiefs) and the great funeral ceremonies (egitse).” is what Foster (1995) calls similar mortuary feasts among Austronesian chiefly societies of eastern Melanesia (near Oceania). and must be tied to what people do (performance) rather than what they say (discourse). politics and ritual are inseparable in practice. or encompassing. knowledge and power are also tightly associated with concepts of the body. but it also involves special observances. As Turner (ibid. if not most. as habitus. ritual “is a form of bodily discipline. families. Thus. the learning of the status differences it expresses. but in some hierarchical social ranking becomes the dominant.: 298–299) further notes. ancient complex societies did base their political power in dominant idioms of social hierarchy. as customary memory aimed at activating collective remembrances and identities. In the Xingu. The Xinguano ritual cycle of chiefly rites of passage. conversely. social persons. include the boy’s ear-piercing initiation (tiponhï). as Bourdieu (1990) points out. Ritual. but because it is a pervasive metaphor underlying all. thus. As James Turner’s (1992: 292) critical discussion of the Fijian yagona ritual argues: “though they are analytically distinguishable. and the continuity of names. calendric performances. and classes. as Dumont (1970) notes. in the context of major public events and spectacles. the spectacle of chiefly rites-of-passage. if not substance from founding to future ancestors): the “head” of the house. equality and hierarchy exist in all social formations. like everyday habitus. is not only routinized. not because hierarchy depends on reliable reproduction of chiefly persons. or “central place” (plaza) and the end of a line (a line of power. dimension in the structural distribution of power and authority.” Ritual centralization involves the mobilization of labor or resources as a primary source of social power. or of the political body.26 • The Ecology of Power many.” Ritual actions. and places. in particular. controlled by primary chiefly individuals. are particularly important. Ritual is inherently political and. of the community. notably the organization of houses and village.

Here I assume that there is a modality or technique of power that we can gloss as “sacred authority.” “intermediate. 1987). This type of internally ranked and commonly cognatic social structure is sometimes glossed as a “conical clan” (Kirchhoff 1955) or. insofar as they are based on a hereditary logic of social rank and elite class. The proliferation of terms may seem awkward. particularly in relation to age and gender domination. however. Steward and Faron (1959) call such societies “theocratic chiefdoms. “House societies. but the problem is whether they go far enough from a historical point of view. McCallum 1994. where it exists. tied to conceptions of sacred legitimacy. and it is important to consider issues of the . specifically through special claims to ancestral deities and heroes.” It is precisely this question. but the terms are merely refractions of similar questions: each highlights a slightly different aspect of the problem. Another central element of regional ethnology relates to the production of social persons. federations. not the assumption that it has or can be answered or summed up in a term. This modality of power. 1986).9 the birth of a disciplinary technique of power. Social hierarchy.Introduction • 27 Southeast Asia or simply the “ritual phase of political economy” (Southall 1999). social.” and the special powers of shamans (e.” a form of power that is expressed and perpetuated. is seen as symbolic and power is ritualized and subordinated to intimacy. Rival and Whitehead 2001). more recently. specifically. Most ethnologists remain convinced.g. commonly called “chiefly” or “kingly power.. Langdon and Baer 1992. whereas in political or economic arenas relations are seen as largely egalitarian. Power has become a central issue in Amazonian ethnology. or cosmological—are frequently expressed through bodily idioms. In southern Amazonia. in ritual performance and cultural aesthetics of strength.” Still other terms might be used—“middle-range. food practices and bodily decoration” (see also Seeger et al. are called “heroic societies” (Sahlins 1985). Once again. and value. cosmologically authenticated.” following Lévi-Strauss (1982. but without evidence to the contrary. these viewpoints are reasonable as far as they go. Viveiros de Castro (1998) points out that in Amazonia “categories of identity—personal.” or “chiefly” societies—to refer to these regional social formations that are hierarchical (sensu Dumont 1970). Certainly. such things as centers. indigenous peoples themselves are no strangers to power struggles over the past few generations. in their minimal form of “chiefdoms” or “petty kingdoms” (“inchoate states”). that there is little in the ethnographic record that points to true political power. that is at issue. the “political economy of people. beauty. or political power are too commonly seen as the result of influences of European contact.

is too restrictive to address certain problems (Scheper-Hughes 1994: 229). humid. and how disciplined bodies sediment themselves in the built environment. the traditional focus of sociocultural anthropology. particularly deep history. Mosko 1985.10 To address the issue of history. The history of related peoples in the Upper Xingu involves the entangled histories of four of the major linguistic families of the neotropics: Arawak. It resolves itself into larger and larger moral communities and historical entities—historical personages—as the focus changes from the human body and living persons to embodied memories. Today. through traffic) with other like bodies. whereas “the body is imagined. through what Bourdieu (1977) called the dialectic of embodiment and objectification. and thus the traditional ethnological definition of bodies or persons as more or less equivalent living individuals must be amplified to address past eras or “yesterday persons. the Mehinaku and the Waujá (each with one settlement). savannas. tropical forests of the north. and landscape. Strathern 1999. and forests of the south. it is also unimagined. in various senses. constructing or composing persons. Gê. This book focuses on cultural memory. which sees bodies as largely ahistorical and universal. Indeed. it is one of very few places where these four great neotropical diasporas converge. . and the Tupi-Guarani Kamayura (two settlements).e. (occupying three settlements). monuments. the geographic center of Brazil. Matipu and Nafuqua (one settlement each) dialects. This more generalized and multi-dimensional (fractal) notion of personhood is becoming increasingly popular in many non-Western settings (Lambek and Strathern 1998. constructed through relations (i. near the center of the continent. Wagner 1991). the Tupian Aueti (one settlement). the Arawaks. From a historical perspective bodies and persons come in diverse sizes. transforming themselves into other kinds of bodies or persons. the way history inscribes itself on bodies and places. and at the divide between the hot. outside of writing. including the Kuikuru. and the temperate parklands. in the absence of written documents means that we must define history loosely and look for it in the myriad ways that human societies remember. Kalapalo (two settlements). taken for granted. Carib. in ritualized actions.” Thus. In oral societies the boundaries between “cultural memory” (which is tied to lived experience) and “history” (the representations of the past) are blurred. Tupi-Guarani. Xinguano “society” is composed of four primary subgroups: the Caribs. and of other peoples who have come together. space.28 • The Ecology of Power body and personhood with respect to Amazonian “middle-range” societies. including the Yawalapiti (one settlement). Thus. by society” (Viveiros de Castro 1977: 32).

the historical method. of what is no longer.PART I Visualizing Deep Temporality As in other sciences whose subject-matter is the actual distribution of phenomena and their causal relation. which attempts to establish the laws of its development. the other. which endeavors to reconstruct the actual history of mankind.. two years prior to the publication of Franz Boas’s seminal article “The Limits of the Comparative Method. Like Boas’ The Central Eskimo (1888). Pierre Nora 1989: 8 In 1894. we find in anthropology two distinct methods of research and aims of investigation: the one. In this and his earlier work. soon followed by the works of other German researchers on the Xingu (e. or Lewis Henry Morgan’s (1851). always problematic and incomplete.g. Durch Zentral Brasiliens (1886). is the reconstruction. Schmidt 1902). 29 . the generalizing method.” Karl von den Steinen’s Unter den Naturvölkern Zentral-Brasiliens appeared. It was a pioneer work of the newly forming science of ethnology in Germany. Steinen introduced his readers to an unknown region of central Brazil and its unique peoples. borne of the living societies founded in its name. Franz Boas 1904: 513 Memory is life. on the other hand. … History. It was the first of its kind in Amazonia. Meyer 1896.

cosmology. are critical markers of Xinguano culture and identity. journalists. Changes in demographic and economic scale are obvious in light of what we now know of the size. the ethnographic history of the region reads almost like a “who’s who” of Brazilian ethnology. The celebrated “March to the West. and permanence of prehistoric villages and the transformation of their local surroundings. Xinguanos prominently display their identities in hairstyles. But. the sertão. territorial compression. it soon became one of anthropology’s first “classics. which established routes of communication throughout the southern Amazon in the early twentieth century.” the first indigenous reserve in Brazil. The Villas-Boas brothers are the best known. passed through the area (Naronha 1952). This was followed by a host of indigenistas. what traces tell us so? As elsewhere in the Americas. provides one of the clearest examples from lowland South America of the catastrophic depopulation now widely recognized as ubiquitous throughout the hemisphere. These rites of passage. and identity resulted from depopulation. body adornments. they are unmistakable. Although less obvious. in particular. adventurers. Western colonialism had a profound effect on all aspects of Xinguano cultural . upon their social skin (see Turner 1984). Agostinho 1974a. political power. density. and body painting. Carneiro 1993). The Upper Xingu. nominated for a Nobel Peace prize for their pioneering work in the 1950s and 1960s in establishing the “Parque Indígena do Alto Xingu. and the “crown jewel” of Brazilian indigenismo. in fact. has it always been so? And.” notably the explorations of Rondon Commission. In fact. in their rituals. the rites of passage that transform boys into men and chiefs and deceased chiefs into heroic ancestors. Likewise. who entered the basin in the mid-1700s during their campaigns to open the Brazilian interior. or Iroquois before it. have been the subject of feature films. ethnographic monographs.30 • The Ecology of Power League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee. for example. The kuarup chiefly mortuary feasts. in 2000 it was suggested that the ritual be recognized as a Brazilian national monument. and numerous shorter treatments (see. and others.” The lives of the Xinguano peoples also are intertwined with many of the heroes of Brazilian history. and the increasingly pluralistic character of Xinguano. beginning with the bandeirantes. Among anthropologists. popular books. discussed in greater detail in Part II. substantial changes in social relations. Perhaps nothing about the “índios do Xingu” is more ingrained in the popular and anthropological imagination than the great chiefly rituals. our increased understanding of the history and prehistory of Xinguano peoples reveals the horrific impact of Europe’s expansion into the New World. as in their houses and villages and their vast inventory of material culture.

(2) the more discrete area of the southern Amazon. how people carry their histories forward in collective memories. economic scale. ultimately. or the expression of political power and economy. and predispositions: an historical perspective of sufficient time depth reveals an astonishing resiliency. arrived in the area by at least A. These levels relate to three sociohistorical entities: the Arawak diaspora. Not only did they stay put. eventually. the encapsulation of native peoples within the World System in the twentieth century. including monuments and traditions. ethnic composition. violent encounters with “wild Indians” and white men. the southern Amazonian periphery. to flee the destructive forces of colonialism and the vectors of disease. Part I provides a brief introduction to this long-term history of the Upper Xingu. but they readily accommodated and incorporated immigrants—individuals as well as entire communities. proving to be highly adaptive in the face of acute population loss. as Europeans battled and coerced their way into the area and. While transformed by Western colonialism. is the longevity of many cultural practices. as Xinguanos became consciously aware of their juxtaposition with the profoundly “other” Western society.Visualizing Deep Temporality • 31 life as local groups labored under the pressures of depopulation. and (3) the history within the Upper Xingu basin itself. the ancestral populations of the indigenous peoples there today. What is also clear. The centrifugal force of the expanding colonial frontier coupled with the centripetal force created by the exigencies of depopulation created a unique situation of cultural pluralism in the Upper Xingu. and. societies survived because they were willing to move. New social relations and identities developed as immigrant groups encroached on local communities. but the Xinguanos survived because they were predisposed to stay put. The earliest Xinguanos. specifically with regard to three primary geotemporal levels: (1) the Upper Xingu in relation to Amazonia as a whole. and physical bodies and dwellings. In the face of such a complicated history it is difficult to separate the traditional from the invented and visualize the deep temporality or situatedness of these people in this place. in other words. colonizing a region with no apparent antecedents (although this may well be an artifact of sampling). Flexible and diffuse social relations and malleable social identities enabled groups to adjust to depopulation in a regional context. preoccupations.D. this was not responsible for its creation: Xinguano society did not emerge in toto. during and after the so-called contact period. or plasticity of basic cultural patterns or “structures. territorial compression. and the landscape. 800.” even in the face of radical changes in demography. and perhaps even more surprising. and the . In many areas of the New World.

To construct such a history requires that we not only address meaning but systematically link meaning to actions and. or creating a cultural history. attempting to delineate the deep roots of specific human lifeways and ideologies. socially dynamic context—and the additional temporal problem of establishing a history of those meanings and practices. extend our interpretation of meaningful actions backward in time by examining the residues or products of past actions. provides a counterbalance to what we have before our eyes: the presentism shared by quantitative generalists. pushing the context back in time. It is important to recognize that “the idea of a longue durée does not imply that nothing can change—just that it has not” (Richlin 1997: 27). Thus. then. it is among the few places where direct continuity between prehistory and ethnographic groups can be suggested. The Upper Xingu is unique in historical terms in that. and it is the self-evidential nature of the world as implied in this move which raises the question of time. is a passive past. is a foreign past: “the past is a foreign country. how exactly do we go about establishing correct meanings at a distance cultural and temporal? We are faced with the interpretive problem of establishing correct cultural meanings and practices—in a present. it lacks agency.” Hartley’s (1953) memorable and oft-quoted line reminds us. metaphorically. the view of the long term must necessarily glance over much variation and smaller scale discontinuities and change. not direct measurement and translation is tricky since it attempts to situate native meanings in a foreign context.” She goes on to say. As Moore (1995: 53) notes. “A past which is simply co-extensive with our present. It is a very complex history that involves the emergence of the unique pluralistic (multilingual) society known from ethnography. they do things differently there.” A past that is not isomorphic with the present.32 • The Ecology of Power Xinguano cultural tradition—or what we might call historical personages in the sense of the master historian of the longue durée. the deep temporality of practices. . within the Brazilian Amazon. Fernand Braudel. In thinking about Xinguano history then. The question is one of translation and calibration. Continuity and discontinuity or change and stasis are ongoing processes. that anthropology and history (or an archaeology that attempts to combine the two) both attempt to establish correct meanings at a distance. that “the valueless world of postmodernism thus threatens to return archaeology [cum anthropology] to a strange unmediated empiricism. and postmodernists alike. as well as constructed in our own image. however. manifesting themselves relative to specific scales and perspectives. The perspective of the long term. adopting premises of uniformitarianism and seeking patterning in timeless space.

This is the question that guides the first part of this work and requires resolution of basic issues of distribution in time and space. It is critically dependent on issues of visibility. indigenous oral history. or instruments. linguistics. its agency lies primarily in discovery not the repeated (or replicable) application of established questions. supralocal sociocultural “scapes” and the “skin of the land. thus there is no field of discourse. must be known through an eclectic mix of archaeology. aimed at revealing the self-scaling and transformation of bodies that are unrecognized or only vaguely recognized by present-day actors. as Chartier (1989: 60) puts it. Archaeology is a “singular” approach to deep time history. of sorts.g. which raises the question of visibility: what from the present can be visualized in the past. Although perhaps less obvious. methods. “There are no historical objects outside the ever-changing practices that constitute them. in the past? It may be reasonable to generally assume that certain cultural features (e. and ethnography. and more than an objective analysis of the spaces and objects that make up the built environment and material culture. or centrality of specific aspects or features of a cultural order without documenting their character. In short. defined as like or dissimilar bodies. resilience.. The life histories of things. for most past human groups anyway. what of “yesterday’s persons”? How do we attach agency to larger personages only resolved or resolving themselves at larger spatial scales. or even presence. . issues of visibility are also pervasive in an ethnographic context. whether they are attached to specific persons and places. Viewing things through time involves more than understanding traffic between living or perceived persons or subjects. or move freely between them.” or at longer temporal spans of the longue durée. Appadurai (1986: 5) notes that even though “human actors encode things with significance … it is things-in-motion that illuminate their human and social context.” The idea of things-in-motion implies time and displacement. history. How do we understand the historical performance.Visualizing Deep Temporality • 33 So. principles. no sort of reality that is defined once and for all. which requires a different set of observational tools than the study of stationary patterns. the deep temporality and historicity of native peoples. and therefore more commonly overlooked. history must proceed a little differently and the past. measured in days or years. but requires a topology. shaped definitely and traceable in all historical situations. each with a perspective on the other. symbols.” In Amazonia. often requires a historical point of view that extends beyond the life histories of objects or people and it is things-through-time that we must look toward for insight. but it is also the interpretive approach par excellence (Giddens 1984).

have long toiled over problems of interpretation. likewise. takes things out of place (context) but—generally—leaves them in (freezes) time.” is commonly referred to as the “direct historical . but it is nonetheless an assumption that they comprise deep-seated elements of the cultural pattern. systemic context.” as Hodder (1996) calls it. although interpreted in the present. or institutions) are central or pivotal because of their apparent pervasiveness or perceived importance in a contemporary context. statements like “Amazonia is.34 • The Ecology of Power practices. that is. The approach advocated here of historical ethnography or. products.” The challenge is to develop valid and relevant analogies or homologies between the past and the present (a topic that has likewise been widely debated in archaeology) (e. Stahl 1993. can we begin to address issues of its structural stability or transformation (Ohnuki-Tierney 1991: 7). and only through studies that explore the movement of culture over long periods of time. at least implicitly. at least since Taylor’s A Study of Archaeology (1948). The historical method involves taking things out of time. have made important contributions within the dominant paradigms of North American cultural ecology and Franco-Brazilian structuralism.” “terra firme societies are”). how to move analysis beyond simple chronicle and narrative to reconstruct the lives of yesterday’s persons (Collingwood 1926).. some ecological or cultural determinism that overrides specific histories. There has been much debate in archaeology. as Burns (2001: 8) notes. Typically. Wylie 1985).” on the other hand. paraphrasing the seventeenth-century French scholar Jean Mabillon (1623–1707): “A person who has for years been acquainted with ancient documents could acquire the skill to make such judgments [of authenticity] which sometimes might reach a degree of probability tantamount to certainty. about how to give meaning to the static remains of the archaeological record—things that. developing historical analogies or homologies. that generalize across Amazonia or broad segments of it (i. these analogies are derived from twentieth-century ethnology and therefore must rely. Indeed. even. ethnohistoric “thick description. The “contextual approach. Historical analogies of a very general kind. were made or pertain to the past. but leaving them in place (in terms of geography or cultural tradition). even though each and every piece of evidence in isolation might be of little weight. Extending analysis beyond the living and their memories requires some systematic approach to dealing with things out of a lived.g. The “generalizing method..” “Amerindians are. changes at “deep” or basic structural levels are rarely discernable over the short term. extending beyond one or a few generations. on assumptions of uniformitarianism—in other words. has even more ancient roots.e. for comparison. Historians.

and in so doing. the “bric-a-brac washed up on the shore of modern times and left there as the social currents within which it was created have drained away. finding correspondences.Visualizing Deep Temporality • 35 approach.” objects without subjectivity.” . and thus moves us away from the narrow view that archaeology merely deals with “dead persons.” It develops linkages between different levels of analysis and perspectives.” which assumes that the “landscape is constituted as an enduring record of—and testimony to—the lives and works of past generations who have dwelt within it. have left there something of themselves. or as Giddens (1984: 357) quips.” Importantly. It also involves what Ingold (1993: 152) refers to as a “dwelling perspective. this view of “the temporality of landscape” situates archaeology and ethnography as forms of dwelling in the landscape.


and in hindering it shape it. in part. Others wear themselves out more quickly. However.e. For Western observers. Fernand Braudel (1980 [1958]: 31) The Upper Xingu is rich in history. revealed over generations or centuries. the result of an analytical gap. hinder its flow. the Xinguano way of life exudes an almost subliminal feeling of timelessness and ecological adjustedness. Harder still to grasp is “structural history.” in Braudel’s sense of the deep. certain limits of productivity. Just think of the difficulties of breaking out of certain geographical frameworks.. become stable elements for an infinite number of generations: they get in the way of history. certain biological frameworks.CHAPTER 2 Culture and History: The Longue Durée Some structures. recalcitrant undercurrents of the longue durée. It also results from a general sentiment.” in the mathematical sense) beyond which man and his experiences cannot go. even particular spiritual contraints: mental frameworks too can form prisons of the longue durée. because of a lack of adequate archaeology or documentary history. Inside a Xinguano house. that apparent immobility and immutability often considered characteristic of “cold” societies. generally speaking. because inquiry has focused upon the present (i. As hindrances they stand as limits (“envelopes. because of their long life. Xinguano history has been hard for anthropologists to visualize. and regions. The reification of the present is. the rhythms and movements of village life as experienced in an ethnographic context) and not the past. 37 . But all of them provide support and hindrance.

38 • The Ecology of Power lying in a hammock looking up at the carefully placed rafters. or at the wisps of smoke rising up from the central hearth. Xinguano multilingualism). beams and crossbars.2 and Figure 2. and nearly two thousand living in thirteen villages today) raises the alarm that things are not as unchanging as they might seem. has been widely noted since Steinen’s time. slightly over five hundred in nine villages in 1954. without the now ubiquitous bicycles.3). Reading Xinguano “history. some three to four thousand persons in some thirty villages in 1884.e. The fact that beginning some time in the distant past. Likewise. into a state of affairs. comparison of demographic patterns from the late 1800s to the present (e.” obvious on linguistic grounds alone (i. the anthropologist’s in an ethnographic present. and myriad others traces of Western culture (Figure 2. an intricate latticework of posts.” Steinen’s copious graphics look like snapshots of contemporary village life.g.. there has been a historical process of “intertribal acculturation. does not transform or broaden this image of the Xinguano variant of a generic Amazon person or “tropical forest culture. for instance. a timeless Xinguano society. 2. soccer goalposts. it has been easy to transform a state of mind and body. it is hard to imagine that things were ever any different: there are no obvious monuments of the past in contemporary villages (Figure 2. and continuing into the twentieth century.1 Atugua (whirlwind) masks in Ipatse village (1993). Many authors have recognized Fig. 1894). One has to read rather carefully between the lines to see deeper levels of change. aluminum pots..1). In other words.” in Karl von den Steinen’s seminal works (1886. . the kitchen.

previous studies are microhistorical. Dole 1969. for instance. 1880–1980). The image of Xinguano peoples that emerges when we look to the past. The real eye-opener is experienced when the ancient and sophisticated architectural plan is revealed in its entirety. Dole 1993). 1984a. 1500.” subsidiary to household of primary village chief (1993). these historical factors and several have more detailed commentary on the profound effects of depopulation (e.1 These observations are not intended as a criticism of a “presentist” methodology that focuses narrowly on direct observations in the present. and notably at a time when indigenous populations across the hemisphere. over ten times the size of contemporary villages. although that is indeed surprising. they try to emphasize that the anthropological (and popular) image of “Xinguano society” was forged during recent times. history writ rather small.2 Front door of small round “radio. Ribeiro 1970) or the formation of Xinguano pluralism (e. at most. almost ubiquitous in terminal prehistoric settlements. instead. and vast deforested agricultural areas associated .. an extended “ethnographic present” (c. The great shock comes not so much upon realization of the massive physical scale of earthworks. though.g.g. when regional populations reached their apogee). 1940–1980). Agostinho 1972. Bastos 1983. and certainly those in the Upper Xingu. Galvão and Simões 1966.. on the eve of European contact (c. The great fortified towns of the remote past.Culture and History • 39 Fig. The nature of what came before 1884 has been touched upon rarely and largely hypothetically. reached their demographic nadir (c. but. differs dramatically from that of the ethnographic present. By and large. in increments of one or a few generations. 2.

3 (a) Fish-spirit dance in Xinguano village in 1887 (from Steinen 1894) and (b) at Ipatse village (1995). . like today. demonstrates that in the past. the built environment was integrated across a much broader area.40 • The Ecology of Power Fig. with them document an unexpectedly dramatic and intentional transformation of the prehistoric landscape. 2. pathways. The distribution of settlements. ports and other sites. roads.

Thus. some likely numbering in the thousands. as well as the archaeological study of material residues created by past and present human action. it is not designed to put ethnography to work to better understand the past—for archaeologists to “do” ethnography to address their preexisting problems. .Culture and History • 41 extending well beyond the village areas themselves. commonalities across scales.e. numbering in the tens of thousands. back and forth.D. since Xinguanos peoples are well-documented ethnographically (from 1884 to the present) and have a deep history within the area (spanning at least a millennia and likely two or more). and to create a critical dialogue between alternative ways of looking at history. the Upper Xingu is a privileged locale for such a contextual or “direct historical” approach. indigenous narratives. The assumption is that continuity reflects not the autonomous persistence of disarticulated features of culture but more importantly the underlying structural principles or cultural order—a unity of meaning organized around culturally typical schemes or tropes. and documentary sources. ethnohistoric. and archaeological conceptual domains. It attempts both by revealing visible links at varied analytical levels (i. Across the region there were many of these villages. undoubtedly home to a large late prehistoric population. understanding the “system” (or significant parts of it) at different points in time and space. obviously. nor is the approach intended to put archaeology (or history) to work to better understand the present. Relevant cultural patterns are reconstructed at various points along a historical continuum (“slices of time”). in 1884. Written history begins late. The approach is ethnoarchaeological. after the fact through archaeological or textual analysis. but variation at each individual level is often required to see patterns between levels. and therefore our ability to define the major temporal outlines of Xinguano culture before this time depends largely on archaeology. between broadly defined ethnographic. However. permanent settlements. densely settled in large. are generally lacking from Amazonia. Either way the study is topological. and depends on our ability to recognize or visualize key symbols or schemas and social traffic at disparate spatiotemporal levels. throughout much of the upper Xingu basin. the better. derived from ethnographic observation. It aims to integrate diverse levels of analysis. Detailed studies of discrete sociohistorical trajectories with sufficient time-depth to evaluate long-term trends. This “dialogue” requires fairly free movement. and concretely linking these through visible commonalities. to create “genealogies” of certain ways of living or social philosophies. 1750. The more detail and resolution of each level. relative to variable spatiotemporal scales). particularly before circa A ..

whom he felt fit the “tropical forest culture” model. with ceremonial houses (“temples”). Within such a contextual approach. This oversight was historical. and so on. Many. locations. Continuity in these physical features. notably associated with three major blocks: the Guaporé (Bauré). regional distributions). “idols. they encountered numerous dense sedentary populations. enduring cultural structures or schema) are glossed here as (1) an ethos of settled way of village life. but also within a deeper historical personage.. Julian Steward called these societies the “theocratic chiefdoms.e.. if not the majority. Denevan 1966). by “peeling back” layers of meaning and by placing things more fully into their diverse social. the Arawak diaspora. of these diverse settled peoples spoke Arawak languages.” elaborate ritual life (Block 1994. The Southern Amazon When Europeans first arrived in the southern peripheries of Amazonia. as the theocratic chiefdoms were described based on composite early sources (c. interpretations are extended from the readily observable to the less observable.. as well as the high level of engineering in their planned plaza villages. most obviously manifest in settlement pattern and spatial organization (e.42 • The Ecology of Power In the Upper Xingu. subsistence economy. land use around villages). Pires de Campos 1862. and technology (e. The early explorers were impressed by the “civilized. or major aspects of them. in recent times because of post-1500 depopulation).g. radical changes or discontinuities between parts and their functional relationships. in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. allows us to infer continuity in the underlying structural principles.. there is a remarkable continuity in the underlying structure of the whole—the symbolic “core” of Xinguano culture—not only within the Upper Xingu. (2) supralocal integration (regionality). Even in the face of dramatic. and historical contexts (Hodder 1996). These cultural tendencies (i. cultural. and which are infused with comparable meanings. the changes in settlement size through time or the correlation between changes in settlement size and mobility. The first eyewitness accounts of the southern Amazon peripheries (between circa 1690 and 1720) came at a time. 1650–1900). settlement layouts.” with the exception of the Xinguanos. which are the products of repetitive social practices. subsistence regime. ceramic industries. as we will see later (in . the upper Tapajos basin (Pareci).g. and (3) social hierarchy.” “docile” nature of these peoples. and the Upper Xingu (Xinguano). the endeavor of creating such a “holistic” cultural history is made much easier by the resilience of certain highly visible features or traces of Xinguano culture over time.g. whereas the Xinguano “tribes” were only known only after 1884. (e.

which is very much what both Schmidt and Lathrap had in mind. Upon careful inspection.4 The Arawak Diaspora showing distribution of primary contemporary Arawak language groups (1–10.g.2 Fig.4) The idea of a diaspora. not autonomously. 2. Lokono. and Madeira.” (e. Pareci. when populations in the Upper Xingu. the connections linking Arawak groups are clear: they are sedentary farmers. had already undergone episodes of catastrophic depopulation as a result of early colonial efforts in South America (at sometime between c. Bauré. Negro. which are closely spaced together in regional “cultures. even in an area as culturally diverse as the southern Amazon.Culture and History • 43 Chapters 3 and 4). the “Circum-Caribbean” proper. Terêna. Caquetio. . Solimões. and Xinguano). ultimately linking these areas with areas even farther north. and Taino (Figure 2. after Aihkenvald 1999). It is my belief that these are part of a larger sociohistorical entity or enchainment—what I call the Arawak diaspora—which also included the Arawak peoples along the Amazon. living in large plaza villages. even if only partially and sometimes minimally.. the most remote from colonial activities. 1550 and 1700). Achagua. as well as groups in far eastern and western Amazonia. is based on the assertion that language and culture change in concert.

in fact. separating the “traditional” from the imported was critical in the southern Amazon. It was. and into the cultural history of the continent. their life ways. these groups were related and. and Xinguanos. while very diverse in form. to the [high] level in which they were encountered by European culture” (Schmidt 1917: 68–75). as did Nordenskiöld and others working in Bolivia or other areas of the diaspora at about this time.44 • The Ecology of Power Max Schmidt’s Arawak Expansion … the problem of knowing the point to which we are dealing with the productions of a certain aboriginal tribe or. on the other side.” circa 1700. it could still very well be that this utensil or mode of thinking so became as it is as a consequence of contact with European culture. are always found intimately linked with cultivation of the soil. because. although he did not call it this. in a manner similar to that of the Arawaks.” a protégé of Wilhelm Schmidt in the 1890s and steeped in the German tradition of historical idealism. principally through the expeditioners … even in the cases where an indigenous object does not exhibit a European mark. formed a historical continuum. because these groups had been so altered in the centuries between “first contact. where he concentrated his work.” and. Building on Steinen’s work and his own field experiences in southern Amazonia. the point to which the culture we encounter is already imbued with an European air. Bakairi. that for the indigenous person is so singular. His work in the Southern Amazon at the turn of the twentieth century provided a unique window into this problem. likewise. Max Schmidt (1942: 268) recognized a fundamental problem of historical anthropology: How can we concretely link the past with the present in light of the massive impact of European colonialism? Schmidt was a “diffusionist. Max Schmidt 1942: 268 (author’s translation of Portuguese translation of original [1905] text in German) Throughout much of his work. Such resiliency of symbolic . even where it does not manifest a European mode of thought. as he noted. they are agriculturalists. inaugurated by Steinen. “their navigation arts. and the ethnographic period in Amazonia. particularly among the Pareci. 1917) recognized the uniqueness and historical importance of Arawak peoples early on. “Everywhere we find Arawakan tribes or their influence.” and basic riverine or coastal orientations was of critical importance (Schmidt 1917: 15). the “economic-administrative factors that elevated the ancient Peruvian cultures. He was keenly interested in the problem of culture change. Schmidt (1914. the Arawak diaspora. in some respects.

that Schmidt notes. resonates with historical analysis within other tropical diaspora (Bellwood and Renfrew 2003. Schmidt felt that archaeology. 1994. if not clear exposition. In fact. such as material culture (ceramics and ritual objects). notably his treatise on the Arawak (1917). provide exemplary cases today of how such historical processes might work. notably the idea of Arawak “high-culture” juxtaposed against “cannibal” enemies (Whitehead 2002). but preferring the latter. Ohnuki-Tierney 1990. Several elements of Schmidt’s argument merit mention: (1) Arawak societies constituted a hierarchical society. social hierarchy and political rivalry. and Gê (Basso 1977. Like his contemporary.. were based on very broad ethnological comparisons of individual traits across broad sweeps of time and space. Carib. the kind of grand diffusionist schemas of world history that fell into disrepute in post–World War I anthropology. 2001. Viveiros de Castro 1992). especially within large diasporas. is demonstrated time and again throughout the non-Western world.g. Thomas 1989. Schmidt’s work framed these same issues very early on.” but his own historical reconstructions. and is widely suggested for other language families. (4) routes of migration along water sources. but something has stuck out in the minds of virtually everyone who has considered the historical distribution of Arawak peoples: they share certain things in common. high art and science. of the . Maybury-Lewis 1979. presaging later “phylogenetic” approaches (see. especially the central location of plazas. with lords.Culture and History • 45 systems over time. and (5) the nature of conquest. Franz Boas. The same problem of separating phylogenetic from reticulate phenomenon. in particular. would help reveal the traditional. which he compared to Tiwanaku. as well as early root-crop agriculture. Hill and Santos-Granero 2002. Vansina 1990). “ancient ways of life. such as Oceanic Austronesian or NigerCongo (Bantu) languages in Africa. Kirch and Green 1987). spatial organization and. having perhaps both military and “diplomatic” elements. e. compensating perhaps for past oversight. such as Tupi-Guarani. including those most engaged in the question of diaspora in the ancient Americas. particularly in light of Western colonialism. (3) his recognition of their economic base on root-crop agriculture and riverine adaptations. his work was often overlooked by later culture historians. At the risk of giving overdue credit to Schmidt over later authors. (2) the temple/plaza basis of political power. Kirch and Green 1987. a founder’s ideology tied to these places and the ancestors they contain. Although imbued with the shopworn allegories of conquest. his nascent recognition. Ancient tropical diasporas.

the speakers of protoArawak were concentrated on the floodplain of the central Amazon … developed Tropical Forest agriculture was leading to increased populations which were putting a progressively greater pressure on the limited expanses of alluvial land … to relieve these populations pressures daughter colonial groups started to move out. 3 The “Neolithic revolution” in Amazonia.” together with “sedentism and an abundant supply of fish. Lathrap’s Neolithic Revolution Lathrap expanded significantly on Schmidt’s hypothesis of an Arawak diaspora in two principal ways: (1) through explicit recognition of a widespread connection between “Barrancoid” ceramics and Arawak languages. and the influence or . Lathrap’s model. although elegant and compelling.” Lathrap saw things this way: “around 3000 B. and significantly altered through the years. The process did not stall at this early time “back on the Central Amazon flood plain patterns of food production and food utilization meanwhile continued to increase in efficiency so that even greater population pressures began to build up. involved the emergence of “developed Tropical Forest agriculture” in the central Amazon (c. or before) and subsequent expansion of root-crop agriculturalists across the lowlands. and (3) patent demographic upsets” (1970: 15–17.46 • The Ecology of Power major features of the Arawak diaspora is noteworthy: he was on the right track. Demographic growth and ensuing population pressure and the “intensification of a system of cultivation of bitter manioc centered in the alluvial floodplains of Amazonia and northern South America. further waves of migration of peoples speaking Proto-Maipuran moved out along all routes followed by earliest colonists…” (1970: 75). 1977) called it.C. 5000 B. providing the means to pursue historical roots through archaeology and (2) his elaboration of a “Neolithic revolution” model. 1977: 715). as Lathrap (1970. These colonists would have traveled by canoe and moved out along all available waterways where further alluvial land might be encountered” (1970: 74). building also on Sauer’s (1952) ideas about tropical agricultural origins and dispersals in riverine areas of the tropical lowlands. Between 1000 and 500 B. Culture change is seen to reflect the operation of large scale economic and demographic forces. (2) rescheduling of human activities.C. This “developed agriculture” emerged out of an earlier “house garden” economy focused on industrial crops (nets and floats for fishing) and involved: “(1) gross genetic modification [of plants].P. suffers from unwarranted assumptions and overgenerality about ecological and demographic conditions and their influence over change. looking for other available areas of alluvial bottom lands.

They were perhaps the most successful expansionists.P. Today. and demographic factors (the “working out of the Tropical Forest [economic] pattern” with respect to narrowly defined ecological conditions. as evidenced primarily by ceramic griddles. There does seem to be a technological innovation sometime long after manioc was domesticated. a yearning. 1995. and the search for a single kind of ecological niche. 1985. the horticultural mind-set4 was a critical component.000–1. indicates that here. such as rivalry between high-ranking persons in a hierarchical ideology. as elsewhere in the Americas. Lathrap (1970) felt.500 B. see Carneiro 1970. 1977. notably alluvial soils and fisheries) put him squarely in line with an ecological determinist consensus (Lathrap 1970: 76. will emerge. Pearsall 1989.Culture and History • 47 variability of social. providing a transportable technology widely applicable in the lowlands (manioc farming and fishing). technological. at least. Ferguson 1989. or ideological conditions is largely ignored: once people had adopted a pattern of sedentary floodplain settlement and “developed” root-crop agriculture. but equally important is an ethos of exploration.P. small-scale groupings. there . perhaps concomitant with the first pulses of the early diaspora. Importantly in the present context. Lathrap’s narrow focus on ecological. that was a more critical “motor. as so commonly witnessed in historical times (see Chapter 7).” Certainly. good alluvial soils” (1970: 75). 1991b): population pressure is the mother of change. notably “proto-Arawakan” and “proto-Tupiguarani. will give rise to only sparse. Plant a cultural seed in the rich floodplain (várzea) soils of the Amazon and a great social forest. “domestication” and “cultivation” were processes that developed throughout the Holocene.P. that is. but this remains to be demonstrated in empirical terms. then demographic growth and expansion would ensue. few would accept “relatively continuous population pressures.” along the floodplains of the Amazon and its major tributaries.” and demography correlates more or less uniformly to major ecological variation. but place the same seed in the depauperate soils throughout the rest of Amazonia. the terra firme/várzea dichotomy. The Arawak (Lathrap’s Maipuran) were the 3. dense and strong. 2000). in this case as a “pump. Lathrap et al. Today. Piperno et al. relatively constant rates of migration. part of a process that operated uniformly over five millennia. but they were preceded and succeeded by waves of diverse other groups.. Early dates for manioc and other tropical forest crops (approximately 8. It may have easily been other factors. that vast terra firme. the Arawak diaspora was seen as part of a general process that began by circa 5.000 B.000 B. for one reason or another.000 to 6. political. Roosevelt 1980. to explore and colonize.

that to say that Amazonia is like every other area of temperate and tropical forest and rivers in the world. or something else. nor can it be assumed that people moved into these areas the first chance they got. and Persons: The Amazonian Barrancoid Regardless of ultimate causes. requires no deterministic process.e. some did and some didn’t. it seems. Specifically. It is now widely accepted and the Upper Xingu is one of the critical examples that complex societies existed more widely in Amazonia than was commonly thought in the 1970s and 1980s. cultural. the first and ultimately largest and most “complex” of these “complex societies” appeared in the flood plains of the major rivers (principally the Amazon and Orinoco). it is hard to deny that something “revolutionary” happened. in part. the Arawak diaspora). and ecological factors that interact variably under contingent sociohistorical conditions. small set of “strategic” resources.” as Roosevelt (1997: 174) suggests. in part. reflects the assumptions of cultural ecology. like recognizing the Arawak diaspora for what it is. Many were poised to become the type of pluralistic regional society that became so common after 1500. notably arable lands. invention. contingent. In other words. and so on will be uniform or predictable across the region.” but merely represents a “historical fact. But. no more than we can simply assume that cultural responses to demographic stress. agree that the early root-crop agriculturalists spread out far and wide along rivers and coastlines from a homeland somewhere deep in Amazonia (Roosevelt 1997). the ecofunctional “cause. Plazas. the várzea model is. such as residential moves. as Lathrap suggested. In other words. and historical factors: the interplay of multidimensional social. and certainly in all where states emerged (and arriving at such a conclusion. conquest. Cultural change depends on other more localized. whether the initial impetus was economic or demographic. and competition for it in flood plain areas.. This is to say little more. flight. Pottery.” correlation). and perhaps they already had undergone an ethnogenetic process of hybridization . an artifact of sampling and.48 • The Ecology of Power seems to be universal agreement that. Even specialists who doubt the cultural specificity of the process (i. reconstructing something like the Arawak diaspora through recourse to human “biological distance studies. three to four millennia ago. population pressure cannot be demonstrated. ritual. scarcity or competition cannot be narrowly defined by the same. seems dubious because by later pre-Columbian times most Arawak peoples were involved in widespread social relations with other groups. on average. and rates or regularity of demographic patterns and trends cannot be assumed.

when. the “idea of the state” in inchoate form (i.D.000–3. not impersonal forces. that carry the process along. 500. the diaspora includes many persons with non-Arawak biologies.Culture and History • 49 in many of the areas before. with little attention to genealogies (phylogenetic forces) or interaction (reticulate forces).. this requires some recourse to archaeology. it is precisely words and gestures. That is. commonly moved through time and space in partial unison. By A. one step down from simply being “Amazonians”. is not only a spatiotemporal. not to mention the hint of exclusive property rights).C.000 years ago). what I call the Amazonian formative. and the changing conditions locally within the Upper Xingu. that is truncated by the deleterious effects of “contact”. a “historical personage. It is persons. Carib.” Spatial and temporal issues are tied to both the people who colonized the Upper Xingu. In my view. revealing the continuity of personhood that we should endeavor to write. it was the emergence of the hierarchical structure. 500–800. or geographic unit but also a sociohistorical entity. linguistic. after initial colonization. and Gê).D. that was the critical lever or cause for the initial diaspora around years 4. In the Xingu. as it has expanded nearly as . Xinguano histories are most obviously part of the Arawak diaspora that can be juxtaposed against other such traditions (Tupi-Guarani.5 In other words. The diaspora..C. persons who utter words make gestures. of the body). which spreads fairly rapidly across the neo-tropical lowlands by c. the incipient elitism with which a founder’s ideology is imbued. that are the critical or essential feature of the diaspora. It is therefore a history of persons.e. and more or less imperfectly reproduce what they have learned and otherwise experienced. the southeastern endpoint of Arawak expansion. the “classic” period. To be convincing. As a symbolic transformation within villages and regions of the proto-Arawak. 500–1 B. in this sense. words and gestures (technologies. Culture areas are used in Amazonia for synchronic classification of Amazonian peoples. it enters a new phase. and not genes. if not before there is an initially expansive period of “regional development” followed by a period of cultural fluorescence. and the perspectives they entail. (part of the same macro-history of colonization and development of the Amazon beginning over 11. that is reproduced as traces—other words and gestures—across time. ontogeny does seem to recapitulate phylogeny.000 years ago or soon thereafter. which in Amazonia has just appeared on the intellectual horizon. within the Arawak. At this macrohistorical level. Remarkably. The idea of a diaspora postulates nothing more than this: that there is a nonarbitrary and nonautonomous relationship between words and gestures. circa A. it enters its initial “diasporic” period by 500 B.

Hornborg 1990. perhaps turning people into objects. too.50 • The Ecology of Power far as it ever will. Late in his career. that monumentalism represented a shift in religious authority. ritual. it did not likely cause the diasporic explosion in the first place. Central plazas. see. such as structured use of space. the emergence of certain modalities of power—of social containment—plazas. through control of their labor or through the symbolic fungibility of human bodies and wealth (Descola 1992. must first entail a social transformation.000 to 4. approximately 3. The radiation of a new technological system may lie at the root of the rise of hierarchy. particularly. The weight of history as expressed in ritual. not technological (meaning. but also to underlying cultural schemas that inform not only economic decisions and patterns but also the basic organization of social. Although these features are not restricted to Arawaks. 2001. the revolution that had to be made. which he felt was at the root of cultural change in the “Formative Cultures” of the New World. flutes.6 One article. and other features. tactile memory. had earlier sparked Lévi-Strauss’s interest in framing his seminal discussion of plazas (1963. although this.g.. “Jaws. to my way of thinking. Godelier 1982).P. the Amazonian Barrancoid series. or other forms of knowledge conservation. including ceremonial structures. material culture. the line that had to be crossed was symbolic and social. are “causal. that is to say he transformed what were clearly ideas from his early years. and plaza centric ritual. as discussed in Part II. is a fertile area of contemporary research on the built environment and. inspired. like so many others. and political life. followed by the classic and post-1492 phases of the diaspora.” The claim of conservatism within the Arawak diaspora can be tied not only to ceramic technology and design.000 B.” stands out as a singular contribution to the prehistory of the hemisphere. However. Zeidler 1984). and appear to be features of proto-Arawak culture. Seeger 1976. plazas (Low 2000). Turner 1996.” specifically. in the theoretical implications of Lévi-Strauss and structuralism (see Oliver 1991). As Ford (1969) had earlier suggested in his model of the “theocratic formative. and then regional growth and elaboration ensues. and (2) did the makers of Saladoid-Barrancoid speak Arawak . e. Particularly. Roosevelt 1997. His work at Poverty Point in the 1950s.7 The question is twofold: (1) does Saladoid-Barrancoid relate to these early root-crop agriculturalists (Boomert 2000. ball games. the hierarchical structure did not await the technological innovation to express its internal energies in the diaspora). and its obvious correlations to economy (root-crop agriculture and fishing). Zucchi 1991). Lathrap published some of his earliest works. they are prominent in virtually all cases. and landscape.

Lathrap 1970. 800 (Roosevelt 1980. composed of cooking griddles and a variety of pots decorated with incised-line. and the southern Amazon: The Middle Orinoco: The Orinoco River and adjacent areas have long been an area of special interest in questions of ancient Arawak peoples. Siegel 1999).C. provides a well-documented sequence of early settled agriculturalists on the floodplains in the first millennium B. and monochrome painting (usually white or black) on buff or red slips. What the Caribbean also tells us. and tempered with grit and sponge-spicule (cauixi). and development into regional polities. However. among other smaller frequency materials (Barse 2000.D. The Caribbean (Saladoid) Arawaks already had their central place-plaza model. Boomert 2000. Roosevelt 1997). Indeed. Roosevelt 1997. by A . but there is some consensus that between circa 1000 and 500 a cultural group situated on the banks of the middle Orinoco had a broadly similar ceramic industry. that Arawak people were unique in the plaza villages and Barrancoid ceramics and brought these across the lowlands. Spencer and Redmond 1992. modeling. Zucchi 1991). Sanoja and Vargas 1978. assuming (as most do) that the earliest colonists of the region were Arawaks. the Caribbean. the central Amazon. to the sixteenth century (Petersen 1996. the Orinoco.Culture and History • 51 languages? We can at least say this. which based on the regional ethnology (Arawaks in plaza villages at contact) can be extended across the southern Amazon and the Caribbean–Orinoco corridor. The sequence from the middle and upper Orinoco (together with the lower Orinoco sequence. some greater detail is merited in the key areas.” Today. circular plazas are part and parcel of the known historical sequence. including rank-order settlement hierarchies. the Antilles and the southern Amazon and adjacent areas. Zucchi 2002). It is also home to the type sites (Saladero/Barrancas) for Lathrap’s hypothesis of a “Barrancoid people and their dispersals. the vast majority of Arawaks live in plaza societies. from 500 B. appliqué. A continuity in technology and circular plaza .8 I cannot fully elaborate here on these two claims. the two endpoints of the diaspora. we known that it is one of the earliest if not the earliest examples of Saladoid/Barrancoid ceramics in the lowlands (Boomert 2000. described by Rouse and Cruxent 1963). The ceramic industries associated with these later prehistoric complexes are likely direct lineal outgrowths of the earlier S-B ceramic traditions (Roosevelt 1997). generically called Saladoid-Barrancoid (S-B). Authors disagree on the cultural affiliations or dating of the initial ceramic industries (“La Gruta Tradition”).C. It is the area that the “Nu-Arawak” were first described by Gilij (1782) as a distinctive language group (Arawak and Maipure). Saladero-Los Barrancos-Barrancas. punctation.

The Gaván period occupations in the Meta River (Venezuela) area provide a particularly well documented case of initial colonization of the region (A. in northwest Venezuela (e. Radiocarbon dates from early Saladoid sites in the Lesser Antilles place initial occupation by circa 500 B.D.g. Regardless of their antiquity in the area.C. 300). that so impressed Americanists as “CircumCaribbean chiefdoms” (Steward and Faron 1959). 300–500) and ethnohistoric Arawakan groups in the area. settled. these populations were fundamentally Amazonian. Siegel 1999). They also brought with them in relatively intact form. as well (see Petersen 1996. but cultural continuity between early populations (c. These populations lived in large. Wilson 1997).” These cases.D.52 • The Ecology of Power orientation from the late first millennium B. documented in the Lesser Antilles by circa 500 B. The Caribbean: Regional specialists generally agree that Arawak agriculturalists colonized the Caribbean from northern South America. Rouse 1992. 1999) suggests that. etc. followed by significant in-filling by the small colonizing population. the Apure and Meta rivers and Falcón). precisely those peoples.. whereas interaction was clearly important. including domesticated and other managed plants (manioc.D.C. the Caquetio and Taino.) and animals (Petersen 1996. bananas. Petersen 1996. although village patterns are poorly known for early S-B times. as the geographic area presumably ancestral to Caribbean Arawaks.C. 500–200 B. or related groups (Oliver 1988. These earliest occupations by ceramic-making peoples were apparently circular plaza villagers. was characteristic of Arawakan speakers in the Orinoco.C. and sometimes fortified villages that gravitated toward central public space. 500 on) (Spencer and Redmond 1992). and slightly later in Puerto Rico. it seems likely that the circular village pattern. the ceramic complex of incised. Cedenoid (Nericagua phase). Zucchi 2002). located around regional centers (as known archaeologically from approximately A. Zucchi 2002). until after 1492 also can be suggested (Boomert 2000. transporting their manioc agricultural–fishing complex. from the llanos and northern coastal areas that abut the northen Andean piedmont. which over two centuries or so had developed into ranked regional polities. slightly later into areas just west of the Orinoco River. and. Redmond et al.) (Petersen 1996). They moved into the area with the circular-plaza model that seems to characterize Saladoid. modeled.. such as Achagua and Caquetio. A. and other Arawakan “peoples. So. 1997. Arawak groups of the Orinoco clearly expanded into the Caribbean by circa 500 B.C.. namely the Lower Orinoco (see Boomert 2000. apparently. although the colonization of much of the Caribbean seems to have occurred relatively quickly (c. are commonly seen as the result of Andean influence. and .

Curet 2002). were the ceramics they made and circular plazas they derived from on the mainland. see Oliver 2003) felt for the ancestral founder who successfully bent tradition from a circle to a square.D. circa 500 B. but. At least. Perhaps nowhere is the idea of plazas as containers of power more obvious than in the Caribbean. Here the “founding dynasts”are reborn and remade in the living chiefs: the unity of the house and the division of the state. Central plazas continue into the early sixteenth century. then the historical question is topological: how was this symbolic of discipline embodied in the plaza transformed through the varied traffic of persons? Whatever settlement changes may or may not have transpired in the Orinoco after circa 500 B. Sweet 1974).” so to speak. and incised ceramics and circular villages. Few would disagree that these earliest Saladoid peoples. or Peru. near the confluence of the Negro and Solimões . the first European settlement in the New World. where the various “Taino” subgroups at the time of contact are also well known for their rectangular bateys. Caribbean prehistory is “shot through. a square in the form of a batey or ball court. This concentration or “containment” of power. as well.Culture and History • 53 commonly bichrome (white pigment on red slip) ceramics. we must recognize that if we accept central plazas to be a major dimension of late prehistoric Taino power.” Archaeological research at the Açutuba. too. as a symbolic storage device. an area dominated by Arawak groups historically (Métraux 1940.S. The implication is clear: the Saladoid peoples with their white-on-red.C. Lathrap’s “Amazonian Barrancoid. and so. such as those on Puerto Rico (Oliver 1998. 500. as a result of traffic with the post-Classic kingdoms of the Maya (Alegria 1983): an Amazonian variant of the “foreigner king” perhaps. indicates a correlation between central plaza villages and generalized “modeledincised” ceramics.. the indigenous settlement in Hispaniola near where Columbus established Le Navidad in 1493. is part and parcel of the Arawaks who first migrated into the Caribbean. The Central Amazon: Research in the Lower Negro.C. as social memory. with plazas from beginning to end. those recognized in the Caribbean clearly point to the working our of preexisting structures of hierarchical power: the central plaza and regional integration. One might wonder what the elite of Caquana (Puerto Rico Taino. it ultimately seems to have given rise to the “great plazas” of late prehistory. were the proto-typical societies of the Arawak peoples who inhabited the area in 1492. modeled. called the Saladoid series in the Caribbean. Wilson 1997). such as at En Bas Saline. The genealogy of the central plaza in Amazonia and the Caribbean is shorter than that of the Southeast U. (Deagan 1986. in the Caribbean were Arawak.–A.

The early portions of this sequence (from c. 2001). 800. and perhaps included groups along the Solimões (Upper Amazon). It was occupied continually (if not continuously) throughout much (if not all) of that span.D. become intermixed with Paredao materials) (Neves. 920 radiocarbon years ago) are dominated by a local variant of the Amazonian Barrancoid (which by the latter end of the S-B sequence. referred to as Guarita in the central Amazon. but this remains to be seen..54 • The Ecology of Power rivers. The Osvaldo deposits primarily occur in a roughly circular configuration around a lesser occupied central area. into ethnohistoric times (Heckenberger et al. 2003). and continue until circa A. Later ceramics.D. perhaps relating to increased regional exchange focused particularly on chiefly ritual and exchange (i. provides a securely radiocarbon dated sequence of ceramic occupations of the region (the broad “confluence” area) from as early as 1000–500 B. prestige building). apparently in association with a central plaza village pattern characteristic of later occupations (Heckenberger et al.D. there are similar changes from S-B to later ceramics (i.C.C. The distribution of Arawak groups in the central Amazon included a continuum along the middle and lower Negro by the late first millennium A. apparently coeval with Açutuba. Perhaps this is an ethnogenetic event. The Osvaldo site is of particular relevance here. matching the span of the contemporaneous and equivalent occupation at Açutuba (Neves 2000. wherein the intrusive Paredao peoples and the Barrancoid Arawaks merged and both were subsumed into a local variant of the late prehistoric.. to A.D. postA. Petersen et al. 800–900.. particularly elaborate polychrome and other fine wares apparently a transformation in regional political economies. until as late as A. S-B ceramics are dated to the late first millennium B. or plaza. 900 polychrome called Guarita. although elite wares clearly relate to a variant of the Amazonian Polychrome styles. They have been dated from circa 200 B. initial S-B ceramics appear by 360 B.D. 900.. if not before. to A.C. In the central Amazon. such as Kokama-Omagua speaking peoples.C. personal communication 2004. D.C. 920–360 B. with numerous dates.C.D. until the late second millennium A.e. to between circa 200 B. after circa A. Neves 2000. show clear continuities with the earlier Barrrancoid styles. An even clearer example of an early circular plaza village with S-B ceramics. radiocarbon dated. 900. Innovation of elite wares does not therefore represent a discontinuity in the ceramic industry but a gradual transformation of local industries. has been recently documented beside a nearby terra firme lake.e.D. like the Caribbean and Orinoco. from Saladoid to post-Saladoid . Here. 850 at the Osvaldo site. after circa A. 1999). 1999). as well as in the middle to lower Amazon.D. Petersen et al.

but instead only part of the overall industry is significantly transformed. In other words. the change is not from one “tradition” to another. In all three areas. and Bauré areas. precipitated by either an overall technological innovation or population replacement. by extension.C.e. Guana. but early first millennia B. 800–1200. and between river and upland peoples. . specifically in elite “prestige goods” exchange. there is a dramatic quantitative decrease in the ratio of finely decorated forms to utilitarian forms (i. and perhaps others as well (Figure 2. That is. So this would be a very widespread phenomenon in ceramic populations across the region. in a multicentric regional systems that integrated large regions. Such a reconstruction is supported by ethnolinguistic distributions and apparent genetic relationships in the southern Amazon region. many also generally shared with Moxos. notably what can be called the fine wares..D. dates from Bolivia may relate to an early Arawak occupation (Dougherty and Callandra 1981). 1000 through the present. the initial pulse of Arawak expansion (Lathrap’s proto-Maipuran) begins circa 1000–500 B. The Upper Xingu is particularly important since continuity of Arawak speakers can be demonstrated from circa A. “finer. Pareci. Terêna. their immediate progenitors in the middle Orinoco. archaeological distributions and dating are more tentative. who shared a constellation of cultural traits.” and more specialized.” including the Xinguano.C. the wide array of Arawak peoples spread across the “southern Amazonian periphery. as well as apparently becoming more rare locally as part of a large vast interlinked political economy of symbolic and economic prestige goods up and down rivers. which seems fairly certain for the Caribbean Arawaks and.D. has as much to do with interaction as common origins. Lathrap 1970). Ceramic industries in the central Amazon do not show the type of dramatic alteration or discontinuity that would suggest a marked transformation of the ceramic industry. This is also a concomitant increased in the sharing of ceramic styles—marked by significant similarities in form. based on continuity in the village spatial organization (circular plaza villages). iconography. in this case. and ceramic technology (a variant of an Amazonian Barrancoid style) (Dole 1961/62. regional settlement pattern.Culture and History • 55 in the Caribbean and Saladoid-Barrancoid to Arauquin in the Orinoco).5). In the broad southern Amazon. They are becoming more elaborate. Chané. but a transition in local and regional political economies. a more restricted distribution of finely decorated and ritual wares—and a qualitative increase in the “fine-ness” and elaboration of the fine ware ceramics). The Southern Amazon: Accepting a link between S-B ceramics and Arawak languages. circa A. at least. which point to the upper Madeira as a secondary center of dispersal. decoration—that.

” Viveiros de Castro (1992: 5) notes. circular plaza villages. “it has become increasingly evident that the sociological. settlement patterns.56 • The Ecology of Power Fig. 800–present).5 The Southern Amazonian Periphery. “buck-pot” and griddle forms. Over this millennium. chevron. and ceramic industries is apparent. The Upper Xingu region represents the eastern extent of Arawak peoples in southern Amazonia and the correlation of S-B ceramics. and curvilinear designs. red slip. in this case black) are diagnostic of Xinguano ceramic industries throughout cultural sequence in the Upper Xingu (c. occasional monochrome painting. Characteristic features of S-B ceramics known from the above-mentioned areas (rim adornos. A. incised-line designs in parallel lines. linguistic. and cultural units of the continent are combinatory variants of a structure . languages. as well (Heckenberger 1996). appendages. 2. and lifestyles surely changed dramatically.D. but clear continuity between prehistory and the present in cultural groups. and Arawak languages can be reconstructed over this continuum from the late second millennium until the present. sponge-spicule dominant temper. Xinguano industries. The Southern Periphery “Ever since Lévi-Strauss’s Mythologiques.

by linguistic affiliations. feritas and divinitas” (Ibid.g. considered typical of “class-divided” societies (cf. between center/periphery. and chiefly and nonchiefly individuals). insofar as collective identities are constructed through symbolic opposition and exchange with “ontological Others. can be characterized by unique (more recent) structures within a more exclusive symbolic reservoir. reproduced through real and imagined ties with ancestors (through integenerational name transmission). conveniently grouped. and other (e. see also Basso 1977. that the smaller sociocultural units. in contrast to unity in underlying cosmological principles. at least initially. Viveiros de Castro 1992). even atomistic. Giddens 1984: 193–195).e. humanitas but. social reproduction among Arawak peoples is created not primarily through a symbolic alterity with the outside but upon affirmation of the inside. by way of the core of cultural values and institutions. Yanomamo.: 25. settlement and subsistence pattern.: 25). permutations on a very ancient symbolic structure. and political practices of Tupi-Guarani peoples. including marriage . Jivaro) peoples might be described as autonomous. older/younger. Butt-Colsen and Heinan 1984. as he forcefully shows in From the Enemy’s Point of View (1992). Overing 1993.. It also has become increasingly clear. that is. Carib.” where social fecundity depends upon the incorporation of the exterior through symbolic predation (Fausto 1999. on the other two.Culture and History • 57 that operates with the same basic symbolic materials.. supernature. 2001. Many Amazonian societies.” that is.. social and politicoritual practice is guided by an ideology focused upon generalized exchange and an ontology focused not (or not primarily) on relations. alterity. The image of Amazonia as a broad region characterized by egalitarian. history. simply does not fit the historical reality of the majority of Arawak peoples. and elite (organized) exchange. The substantial variance in social morphology. with the “outside” (nature. is an “other-worldliness”: “the focus is not on the central domain. descent). and other “foreign” human groups)—an existential contradiction—but upon a structural contradiction. what distinguishes Tupians (and more specifically the TupiGuarani) from some other lowlanders. Rivière 1984). including many Tupi-Guarani. atomistic societies that resist conceptions of genealogical time (i. However. makes them “strikingly similar to the likewise dispersed and ‘metamorphic’ Caribs” (Ibid. an internal alterity that exists between hierarchically ranked (upper and lower) social divisions (i. The Xinguanos are notable precisely because so much of their ritual and daily life is dominated by humanitas. or political power. What defines a Tupian heritage.e. the recreation of society (and social hierarchy) through intercommunity chiefly life-crisis rites.

broadly speaking. particularly TupiGuarani-speakers. against the colorful backdrop of Curt Nimuendajú’s ethnohistoric map (1981 [1944]). but what it is not—the almost solid green of the central Brazilian Gê or the equally dominating gold of the southern Amazonian Tupi. What has not been recognized is the place of the Arawaks in the southern Amazonian periphery. Kaufman 1989). although the northern and western diasporas have received attention). where Tupi (and Caribs. At first glance. are characterized by a social structure. Nowhere is this distinctiveness of Arawaks more obvious that in the southern Amazon.. the neighbors of the Gê across much of their range were largely Tupians. Much of westcentral Brazil and lowland Bolivia. predominantly macro-Tupi speakers in the former and Gê in the latter. including the Pantanal and Chaco. There is also a notable correlation between these ecological provinces and the cultures associated with them. The Gê societies that have historically occupied central Brazil. Although more diverse in terms of settlement patterns and social morphology. predominately parklands (cerradão) and savannas (cerrado) interspersed with gallery forest along rivers and streams (galeria). the Tupian peoples. What lies between is a mix of blues . this difficulty is compounded by pronounced cultural fragmentation resulting from European contact. across the region (Maybury-Lewis 1979). as well as. what I call the Southern Amazonian Periphery. as well as markedly varied environments. In the southern Amazonian periphery there is a striking correspondence between the broad physioecological provinces of the southern Amazon (predominately tropical forest) and central Brazil. which minimally extends from the Upper Xingu in the east to lowland Bolivia in the west. particularly with respect to their distinctive cosmology and “bellico-religious complex” (Viveiros de Castro 1992).” It is obvious not by what it is. like the Gê. the Llanos de Mojos. Between these two macro-cultural “provinces” lies a third. cosmology. the Southern Periphery. for instance. Conceptualizing the Southern Periphery within the context of such cultural diversity is therefore difficult. what linguists refer to as a “sump” or “invasion” area (e.58 • The Ecology of Power alliances. the Guaporé. from a regional perspective. which in part must be related to an inability to recognize the diaspora for what it is (again excepting Schmidt. By late prehistoric times. “hold together” as a closely related group of cultures. a macro-tradition. and spatial organization recurrent. who are like “metamorphic”) and Gê dominate the landscape and. show the Arawak in stark contrast. for at least a thousand years (Wüst and Barreto 1999). the Southern Periphery is hard to “see. represent areas of contact between peoples of diverse language groups.g.

g. across much of the area is largely Arawak in origin. or deep cultural structure. but preliminary correlations of anthropometric evidence (Santos and Coimbra. What is most important here is that the Pareci. Uaimaré. Warfare is one cultural feature that unites diverse groups within each of these two cultural macro-traditions and. although the social body is diverse. To be sure. Terêna [Guana]. Kaxinití. The reason for this visual example. the skeleton. which makes a tie between language group and color. Piro. and considered historically. in fact. A full discussion of the origin or antiquity of the Arawak languages in southern Amazonia (e..Culture and History • 59 (Arawak). Iránxe. similarities within the broad Tupian and Gê cultural traditions extend well beyond linguistic relatedness. but upon closer scrutiny. Pareci. pinks (Carib). larger patterns tend to become more confused amidst the diversity of colors (“peoples”). Although internally diversified.g. from which they later expanded to the west (Acré and Peru). Bauré. these other cultural provinces give shape to and mark the boundaries of the more culturally heterogeneous Southern Periphery. browns. but as one moves back or takes his eyes slightly out of focus an overarching pattern emerges. Salumã/Enawenênawê). the spatial distributions of large upland blocks of major riverine persons become apparent. and Xinguanos) is also beyond the scope of the present book. and the Xinguano Arawaks (minimally. broadly speaking (including. and. The Southern Periphery has as much to do with history as geography. south (lowland Bolivia). . and others. arriving in the Upper Xingu. broad cultural similarities support this conclusion. as well as some of the green and gold. Kozaríni. Chané.. the prevalence of offensive warfare is one of the few cultural traits broadly shared by these two otherwise distinctive macro-traditions (Viveiros de Castro 1992: 5). but it seems likely that most or all relate to an ancient migration or series of migrations into the region of the upper Madeira.D. Mojos. is to suggest that as detail or resolution increases. at least by circa A. Yawalapiti and Mehinaku/ Waujá/Kustenau)—the so-called Central Arawak (Urban 1992)—are very closely related and represent a movement of Arawaks into the Southern Periphery. This conclusion is based initially on linguistic proximity. is not simply an arbitrary convenience devised post hoc to describe those groups that happen to occupy the area between. particularly. although forming a wedge between the Tupi (Amazonia) and Gê (central Brazil). e. a nearly continuous block of Arawak-speaking peoples is recognizable extending from the Upper Madeira and Montaña eastward to the Upper Xingu. and east (the Southern Periphery). 2001) and. The Southern Periphery. 800–900. Terêna (Guana) and Chané represent the southernmost and Pareci and Upper Xingu the easternmost extensions of this process.

therefore. are not simply the result of geographic proximity and interaction but also result from a common heritage: an ancestral or proto-typical sociocultural structure of the ancient Arawakan peoples of southern Amazonia (see Schmidt 1914.60 • The Ecology of Power Bellicosity is a basic cultural value to both Gê and Tupian groups. marriage. from the Antilles to the Southern Periphery (Heckenberger 2002). to consider the upper Xingu merely as a discrete. trade. has retained its basic form for over one thousand years. They stand out in the region by a constellation of cultural features that distinguish them from most of their neighbors. leading to the establishment of the multilingual regional culture known today as Xinguano culture. that subset of settled. sedentism and intensive “tropical forest” arming. carried this cultural model. based on diverse crop plants but typically focused on manioc. and constitute primary cultural schema of the southern Amazon chiefdoms (i. densely distributed in discrete regions and interlinked by well developed road/path systems.e. as noted earlier.g. and it is equally unwise to subsume it in some general tropical forest (i. specifically the “Central Arawak” or those peoples who have since moved in to the region and have come to adopt their ways (e. cultural area formed by the unique conditions of symmetrical acculturation among diverse groups.. 1917). In the Upper Xingu. with an emphasis on aquatic resources for animal (primarily fish) protein and significant modification of areas around settlements.e. for instance. (3) regional sociopolitical integration based on a common culture and ideology and developed patterns of exchange. and intertribal ceremonialism). this basic cultural pattern. (4) nonoffensive (nonpredatory) ideologies . in other words. hierarchical societies that lives within the Southern Amazonian periphery). These cultural features include. especially generalized chiefly exchange (e. (2) fairly intensive (fixed plot) agricultural economies.. regionality.D. upper Xingu Carib).g. Amazonian) or central Brazilian cultural substratum. visitation. social hierarchy. more or less permanent circular plaza villages. concentric village patterns. for example: (1) large. Bakairi. 800–900 (see Chapter 3). Xinguano Cultural Schema Cultural similarities across the Southern Periphery. regional. in fact.. and a critical element of cultural identity.. although substantially transformed over time. arriving by circa A. and isolated.. it shares much with Arawaks and closely related peoples across South America throughout the diaspora (e. The initial Arawak (Maipuran) colonists in the Upper Xingu.g. Arawak societies spread out along the Southern Periphery. “Barrancoid” ceramics). It is a mistake.

in any comprehensive way. There is sufficient information to suggest that these distinctive cultures are permutations of an underlying symbolic structure. dances. predisposed to reproduce: (1) large. fairly intensive subsistence economies. songs. for example. in general. these traits vary considerably among groups and each. crudely defined here as sedentism. these traits reflect broad cultural motifs or schema. and (5) local political organization. In other words. are still present today. and (3) regional integration (particularly coupled with a social preoccupation with exchange and a cultural aesthetic that places great symbolic value upon foreign things including not only objects. because of early migrations of indigenous groups into the Upper Xingu. Throughout much of the historical period. pace Bourdieu. were occasionally moved within fixed village territories (usually within a short radius of one or two kilometers from the original village. sometimes including sophisticated defensive structures. (2) institutional social ranking based on bloodline and birth order. social hierarchy. . among other esoteric knowledge. is also shared by some non-Arawakan groups. and regionality and summarized below—a Xinguano habitus. all in the context of conflict with incomers. these traits link the groups of the Southern Periphery and separate them from other groups of southern Amazonia and central Brazil. indigenous groups and white men from outside the Xingu). sometimes a little farther 5–10 km. and landscape alteration (rather than mobility and low impact). the “root” or prototypical cultural categories. but almost never beyond the limits of what are considered traditional community lands.g. although transformed. Sedentism: Xinguanos are settled village people. at least. the circular villages of central Brazil. ranging in size from under fifty to over three hundred individuals.Culture and History • 61 and defensive military strategies. and an “ethos” of settled-ness permeates most aspects of Xinguano culture. villages. when but considered in composite. several primary schema can be suggested. based on internal social hierarchy and hereditary chiefly ascension. As is true of Amazonia. and metaphors. Considered over the long term.. for instance. Quite commonly. Bauré. after circa 1750. names. fixed populations.) and a foreign policy commonly characterized by accommodation and acculturation of outsiders. Long-distance moves have been triggered by outside influence. There is often some difficulty in accurately elucidating common structural traits. Nonetheless. Bakairi). because of a lack of historical and archaeological data and since most of the Southern Periphery peoples were radically altered by “contact” (e. but also relationships. Pareci. the chieftaincy. viewed individually. carried by the ancient Arawaks who colonized the Upper Xingu and. principles.

These movements are conditioned by diverse sociopolitical and/or supernatural factors. They are interconnected through complicated systems of roads/pathways. The village also articulates with the local landscape and with other such villages in a very patterned way: villages are always positioned at the interface of noninundated terra firme forests with streams. and impressive roads and other village wealth (men’s house. with a donut-shaped zone of houses (domestic sectors) around it. ports.62 • The Ecology of Power satellite villages bud off from a mother village. which also form an integrated network within village territories. The village gradually intergrades with lessconstructed settings. However. villages were permanent and structurally elaborated through substantial earthen constructions. Xinguanos have a very clear. bridges. Carneiro 1978a. see also Erickson 2000a and b. Instead. deeply situated nature of Xinguano culture (and the deeply layered or “saturated” landscape that lends itself particularly well to “thick description”) is not just a reflection of “settling-in” to rich local environments. notable among which is rivalry between highranking individuals that limit economic and social opportunities. which is particularly apparent with respect to late prehistoric settlement patterns. or occasionally practical concerns (overlapping burials in plaza cemeteries). village location and continuity in functionally-specific ceramic cooking ware document that local populations have maintained the same basic economic and ecological orientation. changing from a less sedentary to a more sedentary pattern in situ because of adjustment to particularly propitious ecological conditions (see. such as other “theocratic chiefdoms” of various parts of Amazonia. movements are not prompted by ecological degradation. based on relatively intensive (fixed plot) manioc gardening and fishing. including a broad zone of secondary forest and gardens extending out from the village margins. bridges. for example. when the area was more densely settled. either consolidate their independence or languish and remain attached to the mother village. the core of which is the central plaza: the beautiful village amounts to a well laid-out and clean plaza. and over time. . the Xinguano chiefly societies rivaled many “complex societies” in the lowlands. witchcraft. No doubt. the ethos of settled village life is part and parcel of Xinguano lifeways: from the time they first colonized the Upper Xingu throughout the known cultural sequence. throughout the sequence. The sedentary. concentric model of spatial relationships within villages to which they must conform. 2001a and b). Villages are regularly spaced across the landscape. Land use around villages. changing external relations. it was viewed locally as the appropriate settlement pattern. In prehistory. and overnight way-stations. small rivers or the broad flood plains of the major rivers. harpy eagle cages).

and the highest-ranking individuals (particularly males) derive status from their relative positions in the chiefly hierarchy. but the effects of depopulation have undoubtedly weakened these patterns (Dole 1969. while at any one time the apex of the chiefly hierarchy is focused on one or two primary chiefs. a two-tiered hierarchy (chief/commoner) was the norm. 1968. These are reproduced at various levels. rank endogamy). From a comparative perspective . Instead. second-in-line positions are diffusely distributed within and between chiefly lines. and incorporating both in a unified genealogical structure. The chiefly hierarchy is isomorphic with the kindreds of the primary sitting chiefs.. and between the fixed hierarchy within chiefly lines or houses and the specific relations between them in the overall local hierarchy. is recognized in a diverse range of hierarchical societies. other parts of the Southern Periphery. family. in the Upper Xingu and. although several southern Arawak peoples (e. Ireland 1996.. constitutive structure of local hierarchies and its manifestation in practice. There is a tendency for marriage within and between chiefly lines (i. the actual realization of this structure: that is. through cross-cousin marriage and strategic marriage alliances between villages.e. Comaroff 1985: 44).Culture and History • 63 Hierarchy: Xinguano hierarchy is based on a sociopolitical structure—a cultural model—of ranked kingroups and notions of hereditary succession to chiefly office. In the upper Xingu. 2001). stratified) classes. that is. between the permanent office of chief(s) and the actual officeholders. see also Oberg 1949). simultaneously creating a structural contradiction between chiefs and nonchiefs. Terena/ Guana) may have had more rigidly defined (i. and village. political and economic resources. Polygamous marriage is a common privilege among chiefly individuals. apparently. And here it is important to distinguish between the underlying. those who receive other chiefs.. Such a structure of internally ranked kin groups. and are measured by the degree of “respect” or “shame” one has for a social superior. social hierarchy had not apparently crystallized into stratified social classes. which are continuously negotiated and redefined (cf. because the community at large reckons descent in relation to the sitting chiefs. as well. cognatic chiefly lines maintain special access to ideological (symbolic) and. Thus. at any one time. perhaps because of the large-scale incorporation of captives and definition of a “slave class” (Oliveira 1960. by extension. household.e. This hierarchical structure is founded on primogeniture and relations of genealogical superiority or dominance (man:woman :: parent:child :: elder:younger :: chief:commoner).g. Claims to chiefly status (legitimacy) are highly contested and provide a primary basis for opposition or factionalism between rival chiefly lines. Members of high-status.

Seeger 1976. in the minimally to moderately hierarchical societies that dominated Oceania. Sahlins 1968: 24). It is also embodied in aspects of the body. 1998. cultural model (and social structure) underlies these “house societies”. thus providing the basis of a fully political economy (Heckenberger 1999a). 1959) in Polynesia. the men’s house (sometimes by the same individual). Lévi-Strauss 1963. Chiefly hierarchy is objectified in the centralization of public political and ritual activity in the village plaza and in the spatial organization of the house. and (3) weighty actors. Lévi-Strauss (1982. Joyce and Gillespie 2000) coined the term “house societies” to refer to societies that have hereditary ranking but without rigidly defined classes. This model remains only vaguely specified: clan ancestors are heroes in the originary lore of Xinguano society. as Geertz (1980: 24) notes of the “theater state” of medieval Bali. Fabian 1992. or property rights (i. and other markers of elevated chiefly status. it is subjectified in chiefly “ownership” of the village. if not typical. as well as feudal Europe and Japan. not equality. and it is these “heroic” figures and their entailments with living persons. the chief ’s house.e. through control of ritual and public activities in general. those who can accumulate a surplus of symbolic resources (a “fund of power”).64 • The Ecology of Power similar hierarchical structures are variously described as “ramages” (Firth 1936. Eurasia. where such spatial metaphors have long been a major topic of interest (e. underlies most social relations. Thus. or “conical clans” (Kirchhoff 1955. Hierarchy has a “lateral” or horizontal dimension.. esoteric knowledge. the Northwest Coast. Turner 1996). The Xinguano . Carsten and Hugh-Jones 1995. if not typical. based on concentric and asymmetrical fields (or categories) regarding the use of space and social identities. and through control and ministration of external contacts. Regardless of what we call it. and the Americas before 1492 (Kirchhoff 1955.. 1970). Chiefly hierarchy is manifest through mobilization in ritual contexts. (2) social actors are differentially transformed (constructed) based on the symbolic and ritual objectification of this hierarchy. 1987.g. What is critical here is that political power inheres in persons not property. 1957). the village lands. the plaza. even more so than among the Gê-Bororo. a social structure similar to the conical clan is common. territories. for community projects. that legitimizes the expression of political power through labor mobilization or resource (including prestige) concentration. Africa. But what is also critical to remember is that a relatively common. transform these into economic capital in the form of wealth and labor. chiefly speech and ornaments. “status lineages” (Goldman 1955. the bureaucratic state) as in Indonesia. through powerful chiefly names and the right to use them. I suggest that: (1) an idiom of hierarchy.

autonomous. recent brothers in law. alliances and at least a shallow hierarchy at regional levels and a recognized regional chief or chiefs. which may have been already present in the ancient Arawakan substratum. the largest scale (fractal dimension) at which we can talk of Xinguano society as a “House. is permeable and somewhat graduated (concentric). the Xinguano model of both physical and social space comes to a point: the tip of a pyramid and the center of a circle. Many Amazonian societies are justifiably characterized as atomistic. strongly acculturative. chiefs in general. The boundary between the exterior and interior categories. In short. Xinguano sociality is founded on an ideology that demands coparticipation (village interdependence) in core ritual elements of social reproduction. as historically demonstrated in the Upper Xingu and elsewhere (see Schmidt 1917). This ethos both promotes and is based upon intravillage and intervillage interaction. Xinguano culture is necessarily regional. in part explains the ethnic/linguistic heterogeneity . It is played out against a backdrop of rivalry and “uneasy peace” that characterizes relations between villages. through them. while the exterior is continuously redefined. This social philosophy is anything but xenophobic (atomistic or predatory) but. as discussed below. all distant brothers and. most notably tied to major life-crisis (successional) rituals affirming both past. existing and future chiefly individuals. However. a nation or. readily absorbing cultural things and people from the outside. is accommodating and. in terms of social identities. However. as discussed in more detail later. although more or less clearly demarcated at any moment in time. the symbolic core (the shared meanings and values) of the system show remarkable resiliency. instead. hospitality. the communities who inhabit the upper Xingu are a regional society reproduced through a network of elite ritual exchange and ceremonial interdependence. and diffuse patterns of sociality and interaction within this network. is particularly hierarchical in that it not only concentrates core public activities and rituals in the plaza center. but the space itself is controlled (“owned”) by the primary chiefs and. often. and as defining and reproducing themselves through symbolic opposition or alterity to the outside (human or not).Culture and History • 65 concentric spatial model. and participating communities represent a moral “body” or “person” (Menget 1993).” one big family of chiefs. Regionality: Xinguano patterns of sociality have a well-developed and necessary supralocal dimension that extends to virtually all aspects of sociocultural life. and accommodation. Xinguano identity is self-defined through reference to a common system of meanings and values (the “inside”). In other words. This pattern.

as described in Chapters 3 and 4. highways. Regionality is suggested not only by the proximity of prehistoric villages but by the prehistoric plazas (loci of supralocal interaction) and road systems observed within prehistoric villages that. . there is a gradient of ranking between villages both in terms of political and economic weight and the kin relations between chiefs (village chiefs are often kinspersons of chiefs in other villages. but it is possible to suggest that “regionality” was present in the prototypical Arawakan structure. which provides the basis of regional relations. from what we might expect from our understanding of other areas. where cities and capitals are the critical elements of the civil landscape. in many respects. or intercommunity ceremonialism. innumerable pathways. but the critical politico-ritual center pin—the plaza—occurs in all. rivers. In other words. and myriad aquatic canals. as wife-takers or wife-givers). and hierarchical peoples is rather different. like today. It is not presently possible to reconstruct prehistoric patterns of intermarriage. Other than this each village has its own chiefly ancestors buried in the plaza. Xinguano villages are intricately interconnected with major roads. particularly our own Western historical experience.66 • The Ecology of Power of the Southern Periphery. populous. although there are clearly variations. undoubtedly connected villages across the region. The regional organization of these settled. trade. that are “tended” by peoples.

D. of the major tendencies and flows of Xinguano history over the past approximately five hundred years. which contemporary Indian authors try to give us of their own past. each boasting well-known sequences dating from the late Pleistocene.1 although this may well be an artifact of sampling. in Chapters 4 and 5. inasmuch as this is possible. circa eleven thousand years ago. in the general sense of the word. we may in the end reach a better understanding of what historical science really is.CHAPTER 3 Traces of Ancient Times … by studying carefully this history. Claude Lévi-Strauss 1978: 42 The history of human occupation in the Upper Xingu begins well over a thousand years ago.D.2 The known cultural history of the region begins by circa A. as the period from A. 67 . 500–800. a basic chronology and description of major places is offered as a prelude to consideration. What the Upper Xingu lacks in time depth. with the colonization of the region by Arawak peoples. but by trying extremely carefully. and by trying to find what really corresponds and what does not correspond. by not considering this history as a fanciful account. however. perhaps more than two thousand years. it makes up for in veracity. 1000 to 2000 in the Upper Xingu is among the best known ethnographically and archaeologically in Amazonia.3 In this chapter. between different accounts. with the help of a type of salvage archaeology—excavating village sites referred to in the histories —and by trying to establish correspondences. This is late in relation to the deep cultural histories of surrounding areas in southern Amazonia and the Central Brazilian plateau. and perhaps much earlier.

4 One cave site with parietal rock art. Carneiro 1957. 1993. 800. and canoe ports. are associated with a single industry. 2001. but the present study enables us to place the reconstructions of the prehistoric (pre-1884) past on more solid empirical grounds.D.” or “Amazonian Barrancoid” traditions. Agostinho 1988. at the latest. This is the mythical origin place of the boy’s ear piercing ritual. It also may represent an early occupation affiliated with the preceramic (Itaparica tradition) or early ceramic period (Una tradition) cave and rockshelter sites in central Brazil. the preferred occupation sites of the early central Brazilian traditions (Wüst 1990). bridges. are perhaps the most obvious enduring features of Xinguano culture due to their high visibility. there is no clear evidence of preceramic groups in the Upper Xingu basin. 1993. 2001. detailed analysis of . at the latest.D. for instance. Regardless of the nature of earlier remains. After A.1).5 The Xingu is the easternmost extent of Arawak expansion in southern Amazonia.6 including perhaps the ancestors of contemporary Xinguano Carib-speakers. Basic Chronology Archaeological and ethnographic investigations conducted in the Upper Xingu by the author from 1993 to 2004 provide the empirical basis for the proposed chronology and associated interpretations. particularly. the location of village. Settlement patterns.D. although somewhat flexible over time and not precisely delimited at present. Ceramic occupations beginning circa A. Becquelin 1978. Kamukuaka. and some have come to adopt their ways. it is clear that the known sequence represents a single evolving cultural tradition: the Xinguano regional tradition.7 Many conclusions agree with those of previous researchers (see. tiponhï. notably circular plaza village patterns. more ephemeral occupations by non-Arawak peoples also were present. The boundaries of this tradition. but long term continuity is evident in the overall use of the landscape.68 • The Ecology of Power Currently. perhaps due to the general absence of caves and rockshelters throughout most of the basin. together with the unique ceramic industry of the Xinguanos. paths. including a well-controlled sequence of radiocarbon dates.” and that relates to what has variably been called the “Incised-rim.” “Incisedmodeled. 1500. who appear to be present in the area by circa A. special activity site. is known on the upper Batovi River. numerous others groups have occupied the Upper Xingu side by side with these Arawakan and Carib peoples. It seems likely that earlier. based on broad regional culture histories. near the southern margins of the basin (Ireland 1990). Simões 1967). Dole 1961/62. 1500. systematic mapping and distributional studies of entire sites. what Simões (1972) referred to as the “Ipavu Phase. but this is uncertain. appear to roughly correspond to the limits of the Upper Xingu basin (Figure 3.

. Each of the phases are further subdivided into an early and a late stage to address observable changes. and a sequence of radiocarbon dates (Table 3. and a “regional” site survey (within a study area approximately 1000 km² in size that corresponds to the Kuikuru traditional territory. 3. 1750–present). Figure 3.8 These provide the basis for the division of the continuous cultural sequence into two major cultural phases: the Ipavu Phase (c. based primarily on observable changes in settlement patterns and ceramics technology. separated by a transitional phase (proto-Xinguano Phase) (Figure 3. Note white unstippled areas are generally. ethnohistorical evidence. 500–800 or earlier than 1600) and the Xinguano Phase (c.2).2) prehistoric technologies. several significant periods of transformation can be recognized. A.1 Distribution of archaeological sites in Upper Xingu. Within the Xinguano tradition. forested (see Figure 1.3).1).Traces of Ancient Times • 69 Fig.D.

unclassified sites (small open circles). an area later dominated by the Kamayural . 1700. referring to the large fortified plaza villages ocupied by ancestors of the Xinguano Arawaks. when their ancestors occupied sites below (north of ) the Xingu confluence. showing large fortified settlements (large circles). Parenthetically. Yawalapiti (Arawak) oral history recounts a time.70 • The Ecology of Power Fig. smaller. and the Eastern Complex.D. 3. including the Western Complex. and probable Eastern Complex sites (triangles).2 Distribution of archaeological sites in Kuikuru study area. circular house occupations related to Xinguano Carib speakers. likely before circa A. Precolonial occupations are further subdivided within the Ipavu Phase into technological complexes. between Morená and Diauarum. sites unfortified with peripheral ditch but with plaza/road earthworks (small black circles).

appearance of Trumai.initiation of direct contacts in central Brazil and southern Amazon . Ikpeng) and Tupian (Manitsaua? and Arawine) groups . including initial population decline (perhaps precipitous) .1 Chronological Periods.first direct contact between Xinguanos and whites First Unrecorded Contact: Pires de Campos Filho .D.first effects of indirect European contact.Tupian groups enter the region .geographic compression of Eastern and Western Complexes . Dyott. Schmidt.establishment of “galactic cluster ” regional organization .Increase in national and international interest (Rondon Commission. Meyer.appearance of peripheral Carib (Yaruma.demonstrable catastrophic population loss from epidemics (1884–1960s) Transitional 1650–1750 1740–1770 Early Xinguano 1750–1884 1884 Late Xinguano 1884–1950 .structural elaboration of Xinguano villages . Cultural Period Early Ipavu Late Ipavu “Galactic Period” Date (A.Arawak colonization .ethnogenesis and multiethnic consolidation (18201880) First recorded contact: Karl von den Steinen .population growth and nucleation in villages .earliest known Carib occupations . Petrullo) . Bakairi. Fawcett. Suya .Traces of Ancient Times • 71 TABLE 3.) 800–1250 1250–1650 Prominent Events/Characteristics .population growth and expansion . Quain. Hintermann) . American missionaries.Early German expeditions (Steinen.depopulation .rapid destabilization of regional systems through increased regional conflicts and depopulation .

(Medeiros 1993.1 (Continued) Cultural Period Date (A. the Kaiabi (Tupi).arrest of demographic “free-fall” . 9 (2) early Ipavu Phase (c.“pax xinguana” . radios.indigenous administration of PIX . The Eastern Complex refers to a group of much smaller villages.rapid population recovery . motor boats. as a guess. and. the linguistic relatedness suggests a fairly recent divergence of Yawalapiti and Waujá/ Mehinaku perhaps within 1.rudimentary medical assistance and vaccinations . 1700.000 years.) 1950–1980 Prominent Events/Characteristics .reestablishment of stable population patterns and fissions .development of indigenous politics and foundations .000 to 2. the “developmental” phase of the Xinguano ancient regime.renewed ethnological interest under auspices of Museu Nacional (1950s–1960s) .emergent indigenism .72 • The Ecology of Power TABLE 3. Payne 1991). 800–1400).D. beginning 1980s) 1980–1990 1990– (Tupi-Guarani) in the 1700s.relocation of Ikpenge. The basic rationale for the chronological periodization is as follows: (1) initial colonization represents the establishment in the area of the distinctive circular plaza villages and ceramic industry characteristic of Xinguano tradition occupations. identified principally in the area of Lake Tafununu.D. since the mid-1800s. circular structures (some of which can be confidently identified as houses) are apparent that. etc. more recently. Panare. and Trumai (since the 1960s). . lack counterparts in the fortified villages to the west. Although distinctive. The Yawalapiti migrated south into the nuclear Upper Xingu basin (above the confluence) prior to circa A.. and Panara .creation of PIX (1961) . that do not share the plaza configuration. by and large. this apparently represents the terminal eastward extent of the Arawak diaspora.technology “revolution” (bicycles.increased ethnological interest (1970s to mid-1980s) . Kuikuru oral history recounts that these eastern villages were settlements of groups ancestral to the contemporary Carib-speaking communities of the Upper Xingu. the Suya (Gê). Within Eastern Complex sites. Kayabi.

1400–1600). was present in southeastern portions of the nuclear Upper Xingu basin (while the Western Complex corresponds to the large fortified villages identified to the west and north of Lake Tafununu). described below. but may represent a third distinctive complex).3 Xinguano Tradition radiocarbon chronology. although the two Upper Xingu Arawak languages (Yawalapiti and Waujá/Mehinaku) may relate to a prehistoric north/south division of the Western Complex (i. 3. the “classic” ancient regime. apparently comprised of one or a few circular structures (some of which can be confidently identified as houses). a distinctive set of sites. are apparently closely related to Western Complex sites. and (4) by the late Ipavu Phase. sites below the confluence.Traces of Ancient Times • 73 Fig. The Eastern Complex refers to smaller unfortified villages identified around Lake Tafununu.10 Contemporary Upper Xingu Arawaks are the descendants of these Western Complex groups. is the epoch during which large fortified villages.. extending north at least as far as Diauarum. (3) the late Ipavu Phase (c. the Eastern Complex. dominated the landscape. wherein major villages were reworked and integrated into clusters.e. that seem to relate to groups ancestral to the contemporary Carib speaking .

was rapidly altered because of the initial impacts of European contact. This process of social integration and acculturation into the Xinguano cultural system has prehistoric roots. 1750–1884) commenced with these faceto-face encounters between Xinguanos and Luso-Brazilians. graphically remembered in Xinguano oral histories (Basso 1995. as indicated by the interaction and geographic approximation of Eastern and Western Complexes (c. sites identified in the study area are divided into two subgroups: those on Lake Tafununu (Eastern Complex) and those to the west of Lake Tafununu (Western Complex). Steinen documented a relatively stable regional cultural system. After circa 1600–1750. Eastern Complex (Carib) communities migrated into some of the abandoned areas. essentially identical (grosso modo) to that which exists today (Steinen 1886. that distinguish the two complexes. in turn. Matipu and Nafuqua).to fifty-five-meter diameter structures (houses) with raised marginal (wall) mounds (Eastern Complex). The pattern of precolonial occupation. The early Xinguano Phase represents a period of cultural consolidation. Franchetto 1992). 1894). that is. between c. The period from circa 1720 to 1770 was again a period of pronounced tumult as Luso-Brazilian explorers/frontiersman (bandeirantes) entered Central Brazil and southern Amazonia as a result of gold strikes and the slaving of Amerindian populations. One round house . most notably depopulation and the disruption of macro-regional sociopolitical systems.74 • The Ecology of Power Xinguanos (Kuikuru. the merging of diverse cultural groups into the multiethnic/lingual regional culture known currently and historically. The primary characteristics. the Eastern and Western complexes merged to form the basis of the multiethnic regional culture (Xinguano Phase) that continues to the present day. by the end of the period. As noted earlier. and. aside from geography. many fortified villages were abandoned by Western Complex (Arawak) communities. there seems to have been a more or less mutually exclusive distribution of these two distinctive structural features. Kalapalo. The Luso-Brazilian entradas were short-lived and in the subsequent century (late 1700s to 1884) Europeans apparently no longer entered the Upper Xingu basin. are the presence of artificial ditches surrounding villages and/or intravillage curbed road and plaza systems (Western Complex) or the presence of circular twentytwo. The late Xinguano Phase (1884–present) is defined by the arrival in the basin of the German ethnological expedition led by Karl von den Steinen. 1500 and 1600. During the transitional or proto-Xinguano Phase (c. The early Xinguano Phase (c. Prehistorically and into the protohistoric period. as suggested by Carib oral history. 1500–1750). 1600–1750). the maintenance of substantial village fortifications ceased.

Suffice it to say. often sparsely covered with vegetation because of anthropogenic modification (i. the Kuikuru were 100 percent correct in their assessments. Excavations and detailed mapping (with real-time GPS and a transit) has been conducted at X6. including extensive surface assessments and mapping is underway at X 14. Two residential sites. Heulugihïtï (X13) were investigated in greater detail to accurately map the village layout. Within this study area. which has the Western Complex features of a peripheral ditch and curbed road/plaza system (perhaps these relate to a later occupation). 11–13.2). Nokugu (X6) and Kuhikugu (X11). One or more other possible large circular raised-wall structures (roughly fortymeter diameter) were encountered adjacent to the plaza at Akagahïtï (see later). and a major plaza hub village related to Nokugu. artificial savannas). because of the degree of forest alteration associated with them. as defined by earthworks and artifact distributions apparent on the ground surface.12 All sites are important places in oral histories and are tied to the critical personages —culture heroes and ancestors—of Xinguano heroic history and these places are accurately positioned in narratives and collective memory in the overall landscape: that is.. Western Complex village sites are also easily identifiable on aerial photographs and satellite images. Kuhikugu and Heulugihïtï. however. and only children have never heard of the major places. based on direct examination of archaeological materials through site visits and oral history about the presence of egepe. archaeological ceramics (egiho). A Tale of Two Towns: The Western Complex The investigation of Xinguano settlement patterns over time focused on a study area of about 1000 km². 15. egiho. and initial investigations. 1760 at (X12) was encountered in the area defined as the Western Complex and suggests that the abandonment of Lake Tafununu and migration to the west of the Culuene River recorded in oral history may have occurred at about this time.. Subsurface excavations in and around earthworks provided an excellent means to . and was unable to reveal even one of these highly visible features. 17–26. that the author spent many hundreds of hours walking over. and earthworks (Fitsi-fitsi gepügü) were recorded there. collecting and excavating at the Western Complex sites of Nokugu. or earthworks (Table 3.e.D. more or less coextensive with the traditional lands—or “territory”—of the Kuikuru.11 Twenty-six of the sites identified can be tentatively attributed to the period prior to circa A.Traces of Ancient Times • 75 (twenty-two-meter diameter) dated to A. all sites known by the Kuikuru to contain anthropogenic soils (egepe).e. mapping. although single persons may or may not be able to correctly assess them. pre-Xinguano Phase).D. 1750 (i.

SP. RPC ? PD. RPC? PD. rockshelter E. RPC. RPC CH E. RPC? RPC ? ? RPC? PD. CH? RPC. Complex? KV 1920–1940. SP. WM CH CH RPC PD.2 Ipavu Phase Archaeological Sites. RPC. Site Number MT-FX-01* X02 X03 X04 X05 X06† X07 X08 X09 X10 X11 X12† Ipavu I Ipavu II Ipavu III Noviari Nokugu Tuatuari Miararre Yakäré Naria Kuhikgu Ipatse Name Makahuku Major Earthworks ? ? ? ? PD. RPC OSA OSA OSA OSA OSA. SP RPC PD?. WM PD. ID. SP PD. Complex . 1973– E. RPC no PD. SP RPC. WM? RPC. ID. Complex Comments OSA OSA OSA OSA OSA KV (1961–1972) OSA OSA OSA OSA X13† X14‡ X15‡ X16† X17† X18† X19† X20† X21† X22† X23‡ X24 X25† X26‡ X27 X28 X29 X30 X31 X32† Heulugihïtï Tehukugu Kuguhi Netonugu Hatsikugi Akagahïtï Séku Séhu Maijeinei Agikuangaku Intagu Uagihïtï Agahahïtï/Magakange Tafununu Ehumba Gahangugu Angahïnga Meinacu Waujá Kamakuaka ID. RPC PD.76 • The Ecology of Power TABLE 3. Complex E. RPC. RPC? PD. WM? RPC. WM. RPC.

thereby enclosing the entire residential area and (2) raised linear mounds. CH = circular house. extend around the periphery of a village site and terminate adjacent to the same body of water. surface collection. depth and basic characteristics of egepe soils. basic mapping. Major Earthworks designations: PD = peripheral ditch. and excavation was also conducted at Heulugihitï and the Eastern Complex sites of Tehukugu (X14) and Kuguhi (X15). SP RPC.2 (Continued) Site Number X33 X34 X35† X36† X37 X38† X39 X40 X41‡ X42 Kagaho Asahïtï Ugotahïtï Iña Kuhugupe Apalaci Sekuhai Itsagahïtï Angahuku Lake Name Ahugakugu Major Earthworks RPC? ? RPC. SP RPC? PD. RPC = primary mounded central plaza and cruciform/multiple road complex. ranging from 0. ranging from one to four meters in height from trough to berm.Traces of Ancient Times • 77 TABLE 3. Subsurface soil augering was conducted sporadically across sites to determine presence.5 to 1. Comments: OSA = outside Kuikuru study area. ID = internal ditch. substantial artificial earthworks were invariably constructed around and within villages. river.5 or more meters .. Although investigations at Nokugu and Kuhikugu were the most comprehensive. which originate adjacent to a body of water (lake. SP ? RPC. which were sketch-mapped and minimally sampled for surface distributions and subsurface excavations. ‡ site location GPS mapped. IK = presently known exclusively through indigenous testimony. and site number is abbreviated here as X(site number). Among the primary shared features of Western Complex sites. Complex? IK IK IK Comments Key: (*) = designation in Brazilian site files. These earthworks are of two major types: (1) semicircular excavated linear ditches. MT (Mato Grosso state) FX (Formadores do Rio Xingu). SP = secondary plazas. † = primary site features GPS mapped. WM = wetland modifications. or stream). understand basic chronology (as earthworks were constructed over intact and often stratified cultural deposits from earlier occupations). RPC? CH RPC? IK E. KV = Kuikuru villages between 1860–present.

or “scooped out” sections of the ditches corresponding roughly to the road dimensions) and extend out of the village in various directions. The ditches. which form a continuous curb defining the edges of circular central plaza(s) and contiguous with similar “curbs” defining the edges of straight and wide (twenty.0 or more meters deep) leading to water sources. and perhaps fish catchments. and other features). Radiocarbon dates related to these features in the three sites mentioned above. which articulated with (in fact can be considered the “core” of) a broader culturally constructed landscape. bridges. Also. to create reservoirs for drinking water and bathing. have also been identified. in addition. minimally have both village peripheral ditches and an intravillage curbed plaza/road . and X22). likely water retrieval/bathing paths and canoe ports were documented at several sites. 11. 18. unexcavated. These radial roads often bisect the ditches over portals/bridges (infilled. including raised roadways that articulate with the curbed causeways in villages. Significant wetland features. In the Kuikuru study area. and satellite sites (temporary special activity and likely residential sites and permanent ports. The plaza and causeway marginal mounds reach heights of up to two meters (being generally higher as one approaches the plaza). but low mounds (less than a meter) continue along the roads that link villages within the galactic clusters.0 meters high. 10–20 meters wide) with adjacent possible artificial water storage ponds were encountered at X13 and X18.0–2. 17.to fifty-meter wide) roads that emanate from the plaza.78 • The Ecology of Power in height. an apparent modification of the Ipatse stream channel. apparently for some form of agriculture. 1250. The Upper Xingu earthen works are of various types. small. including (X6). five sites (X6. the most common being the excavated ditches surrounding villages.2). single or paired. within the village confines. including areas of intensive terra firme gardening. and the linear mounds placed at the margins of plaza(s) and alongside major radial causeways within villages. low raised beds. sometimes more or less continuously for several kilometers alongside principal roads between settlements. intricate pathways. Without a doubt these works were constructed and functioned for some time as part of an integrated architectural scheme. embankments were constructed across Ipatse stream to facilitate trap and weir placements foot and canoe travel. and possible. Other artificial earthworks. indicate that they were constructed after c. extend to known depths of up to 3 meters with additional height created by the interior berms produced by ditch construction overburden. raised roads (about 2. and more likely between 1250–1350 (Table 3. up to about 15 meters wide and 2. (X11) and (X13).5 km long. excavated or incised ditches (1.

These settlements were tied to other major residential sites via the hub site of Heulugihïtï (X13). with access up to the Curiseu River (Figure 3. 22) and smaller satellites (X19. he is the elder of five brothers.” meaning an integrated cluster of major residential nodes (X6. oxbows. In Xinguano cosmogonies. 17. 20. which appear to be “first-order” settlements. where they drop into the broad relict floodplains of the Culuene River. many modified and integrated into the overall landscape. including X1 (Yakaré). the father-in-law of Sagakagagu.5). ponds and reservoirs. (who made Ehumba. the principal residential center and hub of the cluster of the same name. 23). relict flood plains with ancient back channel lagoons. Nokugu. Kuhikugu and Ipatse lakes and later the five major weirs (ataca) along Ipatse stream that are still used today (itseke). this integrated regional cluster fully dominated the Ipatse area and the adjacent stretches of both the Culuene and Angahuku Rivers. an itseke or “super-being”.4). with significantly less occupational debris is X13.” referring to a jaguar spirit. Villas-Boas and Villas-Boas (1973:19) report that such ditches are present in almost all historical and present village locations. Becquelin 1993. and AX-08 (Morená). Place of the Jaguar Nokugu means “place of the jaguar. Simões 1972). etc. . among others are also known to have such features (Agostinho 1993.. X5 (Noviari).13 who is the “owner” (oto) of this place (actually Nokugu is pronounced more like ng) .ecological zones: terra firme forest. Heulugi was Nokugu’s younger brother. natural and artificial canoe canals. Other sites with ditch and road/plaza systems exist outside of the study area. Dole 1961/ 62. quite near the northwestern edge of Lake Lamakuka. In Chapter 4.Traces of Ancient Times • 79 system. Fieldwork was concentrated at X6 and X13 in the Ipatse Cluster and Kuhikugu. Along Ipatse stream various settlements were occupied by late precolonial times (Figure 3. the latter two being significantly smaller than the former three. which lacks the peripheral semicircular ditch but has the road/plaza system and a small interior semicircular linear trench. this pattern is described as a “galactic polity. The Ipaste cluster dominated major portions of all the diverse macro. X7 (Tuatuari). flood plain forests. The stream roughly follows the margins of the terra firme forests. Another generally smaller site. 18. tied to the exemplary plaza center (X13). and was traversed by major roads. The Ipatse Cluster The Ipatse stream emanates about 15 kilometers south of the lake of the same name.

X18. lying on high-ground forested areas: other cluster sites of X22 (located above the Legend) and X17 (located above the middle curve of the Culuene. (2) Ipatse stream in the low-lying area (dark) east of the sites (relict floodplain). X19. X13. Sagakagagu was also a spirit being. marshy Angahuku River bottoms to west of sites (dark). . X20) connected by the “north-south” road.80 • The Ecology of Power Fig.4 Ipatse cluster sites (from north to south: X6. and (3) wide. Note (1) galeria forest and oxbow lakes associated with the Culuene River active floodplain (upper right). including proto-humans (see Chapter 7). flanking (lighter) upland forest. in the dawn time when all the creatures of the land were kin or affines. 3. where upland forest contact river margin at upper right) are also shown.

Traces of Ancient Times • 81 Fig. the rich freshwater fisheries. Note contemporary village (white dot) adjacent to Ipatse Lake and X13 (south) on peninsula of upland forest. Nokugu overlooks a picturesque series of open channels and pools of the Angahuku River (or the “Buriti River”). 3. and the large tracts of upland (terra firme) 15 forest where settlement and agriculture are .” providing direct access to the savanna (oti) bottoms of the Culuene River (Figure 3. exceptionally clear. which are generally overgrown and dominated by dense stands of buriti palms (Mauritania flexuosa) or buritizals.6).14 “This river is a small. and dense stands of buriti palm along the Angahuku River. cool-water river composed largely of marshy areas. and a complex network of small channels. Like so many of the major settlement places.5 GPS overview of Ipatse cluster sites X6 (north) and X13 (south). Nokugu is situated at a critical “crossroads.

with white sandy bottoms. The Angahuku is a fairly substantial waterway. was a settlement in the 1960s. Nokugu. Curiseu and Batovi Rivers). Like the Tuatuari. providing the cleanest. just north of the ancient fortified settlement of Nokugu. a marshy wetland with stretches of open river and occasional deep pools.82 • The Ecology of Power Fig. 3. Scattered pools of deep. Nokugu lies beside one of these small pools. conducted. a shaman came out of a trance next to my hammock and told me of his . I became aware of him only much later. where things are always mercifully cooler. It is little surprise that the Nokugu locality dominated the cultural landscape in this area for at least eight centuries. Ahangitahagu. the Angahuku River is more like a variably flowing lowland. It lies approximately three kilometers directly west of the present-day Kuikuru village of Ipatse. These rivers are generally quite cool. perhaps because of their form and source. long before I had heard of the jaguar Nokugu.6 GPS plan of Nokugu (ditches noted by thick black lines and road/plaza shoulders by thin lines). actually large enough for the Kuikuru to classify it as a small lake (hagu). that are typical of the rivers that more or less emanate from within the basin itself. I knew of the place. one of the crystal clear-water rivers. the “master” (oto) of this place. coolest water in the area for drinking or bathing in the broad region. largely under the forest canopy. fairly still water are present along the river. Ahanitahagu. One night. much different from the well-defined channels of the major rivers that emanate to the south of the Upper Xingu basin (Culuene.

which connect the plazas and roads (Figure 3.0 m in height). and one (road 3). The plaza and road margins are defined by linear mounds (averaging 0.7). Unlike earlier occuptions in or around Nokugu. the innermost ditch was converted into two roads leading from the Angahuku River into the plaza. and a previous Kuikuru village—Ahangitahagu (1961–1973)—sit a couple of hundred meters to the north).16 The site has fifteen reliable radiocarbon dates (see Table 3. which lies only slightly to the south of the Kuikuru village site of Ahangitahagu. lying immediately north of ditch 1. The trail leading down to the fish weir across the Angahuku River (which was several hundred meters long) went over the outer ditch.10). as the trail descends from the high. A Waujá (Arawak) village. 1770 indicates that Nokugu was occupied well into the post–European Contact period.5 to 1. the Kuikuru could pinpoint the exact location of the Waujá village site. These dates were all obtained from carbonized botanical (wood) remains from ten excavation trenches (1. This possible road did not bisect the plaza marginal curb and may have been a secondary road and/or may indicate that the raised plaza/road curbs were constructed after the ditches. had taken me there to see one of the “ditches” when we came to participate in the inauguration ceremony for the new community fish weir that was being built. flat ground to the rivers edge (where the current village. based on this narrative. These structures are interpreted as defensive ditches. and four roads radiating out from the central plaza that bisect the inner ditch (numbered clockwise from north to south). most of the archaeology so far—several thousand person hours. which enters the settlement and plaza from east to west.0 x 10 or more meters). The chief. Two of the roads extend outward well beyond the village margins (the outer ditch). with a smaller attached auxiliary plaza. some 2. is truncated by the curb just beyond the eastern margins of the moated settlement area. Afukaká. a road/plaza system was constructed consisting of a central plaza. is reported in Kuikuru oral history and.17 A radiocarbon date of A.Traces of Ancient Times • 83 meeting with this jaguar spirit (itseke). . It is a large habitation site demarcated by a semicircular artificial ditch (ditch 1) with two smaller ditches (ditches 2 and 3) situated within it at a distance ranging from one hundred to three hundred meters from plazas.5 km east. appears to have been occupied sometime in the nineteenth century.D. thus far—has been at X6. Within the confines of the ditches. Because of its proximity to the village. but was identified based on two raised areas (bridges) within ditches 1 and 2. Road 2 was without discernable marginal curbs.3). which bisect major earthworks (Figures 3.8–3. which places its occupation before the time of von den Steinen (1880s).

parklands. most likely in the early 1900s (c.D. low secondary forest. but these also represent a later stage succession . Domestic occupation areas at Noguku lie adjacent to the river where the often precipitous slope of the riverbank gives way. see later) before it rejoined the Kuikuru in the late 1940s.84 • The Ecology of Power Fig. at a village called Ahangitahagu. The terrain slopes upward another five to ten meters from the riverbank to the eastern apex of ditch 1 (some five hundred meters east). The entire site and surrounding areas rest on what was once terra firme forest. These historic period village movements in and around the Nokugu locality are discussed in more detail in Chapter 7. This village later moved adjacent to Lake Ipatse (in the area of MT-FX-12. about three to five meters above the water level. A splinter group of Kuikuru from Lake Lamakuka occupied a village site (Atï) slightly south of ditch 1 at Nokugu. As based on Kuikuru oral history. Several stands of high forest are present. A. The Nokugu locality was again occupied by the Matipu and later the Kuikuru. 1920–1930). principally within the first 100 to 150 meters to the east of the riverbank. but today it is a mosaic environment characterized by anthropogenically created savannas. 3.7 Nokugu plaza berm (hatched white line). This village site apparently represents the reoccupation of the area by Upper Xingu Arawaks after a period of abandonment (c. after the establishment of the park in 1961. 1770–1850). to a more gentle slope and more or less level ground to the east. and the cleared areas of recent gardens and occupation sites. this was a short-term occupation of a Waujá splinter group that had moved from the area of the Batovi River in the late 1800s. Ceramic remains have been identified on the Waujá village site and confirm the location and approximate size suggested by the Kuikuru.

3. to the top of the inside berm. Note trench 10 was 5.2 meters deep from the base of the narrow funnel-shaped basal portion ( 1 meter wide).8 Excavation of trench one (1993.Traces of Ancient Times • 85 Fig. top) and trench 10 (2002). a possible seat for palisade trunks. both bisecting ditch two at Nokugu. .

D. although these were spread widely across the area . apparently restricted to areas of deep terra preta. The primary forest (itsuni) lies well to the south of the site.D. 293 units (21. Of these. At Nokugu. 1290 +/− 70 I unexcavated A. 950 +/− 60 I Fig.D.10 Schematic reconstruction of inner “gate” of road 4 at Nokugu (excavation trench one bisects the ditch and berm adjacent to the earthen overpass.0 m²) along eleven collection transects provide a fairly good idea of very general artifact distributions across the site. 3. 3. Fig. a total of 1.D.86 • The Ecology of Power Nokugu MT-FX-06 EXCAVATION TRENCH PROFILE West Wall 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 Key: Ceramic Sherd Charcoal Lense V IVB I IVA A.93 percent) contained artifacts.9 Profile of excavation trench 1 (adjacent to inner “gate”). 1250 +/− 70 II A. 1770 +/− 70 III Ditch Construction Overburden A.336 surface collection units (each 2.

D. Late Developmental (A. 1400–1700) Beta 176137 Beta 81301 Beta 176135 Beta 72262 Beta 176140 X6/ET10 X6/ET1 X6/ET3 X11/EU1 X6/ET3 340 ± 60 360 ± 70 440 ± 60 440 ±70 530 ± 60 A. .D. A.D. subcurb. mid-ditch in-fill small plaza (S). basal intact central plaza (NW) sub-curb. A.D.D. Initial “Galactic” Period (A. upper ditch in-fill ditch 2 (S).D. A. basal fill north road. Lab Number* Beta 176142 Beta 72260 Unit X6/ET2 X6/ET1 Conventional Radiocarbon 20±50 180 ± 60 2E cal. A.D. basal fill ditch 3 (N). 1300–1420 1260–1410 1260–1300 1230–1410 1270–1300 A. basal fill§ cental plaza (NW) sub-curb intact ditch 2 (S).D. intact/ curb interface small plaza (S).D. subberm intact ditch 1 (S).D.D. AgeRange modern† A. A.D. A. upper ditch in-fill ditch 2 (S). sub-curb intact north road. 900–1250) Beta 72263 Beta 88363 X11/EU1 X13/EU1 900 ±60 910±80 A. Provenience ditch 3 (S.D. ‡).Traces of Ancient Times • 87 TABLE 3.D. sub-curb intact ditch 3 (N). 1000–1250 1040–1250 A.D. 1700–) 1520–1940 Terminal “Galactic” Period (A. basal intact Historical Xinguano (A. 1250–1400) Beta 176139 Beta 177724 Beta 88362 Beta 78979 Beta 176136 X6/ET2 X5/ET2 X13/EU1 X6/ET1 X6/ET4 590 ± 60 670 60 690±60 700 ± 70 710 ± 50 A.3 Radiocarbon Dates from Nokugu (X6) and other Sites in Southern PIX Kuikuru Area.D. 1460–1640 1420–1640 1420–1480 1400–1650 1400–1430 A. upper ditch in-fill ditch 2 (N).D.

Provenience ditch 2 (S). the former was redated with a sample slightly higher (Beta 81301).D. 640–690 190–60 B. basal intact central plaza (SE). and (3) terra preta (“black earth”). Notes: All dates are on wood charcoal. Although these are ideal soil categories that in reality grade subtly into one another. (†) two additional modern dates: Beta 98978.D. a clear pattern of soil distribution is evident: the farther one moves from the plaza margin. type 2 (red-brown earth) is also located in road and plaza areas within ditch 2. (2) brownish-red to reddish-brown soil. 900) Beta 176143 Beta 176138 X6/ET2 X6/ET10 1370 ± 60 2110 ± 40 A. S = southern side. Distributions of these soil types correlate well with the interior artificial earthworks at the site: type 1 (red earth) and some type 2 (red-brown earth) cover the area between ditch 1 and 2. basal intact mid-ditch 3 (N). (*) Beta 176135-144 reported here for first time. but cultural remains are clearly concentrated within the confines of ditch 2 and in southern portions of the area between ditch 1 and 2.18 With respect to the collection transects and units. Beta 176139 is inversed with 176143 and is currently being redated. could represent earlier materials mixed in ditch construction. 2 = middle.88 • The Ecology of Power TABLE 3. § redate from slightly higher in profile. and 3 = innermost ditch. (‡) N = northern side of plaza and site. basal fill£ 950–1210 Beta 176141 X6/ET5 1030 ± 60 A. Beta 176144 are considered bad.3 (Continued) Lab Number* Beta 72261 Unit X6/ET1 Conventional Radiocarbon 1000 ± 70 2E cal. 980–1030 Initial Xinguano (pre-A. mid-ditch fill§ ditch (N). AgeRange A. Soil types 2 and 3 are clearly anthropogenically altered soils. £ uncorroborated and. sub-berm.D. ditch 1 = outermost.C. rough soil and vegetation cover characteristics also were recorded. enclosed within the ditches. and type 3 (“black earth”) covers most other areas within the confines of ditch 2 (although type 2 soils are interspersed with type 3 in places). the more reddish and compact the soil .D. The following soil categories have been defined: (1) “red earth” (similar to noncultural soils in the region). sub-curb. like Beta 176143.

except on the surface of the berm. distinctive sediments and charcoal apparent. particularly as one moves east away from the Angahuku overbank. These vegetational types also correlate well with the site layout and distribution of soils. Beneath earthwork. lenses of charcoal-rich sediment and distinctive soil lenses (slightly darker in color. but several observations merit attention. One of the most revealing results of fieldwork was the relatively accurate site plan maps of major earthworks and artifact distributions. instead. These remains were relatively evenly distributed throughout the excavations. (4) parkland (palm) forest. It should be noted that vegetation patterns have been affected by recent agricultural activities in some areas. ditch construction overburden was always mounded on the interior (plaza-facing) edge of the ditch. At Nokugu. with vegetation types 1–3 (forest) concentrated in areas of type 3 soils and vegetational types 4 and 5 (parkland/grassland) corresponding with areas of type 1 and 2 soils (reddish earth). including: (1) high-forest.to medium-height forest. Ditch construction overburdens seldom contained ceramics. trash was apparently discarded in the ditch trough. little ground cover.e. Several categories of vegetation cover were likewise defined. grass/scrub ground cover. most notably dense ceramics. particularly the berm area almost always located on the inner edge. grass/scrub ground cover. and the troughs of ditches were typically rich in cultural remains in central portions of Nokugu. grass/scrub ground cover. (3) low..to medium-height forest. and notably the red soils of ditch berms. and more charcoal infused in red-brown soils) are often detected in intact stratigraphy and likely represent discrete occupation components. (2) low. more sandy in texture. and (5) no forest. In all cases. Like in all other locations investigated at Nokugu and other Western Complex sites. occasionally in discernable layers of ceramics. little ground cover. with little or none mounded along the outside edge. which together with the soil and vegetational regrowth evidence allow for accurate assessment of site size and configuration. the natural soil color/texture is maintained). two . No clear evidence of structural features (post-molds or linear stains/ deposits) associated with a palisade or fence were encountered in the six 1 x 10 meter excavation trenches bisecting all or part of each of the three concentric ditches.Traces of Ancient Times • 89 becomes (i. I am almost certain there was something positioned over one or another portion of the construction. although it seems certain that some form of above ground barricade was associated with the excavated ditch. positioned as linear lenticular mounds over intact anthrosols around plazas and in roads. the artificial fill of earthworks. This pattern is also clearly evident at Kuhikugu (described later).

a “species” in the complicated and comprehensive ethnobiology of the Kuikuru. The roads ranged in width from about twenty meters (road 1) to thirty meters (road 4). and then at nearly the southern end of the lake. with tufts “like a pincer” on his head—this is his place. which seems appropriate considering the apparent relations of the two prehistoric settlements (as discussed in Chapter 4). the area of the ancient central plaza is covered in scrub. The plaza position likewise conditioned the positioning of artificial earthworks constructed some hundreds of years after initial site occupation. The stream and pool are commonly used by the Kuikuru today. but was recognizable by “bridges” (filled-in or unexcavated sections) through the ditches (especially ditch 1). and other disturbed ground colonizers. Groves of managed piquí fruit line several stretches of the road. Only road 3 was oriented according to a cardinal direction (east). the path veers left where it continues on about a kilometer. about three kilometers to the north. straight to the Kuikuru village. 3. Given the limited distribution of terra preta within about two hundred meters around the plaza area.90 • The Ecology of Power plazas were connected by a nearly continuous linear mound: a central plaza (about 130 m in diameter) with radial roads extending out from it and a smaller (about 75 m diameter) cleared area or plaza connected to it with a short passageway. Another probable road (road 2) did not have pronounced mounded curbs. but the distribution of piquí groves stops about halfway from the village along the straight-as-an-arrow Ipatse-Heulugihïtï road. The trail that links the site to the present-day Kuikuru village is straight for over two kilometers leading out of the site toward Ipatse Lake. palms. although most of this . The marginal curb of the central plaza is connected to the raised curbs of roads 1. primarily for trap fishing in the shallow waters of the pool and its outlet. small secondary trees. but Heulugihïtï (like all -hïtï’s or -kugus) refers to a place. Heulugihïtï. the lack of terra preta in the central plaza area suggests that the plaza was an enduring feature of village spatial organization that conditioned the location of domestic units or sectors throughout much or all of the occupation of the site. and 4. Likewise. The archaeological site is situated adjacent to a shallow pool along the small feeder that empties into Ipatse Lake. In this case it is not the “place of beetle” or “beetle spirit” but of another jaguar spirit being. Heulugi’s father-in-law is Nokugu. Several gardens were placed there over the past ten or so years. Today. it is possible to suggest that this was the focal residential area for much of the occupational history of Nokugu prior to ditch construction. Place of the “Horned” Jaguar The word heulugi refers to a type of pincer beetle.

Traces of Ancient Times • 91 seems not to be the simple result of “re-opening” by the Kuikuru (although this accounts for some of the alteration). including one at the western edge of the formal E-W causeway. In the case of Heulugihïtï. Additionally. and 22) (Figure 3. This unit revealed that initial occupations were roughly contemporaneous with Nokugu and Kuhikugu. not only because it is an ancient site. based on a date of A. These are interpreted. It is also a crossroads. and the other two are along the “Agikuangaka road.D. remembered in Kuikuru histories as an important place. One 1. that is after circa A. 17. it is important to note the three secondary plazas of the site. 1260 (690 +/. Another date.0 m² excavation . I visited the site many times because of its proximity to the Kuikuru village. 1300–1400 or later. Two trails converge at the site: one leading to the pond adjacent to the site and to the oti (savanna) and the other to the forest and Akagahïtï.). with its rich egepe soils where the Kuikuru plant fruit trees today. but archaeological investigations focused on the creation of a site map and largely uncontrolled site walkover to evaluate ceramic distributions. most likely.P.D. roughly contemporary with those documented at Nokugu and Kuhikugu. people sometimes place gardens there and harvest the general area for diverse natural resources invariably concentrated in areas of archaeological sites.D.11).) from near the base of the cultural deposits at about one hundred centimeters below the ground surface.80 B. and six 1.D. Heulugihïtï remains an important node in contemporary settlement patterns. A.0 m² excavation unit was excavated over the plaza marginal curb between roads 1 and 2. 1040 (910 +/. from circa A . if not more or less continuously.” as one Kuikuru called it.60 B. the entire road/plaza marginal mound complex in its clearly recognizable form. intact dark earth (± 50 cm) encountered beneath the overburden of the plaza marginal linear mound (± 50 cm in height) suggests long-term domestic use of this area prior to mound construction and thus an expansion of the plaza area at the time of earthwork construction. the site precisely linked the four major. was obtained from about fifteen to twenty centimeters below the interface of intact occupational deposits and the construction overburden of the plaza marginal mound the unit was positioned over. as with other ancient sites. 1000 onward. as is the one identified at Nokugu. but also. This places the construction of this linear mound and. Prehistorically. 18. Fieldwork at the site in 2002 included excavation of one trench (1 x 10 m) bisecting the plaza marginal mound between roads 2 and 3.P. The intact dark earth below the plaza marginal mound overburden indicates that the site was occupied over long periods. cardinal settlements of the Ipatse group (X6. as ritual staging areas.

High-resolution GPS mapping across the entire site in 2002. may have been the privileged dumping site of individuals and families with greatest access to the village center. As in other areas. units were conducted. The low mound actually forms a nearly unbroken feature that extends across the landscape. 3. (after clearing brush from the plaza and major roads and the curbs that rub alongside each). Archaeological ceramics were concentrated in an area of two hundred to three hundred meters around the central plaza. The trench revealed cultural deposits in subtly layered strata of cultural fill apparently accumulated from refuse disposal and road/plaza construction and maintenance activities to a depth of 1.11 GPS plan of Heulugihïtï (ditches noted by thick black lines and small reservoirs are filled in). which are covered in ceramics. these mounds. .2 meters.92 • The Ecology of Power Fig.

very nearly correspond to the four cardinal directions. The ditches were GPS mapped in 2002 and demonstrate that the site was a large settlement with peripheral ditches.Traces of Ancient Times • 93 No peripheral defensive ditch is present at the site. although some above-ground village peripheral fortification may well have been present. Immediately outside of the plaza marginal curb.D. The site has the typical plaza/road system. A small (250 m long) semicircular ditch was encountered and was located between the plaza area and the major water source. possibly representing circular . one in the center of the inner ditch and one between the apex of the inner and outer ditch. The curbed roads at Heulugihïtï. It also is located where the stream contacts the terra firme forest margin. Other Nodes and Satellites Hatsikugi (X17): Several days at Hatsikugi led to identification of two concentric linear ditches and large areas of dark earth (that contemporary Kuikuru use for gardens). which means “place of the stork” (another itseke) is located near another area of standing water in the small stream course that also passes Heulugihïtï. two mounded rings (about 0.5 m high and 40 m in diameter). A. and copious ceramic remains.5–2 km or more in length and up to 3 m deep) has been identified. surrounds a large village. in contrast to those at Nokugu and Kuhikugu. a pond of standing water in the course of a small stream. The semilunar configuration of the ditch is similar to those from Nokugu and Kuhikugu. Heulugihïtï lies on a gently sloping area of terra firme abutting the marshy pond area of the stream. that is a central plaza with a peripheral linear mound connected to the linear raised curbs of the roads emanating from the plaza. slightly smaller than Nokugu and Kuhikugu. Two plazas with radial roads were located. it begins adjacent to the standing water in the small stream. the structural remains of a single house occupation associated with one of these hamlets were encountered there. Akagahïtï (X18. Like the other sites. The Kuikuru remember a Carib village at the site more recently (early to midtwentieth century) and several hamlets have occupied the area. area and terminates again near the small waterway. No occupations of the site prior to the westward Carib migration (c. suggesting that it had been abandoned long prior to that time. The vegetation in the site area is likewise in various stages of successional regrowth. One large semicircular ditch (1. paralleling the high ground. 1750 or later) are recorded in native oral history.12). that is. to the north (Figure 3. The interlinked road and plaza system with raised margins is similar in configuration and size to those recognized at Nokugu and Kuhikugu. also known as Itsagahïtï).

sides of the plaza. or more likely the area was at least partially excavated in association with construction of the causeway. perhaps opposing. structures.12 GPS plan of Akagahïtï (ditches noted by thick black lines and road/plaza shoulders by gray).94 • The Ecology of Power Fig. 1995). These two structures cannot be adequately interpreted because of the lack of data from them. a raised roadway (causeway) leading obliquely from the low-lying area of standing water into the area enclosed by the defensive ditch. Ireland. On the inside (village side) of this causeway. were encountered on different. A unique feature was identified at Akagahïtï. Either a low-lying area was simply partitioned off with the causeway. personal communication. 3. a depression was recognized that appears to be a reservoir. Upper Xingu Arawak oral history suggests that in the past. Interestingly. chief’s houses were large round structures (E. This remains to be confirmed through .

(Lahatua otomo or community) formed after splitting from the ancestral village of Óti. but it is interesting to note that during the height of the dry-season (when I visited the site) the area of open water associated with the small stream is very limited. and Angahuku Lake (X42) show up only vaguely on aerial photographs..” is of singular importance in Kuikuru narratives. Ar present. Intagu (X23). along with more sought after quarry: monkeys. One recent foray bagged an intact ceramic vessel. the soil was less compacted). much more so than Heulugihïtï. All lie in predictable locations where the Ipatse stream that runs parallel to the terra firme forest veers westward and more directly abuts the forest. and (2) it was occupied contemporaneously with these other sites in late Ipavu Phase times.e. Séhu (X20). It is the place where the Kuikuru. Angahuku Lake and Intagu: Agikuangaku (X22).13). where the Kuikuru ancestors lived together with those of the present day Matipu . the duration or intensity of occupations cannot be evaluated based on archaeological evidence. 11 and 13. X42 is an apparently large egepe site located adjacent to a large pool (like Ahangitahagu) along the Angahaku River. Dark earth and archaeological ceramics occur at both sites. comparable in size to MT-FX-06. The vegetation at the site is in an advanced stage of regrowth (highforest) which seems to indicate that it was either abandoned before Nokugu and Kuhikugu. Ahugakugu (X33) and Maijeinei (X21). are intermediate between the Ipatse and the Kuikugu clusters. recent brief Kuikuru occupations at these sites provide testimony of dark earth and archaeological ceramics. from north to south. It has yet to be visited due to difficult access. Agikuangaku. but the fact that the areas on the photographs are archaeological sites was confirmed by visits by several Kuikuru to each site over the past several years. and a complex of plaza(s) and roads are present at both. and was less intensively or more briefly occupied than these other sites (i.Traces of Ancient Times • 95 future work. we can conclude that: (1) the site was quite large. these four sites. Like X13 and 18. All three are clearly apparent in aerial photographs (Figure 3. with X19 and X20 as part of the former and X33 and X21 of the latter. Based on the size and configuration of the earthworks. The Kuhikugu Cluster Kuhikugu. Séku (X19). The lack of substantial Xinguano Phase occupations also accounts for the lack of unforested areas at the site. Séku and Séhu: Three sites located between Akagahïtï (X18) and the outlet of Lake Lamakuka/Kuhikugu are known in Kuikuru oral history and. There are no ditches at these small tertiary settlements. which means “place of the kuhi fish.

and Hikutaha. 1999). the plaza of Maijeinei (X21) is at lower right. or chief ’s house at Óti. Hikutaha. an ancestral Kuikuru chief.96 • The Ecology of Power Fig. decided to move to Kuhikugu. (who became known as the Uagihïtï otomo) after the split in the mid1800s. Note the anthropogenic vegetation scar correlated to site area and large low-lying (seasonal) lake to the east of the forest margin. had a hamlet (hihitsingóho) across the lake at Kuhugupe . Because of tensions that emerged over the construction of a tajïfe. several chiefly families. 3.13 Plan of Sekú superimposed on satellite image (Landsat 7 ETM. the area that had been long used by members of Óti after they had settled in the area west of the Culuene River in the eighteenth century. under the chiefs Nitsïmï. Amatuagu.

on the western and northwestern edges of Lake Lamakuka. called “Lamakuka” by Dole 1961–1962) is another large habitation site demarcated by two parallel artificial ditches. X37) linked via road four located in the headwater stream of Lake Kuhikugu. apparently a satellite of Kuhikugu (and perhaps Kuhugupe) and a link to the Ipatse cluster sites of Séku and Séhu. Other proposed nodes of the Kuhikugu cluster.17). Kuhugupe (SW).The locations of the ditches (and historically occupied sites) are well defined by differential forest regrowth patterns clearly evident in aerial photographs. Kuhikugu (X11. A hamlet was being established when I was first there in 1993. ditch 2. when Hermann Meyer visited them in 1896. the ditches at Kuhikugu apparently served as defensive works. This became a single house hamlet in 2001 and today is a small satellite village of four houses: perhaps this is similar to the hamlet that Hikutaha established nearby 150 years before. that is mounded overburden on the interior berm of the ditch. the largest residential site currently known at fifty hectares of area enclosed within the paired peripheral ditches (Figure 3. a cross centered on an “exemplary center” or hub within the regional settlement unit. Like Nokugu. and Ipatse Lake to the east. between the Angahuku River to the west. diverges from it and parallels it for about two thirds of the length of ditch 1 (Figure 3. .Traces of Ancient Times • 97 (X38) at the time of the dispute and fission of Óti. They were there when Karl von den Steinen ventured into the area in the 1880s. and possibly a fifth site (Iña. The Kuikuru chiefs Nitisïmï and Amatuagu joined Hikutaha and they opened a new village at Kuhikugu in about 1850–1860. Maijeinei (X21). and Maijeinei (NW). as well as a similar overall orientation (Figure 3. Kagaho (NE). including ditches and plaza/road curbs are present. Asahïtï/Ugotahïtï (SE). and Kuhugupe (X38). and when Max Schmidt returned in 1902. However. Kuhikugu is both a galactic hub and a major residential site. Ditch 1 nearly encloses the site on three sides and a second interior ditch. Kagaho (X34). to be incorporated in the newly formed Xingu Park (PIX) in the 1960s.16).14 and Figure 3. The ditches at Kuhikugu demonstrate a similar construction technique to that of Nokugu. The basic orientation. in fact. they were there when the Villas-Boas brothers established a sustained presence in the Upper Xingu in the 1940s and 1950s. A similar pattern was recognized in the aerial photographs that cover the area around the site of Yakaré (Agostinho 1993). and two sites. Asahïtï/Ugotahïtï (X35/X36). and clearly the Kuhikugu roads link directly with these other sites. It lies on the eastern edge of Lake Kuhikugu and links to two sites. The Kuhikugu locality was occupied for several generations before they moved to their present location. recognized at Ipatse is the same at Kuhikugu.15). major earthworks.

There is a slight upward slope from west to east. Within the confines of the ditches. The site lies about eight kilometers southwest of the Culuene River. including the first-order center of X11 and the smaller secondary centers of X33 and X28 (dot placed between two). X35. and X36 (dot between two) and X38 (clockwise from upper left) adjacent to black dots (inset is map of X11 earthworks. X34. 1870–1890] and Kuhikugu [c. the total relief from the western margin of the site (at the edge of the buritizal) to the eastern margin (ditch 1) is over ten meters. with historic period villages shown by closed circles). 1890–1930]). a single central plaza with five radial roads was identified.14 Kuhikugu cluster sites. with parkland and savanna areas largely restricted to the area of two abandoned Kuikuru occupation sites within the confines of the ditches (Atïka [c. These also were characterized by raised curbs along the margins of the . Note pronounced anthropogenic vegetation scars. Kuhikugu lies on the eastern edge of Lake Kuhikugu/Lamakuka and domestic refuse is encountered from just east of the low marshy area (buritizal) that surrounds the lake across the entire area enclosed by the ditches. The site is covered by secondary forest in various stages of succession.98 • The Ecology of Power Fig. Access to the site is by a small foot path (today bicycles are often used) that commences near the mouth of the small outlet stream of Lake Lamakuka/Kuhikugu. Upon reaching the forest. the path becomes perfectly straight for several kilometers until the clearings of the abandoned Kuikuru villages (Lahatua I and II) become obvious. 3.

The unit was located slightly east of the road 1 bridge (i. excavation unit 1.20–21 Charcoal was likewise distributed throughout the depth of the unit. terra preta soils are darker in nuclear areas of the site (near the . and historic period villages (c. was positioned directly on top of the eastern marginal curb of road 1 near where it enters the plaza area. although two lenses with more dense charcoal concentrations were recognized.15 Plan view map of Kuhikugu (X11) showing ceramic distributions from collection transects (small black dots).e.0 m) surface collection units. ranging from reddish brown to dark brown. 34 percent (668) contained cultural remains. Two contiguous 1. D . The first. 1860–1960). Nearly the entire area confined within the paired ditches was covered with terra preta. Of the total of 1.. mapped road and trench earthworks. Like at Nokugu.949 surface collection units (2. roads and plaza (Figure 3.19 Three 1. 1050 (lower stratum IIA) and A . The date of A . roughly corresponds to the period of road/mound construction. 1510. therefore.0 x 2. also concentrated in stratum II. In fact. demarcated with closed circles. an unexcavated portion of ditch 2).0 m² units were excavated in two areas of the site. 3.Traces of Ancient Times • 99 Fig. 1510 (stratum II/III interface). the plaza has a hollowed-out or bowl appearance due to the imposing height of the plaza-marginal mounds.19). D .D. Samples from these lenses were selected for radiocarbon dating.0 m² units were positioned over the overburden associated with the construction of ditch 1. Intact stratum II is bracketed by two radiocarbon dates of A.

and outer gate of road 1 and of the intersection of road 1 with the plaza (excavation units are marked by large grey dots). was characterized by homogenous .100 • The Ecology of Power Fig.16 Schematic reconstruction of Kuhikugu paired ditches. excavated to depths of sixty centimeters. as well as the earlier prehistoric (Arawak) village. 3. The entire soil profile of both units. The central plaza area also served as the plaza in a historically occupied Kuikuru (Carib) village (also called Kuhikugu). central plaza) than closer to the ditches (with the exception of the central plaza area).

reddish-brown sediment. However. representing “red earth” excavated from ditch 1 (40–50 cm) and heaped over the original ground surface (also “red earth”) on the inside edge of the ditch. it is clear that higher successional forest is largely restricted to the areas of richer terra preta soils surrounding the plaza (within about 200 m). Areas located farther from the plaza (nearer the ditches) and not associated with the Kuikuru villages are characterized by a low.17 Schematic reconstruction of (top) Nokugu (X6) and (bottom) Kuhikugu showing major earthworks. 3. The stratigraphic division between the natural ground surface and the heaped overburden could not be detected. Note the similar alignments in relation to major waterbody (dark).Traces of Ancient Times • 101 Fig. because the location of two Kuikuru villages. Atïka and Kuhikugu. but the absence of “black earth” suggests that the area was the location of an ephemeral (short-term or village marginal) domestic occupation before ditch construction. altered the observable vegetation pattern. Ipavu Phase ceramic distributions are mixed with later (1870–1920) Xinguano Phase (Kuikuru) materials in and . Vegetational regrowth patterns at Kuhikugu are less revealing than those at Nokugu. The presence of limited quantities of ceramics in the upper portions of the unit (overburden) indicates that this area of the site was occupied prehistorically.to medium-height successional forest cover.

as well as at Diauarum (MT-FX-01) at the mouth of the Suia-missú River. was visited by several Kuikuru in 1994. confirmed through recent visits by the Kuikuru and outsiders (researchers). 1993. The old Carib Xinguano village site of Agahangugu. Other Western Complex Sites Óti (MT-FX-24). 1980. also sites of early Xinguano Phase villages. Several linear ditches and raised earthworks roughly similar to those described here were noted. the Kuikuru report finding not only the abandoned Carib Xinguano village but also “ditches like those found at Nokugu. the Ipavu Phase materials were not apparently redeposited by later Xinguano Phase occupations. has been the subject of several archaeological studies (Becquelin 1973. ceramics and ditches. ceramics and ditches were reported at Lake Aiha. located on the southwestern edge of Lake Angahïnga. 1870). The area from the present-day Yawalapiti village to the mouth of the Tuatuari River (including the area of FUNAI Post Leonardo). However.102 • The Ecology of Power around the old Kuikuru villages of Atïka and Kuhikugu. is reported to have dark earth. Noviari at Ipavu Lake (MT-FX-05). are known from the mouth of the Tuatuari River (MT-FX-07). ancestral home of the Kuikuru where they split from the Matipu in the mid-1800s (c. In one of these denuded areas. reported that they were aware of excavated ditches there. except in those areas immediately adjacent to two Kuikuru villages. 1978.” Other sites with ditches. Several Matipu. Morená (MT-AX08). including a vast area covered with Ipavu Phase ceramics. where the present Matipu village is situated. Given the density of sites known from the study area. it is also clearly visible on aerial photographs. slightly north of the Mehinaku village on the right bank of the Tuatuari River (MT-FX-30). Lake Ehumba and Lake Angahïnga. Overall. An area of forest disturbance located slightly south of the contemporary Aueti (Xinguano Tupi) village is reported to have dark earth and ceramics as well. it can be assumed that numerous other Western Complex sites exist in the Upper Xingu basin. . more recently removed from the area of Óti (c. The site lies outside of the PIX and is currently deforested in some areas due to recent ranching. Other more distant sites with dark earth. lies outside of the study area. Yakaré (MT-FX-09). based on the recognition of numerous intact Ipavu Phase ceramic concentrations related to domestic refuse middens. 1960) than the Kuikuru. An additional site. near the Waujá village (MTFX-31) and other sites more distant from the study area. located far upstream from the study area off the left bank of the Culuene River. Archaeological remains are widely distributed there. Dole 1961/62) and was examined in the course of this study over several days.

and Bakairi into the Upper Xingu over the past two or three centuries. described by Carneiro (1978a). D. detailed descriptions can be made from the aerial photographs of the site (Agostinho 1993). The Ipavu Phase site with ditches and linear mounds is apparently restricted to the area to the east of Post Leonardo. Trumai. three archaeological sites . Although the exact form of the earthworks must await confirmation through onsite examination. ceramic technology. 800. the widespread distribution of remains requires caution in designating site boundaries. “people of Lake Tafununu. Oberg 1953). Archaeological and Xinguano oral history agree about the cultural affiliation of the prehistoric Western Complex occupations with the ancestors of Xinguano Arawaks. provide a range of circa A . one old Kamayurá village and several garden houses). and settlement organization. preserve evidence of the ancient occupations that are clearly distinctive from the large circular plaza villages. there is evidence that another (non-Arawak) cultural group was present in eastern portions of the upper Xingu basin. oral history clearly recounts the movement of Tupian groups (Aueti and Kamayura). the most westerly of the sites. describe five ancient villages that pertain to a time in the mid-1700s. Three of these places. is known from the vicinity of the now defunct Brazilian Air Force base (Galvão 1953. located east of the Culuene River.” moved eastward to the area they have occupied since (Figure 3. Suya. Dole (1984a).” becoming increasingly acculturated into the distinctive regional cultural pattern established by the initial Arawakan groups in the region.18). As described in Chapter 5. Two radiocarbon dates. The Kuikuru narratives. Immigrant groups who came to occupy the basin have undergone a general process of cultural sharing or “Xinguanification. The Eastern Complex The rapid appearance of numerous large circular villages circa A. however. with ditches and linear mounds. 1500–1700. which I suggest represents the migration of Arawak-speakers.D. Yakaré (MT-FX-09). These are the ancient ancestors of the Upper Xingu Carib. By circa 1500. and Franchetto (1992).Traces of Ancient Times • 103 as were various historic occupations (at least three old Yawalapiti villages. suggests population movement into the basin. Tehukugu (X14). Netonugu (X16) and Makegange (X25). Kuguhi (X15) and Tafununu (X26). appear to fit the Western Complex pattern. just before the ipa otomo. Around Lake Tafununu. the ancestors of contemporary Xinguano Arawak peoples. such as large circular houses. Likewise the Kuikuru and other Carib groups recall a time when they lived on the southeastern edges of the region. Another Ipavu Phase site.

like those of the Western Complex. The area was traditionally the territory of Xinguano Carib groups. (c. but also the form of the villages is distinctive. this site very likely represents a single occupation. radiocarbon dated to 340 ± 50 B. The Eastern Complex sites are distinctive from the circular plaza villages of the Western Complex in terms of settlement pattern and ceramic remains. plaza.104 • The Ecology of Power Fig. Not only does the size of the Eastern Complex sites contrast markedly with that of the contemporaneous fortified villages of the Western Complex. directly linking Carib oral history and archaeology. The archaeological site of Kuguhi is particularly revealing. The circular houses were not situated around a large. more directly. 1600). 1500). located on either side of the central plaza (immediately outside of the plaza-marginal mound). no other such . the ancestors of the Kuikuru/ Matipu (the villages ancestral to the Kalapalo and Nafuqua were apparently located farther to the south and perhaps west).P. Although two large circular structures have been identified at the Western Complex site of Itsagahïtï. This is suggested by the immense size of the Tehukugu house (roughly 55 m in diameter). The oral history of the Kuikuru identifies five ancient settlements. 3. including the three archaeological sites.P. were investigated. and. (c.18 Eastern Complex sites at Lake Tafununu. by the fact that just outside the only door of the Kuguhi house there is a large trash midden. radiocarbon dated to 440 ± 40 B. in particular.

or Eastern Complex . Kuhikugu. structures were encountered during the detailed investigations and mapping of surficial deposits at Nokugu. nontraditional structural innovations. and reconstruction of House 1 at Tehukugu. This suggests that the circular structures were special structures (e. and Heulugihïtï.19 House compound at Kuguhi (top). 3. showing circular houses (dark) and abandoned Kuikuru dwellings (lighter grey).Traces of Ancient Times • 105 Fig.g.. chief ’s houses). perhaps resulting from contacts with the Eastern Complex villages.

although they may have been interacting. Interestingly. This is perhaps the final Arawak occupation of the site. and seem to represent the initial stirring of Xinguano pluralism. whereas the Western Complex villages were characterized by a multitide of dwellings situated across broad areas but gravitating toward large central plazas. but also the Arawaks had to abandon and relinquish . after the defensive ditches had apparently been abandoned. a late occupation of the Western Complex site of Nokugu. which housed the entire community.106 • The Ecology of Power reoccupations of abandoned Western Complex villages. Carib movements are is archaeologically suggested by a short-lived Eastern Complex occupation. marked by a circular house (22 m in diameter) radiocarbon dated to 190 ± 60 B. not only did the Carib groups move west. These were largely peaceful. and the Carib family started in the south. (c. as culturally linked but still “other” societies for a long time. south of the Amazon. but a Waujá (Upper Xingu Arawak) offshoot community resided immediately outside the confines of the site (adjacent to the outer ditch) in the mid. By the mid-eighteenth century.P. The ceramic industry of the Eastern Complex villages is likewise distinctive from both Western Complex and contemporary Xinguano industry. where it dispersed widely. However. 1760). is radiocarbon dated to 180 ± 60 B. occupying various areas netween the Culuene and Cureseu Rivers. Thus. apparently in flight from hostilities by “wild Indians” or perhaps even Luso-Brazilian slavers (Dole 1984a). but also the Carib’s move west put them in what was previously Arawak lands. Not only were they disrupted and in flight. Bakairi. located near the contemporary Kuikuru village at Lake Ipatse. reminiscent of the pattern of Guiana Carib villages.P. the Caribs of Lake Tafununu moved west of the Culuene. This question remains to be resolved. prior to their westward migration (1740–1770). where no circular houses were encountered. and Arara. Rodrigues. (c. going by their physical proximity and remarkably different scale. and split into groups of southern Amazon Caribs: Xinguano. From there it moved into the Guianas. Some linguistic evidence (Meira 2000.to late 1800s (before Steinen). Perhaps Steinen (1894) was right after all. two thousand to twenty-five hundred years ago. 1770). The Carib ancestors who lived east of the Culuene River undoubtedly had cultural relations with their Arawak neighbors. perhaps since the time of Buddha or Christ. that is. the Caribs and Arawaks were culturally distinctive. but it is clear that the two settlement systems were fundamentally distinctive: the Eastern Complex villages were organized around one or a few circular malocas. 1999) does support and ancient linguistic connection between at least some Carib groups and the ancient Tupi. it appears. personal communication.

the areas just west of the Culuene River were densely occupied by Arawaks for centuries. Because of its conspicuous nature. and (3) excavation of six 1. Three large boulders knee deep in the lake adjacent to . Tehukugu (X14): Three days of work at Tehukugu (X14) included: (1) a walkover to identify earthworks. and his younger brothers on a brief trip to the lake to tend the middle brother’s recently opened gardens there and. such as ditches or linear mounds. although it lies adjacent to the contemporary Kuikuru village within an area prehistorically dominated by Western Complex villages (e. They are well known to several Kuikuru who have lived on Lake Tafununu in recent decades. I accompanied the chief. also was recounted to me by the oldest living Kuikuru. An earlier Kuikuru hamlet occupation of the site. Nokugu and Heulugihïtï). and surface exposed ceramics or other artifacts. also appears to be related to the Eastern Complex.19a). In fact.0 meter in height) with two open passages (doors) on opposing sides. Agahahïtï/Magakange (X25) and Tafununu (X26). unlike Western Complex sites. (2) surface collection in select areas. were not visited.0 x 1.0 meter excavation units within an identified fifty-five-meter diameter structure (communal house?). Eastern Complex sites first were identified based on Kuikuru oral tradition regarding their ancestral sites located on Lake Tafununu (see Figure 3. the house was recognized by Kuikuru during their occupation of the site (three houses) in the early 1980s. undoubtedly to reduce the persistent threat of ngikogo attack. The Kuikuru also remember a time when the site was occupied by the Kamayurá (Upper Xingu Tupians). which further indicates peaceful interaction. married with a “wild Indian” woman. and Netonugu (X16). Whereas there is no evidence that the Arawakan (Western Complex) villagers had ever lived on Lake Tafununu. who was born there. none of the Eastern Complex sites are clearly recognizable on aerial photographs. Ipatse (X12). had the opportunity to investigate three of the five primary sites remembered at the lake: Tehukugu (X14).. Two other Lake Tafununu sites.Traces of Ancient Times • 107 these areas. nor are they clearly visible in aerial photographs. One additional site. also recounted for this period (see Basso 1995).5 to 1. Tamakafi. in the time of the Kuhikugu village (1890–1930). The structure had a substantial peripheral wall mound (approximately 0.g. who migrated into the Upper Xingu basin during proto-Xinguano times. These sites are the location of dark earth soils and therefore continue to be exploited by contemporary Kuikuru as choice locales for seasonal hamlets. The last great chief to occupy the site. Kuguhi (X15). his father in law.

Kuguhi. 1510). notably from the probable Carib heartland in the northern Amazon/Guianas areas. No artificial earthworks. Feature 1 was a small pit. Due to possible mixing in the wall-mound deposits. The structure is interpreted as a communal dwelling due to its similarity to the more unequivocal houses encountered at X15 and X12.D. (A. Interestingly. This may have resulted from clearing dark earth soils from the structure interior during construction. Because of its size. Six 1.50 years B.g. described later). bisecting the structure wall. located in the interior of the structure produced very few cultural remains. and given the coverage of the walkover it is very unlikely that any earthworks similar to the trenches and/or road/plaza systems of the Western Complex sites exist at Tehukugu.108 • The Ecology of Power the site are considered by the Kuikuru to be the remnants of the chiefly stools that Tamakafi and his bride sat upon to gaze over the panoramic vista of the massive lake. The uniform height and width of the wall mound suggests that it was constructed at one time as part of the structure and was not the result of accretional deposition associated with domestic activities after the structure was constructed. several uncontrolled shovel probes and descriptions of the site by Kuikuru who had gardened there indicate that the site is covered by anthropogenic dark earth over much of its extent. were identified. yielded copious cultural remains. except the circular structure. Investigations were concentrated in the area of the fifty-five-meterdiameter circular structure.0 meter excavation units were placed along a transect that bisected the wall mound and extended into the center of the structure (Figure 3. the charcoal sample for C14 dating was selected from a cultural feature (feature 1) encountered beneath the structure floor adjacent to the wall.P. chief ’s house or clubhouse) must be considered. Excavation units 1–3. excavation units 4–6.g. the structure interior is underlain by reddish soils. The walkover and sporadic surface collections at X14 revealed a distribution of ceramics over an area of at least 400 x 300 meters.0 x 1. consistent with its proposed function as the interior of a large roofed structure..19b). which may have served as a small refuse pit or a cache of some kind based on such practices in houses today. . Other similar large circular communal houses are known from various parts of Amazonia. The function of the circular (ring) mounds as structure walls is more clearly apparent at other sites (e. It returned a C14 date of 440 +/. while the wall mound is composed entirely of dark earth. Although unconfirmed. a special purpose function (e.. By contrast.

At Kuguhi. One interesting finding at Kuguhi relates to the process of terra preta formation. an ancestral Kuikuru village.D. but the actual extent of the anthropogenic soils (i. The house 1 interior and wall mound are composed of reddish soil with very sparse cultural remains. Its late date (A. Based on information provided by the Kuikuru who had farmed at the site in the past and who opened the new garden. to a large trash mound located adjacent to house 1 and rich in cultural debris. but given that garden-clearing debris had been piled over this house. One excavation unit was located over the raised trash midden and yielded 210 ceramic fragments. 1610). but archaeologically it seems to correlate with Eastern Complex sites (Figure 3. House 1 at Kuguhi was twenty-eight meters in diameter. Two contiguous units were placed over the wall mound on the southwestern side of house 1 and failed to yield cultural remains.0 units were excavated. in particular. it was not possible to confirm its size or configuration. This suggests that the house 1 wall mound was intentionally constructed and was not the incidental result of floor clearing or accretional refuse disposal.50 years B. (A. The site consists of one unequivocal and one possible circular house located in a recently felled and burned swidden garden. At many sites investigated in the Kuikuru study area. as in contemporary villages. terra preta is contiguous over large areas of the sites. the terra preta is confined to areas outside of the house and. especially those of the Western Complex.D.. House 2 appeared to be about the same dimensions as house 1.0 x 1. MT-FX-12 is situated within the area defined as the Western Complex. The Kuguhi structure represents a clear example of a house structure with an associated trash midden located directly outside the structure and adjacent to the westward facing door. Ipatse (X12) A complex multicomponent site. Kuikuru oral tradition names Marika as the last chief who presided over this ancestral village.e.5 m in height) and one western-facing door. A composite charcoal sample (combined from the three ten-centimeter levels of terra preta) returned a C14 date of 340 +/. To the south of the door was a borrow pit. and a raised trash midden. 1760) suggests .20). likely associated with house construction.P.Traces of Ancient Times • 109 Kuguhi (X15) Two days of fieldwork were conducted at Kuguhi. A previous Kuikuru farmstead and a lakeshore campsite are known from X15. with a circular wall mound (about 0. the archaeological site) are unknown. Three 1. the dark earth associated with the site is fairly restricted (perhaps 300 x 200 m).

3.110 • The Ecology of Power Fig.20 Ipatse locality (top) and reconstruction of House 1 at Ipatse (bottom). .

D.20b).0 x 2. Sixteen 1.. These villages.0 to 1.0 meter excavation block.0 meter block in the house center (Figure 3. Ipatse house 1 and the ceramic scatter between house 1 and possible house 2 appears to lie outside of the primary occupation area of the Ipatse village. described later) was surface collected from the area outside house 1. but the low mound profile.60 years B. with a raised peripheral wall mound about forty to fifty centimeters in height and 1. 1760). and later to the edge of Lake Ipatse.0 x 1. Both house 1 and possible house 2 lie at the margin of an area historically occupied by two successive Carib villages. The first component.D. by the Kuikuru were occupied circa 1930–1950 by a group that had fissioned from the Kuikuru around 1920–1930 and moved to the site of Atï. consists of one circular house (of the raised wall mound variety as known from other Eastern Complex sites) and one possible circular house (13 m diameter). however. This feature yielded the radiocarbon date of 190 +/. but an apparent hearth feature was located in the center of the 2.Traces of Ancient Times • 111 that the one or two houses found there correspond to the western migration of Carib (Eastern Complex) groups documented in native oral history.e. There are three discrete components at the Ipatse locality: a prototo early Xinguano Phase component and two late Xinguano Phase (modern Kuikuru) components dated to circa 1930–1950 and 1961–present. 1750–1884) village that was largely destroyed by the later Ipatse and Itsuva occupations.to early Xinguano Phase (A. It is possible that houses1 and 2 mark the western boundary of a larger proto. to the suggestion that they were contemporaneous houses.0 excavation units were placed in a contiguous line bisecting the wall mound and terminating with a 2. and lack of excavations preclude conclusive attribution of this as a cultural feature associated with the house 1 occupation of Ipatse. A continuous distribution of surface ceramics between the two houses lends support. (A. corresponding more or less with the house center.5 meters in width. The unequivocal house is twenty-two meters in diameter. The smaller possible house was also demarcated by a peripheral wall mound (10–30 cm. in height).P. One ceramic sherd of a distinctive Eastern Complex ceramic type (Type i. respectively. . Few archaeological remains (41 ceramic fragments and two lithic tool fragments) were recovered from the excavations. located slightly to the west of Lake Ipatse.0 x 2. called Ipatse and Itsuva. located three kilometers to the west and adjacent to the site of Nokugu (X6). virtually unrecognizable in places.

which is located a few kilometers up the Agahahïtï feeder stream.112 • The Ecology of Power Other Eastern Complex Sites Three additional sites were identified on Lake Tafununu based on oral history. The site is considered an ancestral Carib site by the Kuikuru which at the time of abandonment was headed by a chief named Agaika. allowing confirmation of its location and the presence of archaeological ceramics and terra preta. The site is medium-sized and. Another ancestral Kuikuru site Tafununu. Chiefs by the names of Matuagu and Ahiguata presided over Tafununu and Agahahïtï. respectively. Magakange (X25). perhaps linking the Tafununu sites to Hatsikugi (X17) via Itsagahïtï (X41). although no circular raised-wall structures were identified. also follows the Western Complex pattern of large circular plaza and radial roads. was identified through oral history and the presence of egepe and archaeological ceramics. a complex of small plazas (3) and roads were identified that seem to be clearly related to the Western Complex. Netonugu (X16) was briefly visited. .

CHAPTER 4 Social Dynamics Before Europe Everywhere he went that seemed like a nice place to stay. tim. The ditches were almost always arch-shaped. as the Villas-Boas brothers describe. at the end of a ditch. where all the Kuikuru culture heroes and ancestors. nor of his people. tim. and he himself would continue traveling. actually traffic with its inhabitants. Some shamans (hïatâo). should be used when it became necessary to protect themselves against cold winds. He advised all of them to build their village outside [inside?] the ditch. They make a dry sound when he steps on the ground with his pointed leg: toc. Viti-Vití. The ditches. Viti-Vití left a few of his people and a ditch for shelter. where it meets the water.). deep ditches and leave part of his people there. recommended. I have no doubt that Fitsi-fitsi lives on today in the “mirror world” of dawn times ingilango. In almost every habitable place he found.” have come to reside over the ages. 113 . Viti-Vití still lives today with some of his people on the shores of the great Kuikúru-Ípa lagoon. At night Viti-Vití’s footsteps can be heard. trained in special techniques of the body and esoteric knowledge and able to enter a trance by smoking tobacco (Nicotina sp. and one end always led to or away from water. toc. Orlando and Claudio Villas-Boas 1973: 165 (Paraphrasing a Kuikuru tale) I have never heard of Fitsi-fitsi’s footsteps.1 The Kuikuru travel in this mirror world in their dreams. who settled in his footprints. within the semicircle described by it. Viti-Vití would make long. and other “dawn persons.

It is their origin place. After splitting from the ancestral village of Óti. for instance. presumably to collect honey. after months of almost daily work at Nokugu.”4 Today. although they did say he had passed this way and left his signature marks.” as the Villas-Boas brothers (1973: 165) note. the Kuikuru are still known as Lahatua otomo. Hikutaha. I vividly remember. near where the Villas-Boas brothers had heard that Fitsi-fitsi lived. but that changed one day when he went out of the village to collect honey with his wife and brother-in-law and transformed himself into an itseke (a “monster. Nïtsïmï and Amatuagu had founded the old village site (etepe) of Kuhikugu. again. one day on a visit to Nokugu. he asked me to tell “my story. he honed his lower legs into sharp points and attacked his kinsmen with his spear-point legs. told me the story of Fitsi-fitsi. Afukaká. some forty years after they left this place. Ipa Kuhikugu (actually two lakes. precisely where it descends into Lake Kuhikugu. as they call the ditches. where it descends into the lake. Nobody mentioned that Fitsi-fitsi might live here.to late 1800s.2 They were at Kuhikugu when Kalusi (Steinen) came in 1884. I must surely have one to tell. As Afukaká and I stood beside the ancient Fitsifitsi gepügü.114 • The Ecology of Power But I had not heard that Fitsi-fitsi resides today at Ipa Kuhikugu.” spirit. mapping and collecting across the ancient site with my Kuikuru collaborators.” Carneiro and Dole lived in a tent just beside the northern terminus of ditch 1 when the Kuikuru lived in their penultimate village of this place (Lamakuka): a Kuikuru man found “Bobbie’s coffee pot” one day as we mapped the ancient Fitsi-fitsi gepügü. I know the place well. scooped-out bowl with imposing peripheral mounds rising on all sides. or superbeing).” because. the great chiefs. Kuhikugu and Lamakuka) is singular in Kuikuru cultural memory. In fear of retaliation he fled and wandered aimlessly across the landscape. the village chief and my adoptive brother. one of the most powerful persons in contemporary Xinguano political history and a singular figure in the Kuikuru village. I told him that I thought this place and others like it .3 It was also here that Robert Carneiro and Gertrude Dole came to live in 1953–1954 as the Kuikuru’s first live-in “whites. Our campsite—that of me and my Kuikuru field assistants—was very near the southern terminus. Fitsi-fitsi gepügü (“excavated hole”). my field crew. not far from my first excavation trench. Climbing a tree.5 Fitsi-fitsi was “a person … [and] had everything that people have. the day a rattlesnake struck (and missed) one Kuikuru assistant as we mapped the ancient great plaza—a big. where the Kuikuru ancestors (ngiholo) had lived with the Matipu (Uagihïtï otomo) until the mid. “the people of Lahatua. at the end of the ditch there. having spent many hours walking back and forth over the ditches and causeways. dragging his sharpened legs and incising the ground behind.

I explained. of course. Along the way.Social Dynamics Before Europe • 115 (Kuhikugu and Heulugihïtï) were ngiholó-ìtupe (place of the ancestors) and the ditches and linear mounds were the intentional constructions of ancient Xinguanos. had entered a trance and in his out-of-body travels had encountered Nokugu. A month or so earlier the most powerful shaman of eight in the village. and. having lost his primary heir and another younger son early that year. barricades to defend the ancient villages from nikogo (“fierce Indians”). nearly two kilometers.1 Reconstruction of Kuhikugu Village. with my maps and other paper props. filled with pottery. “who is working at my home. The features we see on the ground today. We noted how it was heaped in great linear mounds Fig.1). infested today with tall palms. what is he doing there?” That day at the site. He had heard my ideas before on historical places and personages. were likely coupled with palisades or other. pottery sherds (egeho). circa A. and the dark earths (egepe). we looked at bits of patches of “terra preta do índio. contracted to protect the chief ’s magic pot (kune). The chief was in mourning for much of 1993. and rarely had an opportunity to see what I was doing at Nokugu.D. that occur in the old village sites (etepe) and ancestor places. 4. near excavation trench 1 (Figure 4. in both public and private settings. the traditional method to reveal and perhaps kill the witch. a common colonizer of etepe and ngiholó ìtupe. perhaps natural. having also heard some of my archaeology stories: Who is this cagaiha (whiteman)” he asked. ancient refuse of the ngiholo.” the Nokugu-Heulugihïtï road) at the “bridge” where it is bisected by ditch 2. “The shaman explained. 1500. We walked the full length of ditch 2. . as best he could. the Fitsi-fitsi gepügü. I had talked many times to him and other Kuikuru of archaeology. We followed the causeway and entered the ancient great plaza.” dark earth. I showed Afukaká my story. and then we diverged along the ancient causeway (“road 4.

particularly. Later I also showed him my excavation trench.D.” where the ancient houses. which in addition to form and construction are identical to present-day pots. which perfectly preserved the blood red exterior slip. and the black interior paint (made of charcoal and the sap of a tree they call tiha). Some time in the distant past. D .116 • The Ecology of Power along roads or the plaza. plazas. where they were one to two meters high all around. one he had not thought of before with respect to Fitsi-fitsi’s gepügü. We also dug up chunks of the hardpan terra roxa. bound them. the layered dark earths of ancient occupation surfaces and charcoal lenses within them (later C14 dated to between c. several Kuikuru were out hunting far away from their village. but of something altogether different: palisades. or “red earth. 1500–1800. extending from the water’s edge deep into the once (long ago) forested terra firme and sloping back down to the water. like ancient trash middens and pot-sherds. and chided the prisoners with threats of their imminent deaths. Afukaká considered my arguments as we walked. dated to circa A . Beneath the thick stratum of in-fill that built up within the ditch. The form of the ditches was defined by Carneiro . One of the Kuikuru was befriended by the chief ’s daughter who he convinced to untie him and. He leaped a great palisade wall and ditch (maybe two walls) to flee the village. and roadways had been. he again leapt the village fortifications to open the village for attack. after telling his companions he would return to avenge their murders. 950 and 1250) and the reddish (natural-colored) overburden thrown up over them on the inside berm. as these are also primary features of contemporary villages. (see Basso 1995: 105–141 for a more detailed Kalapalo variant of this akiña) The Kuikuru do remember a more volatile time when conflict was more common and typical of macro-regional social relations (Basso 1995: 91–104). It was not a story of plazas or roads. and after some reflection he told me that he had another akiña (a legend or story) to tell me. They were taken hostage by hostile ngikogo who brought them to their village. We “popped out” a big rim sherd (weighing about a pound) from the west wall. I pointed out the bright red natural soils. the slightly grooved marks of quartz pebble burnishing. but they did not know the trenches at Nokugu were semicircular. which was a decisive surprise attack on the enemy village. escaped. parts of my story he understood quite well. to avenge his kinsmen. I paraphrase him here. that they incised great arcs across the high ground. A. the contemporary manioc cooking pot—ahukugu. On his return. just above the base of the trough.

to the other end. the social content can renew itself almost completely without ever reaching certain deep-seated structural characteristics which distinguish it sharply from neighboring civilizations. indeed.” Much has changed over the long history of the Xinguano peoples. as well. 1995).” A Thread of Ariadne The archaeological evidence described above defines an epoch of the Xinguano cultural tradition. circa 1400–1600. “within the domain of a particular civilization. since the features are much the same in ancient towns and modern villages. brings to mind Braudel’s (1980: 31) observation that. The continuity of a historical personage we call the Xingu or Xinguano society. I have encountered little surprise. “although different peoples and cultures succeeded each other in the region. Dole 1961/62). especially.” a clear storyline of continuity emerges.” entailed in traditional practices and lore and the dispositions of the body in ritual and everyday life (Ireland 2001). The Villas-Boas’s version of the legend (akiña) of Fitsi-fitsi is different from those I heard and.to medium-sized polities that dominated much of the world at the time. when I say that I think they are ancestor places. tell us about the present. there is variation in every telling (see. so that the most ancient events may be transmitted to us in mythical language.6 These stories tell us much of the ancient past. a real thread of Ariadne holds them together throughout time. seams in the fabric of history. and kindly shared with me. Fitsifitsi’s footprints and the linear earthen structures built beside roads and plazas are present in virtually all the major settlement places in the Upper Xingu. or what else his and other tales of heroes. akiña of ngiholo and itseke. but a “real thread of Ariadne. They had made a point of walking its length from one end. but polysemic and fragmented as “historical” narratives often are. with its many twists and turns. where my camp was on the Lake Kuhikugu side. As the Villas-Boas brothers (1973: 20) noted. I leave it to others more equipped than I to resolve where exactly Fitsi-fitsi resides. where their campsite was on the Lake Lamakuka side. Basso 1984. The accurate (unpublished) map they made. however. there is much that is often agreed on. on par with many of the small.Social Dynamics Before Europe • 117 and Dole. who lived beside one in 1953–1954. led them to the inescapable conclusion that these were ancient systems of defensive moats (Carneiro 1957. of unexpected grandeur: an ancient regime. but they do not generally see them as ancestor places (ngiholó-ìtupe). the inner-fixedness of traditional or “essential” culture. it makes sense. The Kuikuru also note the correspondences between the ditches and egepe (dark earth) and egeho (ceramics). It suggests a past very . the “Xinguano way. 1985.

camps. linking settlements through the region and individual communities with gardens.2).118 • The Ecology of Power different from what we might expect.8 These settlements were integrated through a complex system of roads (curbed highways of at least ten meters wide) and paths. given common representations of native Amazonians in anthropological literature and popular media. orchards of fruit trees. ports.2 Aerial photograph of Yakare (X7) (1967). 4.000 km². principally ditch complexes and the linear mounds (curbs) found alongside causeways and plazas.3). and fishing sites. numbering in the tens of thousands. The Upper Xingu basin was home to a large regional population.7 were structurally elaborated with intentional constructions. Many of these settlements. Earthworks in and between settlements are graphic testimony of sophisticated engineering techniques and the “over-determined” nature of the built environment in ancient settlements.” Fig. extending over an area of at least 20. . among myriad other special places (Figure 4. but they also suggest a significant concern for demarcation and defense against diverse “others. bridges. Settlements were densely distributed and far more so than during the past century or so. The plaza and cruciform radial roads of the ancient village are visible in the interconnected gardens located in the center of photo. some over ten times the size of the largest historically known village (Figure 4. the plaza is in the center of an oval of secondary forest that abuts the eastern margin (right) of the large (> 1km) airstrip.

and communal structures. 4. . The placement of the primary (five) weir embankments on the Ipatse stream (created by Sagakagugu five weirs. Chané/Guaná/ Terena). It is perhaps easy to lose sight of the massive changes that have transpired over the last millennium. given such dramatic continuity. regionality. In many respects. in its lacustrine ecology. The Xingu was unique. like Arawak peoples in the Southern Periphery. Xinguano.3 The North-South road as it passes from X6 to X13 and contemporary Kuikuru village (X12 locality) and its radial paths situated adjacent to Lake Ipatse. these physical structures reflect the system of rank and chieftainship affirmed and perpetuated in rituals of world-renewal and chiefly rites of passage. Notably. manioc agriculture. Cultural continuity is clear in many basic ways of life including. particularly. Bauré.Social Dynamics Before Europe • 119 Fig. as there are few or no lakes in most regions of Amazonia. sedentism and large group size. just larger: the concentric and radial settlement pattern. Pareci. Xinguanos. carefully partitioned. sophisticated fishing technologies and navigation. and social hierarchy (principally. plaza rituals. housing. one that was built up over time and was actively maintained. ancient settlements and technologies are the same as today. however. fishing. The entire Ipatse stream channel was a managed landscape. the highly constructed landscapes. practiced extensive wetland modifications to improve sources of potable and bathing water and. spatial organization. generally.

little more than moist wetlands in the dry season. including Austronesian.120 • The Ecology of Power atacas. is uncertain. settled groups of the major rivers and the more mobile and autonomous upland peoples is rooted in the early diaspora and played out in diverse ways across the lowlands. the outlet of Lake Ipatse. Although the exact forms of sociality that led to the colonization of the region by southern Arawak peoples are uncertain. may well have been more permanent in the past. as well as the Arawak diaspora (Bellwood 1995. These competitive rivalries could relate to competition . unlike many Arawak movements that simply expanded along the major rivers. Against the backdrop of the region. or copy-making at the level of otomo (community). It was a significant overland migration between the headwaters of the Tapajos and Xingu rivers. Kirch 1984. Factionalism and rivalry within and between chiefly lineages. over the past century or so that status rivalry between “Houses. and Guana.” common among non-urban complex societies. although there is no evidence (archaeological or ethnographic). 1999). southern Amazonia. see Chapter 7). the most common cause of contemporary fissions. it seems likely given what we know about Xinguano peoples. The Upper Xingu was the easternmost extent of the Arawak diaspora. the Xingu sequence also reflects very general changes that can be seen in other parts of the diaspora: initial colonization. Niger-Congo (Bantu). who was given the ataca of Itsuva. Bauré. in the first place. is similar to the process among Austronesians that led Firth (1936) to coin the term “ramage” to describe the social structure underlying such “ramification. and post-1492 demographic collapse and ethnogenesis. created internal pressure leading to fission (ramification). Why the Arawak groups migrated into the upper Xingu. In this case the alterity is often between large. the southern Arawaks of the Southern Periphery (Bauré/Pareci/Xinguano) and the upper Paraguay River (Terena/Guana/ Chane).” within a conical clan-like structure. Vansina 1990. This schizogenetic process of fissioning. development. most notably the Tupi-Guarani and Gê speaking peoples (discussed later). and the “predatory” groups that surrounded them. Pareci. such as the riverine Xinguano. McIntosh 1999. including Nokugu. Bellwood and Renfrew 2003. The wet season lakes.” Sahlins (1985) refers to this as “heroic segmentation. This produced a hierarchy between mother and daughter villages. which he gave to his five fathers-in-law. including. climax. and would have involved significant travel in potentially hostile territory. The broad dichotomy created between regional. most notably. may have resulted in long-distance migrations. settled Arawaks. that local hierarchy and regional (symmetrical) integration was transformed into an enduring regional hierarchy. Heckenberger 2002.

since there are several C14 dates pre-dating A. Aueti. A ring of domestic areas.10 Accommodation and acculturation. 1250–1400. which were constructed after circa A.12 Thus.9 They and other independent groups. and Bakairi.D. among others. if not typically. but maintained distinctive cultural traditions. Kamayura. Plazas and roads are defined by the large peripheral earthworks and show a lack of dark earth and ceramics in these cleared areas. Clear evidence of a village with a fixed center throughout the period from after circa A. there is no evidence of conquest or displacement of an established Xingu population. 1250 is available from Nokugu and Heulugihïtï. notably including plaza village orientation and plaza-rituals. although Carib groups (Eastern Complex) may have already been present in the region when the Arawaks came into the area. suggesting that their expansion was commonly. Pires de Campo 1862: 443). At present. 1500–1600. were gradually assimilated into the Xinguano (southern Arawak) cultural patterns. are indicated by the stratified dark earth deposits surrounding the plaza. major curb-building and ditch (re)construction are evident at circa A. since there are no southern Arawak peoples without them. based on an extension of kinship rather than conquest (Oberg 1949: 53. 500).D. and intensive walkover inspections.D. Although the settlement model of plaza and radial roads. based on a dozen or more excavations. . not wealth. was present since the first Xinguano occupations. radiocarbon dated to circa A.D.Social Dynamics Before Europe • 121 over scarce economic resources. many dozens of soil-cores. where intact deposits lying underneath plaza marginal mounds are dated to between A. if this pattern had not already been in place in smaller scale in earlier times (Figure 4. as Schmidt (1917) noted long ago. are common features of Arawak groups. as is also true of ditch 1 and 2 at Nokugu.4). suggest that both Caribs and Arawaks were not only present in the area together. 800–900 may represent initial Arawak occupations of the basin or only the easternmost “wave” of colonization within the basin (although this may be an artifact of sampling.D.D. Trumai. There can be little doubt that a circular plaza configuration was typical throughout the cultural sequence. peaceful. partitioned by roadways. 1000 and 1250. at least by terminal prehistoric times.11 The apparently rapid appearance of various large circular villages circa A. at least of the earliest Arawak communities. the ancient regime reached its climax form through massive reworking of occupations sites and the establishment of regional “galactic” clusters of sites.D. Archaeological investigations at Tehukugu and Kuguhi (Lake Tafununu). but in recent times the most common element of status rivalry is competition over power. for example. likely coupled with earthworking. 1250.

more likely. The impetus for this may . substantial “upgrading” of monumental earthworks in and around villages. marking the final phase for precontact Xinguano society: the “climax” or classic ancient regime. In this reconfiguration. by circa A. the beginning of the climax ancient regime.4 Satellite overview of Kuhikugu (X11) area showing dramatic anthropogenic forest alteration. 1250–1400. notably major residential areas between ditches 1 and 2 in southern Nokugu. 4. A similar galactic configuration characterized Kuhikugu in late pre-Columbian times.D. additional occupation areas were opened. This reorganization appears to be pervasive.D.D. 1400–1650). creating more or less the final pre-abandonment configuration (c. Settlement reorganization and expansion is most obvious at Nokugu. 1500. By the 1400s. Note GPS mapped earthworks at X35 and X36 (lower right) and X21 (upper left).122 • The Ecology of Power Fig. there was a substantial transformation of the basic cultural pattern manifested most clearly in the construction or. and involved the construction of the massive ditches and road and plaza curbs over intact living surfaces. circa A. A.

houses. and the Greater Antilles) correspond to areas historically occupied by Arawak groups. artificial landscaping. for instance. symbolic and social norms. Regardless of increases in village size related to population nucleation. are particularly critical for understanding late prehistoric societies. After the establishment of physical partitions within villages. Cultural memory is also preserved in the material culture.Social Dynamics Before Europe • 123 have been local circumscription. show an over-determination of space that fits easily (in many respects) with the cosmocentric cultural models of Amazonian peoples designed on . Existing patterns of social hierarchy became more embedded and formalized as higher status groups were better able to maintain their physical proximity to the center of village political and ritual life. The settlement grammars. and landscape. predisposed local populations to earthworking. coastal Guiana. which in some cases. and other embellishments of the built environment—a monu-mentalité. roads. reaching truly monumental scale. Opting to “vote with one’s feet” was restricted to residential moves between established settlements. like Heulugihïtï. the construction of substantial fortifications resulted in the physical segmentation of fortified villages. In other words. The earthworks themselves. both socially and physically. albeit speculatively. security. In this context..g. are truly crystalline and. plazas. like Southwest Pueblos or some Andean peoples (e. Nazca geoglyphs or the sacred valley and ceque system of the Inka come immediately to mind).. social divisions were clearly and more or less permanently and prominently expressed in village spatial organization.g. the same that would explain the central plaza configuration characteristic of the southern Arawaks. would be more marginal than original occupants. and with no more suitable space (because the Xinguano settlement pattern is very discerning in terms of resources. specifically with respect to how institutional spaces create and recreate persons (as taken up in Part II). however. the human body. the expansive phase of the diaspora had run out. ritual.g. men’s houses. village space. we also can note that many of the primary “mound-building” cultures of the lowlands (e. represented in a variety of community structures (e. that the prototypical cultural models of the Arawak. and chief ’s houses). middle Orinoco. the plaza. The social groups that coalesced with established villages and occupied areas some distance from the central plaza. The structural elaboration of villages is an extension of a cultural aesthetic of monumentalism. and geographic propinquity) to be opened. but the construction of the massive late prehistoric earthen structures brought this aesthetic of constructing and controlling space to new levels.. bridges. That is to say. the Llanos de Mojos.

part foreign and some few entirely one or the other. Regardless of what factors got them there and how exactly this was transformed. it was the process quite typical after 1750. Thus. as a collective representation.: 258). topographical. the early Arawak colonists established a cultural pattern that continues to the present day and into which other immigrant groups (Carib. post-colonial times. part local.” which could equally describe a settlement pattern conforming to the formal tenets of central-place models (following Christaller 1966). is marked by the collapse of “classic” polities of the ancient regime. most of the major várzea and southern Amazonian chiefdoms had been largely wiped out as discrete sociopolitical entities and in their places were mission and boom-town centers. Based on the imagery of the mandala as “geometrical. Viveiros de Castro 2001). not only describes a pattern of “satellites arranged around a center. and societal blueprints” (Ibid. whether or not ethnogenesis was a dominant process in earlier times (pre-1492). Ancient Xinguano Regime as Galactic Polity In several important essays. composed of divine ancestors (culture heroes) and other ‘dawn time’ beings. for extraction of canela (cinnamon). and dispersed indigenous and newcomer populations. The final major era of later prehistory. topographical. and the earthly plane of humans and lesser beings .124 • The Ecology of Power idioms of the human body and the cosmos (Descola 2001. as seems certain based on available archaeological evidence today. this is indicative of the powerful centrifugal (acculturative) force of the Arawak regional systems. it was no doubt a predominant force of change in later. demonstrating the remarkable continuities between Arawak groups throughout the southern Amazon. and the reconstitution of indigenous regional societies. cacao. as discussed in Chapter 5.: 253). gold. chiefly or kingly persons who act as the mediating link between the cosmos. and wood. This conclusion seems inescapable given a careful reading of the regional ethnology of the Southern Periphery. the galactic polity stands “for an arrangement of a center and its satellites and [is] employed in multiple contexts” (Ibid. and others) have become acculturated. The galactic model. Tupian. By circa 1750. or proto-history. but it is a “radial mapping” that codes “in a composite way [the] cosmological. Such “center-oriented constructs” situate sacred and political power in the marked and exalted human bodies. from 1492 to 1750. and politico-economic features” of the polity (Tambiah: 252–258). rubber. cosmological. the gradual colonization of the region by nonindigenous peoples. Tambiah (1985) describes the “galactic” nature of polity in Southeast Asia.

was an attempt to overcome a simple ecofunctional determinism. and the galactic polity itself (a topic considered in Part II): “On the one hand. The issues of political power and how they relate to corporeal discipline and spatial organization are taken up in Part II. Tambiah (Ibid. the settings or stages . The polyvalent meanings of the construct cannot be disaggregated and as a totality. resonates strongly with the patterns observed for the settlement clusters of the Xinguano ancient regime.: 255–256). circular plazas. sexual. administrative. which he relates it to Weber’s concept of “typification. but of which the accurate exegesis is that this recurring design is the multifaceted polyvalence built into the dominant indigenous concepts” (Ibid. in particular. In fact.” it “cannot be reduced to a simple causal explanation” (Ibid.Social Dynamics Before Europe • 125 (Ibid. The model shares elements of other models of so-called divine or “kingly” power.” This is discussed below in relation to the serial or “cascading” aspects of symbolic and social reproduction in indigenous cultural systems in Amazonia. Particularly relevant is the regonition that the “wider encompassing polity as such is constituted according to an elaborate design of center and satellites and of successive bipartitions of various kinds” (Ibid. Tambiah’s intent in framing the idea of the galactic polity. and the exemplary centers are the core area of the plaza itself. the tendency of duplication. but it is important here to consider these in relation to the galactic structure of ancient regime settlement patterns that is unique in the Xingu cultural sequence. a “scheme that simultaneously has cosmological. politico-economic. Furthermore.: 253) or.: 253–255). the idea that the system represents. on the other. plaza. power and resistance is reproduced at levels of house. including the “laissez-faire utilitarianism as portrayed by the ‘central place’ theory” (Ibid.: 276) refers to this redundancy as stereotypy. and practical ramifications. ritual. there is a faithful reproduction on the reduced scale of the center in its outlying components. that “the geometry of the galactic polity is manifest as a recurring design at various levels that the analyst labeled cosmological. basic contradictions between unity and division. whereby the nodes are the major houses at cardinal points of the large. what Wagner (1991) calls the “fractal person” in Near Oceania. the idea of an exemplary center and a radial mapping also describes the basic nature of Xinguano plaza villages. territorial.: 280).13 but the galactic polity model. other words. the satellites pose the constant threat of fission and incorporation in another sphere of influence” (Tambiah: 261). which requires no historical or cultural specificity and which sees sociality and polity as an epiphenomenon of (pure) bodily requirements of individual and social groups. if not resolves.: 280) and as such has important implications for considering cultural complexity in Amazonia.

a hub linking the four primary plaza communities and smaller satellite plaza villages. founded in 1997. only a fraction of the residential area of Nokugu or Akagahïtï.14 There was obviously a more fixed gradation of ritual activities and exclusionary tactics of ancient regime communities than in recent times. Nonetheless. The question of the institutional and social basis of these regional configurations is uncertain. at least. see Chapter 9). public. there was debate over the burial place of a primary chiefly individual from the recent splinter village of Afukeri. as represented in both the Ipatse and Kuhikugu clusters (Figure 4. What seems to be critical here is the hierarchy established by the grandeur of the ancestors buried there. which creates a social and cosmological ranking of closely related villages. it was decided to bury him at Ipatse. consisting of three houses (in 2002). Heulugihïtï is somewhat unique. What is particularly striking about Heulugihïtï is the complexity and crystalline character of the road and plaza networks. perhaps some five hectares around the main plaza and in a few areas along major roads. Today each village is its own master.126 • The Ecology of Power for ritual. in its apparent “vacantness. in the Kuikuru case there is an informal hierarchy between the mother village (Ipatse) and its two satellite villages. theaters “in the round” (Agostinho 1974. There is significant evidence of wetland modification along Ipatse stream where it contacts the site edge. Gregor 1977. Today. Contemporary Xinguano villages are by and large independent entities. the galactic ordering is clear: exemplary center and four major satellites. with the cardinally oriented major roads leading to each. and social drama. but Heulugihïtï. given the galactic configuration of regional clusters with a clear ranking order of settlements. as an exemplary core and cosmo- . appears to be a unique settlement.” with very limited residential debris restricted to the plaza marginal mound and adjacent road mounds and intervening areas. there is also a small village at the old village site of Lahatua. the mother village. It is critical to understanding the galactic organization. and it is therefore difficult to envision (through analogy) how different plaza villages linked in the ancient regime integrated clusters. however. It is not marked by a peripheral moat and is a small settlement in residential scale.5). It seems overdetermined for its residential size. and perhaps represents something like a sacred center of the Ipatse cluster. After some consternation on both sides. It is a settlement largely of plazas and roads and little residential areas. for instance. with secondary satellites linked to each. but this is poorly understood at present and does not change the fact that the site is not only centrally located between the four major residential sites. Recently (2001–2002). It appears to represent a gateway community or hub.

4.5 Schematic of Ipatse and Kuhikugu Cluster (black circles are primary centers. dark gray are secondary centers. . and small plaza communities denoted by light gray circles).Social Dynamics Before Europe • 127 Fig.

Tertiary centers like Séku. genealogy. soil (egepe) formation and alteration. and countryside of single settlements the regional galactic pattern typical of prehistoric times. Nonetheless. Here. the question arises: Was Heulugïhitï the place of unusually great chiefly persons (the highest ranking ancestors). It is interesting to note that the relation between the two largest residential centers (X6 and X18) and the plaza is the same as between the two primary factions (chiefly Kindreds or “Houses”) in the contemporary village of Ipatse. which seldom exceed three hundred persons. which seems to be the primary residential center of the Ipatse cluster. and Agikuangaku are apparently secondary centers.” (Sahlins 1990) rather than a politico-economic-administrative hierarchy of classic central place theory. ancient regime settlements were much larger and elaborate than those of today. “Houses. where the hub or gateway community. X17 and X18. It was a loose politico-economic hierarchy of beauty. because it serves to link the major Houses of the cluster (X6. more so than even much larger sites such as Nokugu. and Intagu (perhaps three to ten hectares) apparently shared features of their basic economy. then. by the prominence of the ancestors—which fixes in place the social hierarchies represented in the bodies of chiefly and other persons. It is clearly different. is both the ritual and social center integrating through its radial road systems the other four major residential sites (X33 through X36). insofar as there is notable anthropogenic forest alteration. to a large degree. and affinity. But. and as such the foundational site of the galactic cluster? We can only speculate presently. Hatsikugi. This basic radial model is characterized by exemplary centers and satellites oriented to the cardinal directions in galactic polities and plaza villages. It is also the largest residential site in the cluster (larger even than Nokugu in the Ipatse cluster). and . but large nonetheless (perhaps ten to thirty hectares of residential area). value. smaller and less elaborated than the complex settlements of Nokugu and Kuhikugu.” radial paths. a plaza without a village. Séhu. but the exceptional monumentality and lack of residential density suggests that it was substantially different and uniquely integrative within the regional galactic cluster. Each of these settlements has plazas and.128 • The Ecology of Power logical center of a regional system. Akagahïti. at least). whereas the expression of this “ethnophysics” is today limited to plazas. and areas of domestic archaeological remains. a “political economy of grandeur. about every two to three miles. with it over-determined monumentality and the crystalline cardinality of its orientations. great and small plaza settlements. The cluster at Kuhikugu shows us a slightly different scenario. the social prominence of these settlements was determined. as ancestor grounds. were linked by major roads and positioned at regular intervals. in this case the site of Kuhikugu (X11).

and administrative functions .D. likely more or less coincident with ditch and causeway construction.15 The scale and intensity of communication between these villages. Anthropogenic soils decrease in darkness and thickness as one moves from the central plaza towards peripheral portions of the settlement (to the point of being absent in many areas directly inside the peripheral ditches). prior to what we might call the galactic period. for instance. Hatsikugi. earthen ramparts corresponding to entryways.17 Nokugu and Kuhihugu. and are distributed across the entire area throughout the area defined by the ditches. Tertiary plaza satellites like Séhu. in the case of Nokugu (X6) and Kuhikugu (X11) and a little less (< 25 ha) in the case of Akagahïtï. or the Kuhikugu cluster sites (Asahïtï/Ugotahïtï.16 Earlier villages. like each village and to a large degree each household was independent economically. major nodes and satellites. linked through a complicated road system in a virtually unbroken latticework across the Upper Xingu basin. The largest of the fortified villages was quite large. Residential occupations. complicated networks in inner-village causeways and pathways. This suggests that more marginal areas (away from the plaza) were likely occupied more briefly and less intensively. for instance. 1400. up to forty to fifty hectares. The area between ditches one and two at Nokugu. or Intagu. Apalaci and Maijeinei). appears to have been occupied late. may well have been large and permanent. can have several plazas. Kuhugupe. within an urban ecology of the galactic clusters. Some of these settlements almost surely numbered in the low thousands. would likely be called towns according to European standards of the day. towns. The geometry of exemplary center. and curbed or raised roads leading out across the landscapes to other villages and. each some five to ten hectares. and Agikuangaku. raw goods from the periphery and finished goods from the center. but it seems just as likely that each node and satellite. including regular secular taxation. Séku. radiocarbon dated to circa A. multiple bathing areas. as well. The “first-order” towns. at least. but the scale of earthworks and the settlements physically defined by them leaves no doubt that the pre-Columbian societies that built them had substantial populations and no intention of abandoning their villages. like today. perhaps after the construction of ditch one.Social Dynamics Before Europe • 129 there can be no doubt that economic and administrative inequalities existed and provided some foundation for differential political power. gravitated toward and occupy virtually all sides of the central plazas. lacked ditches. Kaguho. and similar large sites at the mouth of the Tuatuari or at Morená. is clearly evidenced by the and a common material culture and settlement pattern. ultimately. is radically different from classic central-place models of economic and administration of basic resources.

e. in terms of their relative power (the clear influence of Western administrators. politco-ritual centralization. not in economic and administrative control or direct coercion (power over). as well as techno-economic heterogeneity and administrative integration.” But. power centers have shifted from one community to another. such a “power from within” is likewise considered characteristic of the “ritual phase of political economy. 1950–1990. same idea of an overarching chief—referred to as “our chief ” by the current Kuikuru village chief—is present. the primary “glue” that holds the polity together is symbolic and social. and particularly the intercommunity chiefly rituals. as originally described by Crumley 1987. but in ritual and ancestor places. is important to mention here). Indeed. exchange.” among the chieftaincies of sub-Saharan Africa (McIntosh 1999. as opposed to the economic or administrative character of classic “central-place” models. Thus. In recent times. although integrated through a formal pattern of peer-community interaction. and it is easy to get the impression of limited or nonexistent social hierarchy. we cannot lose sight of clear hierarchy of social values and symbolic difference marked. It is difficult to say why villages were structurally elaborated. ritually and politically autonomous) and very few smaller settlements. assuming that politics is “heterarchical. including intermarriage. . while regional relations and settlement patterns do not fit the central-place model of ranked economic or administrative functional differences between centers and satellites. and their raw numbers may well put them into the range (Flannery 1994 suggests five thousand for New World cities).130 • The Ecology of Power were tied not to economic wealth but to the accumulation of symbolic capital through major rituals: if it is worth thinking of these clusters as an Amazonian variant of urbanism. although there is evidence of population growth and nucleation. Rowlands 1987. but rather the state. but the structural changes directly reflect village segmentation. Southall 1999). The “galactic polity” model shares much in common with Geertz’s (1980) celebrated idea of the “theater state” in its focus on ritual as the integrating force of the state and the organization of the state according to exemplary centers and kingship. As Geertz (1980: 13) notes of the “theater state”: “court ceremonialism was the driving force of court politics. Nonetheless.” Today there are a dozen large plaza settlements (i. and within the regional system villages exist in relative parity.. It also shares features with Sahlin’s (1985) equally celebrated discussions of the “divine” (ancestral) authority of chiefs and kings or queens in the “heroic societies” of Polynesia and elsewhere. was a device for the enactment of ritual. and mass ritual was not a device to shore up the state. This asymmetry was temporary. even in its final gasp.

and roads. plazas. interactions between the village and the external world. not only became more objectified or embedded through physical proximity of certain social groups to the plaza (the heart of village ritual and political life). There was.” The symbolic economy of power is thus based on the ritualization that is meant “to ‘image’ to cosmological truths of the society” (Tambiah 1984: . was more developed in the hands of the ancient chiefs. The concentration of symbolic capital in discrete “containers of power.Social Dynamics Before Europe • 131 and exclusivity. In the Upper Xingu this involves the (generally private) cosmic power of shaman (and witches) juxtaposed against the (generally public) ancestral power of chiefs. including small. already physically centralized.ranking families. was regionally ranked. than today. the relation of ranking chiefs to their communities (otomo). as is also characteristic of the “galactic polity” or “theater state”: “the relation of chiefs to shanans and other great persons. following Sahlins’s (1991) terms. according to a logic of the human body (right-left) and cardinality. and the relations—always competitive—between chiefs and chiefly kindreds within and between villages. if not control. and redistributed is symbolic capital. but the capacity to control public activities. and who are. not economic capital. insofar as chiefs mediate. and large plazas. buried ancestors and those ranking chiefs who are becoming ancestors. through the capacity of chiefs to control access to the sphere of public affairs and ritual knowledge necessary to direct it and to pass this differentially onto others.” The cascade of sacred rank and politico-economic might is graphically displayed in spatial idioms of centers. if not rigidly defined. “replacing ancestors. “living ancestors. Undoubtedly. perhaps made social divisions less susceptible to redefinition. such as their sons. The construction of such durable divisions within villages. and chiefs to other chiefs. in terms of their ability to mobilize labor and resources for major ritual. the critical thing being stored displayed. Not only are centers defined spatially. The symbolic hierarchy and rudimentary political economy that exists today.” such as plazas and the major houses. separating chiefs (anetï) from commoners. but also personally. through reference to the persons the plaza embodies. there was social mobility between groups and considerable factional rivalry between (or centered on) the more powerful chiefs and high. Thus. chiefs to the material world. and the “rank-ordering” is specifically tied to the cosmic rituals of chief-making. within the anetão (chiefly) rank. and surely the chain of command was more elaborately graded. but also subjectively preserved. medium. The sons of chiefs were “groomed” by their fathers to take office and had privileged access not only to prestige but to the crucial information and esoteric knowledge needed to do so. and a regional dimension. ritual and political process.

Açutuba near Manaus. villages. The formal properties of central-place models seem out of place in Amazonia.. hamlets and wilderness) may seem inappropriate to describe the late precolonial Xinguano nation. the central plaza.g. the model is not inappropriate. the “ritual phase of political economy” (Southall 1999). All show features of regional “centers. But surely their model of “disarticulated urbanism” does not seem to fit well the galactic system of ancient regime Xinguano polities. nowhere in the Upper Xingu today is there anything as “galactic” as the structures of ancient regime settlement clusters. as one moves from primary centers. in terms of hierarchies of persons (“heads”) or the town-countryside dichotomy as an organizing principle in the unequal division of resources and definition of status (i. commonly. topography. Spencer and Redmond 1992). unity and division. gender.” nested amidst a variety of “satellite” communities. Here. 2004. cities. . society. for that matter) settlement patterns according to a rank-order calculus derived from feudal or early modern Europe (e. rather than economy. However. the formal central-place model. it seems that ritual. Roosevelt 1991. 1999. like Santarem. like X6 or X11. envisioned by Christaller (1966) and others based on feudal European city-countryside systems (Giddens 1984). with its hyper-articulated centers and nodes.. rather than persons and the making and unmaking of them in the plaza ritual. As Lévi-Strauss (1963) noted long ago. if not typically. underlies such a political economy. society. and is a succinct encapsulation of primary schemes of the body. 1999. finds in “early” or “inchoate” states and chiefdoms. or Gavan in the western Orinoco. or the Marajoara mound clusters. Schaan 1997. and political economy. To measure Xinguano (or Amazonian. citing Geertz 1980: 116). is retained in the contemporary system (see Chapter 9). concentrating as it does both cultural memory and physical resources in the form of symbolic and cultural capital.e.and downstream from great central mounds groups (Heckenberger et al. What is in error is the assumption of economic-administrative centralization. power). seems out of place in Amazonia. Here we might note that both Service’s model of ecological variation and redistribution and Christaller’s central-place theory focus on the “functional role of towns as centers for the supply of goods and services to a surrounding rural population” (Browder and Godfrey 1997: 23). Although the kernel of this pattern. as Browder and Godfrey (1997) note. are known in the region. with multiple villages. embedded in its very nature. getting smaller and smaller. if not capitals. the central plaza. such as the great plaza centers.132 • The Ecology of Power 317. even though some very notable cases of centers. with dozens of domestic mounds located up. contains in itself contradictory principles of hierarchy and equality. But. towns.

and nascent world systems had fluctuated in size as core theaters of power in Mexico and Peru (“nuclear America”) waxed and waned during the millennium before preceding European arrivals. Imperialism was not new to the South American continent. including the “Aymara Kingdoms. Zeidler 1998. secondary (direct interaction) and tertiary (“tribal zones”) peripheries extended across much of the continent. the first Inka. Hornborg 1990. The “Land of the Four Corners” might also be seen as a galactic model. 1440–1520). and sacred origin place (Morená).” and earlier Tiwanaku expansionism (Isbell and McEwan 1991. and the radial and quadrapartite partitioning of space. This process of “warrification” likely impacted vast areas. too. As influence shifted.. as well as the Inka. than the kingdoms and principalities of Western Europe. a “hot-spot”. The Upper Xingu was surely a “center” in the regional landscape of the southern Amazon. and the lowlands was also a world unto itself. Lathrap et al. and a distant one for the most part. Still. but likely intensified warfare in adjacent sub-Andean areas. one of the largest empires of the ancient world. A. in fact.D. was just such a “radial-mapping. Levi-Strauss 1961. Lathrap 1985. we might note. both before and after the primary period of Inkan expansion (c. Interaction with Andean states. Kolata 1993). contemporary with the galactic clusters of the Xinguano ancient regime. the key to the accounting that underpinned Inkan bureaucracy and administration. 1963. ordered their world with respect to a concentric and decimal logic. 1975. By the time of Columbus’s voyages. they. because “the influence of states . like North America (Kehoe 1998).g. 1990) and in light of its central plaza. The highland-lowland comparison has drawn the attention of many Americanists (e. and its own historical personages and agents of change. 1982. the Inka empire was. likely not only transformed. the Upper Xingu provides excellent parallels. of sorts. also made much over such mnemonics calculations. Fabian 1992. the political and military impact of expanding states on adjacent areas cannot be ignored. The quipu. Zuidema 1964. by any measure of imperial craft and reach. with its own multicephalic and diffuse systems of regional interaction. Turner 1996.” much like a circular plaza in visual qualities or form (Urton 2003). Isbell 1976. Pachacuti (“He Who Remakes the World”) emerged victorious in struggles for power in the central Andes and began his campaign of expansionism.18 although direct influence by Andean states in the southern Amazonian lowlands seems unlikely. War and Peace in the Age of Inka In the mid-1400s. Amazonia was a periphery. much larger. a cascading gradient of primary (under direct control).Social Dynamics Before Europe • 133 The Inka.

tradesmen. particularly groups to the north (Tupi) and south (Gê). Data from the Upper Xingu demonstrate that prehistoric villages were not only large and permanent. the defensive posture and permanent villages of the Upper Xingu contrasts markedly with the offensive military tactics and more mobile settlement patterns of southern Amazonian Tupian and Central Brazilian Gê-Bororo groups. exchange. are poorly known in the Southern Periphery. it is very doubtful that the direct influence of Inka warriors. that circulated in regional trade networks in later times suggests such networks were in place.20 . but it is possible to generally elucidate the forces and players operating within the often capricious social universe of the Southern Periphery. but rich deposits of precious ores and gems. articulated with similar systems in a broad regional context. Direct archaeological indicators of long distance exchange. such as tropical forest bird feathers and fine hardwoods. Thus. on the whole. including communication. 1995: 15). were primary features of social landscapes across the lowlands. alliance and conflict.134 • The Ecology of Power typically extends far beyond their frontiers into a ‘tribal zone’ that is rife with conflict of various sorts” (Ferguson 1990: 239. Porro 1996. although the possible influence of expansionist states—empires—on distant peoples certainly cannot be overlooked. regional or interregional. the Chaco and Central Brazil did not pose the same restrictions. Whitehead 1994). Whether developments in the Andes or the Bolivian lowlands had any effect whatsoever on sociopolitical changes in the Upper Xingu is an open question. Indeed. Furthermore. We may not be able to attach proper names to the antagonists. Myers 1981.19 but mounting evidence suggests that. First. Kehoe 1998). whatever barrier the tropical forest posed for Andean peoples (cf. intense regional and interregional social interaction. which some groups used for ornaments (Nimuendajú 1948a: 310). It seems likely that the prehistoric ancestors of these macro-cultural traditions were the ones who most directly impacted ancient Xinguano villages. much of lowland Bolivia. but that they were tightly integrated into a large regional system of interaction that. or diplomats had reached the southern Amazonian periphery. in turn. Concrete archaeological and ethnohistoric data from the southern Amazon are scattered and often ambiguous. late prehistoric interaction must be understood in the narrower social universe of the Upper Xingu and adjacent areas. given what we might expect in “tribal zones” (Dincauze and Hasenstab 1989. Ferguson and Whitehead 1992. In other words. Lyon 1981). and a wide array of goods. Amazonia was “heating up” politically by the time Europeans arrived in the sixteenth century (DeBoer 1981.

as Gregor (1996: ix) notes. interior ditches (including canoe ports) and perhaps other architectural features served as prominent barriers within villages. Regardless of other functions.. the basic cultural pattern—of Xinguano regional society (Gregor 1990. political centrality and social hierarchy within villages than is known ethnographically (Carneiro 1993a. even. Dole 1961/62). Likewise. indeed.g. 1994). road. including perhaps entire communities. undoubtedly promoted stronger patterns of leadership. their movements within villages were restricted and. avoidance. revenge feuds or territorial disputes related to competition for resources (e. but it seems much more likely that the pervasive threat that prompted village fortification pertained to culturally distinctive groups (external warfare) on the peripheries of the Upper Xingu basin and beyond. Thus. resorting to aggression only when provoked. the first line of defense. Such an ideology of generally peaceful interaction. Furthermore. agricultural land and fishing areas) may well have occasionally escalated into violent conflicts between Upper Xingu communities.” even if that resistance is largely non-offensive. if an invading force succeeded in traversing the village peripheral ditch complex. Thus. the lack of apparent village clustering or “no-man’s lands” indicates that warfare was not carried out by one allied group of villages against another such group. based in strategies of defense. as well as around them. has historically been a key feature—actually.Social Dynamics Before Europe • 135 The ancient Xinguano settlements were carefully engineered according to an overall plan of ditch. Defensive structures existed within settlements. the raised road and plaza marginal mounds. This is not to deny the existence of conflicts between diverse local interest groups. thus] war turns out to be catching. bridge and plaza placement that created an integrated system of defense. deterrence. the non-offensive pattern of intergroup interaction. Local political rivalry. The proximity of the fortified villages (separated by as little as five kilometers) and their linkages through road and path networks indicates that the principal threat was not from immediate neighbors. 1995. A Xinguano cultural ethos of accommodation is also suggested by the cohabitation of the Upper Xingu basin by Arawaks (Western Complex) . including defensive features. “[a] non-aggressive culture faced with a warlike neighbor faces a bitter choice: submit or resist … [and. The requirements of large-scale warfare and public works. and accommodation. invaders could easily find themselves in a vulnerable “cross-fire” position between other areas of the site already alerted to the threat. would seemingly preclude the type of prolonged or pervasive conflicts (within the Upper Xingu basin) that would prompt the construction of substantial fortifications.

A lack of a “no-man’s lands” (such as was found at Séku. the larger the “social breach. Although initially social relations between immigrant groups and Xinguanos were hostile. it may involve large execution or retaliation parties (Coelho 2001). are regularly spaced along forest margins. These oral histories clearly implicate both Tupian (“cannibals”) and Gê groups as the aggressors. as well. from east to west of the Culuene River. including the massive moats. and Meijeinei). and intra. suggests that.e. peaceful interaction) are two faces of the same dialectic social process. The later contraction of the Arawak/Carib frontier. this process leads to a reduction of social and cultural distance and brings to mind Lévi-Strauss’s (1976) general observation. the result of chronic warfare within the basin. I believe. as well as individual settlements. there was no chronic warfare between neighboring settlements or settlement clusters. A. in many cases (Trumai.D. Pre-Columbian Xinguano settlements.and intercommunity aggression strictly involves raids within the internal witchcraft retaliation complex.” and within chiefly families. Overall. were not also built to define social others within the orbit of each cluster and between galactic clusters. within the witchcraft-executionretaliation complex. open conflict was likely rare and brief. between the Ipaste and Kuhikugu primary clusters. as discussed in more detail later. the dramatic defensive measures taken by late prehistoric Upper Xingu communities were not. and road linkages connecting all nineteen archaeological settlements in the study area also suggested continuity with the generalized “pax xinguana” in earlier times. although Carib groups. like contemporary villages.. social relations ultimately became more peaceful. This does not mean that the earthen partitions built in prehistoric settlements. Within closely linked clusters such as Ipatse and Kuhikugu. likewise provide other historical instances of what Schmidt considered a basic Arawak trait: acculturation. 1500–1750). recently arrived in the southern Amazon (post-1500) also have raided the Upper Xingu villages repeatedly. Aueti. in contrast to the Bakairi. Séhu. Major internecine warfare is virtually unknown among Xinguanos over the past 150 years or so. Kamayura). although there may have likely been skirmishes. The more prestigious or “larger” the offended person is. based on Xinguanos (among other groups). and the postcontact immigration of numerous other groups into the Upper Xingu. that conflict (including threat or fear of violence) and exchange (i. Carib oral histories recount times of violent conflicts when they lived east of the Culuene River (c. Although oral histories do not generally portray . Thus. a process that overall has an integrating effect.136 • The Ecology of Power and Caribs (Eastern Complex) in the time just prior to European contact. who have always maintained kinship with Xinguanos.

or that of the Southern Periphery. Even if there is a primary correlation between the construction of defensive ditches and warfare. in all likelihood. It also tells us about social “others. To put a finer point on it: they are everything that predatory societies are not. although small “hit-and-run” raids on Xinguanos outside of their villages is surely possible. What. of course. among either the Carib or Arawakan Xinguanos. the insides of settlements. their social synapses. Xinguanos. the varied ideologies that underlie the maintenance of collective identities. like the southern Arawak peoples in general.” about affines. it is possible to address who they might have been defending themselves against: affines and enemies. Although the details of warfare cannot be currently defined. nonpredatory. prestige. whites). the figure of the “bow-master” (tehaku oto. against macro-Gê and macro-Tupians. about others within settlements and others outside. Peaceful relations were likely as tense and precarious as they are today (Gregor 1990). or simply public works. are densely settled. I think. and potential affines. tell us about sociality. It is notable that Xinguanos do not use war clubs or other sole-purpose weapons so common among surrounding groups (Verswijver 1992). as known from later times (c. farming and fishing people. outsiders. and the skin of the land around them. but there is no evidence for an offensive military strategy. As suggested by regional ethology and Xinguano oral tradition. for that matter? The wrong question to ask. such as that known in neighboring Gê-Bororo or Tupian groups. a special group of adept bow warriors) in local narratives suggests that these groups were prepared to retaliate against aggressors (Basso 1995: 91–141. and about enemies. A slightly better question is: what was the nature and scale of warfare? Attack forces may have ranged into the hundreds. is what caused it. similarities within the broad Tupian and Gê cultural traditions . can we say about Xinguano warfare. then the pattern was very long-lived. then. and inter-group interaction. 1750–1900) in areas adjacent to the Upper Xingu in Amazonia (Nimuendajú 1948a: 318) and Central Brazil (Flowers 1994: 261). The more fruitful question then is what warfare. because the ditches were in use since the earliest Xinguano occupations one thousand years ago or more. Xinguanos were defending themselves.Social Dynamics Before Europe • 137 Xinguanos (at least Carib and Arawak communities of the time) as the aggressors in these conflicts. Although internally diversified. if not thousands. It tells us much about the inside of society. They have an ideology that promotes generally peaceful relations among themselves. since it was only these groups who have attacked them in living memory (except. 157–189). integrated into large regional societies along the major headwater tributaries of the Amazon. It is here that I would seek the “causes” of war.

and perhaps adopting a “good neighbor” policy. In practice. place little or no emphasis on fishing or extensive agriculture. that is. such as settled village life. These differences in patterns of mobility and warfare. in fact. and pacificity and generosity are the ideals of behavior. foreign to Xinguanos. the prevalence of offensive warfare is a cultural trait broadly shared by these two distinctive macro-traditions (Viveiros de Castro 1992: 5). who place positive value on eating meat. Ross 1978. and an aggressive masculinity associated with that pursuit. who are more mobile. is repulsive and polluting. but also relate to the specific cultural histories of these peoples. Xinguano peoples are committed to their villages and therefore. may be attributed to ecological variation (Gross 1979. distinguish Xinguanos from both the southern Amazon Tupi and the central Brazilian Gê-Bororo. nonpredation and accommodation are basic to Xinguano identity and are basic features separating Xinguanos from others. In sharp contrast to these groups. bellicosity is a basic cultural value and a critical element of cultural identity and well-being (Fausto 2001: 535). the pursuit of hunting. the concept of aggression and. particularly in their cosmologies. have adopted military strategies that reflected their sedentism. and an ethos of pacificity not only define the distinctive Xinguano culture but distinguish it from Tupians and Gê. and are notoriously bellicose (see Fausto 2001: 510-17 for one comparison). furthering the commitment to a specific location. Attitudes regarding aggression and violent conflict. fishing and manioc agriculture. rather than hunting. including their deep pasts (which may be traced through three large. the members of Upper Xingu society reject these values and adopt the opposite moral code: Fishing and agriculture. Xinguanos have historically maintained a practice of “pacificity”.and Gê-speaking neighbors. particularly. are the proper male subsistence activities. Zarur 1979.138 • The Ecology of Power extend beyond linguistic relatedness. These included expending much energy on defense. In both cases. The sedentism and defensive posture of Upper Xinguano groups can be related in part to their ecological adaptation to fishing and manioc agriculture. but see Bamberger 1967). the killing of other human beings. As Basso (1973: 27) puts it: In contrast to their Tupi. separate diasporas) and the settling into regional systems of interaction—that cannot help but map over the ecological choices of initial settlers: Arawaks . Warfare is one cultural feature that unites diverse groups within each of these two (non-Xinguano) cultural macro-traditions and. The interplay of these diverse aspects of sociocultural life.

” the taking of trophy heads or some symbolic equivalent . Most important. that historically the Xinguanos have been largely peaceful and accommodating towards their neighbors. but their patterns of offensive warfare. Essential to this is ritual “anthropophagy.” Most Gê-Bororo groups traditionally existed in a state of actual or potential conflict with most of their neighbors. warrior class) of most Gê-Bororo societies facilitated the rapid mobilization of these large war parties (Zarur 1986). Regardless of the expression of intragroup animosities. Villas-Boas and Villas-Boas 1973). since 1884. but often temporary and not embedded in a necessary ritual and sociosymbolic integration (Crocker 1985: 71. as Murphy and Murphy (1985) note for the Mundurucu. including intra. As Gregor (1990: 106) notes. in fact. see Chapter five). The Xinguanos. “there is no evidence of warfare among Xingu groups … [although] there have been instances of sorcery killings across tribal [village] lines. were fairly mobile. The fact remains. Tupian groups show a wide variety of social morphologies. often leaving their fixed villages during the dry season for hunting or raids against enemy villages. unlike the Gê. The well developed age-grades and special societies (i. Turner 1991. Tupians and Gê are highlanders and often move widely across the landscape. 1992). are among the few ethnographic examples of “peaceful” societies worldwide (Gregor 1990). however. and men think of themselves as hunters. Alliances among Gê are common. Xinguano narratives describe attacks by “cannibal” peoples (Basso 1995).e. not as gardeners or fishermen. but historically their pacifism certainly cannot be attributed to an isolation from violence. Maybury Lewis 1979. and rare defensive reactions to assaults from the war-like tribes outside of the basin. Basso 1995.and intergroup and long-distance aggressions. Although revenge was often the explicit motivation for warfare. Nimuendajú 1942: 74. Both oral narratives and especially archaeological evidence suggest that violent conflict was a paramount concern to prehistoric and historic communities in the region (cf.. all Gê-Bororo groups place “a high value on bellicosity” and are generally involved in conflicts with most of their neighbors (Maybury Lewis 1974: 306). including with other Indian groups and neo-Brazilians alike (Flowers 1983.Social Dynamics Before Europe • 139 are lowlanders and settled river people. likely Tupian peoples that dominated the southern Amazonia uplands and. the entire adult population of an enemy village might be killed and the children taken captive (Nimuendajú 1942: 78). Fish and fishing are insignificant in the Tupian religious system. there is no tradition of violence among the Xingu communities. what Viveiros de Castro (1992: 274) calls the “bellicoreligious” or “predatory” complex. Nimuendajú 1946. 1967. generally.

” or predatory. but seldom reported among the Tupians. This not only creates an external outlet for hostilities. Although sometimes occupying large. Prehistoric patterns of warfare in southern Amazonia were clearly different than those documented historically. Mobility also distinguishes Xinguanos from their Tupian and Gê neighbors. but also the destruction of entire enemy villages (Murphy and Murphy 1985: 30). these Tupian and Ge groups easily alter their settlement pattern and adopt more mobile patterns of trekking or “wandering” or inhabit smaller. relatively long-term settlements. The goals of warfare were not only the capture of one or a few individuals for ritual headtaking. They have dramatically altered their subsistence patterns for increased mobility. Pareci. Kayapó. Viveiros de Castro (1996: 11) has referred to this intergroup warfare as a “symbolic economy of alterity. even intent. complex was. an essential aspect of Tupian warfare is the transference of hostilities to outsiders. indeed. Tupian villages form long-standing alliances for war or intervillage cooperation (Murphy 1960:127). Mundurucu and Juruna). Menget 1993b. for instance.140 • The Ecology of Power (Fausto 2001: 456–463.g.. the Tupi and Gê groups often engage in raids and treks that take them away from their villages for months or even years. at least based on what we know of the past two to three centuries. The Tupians seek to “hunt” enemies for their heads or as captives. part and parcel of the Tupian mentalité throughout the region. and other more restricted Tupian dispersals (principally. but. promotes internal social cohesion.” This separates Tupian from Gê warfare insofar as the internal (intra-group) level of warfare is pronounced in some Gê groups (e. Bakairi). on staying put in permanent year-round villages.. Whereas Xinguanos and other culturally related Southern Periphery groups (e. evidence from all quarters suggests that the Tupi-Guarani diaspora. 180). but it seems certain that the area north of the Upper Xingu was dominated by Tupian peoples and the south the Gê-Bororo. Shavante.” whereby there is a “strategic distinction between local endogamous networks and the politicoreligious structures of interlocal articulation. according to Murphy (1957. Sherente).g. began in the southern Amazon. Viveiros de Castro 1992). It is also reasonable to assume that the “bellico-religious. shorter-term settlements (Flowers 1994). as Viveiros de Castro (1992) suggests. As is typical with Gê groups. 1960: 149. Murphy and Murphy 1985: 104–106). And. that is. are content. particularly in the area between the middle to upper Madeira and the middle to lower Xingu . often killing and consuming the adult male prisoners. growing crops that require a shorter growing season and/or less maintenance (Balée 1995.

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rivers (Urban 1992: 92; Viveiros de Castro 1992: 36). These war parties sometimes numbered in the hundreds (Nimuendajú 1948a: 318). The Tupian groups and particularly the Tupi-Guarani are likewise renowned for their patterns of migration and dispersals. Tupian groups had long been dispersed throughout southern Amazonia (Brochado 1984; Viveiros de Castro 1992) and had migrated into central Brazil from the south by A.D. 1500 (Métraux 1927; Susnik 1975; Wüst 1994: 102). Regardless of actual territorial expansion, the capacity of both Gê-Bororo and Tupian peoples to raid over vast distances is well known historically. The foot warriors of central Brazil and the adjacent southern Amazon could amass large war parties, sometimes numbering in the low hundreds, and these ranged widely across the broad region, for instance, the longdistance raids of Mundurucu against colonial outposts over five hundred kilometers away (Lower Amazon) or Kayapó against the Juruna, both covering hundreds of kilometers (Murphy 1957; Verswijver 1982, 1992). Indeed, the well-known sixteenth-century Guarani raids and conquests of Guarani in Paraguai, Chaco, and into the Andean foothills potentially ranged over thousands of kilometers, and likely commenced long before European colonization (Métraux 1927, 1948; Nordenskiöld 1917; Susnik 1975). In historic times, many groups raided Upper Xingu villages; these notably included Gê peoples (e.g., Northern and Southern Kayapó and Xavante, among possible others) to the south and east, and Tupians (e.g., Kayabi, Manitsaua, Kamayurá, Aueti, Arawine, and others) to the north and west. Carib groups, distantly related to Xinguano Caribs (e.g., Yarumã and Txicão), also attacked Upper Xingu communities in the 1900s. Throughout historic times, there have been invasions by bellicose tribes in part because of geographic compression related to European expansionism. Many of these groups ultimately entered into more peaceful relations with the Xinguanos. The Xinguano pattern of accommodation (familiarization) and incorporation and a defensive or retaliatory (nonoffensive) martial strategy suggests that the threat largely emanated from outside the Upper Xingu basin. This is not to say that these communities were not prepared to mount retaliatory attacks, but that this posture differs from the offensive strategies, often with little regard for defense, of other historically known groups (e.g., Mundurucu and Macro-Gê) in the region.



In the Shadow of Empire: Colonialism and Ethnogenesis
Kingdom of the Parecis
In those extensive plateaus live the Parecis, an extensive kingdom, and all the rivers flow north [into the Amazon]. These peoples exist in such vast quantity, that it is not possible to count their settlements or villages, [and] many times in one day’s march one passes ten or twelve villages, and in each one of them there are ten to thirty houses, and in these houses there are some that are thirty to forty paces across, and they are round and made like an oven [beehive shaped]. … their farming, in which they are untiring, and they are settled peoples, and agriculture is based on manioc, and a little corn and beans, potatoes, some pineapple, and uniquely admirable in the order of their plantings … these people are not warriors, and only defend themselves when they are threatened; their weapons are bows and arrows … these Indians also have idols; these idols have a separate house with many figures of varied forms, in which only men are allowed to enter … and women observe this law, who do not even look in such houses, and only the men are found in them on days of ceremonies, on which they participate in dances and are richly adorned … even their roads they make very straight and wide, and they keep them so clean that one will find not even a fallen leaf …. They raise macaws, parrots, and other birds … These people make objects of stone like jasper in the form of the Malta cross, an insignia only used by chiefs … This kingdom is so large


144 • The Ecology of Power

and extensive that we know not where it ends; it is very full of people and very fertile due to the richness of its lands. Pires de Campo 1862 [1720]: 443–444; author’s translation1 Initial European colonialism in South America during the sixteenth century had predictable consequences for native peoples: catastrophic depopulation and cultural disruption. This is evident from all quarters of the New World where either early eyewitness reports or in-depth archaeology of terminal prehistoric occupations exist. In Amazonia, numerous native peoples, many dramatically different than any known today, were decimated by early contact situations (Porro 1996; Roosevelt 1991). Enslavement, punitive actions, forced relocations, and outright ethnocide prompted the dissolution or flight of many communities soon after initial contacts (Kiemen 1954). As elsewhere in the Americas, however, the vanguard of Europe’s expansion—the four horsemen of the apocalypse: Plague, Famine, War, and Death2—often ranged far ahead of the Europeans themselves. It was these indirect, invisible forces of colonialism more than direct interaction that shaped the destinies of most native Amazonians. Epidemic diseases, in particular, often diffusing unchecked even into areas remote from colonial activities, were responsible for staggering population losses (Dobyns 1983, 1993). The arrival of Europeans set in motion a chain of events with far reaching repercussions, but face-to-face encounters in many areas occurred centuries after initial European landfalls. In the Upper Xingu, contact spanned five centuries. Initial direct contacts in the mid-1700s were rapid and brutal, and consisted of hit-and-run raids on a few communities (Franchetto 1992). After these initial raids, Europeans seldom appeared in or near the Upper Xingu basin until the late 1800s. Sustained interaction between Indians and whites was established only in the mid-1900s, however. Xinguano peoples had undergone profound change long before initial face-to-face contacts occurred in the mid-1700s. In fact, archaeological evidence documents the precipitous depopulation preceding these early encounters, undoubtedly the result of early epidemics, even pandemics, that diffused across vast areas (Dobyns 1993). Likewise, the chain-effect of geographic displacement and territorial compression of indigenous groups set in motion in the sixteenth century impacted Xinguano communities by the early eighteenth century, if not before. Pires de Campos (1862) tells us much of the Pareci, at this late date, the 1720s, when the brunt of the collapse had already transpired throughout most of Amazonia, and certainly the Southern Periphery. What he described is much like the other Arawaks to the west, such as the Terêna

In the Shadow of Empire • 145

(Guaná), Chané, and Bauré, contacted not long before (before 1700), and certainly reads almost as an ethnographic account of the Upper Xingu, although at a smaller or larger scale. Pre-Columbian groups were even denser and larger, in the 1880s Xinguanos were smaller and more diffuse. This pattern of population reduction continued into the 1970s, when a definitive rebound occurred as basic vaccination programs took hold (still, epidemics in the 1950s and 1960s took ten percent of the population, even with basic medical assistance). From the broader region that comprises southern Amazonia, central Brazil and eastern Bolivia, there is better archaeological, ethnohistoric, and ethnographic evidence of intensive warfare. In the northern Llanos de Mojos, for instance, fortified villages were concentrated between the Chiquitos highlands and the Guaporé River. Ethnohistoric sources describe various strategies related to the intensive warfare encountered there, notably including village palisades, moats, pitfalls and other defensive works among the Kanichana, Bauré, Tapacura (Block 1980, 1994; Denevan 1966; Métraux 1942). Francisco Altamirano (1700, cited in Block 1980: 59) provided a particularly detailed description of Bauré village defenses: The Bauré lived around a plaza … behind the houses rose a palisade of sharpened logs. … Deep moats dug outside the walls offered further protection … within, and pitfalls on nearby roads provided a first line of defense outside village confines. As is presently known, ditches and/or palisades, mounds, and other major public works have a restricted geographical distribution, forming an arc extending along the peripheries of the forested Amazonian lowlands between the Upper Madeira and the Upper Xingu. My reading of the ethnography and ethnohistory of the Terena-Guana, Bolivian Arawak and related peoples, and particularly, the Pareci and related groups (e.g., Salumã-Enawenê Nawê), leads me to believe that settled, agricultural lifeways, often including earthen structures and landscape modifications and developed fishing technologies, were part and parcel of proto-Southern Arawaks, as were social hierarchy and regionality. Similar patterns are also noted among the Bauré and Tapecura (Block 1980: 78–80; Métraux 1942: 69, 128–129). Like the Upper Xingu, the Pareci village “was ruled by an hereditary chief ” whose eldest son (heir apparent) enjoyed a privileged status; the heads of families formed a “kind of aristo-cracy” who “controlled a class of dependents, whose status was that of serfs” (Métraux 1942: 165). Pires de Campos (1862: 443) described the Pareci as nonwarlike and “merely defend themselves if one wants to take them away”. There was frequent visitation and active commercial

146 • The Ecology of Power

relations between villages (Métraux 1942: 163). The Pareci share numerous cultural features in common with both Bauré (based on more complete ethnohistory), and Terena and Upper Xingu groups (based on more complete ethnography). The earliest report of the Pareci (1720s) describes a dense regional population living in large plaza villages with “broad, straight, and perfectly clean highways” connecting them to other villages (Pires de Campos 1862: 442–444; Métraux 1942: 162–164, 1948b). Following Pires de Campos’s account (1862: 443): These people exist in such vast quantity, that it is not possible to count their settlements … on one days march one often passes through ten or twelve villages and in one of them there are ten to thirty houses, and … [some] are thirty to forty paces across… The houses were estimated to have some thirty to forty individuals, suggesting village populations ranging from about three hundred to over twelve hundred (Métraux 1942:163). Pires de Campos’s descriptions of the Parecí settlement and village patterns are remarkably similar to Xinguano patterns, including dense village distributions, oval “haystack” houses, plazas, broad roads and male-centric mask/flute houses and, likewise, bear a notable similarity to patterns from the Mojos area (Métraux 1942; Block 1980). The German ethnologist Karl von den Steinen was the first to record the societies of the Upper Xingu in the 1880s (Figure 5.1). Steinen and

Fig. 5.1 Photograph of 1887 expedition campsite (from Steinen 1896).

In the Shadow of Empire • 147

other expeditioners around the turn of the century were struck by the marked cultural uniformity throughout the region, despite considerable linguistic diversity (Ehrenreich 1890; Meyer 1897; Schmidt 1902–1904, 1905; Steinen 1886, 1894). By this time, the regional, multilingual sociocultural system known to ethnologists as Upper Xingu or Xinguano society, had stabilized, grosso modo, in its contemporary form. Similarities in subsistence, crafts, settlement, and cosmology, together with well-developed patterns of intervillage trade, marriage, and ceremonialism, were recognized as the result of “intertribal” acculturation in the past. Up to now, the general consensus has been that the region served as a refuge for numerous displaced indigenous groups: a “cul-de-sac” area characterized by cultural compression (Galvão 1953), but the process through which immigrant and established communities coalesced into a single cultural system documented from 1884 to the present still remains ill-resolved.

A Brief History of “Contact” The transitional location of the Upper Xingu basin, a tongue of Amazonian rain forest nestled between highlands of patchy forests and savannas in the central Brazilian plateau to the south, west, and east, has been a key factor influencing cultural interaction, both in prehistory and within the context of colonial and national expansion over the past five centuries. Given the scale, density, and fixedness of late prehistoric Xinguano settlements, it seems certain that the Upper Xingu was a pivotal point of articulation in the broad interaction networks operating at the time, although the exact nature of such regional systems is poorly known. Throughout the historic period the area served as a haven, a refuge area, for diverse cultural groups displaced as a result of Euro-Brazilian expansions. In short, it has been a primary node of broad interaction networks throughout the known cultural sequence, from the late first millennium A . D . to the present. Even in the mid-1700s, just after the Treaty of Madrid reapportioned the distributions between the Iberian monarchies and the de facto ruler of Portugal, the Marquis de Pombal, instituted his “directorate,” the fate of the indigenous world across much of South America was sealed. Gold seekers, slavers, and ranchers quickly multiplied to support boomtowns, such as Goyaz, Cuiaba, Diamantina, among others. The Bakairi had long lived in the area between the Xinguano and Pareci Arawaks (Figures 5.2 and 5.3), an interaction that likely extends deep into the past, given that they share the same origin myth (Pina de Barros 2001). To the south of this block of related Carib and Arawak peoples, were the much feared Kayapó and other bellicose Gê peoples. It was not until

148 • The Ecology of Power

Fig. 5.2 1777 map by Bonné showing approximate location of Upper Xingu tributaries.

Fig. 5.3 1852 Warren’s Atlas Map showing fairly accurate placement of Upper Xingu (although wrongly depicting them flowing east to west).

von den Steinen’s time, however, that relatively accurate regional maps portraying the Upper Xingu basin appeared. The region remained peripheral to colonial interests, and direct Western influences were sporadic throughout early historic times, only entering written history in 1884. Several major cataracts on the lower

” Both men ranged throughout the Araguaia River basin. Hemming 1978. and A. began to pop up in northern portions of the central Brazilian plateau in the early to mid-1700s. albeit in very general terms. such as the Upper Xingu (Chiam 1983. south and east of the Upper Xingu in south-central Brazil and Bolivia. Their sons.In the Shadow of Empire • 149 and middle Xingu River and the dense forests of the region impeded early exploration of the area. By this time. Saignes 1990. Sustained direct contact with groups in the Lower Amazon. direct contacts between Europeans and native groups became more common to the west. 1948c. the Upper Xingu was not insulated from the expansion of the World System. Métraux 1942. Jr. profiteering explorers had penetrated the southern peripheries of the Amazon forest. such as Bartolomeu Bueno da Silva (Ahangüera) and Antonio Pires de Campos. ravaged the countryside in search of Indian slaves. Attempts to “tame” and convert indigenous peoples resulted in substantial bloodshed. Pires de Campos. and to understand local or regional transformations in the Upper Xingu requires us to first consider. although sporadic encounters occurred earlier (Medina 1986 [Carvajal 1542]. punitive expeditions. among others. and numerous groups fled the areas of colonial activities to avoid enslavement. primarily at the hands of the Portuguese (Keiman 1954. . 1978). Nimuendaju 1948b. The discovery of gold deposits throughout central Brazil. and Miguel de Campos Bicudo continued these campaigns for minerals and Indian slaves into the mid. Bueno da Silva. triggered considerable interest by frontiersmen.. after the 1670s. Simón 1861). B. or bandeirantes. Jr. Legendary capitães (bandeira leaders).” such as Cuiabá. deculturation and/or death (Acuña 1859 [1641]. Porro 1993. from southern and eastern Brazil. and forced relocations. Although isolated. Meireles 1989). often under the dubious justification of “just wars” and Indian “reductions. adjacent to the Upper Xingu. and frontier “boomtowns. Susnik 1975. and cultural disintegration (Block 1994. The sustained European presence and increase in colonist populations. resulting in hostilities. the external forces created by Luso-Brazilian expansion into central Brazil and southern Amazonia. rapid depopulation. including the Lower Xingu.to late 1700s. was established as a result of colonial enterprises by various European powers in the early 1600s. in particular. including an increasing missionary presence. more directly impacted on indigenous communities inhabiting more isolated areas. Sweet 1974). Indigenous populations were rapidly denuded by slave raiding. Oliveira 1968). Hostility toward Europeans by many neighboring indigenous groups was also a barrier to exploration. By the late seventeenth century.

Lisbon had. 1943. as they had done in other parts of Brazil before. with the creation of the “Pombal Directorate” (Hemming 1987). but also by the Portuguese crown. The Southern Kayapó also were in the area of the Rio das Mortes where Antonio Pires de Campos. 1947). Numerous reductions and slave raids were perpetrated in areas to the north and east of Cuiába. attacked them in the 1730s with the aid of Bororo warriors.150 • The Ecology of Power The bandeiras. some (the Eastern Bakairi) ultimately coming to occupy the Batovi and Kurisevo rivers in the Upper Xingu Basin (Oberg 1953: 69). as a result of these conflicts. tirelessly plundered native villages to procure Indian slaves. which exacted its one-fifth tax on all gold discovered. Sr. Schmidt 1942. although seldom penetrating too deeply into the densely forested regions of Amazonia.” To the immediate southwest of the Upper Xingu. they forced many indigenous groups (principally Gê) that had occupied cerrado and caatinga regions ever closer to the southern peripheries of the Amazon forests. The Pareci (and apparently Bakairi) were favored targets since they were. Pires de Campos. notably among the numerous villages of the Pareci and related groups (or groups misidentified as Pareci) (Pires de Campos 1862. and “with these contacts came disease and conflict” (Oberg 1953: 69. at least in part because of conflicts with or suspicion of colonists. see Schwartzman 1987). The rapid exploitation of the region was viewed favorably not only by local officials. had already ventured at least as far as the “Ilha dos Caraja” (Bananal) and “Martirios” . recently altered its policies toward native groups for the worse. missionaries. The Bakairi moved in the mid-1800s. the Bakairi. “docile Indians. To the southeast of the Upper Xingu. remnants of these Southern Kayapó villages may relate to the modern Panará who were present northwest of the Upper Xingu until the mid-1900s (when they were relocated to the Xingu Indigenous Park. Vast numbers of Indians were “descended” as slaves from these areas on the peripheries of Amazonia. Bandeiras ranged widely throughout central and interior northeastern Brazil and. Jr. the Xavante had moved to the area of the upper Araguaia and Rio das Mortes by the early to mid-1700s.. Border disputes between the Iberian monarchies. reaping benefits of gold and slaves. in the area of the present-day Brazilian-Bolivian border. while perhaps lured by the rumors of gold in remote interior regions. and the establishment of the Captaincies of Goiás and Mato Grosso in the mid-1700s created the conditions for more frequent encounters between natives and Europeans in central Brazil. according to Pires de Campo (1862:443–444). Steinen 1886). first contacted in the mid-1700s. were in more or less permanent contact with whites by the early 1800s. and bandeirantes (Flowers 1983). in fact.

these epidemics undoubtedly ravaged local communities in the Upper Xingu and elsewhere. There were likely several entradas during the mid-eighteenth century. where latex-producing trees (seringa) are not common. Flowers 1983). and for a time fewer infectious diseases were likely introduced into remote regions (Chiam 1983. Northern Kayapó and Juruna (Tupi) groups moved into the middle Xingu by the early to mid1800s. Likewise. 1670) are possible (Dole 1984. which forced indigenous groups into ever diminishing territories. As gold sources became less productive in the late eighteenth century. if any. but the more significant forces behind cultural change were the indirect pressures of colonial expansionism. without warning epidemics occasionally struck throughout the period from circa 1600 to 1884. the impact of colonialism was pervasive as the supralocal sociopolitical systems that articulated cultural systems across vast regions such as the southern Amazon were radically altered. or specific impact of early bandeirante raids on indigenous groups in southern Amazonia. also largely as a result of colonial encroachment (Lima 1995. as usual Indians were the primary bounty reaped by the expeditioners and “[n]umerous captives were dragged off from here to São Paulo as slaves” (Ehrenreich 1965: 4). these initial direct contacts profoundly disrupted local communities. Instead. because they did not generally explore into remote areas in search of converts. but Xinguano oral history vividly describes bloody encounters with Luso-Brazilians who attacked numerous villages in the remote past (Basso 1993. Turner 1991. frequency. Verswijver 1992). Franchetto 1992). Clearly. but we can roughly define the . even if only once or twice a century. colonial populations decreased in Goiás and northern Mato Grosso. Direct information bearing on these processes is scant. many of which were of very short duration (see particularly Chiam 1983. as well as cultural integrity and distributions. No written history records early expeditions into the Upper Xingu region. of the missions on the Upper Xingu were apparently very limited.In the Shadow of Empire • 151 above Bananal in search of gold. Miereles 1989). Oliveira 1968. they set up missions as attraction posts. although even earlier encounters (after c. These narratives are graphic testimony not only of the profound effect of these raids but also of how little we know about the timing. Missionary activities throughout the Captaincies of Mato Grosso and Goiás also had devastating effects on indigenous demography. but rubber tappers never penetrated the Upper Xingu. More broadly speaking. 2001). 1995. but the direct effects. Colonial actions along the Amazon and in central Brazil created a “pincer” effect. The “Rubber Boom” again brought renewed interest into isolated areas of southern Amazonia in the mid-1800s.

This “conjuncture” refers to the transformation of Xinguano society—here defined as the socially interrelated communities of the Upper Xingu basin who share a common system of cultural values.152 • The Ecology of Power major outlines of this conjuncture. composed of groups of near identical language and cultural heritage. meanings. Dole 1961/62. or structural discontinuity (sensu Sahlins 1990: 28). that is. in native Xinguano histories occurred. has long been suspected (Agostinho 1970: 468. throughout the sequence. Recent archaeological investigations by the author indicate that Arawak groups. Established communities came to accept foreigners as equal partners in Xinguano culture and immigrants came to accept Xinguano cultural norms above their own. These early groups established the Xinguano cultural pattern. the formation of multilingual Xinguano society. These prehistoric occupations extended throughout much of the basin by circa 1500. rituals. to the pluriethnic culture documented from the late 1800s until today. but only recently has sufficient oral historical and archaeological evidence become available to confirm the Arawak-Carib-Tupi historical sequence. came to occupy the basin by the late first millennium A. one Carib language (Kuikuru. at least chronologically. Kalapalo. Becquelin 1993. grosso modo. followed by Carib and later Tupian peoples.D. which has persisted. and two Tupian languages (Kamayura and Aueti). Natives and Newcomers The temporal precedence of Arawakan speakers. and cosmology—from ethnic homogeneity. through one or more migrations from the west. It is today comprised of five major linguistic blocks: two Arawak languages (Waujá/Mehinaku and Yawalapiti). It was above all a transformation of cultural meanings—the philosophies that informed social identity and action—and not of the material workings of the preexisting Xinguano society. It was in the wake of this initial wave of colonial interest in central Brazil that a major conjuncture. the Arawaks established the prototypical cultural pattern from which the historically known Xinguano culture emerged. The Construction of Xinguano Pluralism Things were astir in the southern peripheries of Amazonia in the eighteenth century. 1993. . ancestors of the contemporary Mehinaku and Waujá. and perhaps Yawalapiti communities. and Nafuqua). sustained European influence dramatically increased as gold was found and political and economic tensions increased. Matipu. That is. Bastos 1983: 51. Simões 1967). Direct.

place of the yawala palm. lacking circular plazas) until the mid. Ikpeng and Yaruma) may represent a later southern migration. but prior to their appearance at the margins of the Upper Xingu. the “people of the lake [Tafununu]” . which came to be occupied by the Tupian ancestors of the Kamayura in the eighteenth century. the Caribs were concentrated in the southeastern peripheries of the basin (east of the Culuene River). there were thus three major cultural groupings in the Upper Xingu: (1) the ancestors of the Yawalapiti. and the most northerly areas (as far as Diauarum. The Carib groups maintained a distinctive cultural pattern (Eastern Complex) from the time that they are first documented (c. when they migrated west across the Culuene River. after 1500 (Durbin 1977). Currently. Linguistic distance from other Carib-speaking groups in northern Amazonia suggests that the Upper Xingu Caribs separated from this larger block long before their arrival in the Upper Xingu.to late 1700s. the area that they historically occupied prior to the eighteenth century (e. from whence comes their name). apparently en masse.g. based on direct correlations between archaeological sites and Carib oral history. although they continued to maintain the more typical Carib settlement pattern (villages of one or a few large circular communal houses. apparently representing a single or rapid succession of migrations by one or a few closely related groups ancestral to all Upper Xingu Caribs (because of contemporary linguistic proximity).. above Morená. or in fairly rapid succession. Likewise. the linguistic distance between Upper Xingu Carib and Bakairi suggests a separation long ago. whereas the Yawalapiti are apparently descended from Western Complex villages below Morená. After 1500–1600. The Mehinaku and Waujá are the living descendants of Arawakan groups (Western Complex) who have continuously occupied the Upper Xingu basin. at least). since prehistoric times. This ancestral Carib group split into three primary dialect groups prior to the mid-1700s: a northern group.In the Shadow of Empire • 153 By this time. from Lake Tafununu south where they had lived from late prehistoric times. we can suggest an abandonment of the most southerly and easterly areas. In 1700. at a site. (2) the ancestors of the Mehinaku/Waujá. 1500) until after circa 1750. their history remains unknown.g. there was a geographic contraction of Arawak occupied territory. Although the two groups coinhabited the basin from late prehistoric times. These occupations relate to the ancestors of the contemporary Carib-speaking Xinguanos.. creating a vacuum into which the Carib groups expanded. The Arara group languages (e. a distinctive cultural group came to occupy the extreme eastern portions of the basin (east of the Culuene River). long prior to circa 1500 (Franchetto 2001). and (3) the ancestral Carib groups.

2001). The Aueti also were present. a southern group (the ancestors of the Kalapalo). 1989a. they assume mutual cultural authorship of the original Xinguano cultural pattern. unlike the pattern of fixed village localities typical both before and after. that is. later. According to the Kamayura. their early struggles with Xinguanos. are recounted both by them and by the Arawak and Carib Xinguanos (Coelho 2001). but it seems likely that the southern and western groups had split by the mid. apparently entered the basin by the mid-1700s (Bastos 1983. for example. Coelho 2001). after Caribs had largely moved from areas east of the Culuene. By the early . I encountered no histories that pertain to inmigration into the Upper Xingu basin among any Carib or Arawak groups. in areas southwest of the Upper Xingu. apparently having descended down the Suia-Missu from its headwaters near Tafununu. in approximately the area they have occupied throughout historic times. Diverse Tupian groups. Contemporary Carib and Arawak peoples do not recall divergent histories of colonization. In similar fashion. and their incorporation into Xinguano society. The Caribs maintained lifeways different than the Arawak cultural pattern until the mid-1700s. but over time. The period surrounding the western movement of Caribs in the eighteenth century was tumultuous and Carib narratives describe numerous attacks on them by ngikogo and bandeirantes (see Basso 1995. This undoubtedly reflects the antiquity of both Arawak and Carib groups in the region. Franchetto 1992). and records their progressive migration from Diauarum to Ipavu. the groups ancestral to the Kamayura first entered into contact with them when they were living on Lake Tafununu (prior to c.154 • The Ecology of Power (ancestors of the contemporary Kuikuru and Matipu). 2001. Kamayura south of Morená) was characterized by frequent village movements (e. It is uncertain when Nafuqua speakers moved west of the Culuene. and a western group (the ancestors of the Nafuqua). when the Caribs occupied Tafununu. Basso 2001. The next concrete identification of the Kamayura ancestors places them in the area of Diauarum.. likely during the late 1700s to early 1800s. the appearance of their ancestors in the basin.g. Xinguano oral histories indicate that the period between 1700 and 1800 (encompassing the movement of the Caribs west of the Culuene and the Yawalapiti and. The Aueti and Kamayura also were fully integrated into Xinguano regional culture. ancestors of the Kamayura and Aueti. According to Kuikuru oral history. As Coelho (2001) notes. in the past the Aueti had relations with Bakairi groups. they initially lived with the Waujá at Ipavu before the Waujá willingly relinquished the area to them. The primary split between Kuikuru/Matipu and Kalapalo/ Nafuqua happened some time earlier (Franchetto 1986).to late 1700s. 1750).

in other words became Xinguano (kuge) (Coelho 2001). These groups were all drawn into the cultural orbit of the Xinguanos and. In-migration continued throughout the eighteenth century with Bakairi. or any other Xinguano group. Menget 2001. Arawak model). as had the Tupian Kamayura and Aueti. but something even more profound than a change in the physical form of the village (the stage) or even the existing patterns of direct interaction (the set) had to change in order for the Carib to become incorporated in the Xinguano regional culture. to one degree or another. Seeger 1981. Trumai and Suyá communities entering the area by the mid-1800s. This process transpired sometime between 1750 and 1884. economic. although the pressures of cultural compression and . suggested by the reestablishment of permanent village localities. is from Steinen (1886. most likely before 1800. It seems likely that this transformation occurred in the hundred years or so between circa 1700 and 1800—during the hey-day of the central Brazilian bandeirantes. regional cultural system known ethnographically. The next direct “picture” we have of the Caribs. entered into the process of acculturation.” that earlier Carib and Tupian groups had previously undergone. political. in fact. while the Tupians gave up their characteristic bellicosity and “virou gente.In the Shadow of Empire • 155 1800s. Xinguanos apparently entered a period of internal stabilization. These diverse groups. Carib Xinguano oral history. the cosmology and ethos (the cultural script) upon which Xinguano culture is based. the regional gold rush. 1894) and.e. vis à vis “core” Xinguano groups. by that time. and the slaving boom. and territorial position has stabilized they have been able to assert their independent identity. They had to adopt and become accepted participants in the inter-community rituals. what Bastos (1983) has called “xinguanification. Much of the cultural pluralism present in the Upper Xingu is a postcontact phenomenon. records group fission and the expansion of Carib groups into new areas. As their demographic. given the vagaries of the archaeological record. It seems unlikely that we can find the first Carib plaza village (i. in large part. These groups remained peripheral or transitional to the Xinguanos. the Caribs. the southern (Mehinaku/Waujá/Kustenau) and northern (Yawalapiti) Xinguano Arawaks.” or. the Caribs had adopted the cultural pattern characteristic of the Upper Xingu Arawaks. and Manitsaua by the late 1800s. Monod-Becquelin 1975. and Ikpeng. and the Tupians amalgamated into the plural. Simões 1966). The Caribs abandoned their distinctive ceramic industry and their communal circular house settlement pattern. never becoming fully incorporated into the regional culture. Arawine. if not before (see Galvão and Simões 1965.. they needed to accept. that is. suggesting some degree of population recovery during the nineteenth century.

apparently of their own volition or for lack of a viable alternative. Established communities retained. The high degree of social integration and cultural uniformity witnessed by Steinen in the 1880s suggests that the multiethnic system had been in place for some time. linguistically distinctive from the Arawakan communities ancestral to Waujá. In other words. Galvão 1960. Acculturation and Ethnogenesis Interest in the formation of the pluriethnic Xinguano society has intrigued and puzzled ethnologists since the initial German expeditions of the late1800s. immigrant groups were incorporated within the existing regional culture. Acculturation was clearly asymmetrical. that is. as does the fact that various groups who had migrated into the area and established relations with Xinguanos during the generation or so prior to Steinen (e.g. Basso.5). migrated south along the Xingu River and came to reside in nuclear portions of the basin. This view likely accounts for many of the changes in social interaction and the diffusion of individual cultural traits. and cultural sharing in an isolated “refuge” area or “cul-de-sac”. Mehinaku.156 • The Ecology of Power social circumscription were already in force prehistorically.. 2001. It was also at about this time that the ancestors of the Arawakan-speaking Yawalapiti. but it does not adequately address the actual process of cultural fusion. but likely by the early 1800s they had coalesced into essentially a single pattern—the regional cultural system was fully in place by 1884.4 and 5. whereas newcomers underwent profound and extensive cultural transformation in favor of the established Xinguano cultural pattern. and Kustenau. Most authors see this as the inevitable outcome of increased proximity. “intertribal” . interaction. The period after circa 1750 can be pinpointed as the historical conjuncture during which diverse newcomer communities came to share the same physical space and essentially an identical cultural pattern to that among established Arawak populations (Figures 5. Trumai. Gregor 1996.. Xinguano society developed as a result of “intertribal” acculturation (Schaden 1964). and Suyá) had not been fully incorporated into the system. Because of the isolation from direct colonial influences and a steady inflow of refugee populations. in large part. their traditional culture. as documented by the appearance of Carib communities in eastern portions of the Upper Xingu basin by circa 1500.g. Bastos 1983. the Bakairi. Diverse communities retained their cultural distinctiveness until the mid-1700s. through a pattern of symmetrical acculturation diverse groups became integrated into the multiethnic system that exists today (e. who had traditionally occupied the nuclear Upper Xingu basin. 2001).

Note: Arawak = A. Kamayura = KM. Manitsaua (Tupi) = M. and resulting . In part. the latter three were extinct by the mid-1900s. its transformation from a monolingual to a plural regional pattern. Arawine (Tupi) = AW. Aueti = AU. although relations remained tense (Gregor 1990). acculturation was not responsible for the Xinguano pattern. Yaruma (Carib) = YR. Y = Yawalapiti. Suyá (Gê) = SU. often led to initial hostilities as newcomers encroached on established communities. local depopulation created a geographic vacuum into which immigrant groups could move without direct encroachment. 1700–1950 and schematic of the ethnogenesis of Xinguano nation. but the local Xinguano response was ultimately accommodation. enabling sustained interaction and reduced social distance.In the Shadow of Empire • 157 Fig.4 Population movements. 5. resulting from the expansion of the colonial frontier. but rather. Territorial compression. Carib = C. Trumai = TR. Bakairi (Carib) = BK.

5. Exact patterns of interaction are difficult to reconstruct prior to 1884. but the numerous in-migrations of displaced groups and gradual incorporation of these into the regional cultural system is amply documented historically. uncertainty. and population loss created in villages by epidemics. in greater cultural sharing. We can suggest that three conditions characterized regional . links between villages were further strengthened by the stress.5 Map of PIX showing location of 1993 villages (numbered) and traditional “homelands” over the past century (underlined). Likewise.158 • The Ecology of Power Fig.

the architect of a different image of the caraíba. In historical perspective. 2001). Karl von den Steinen’s visits shed light on the process through which strangers or enemies become friends (see also Gregor 1990). the white man was no longer included in the category of monsterous. although over a century earlier. Ireland 1988). orated to by village representatives and even sometimes made to wait for a formal reception. a system that can be crudely construed based on a principle of exclusion. given a stool. Steinen placed himself closer to the core of the Xinguano relational system. Steinen came “in the time when the Whitepeople had become good” (Ibid. that he was a “karaiba kúra” (good white in the Bakairi [non-Xinguano Carib] language of his guides). “All people were either good. and (3) over time most of these peripheral groups were progressively drawn into existing Xinguano society. Steinen announced his arrival by reassuring his hosts that he was good.In the Shadow of Empire • 159 social relations over at least the past five hundred years: (1) there was a dominant “Xinguano” cultural pattern which integrated diverse communities into a regional “moral community”. Xinguano societies cannot be viewed as . Steinen had stepped into the midst of the complex system of human relations that characterizes the Upper Xingu. geographically and socially. At each encounter. typically evil beings or spirits (itseke). (2) there were always “wild Indian” (non-Xinguano) groups perched. ‘kurápa’.’ or bad. however. Early encounters with white men. He saw that in the native mind. ‘kúra. Although still dangerous and unpredictable and still the master of awesome power (Gregor 1984. left an indelible image of whites in the collective memories of these communities. (Franchetto 1993: 115 author’s translation. the “ancestors of the Whitepeople always killed us” and “fleeing from them … many times”. his reception became more like any other formal visitor: he was received in the village center. A Kuikuru elder recounts that long ago (likely in the eighteenth century). The appearance of Steinen and his companions created a great stir among local communities. at the peripheries of this system. bounded categories of “us” (Xinguano) and “them” (nonXinguano). in fact.: 114). He was. unwittingly humanizing the white man in the eyes of his Xinguano hosts. but better understood as a continuum of concentric and malleable social categories. see also Basso 1995. At any given time regional social relations and ethnicity are defined in the context of discrete local identities.” a distinction that he suggested was made according to mutual hospitality (Steinen 1894:69). As Steinen progressed into the Upper Xingu and news of his visits (and gifts) spread. and many fled at the mere sight of him and his companions.

the adoption of a distinctive cosmology and ideology. As noted by Lévi-Strauss (1976). including a shared myth of origin and coparticipation in . Furthermore. It is easy to envision the process through which Xinguanos came to accept outsiders as friends and kin.g. Native immigrant groups. newcomers not only had to become the “other” (Xinguano). Mutual good-will between local groups or individuals. then as now. diet of fish and manioc. Interaction with foreigners was risky. but what distinguishes Xinguanos from non-Xinguanos is not the degree of exchange. By at least Steinen’s time. the reduction of threat. but this does not explain the cultural transformation of immigrant communities.160 • The Ecology of Power tightly boundable social entities. intermarriage. had been established in more or less its present-day form. in part through prisoner capture and adoption. indeed. generosity. political gain for those who orchestrated the contacts and. commercial gain for those who traded. perhaps most of all. Xinguano identity depends not only on shared cultural practices. more important. Over time interaction became less tense through the establishment of exchange and alliance relations. they had to be accepted as “us” by Xinguano communities. were regarded apprehensively at first and initial encounters often resulted in hostilities. but it also held great payoffs. involving formal prestations and trade between ethnically diverse villages and individuals partially based on village specialization and trade partnerships. and through the extension of kinship relations. the ethnographically known system of exchange relations. fixed circular plaza villages).. accommodation and incorporation so essential to regional social dynamics. nonaggression. “wild” (hostile) Indians and whites. but. alliance and hospitality and. provided a means not only to reduce hostility but to gauge the intentions of others and respond to a potentially hostile social environment. Intergroup exchange. to do so ignores the well-documented patterns of interaction. also documented for prehistoric and early protohistoric periods. but the degree to which groups share underlying systems of cultural meanings. these relations were essential to native definitions of us (Xinguano) as opposed to others. and visitation provide entrée into the regional system. and practices (e. was based on changing relations of exchange. values. commerce and warfare were poles of a pattern of interaction that progressively has an integrating effect. Sustained interaction. like Steinen’s expeditioners. exchange. For them it was not simply a social equation but required that they largely abandon their native ideologies and social philosophies and in their place adopt those of Xinguano culture.

although the boundaries of Xinguano identity are marked with respect to the exterior (to be Xinguano is not to be “wild Indian”) collective identity is constituted through the ritual affirmation (recreation) of the cosmological roots and order of Xinguano society itself: the locus of social fecundity is the interior. but there is no ontological necessity that requires the incorporation of “foreign substance” for the reproduction of society. newcomer communities could transform their own internal social matrices to “create” chiefly individuals and lines. and meanings inherent in the complex of chiefly plaza rituals. we have the kuarup.” For the “wild Indians”. Thus.In the Shadow of Empire • 161 intertribal rituals. who would thus be fully eligible for chiefly status and burial. We dance. but the cultural script had to be internalized as well. Saignes 1990. Viveiros de Castro 1992). An essential step in the process of “Xinguanification. likewise. if not political office. an inmarried individual or even a captive could parent the son or daughter of chiefly blood. Hypothetically. depends not only on having the appropriate space or persons. involving a change from the traditional maloca (nonplaza) settlement pattern characteristic of ancestral Carib Xinguanos (i.. however. Tapirape). Mundurucu. 1993.g.. Eastern Complex) to the circular plaza pattern (the Ikpeng are a recent example). central cemetery and men’s house. To host the chiefly rituals. but among Caribs this transformation was dramatic. said to war is a festival (Gregor 1994: 247). another to fully participate in them. and contextually defined: It is therefore possible to be within the orbit of Xinguano culture.” therefore.” . For the Tupian Xinguanos this may or may not have been a significant changes since plaza villages are present among several other southern Amazonian Tupian groups (e. It is one thing. The “litmus test” is therefore not only social or material. The margins of Xinguano society are broad and permeable. notably the cycle of chiefly rituals centered on the kuarup ceremony. the physical “stage” for core rituals but. but remain a “little wild. on an understanding and acceptance of the precepts.e. newcomers needed to adopt the basic Xinguano settlement model of a circular plaza. Overing 1981. we have festivals. requiring the social and cultural eligibility of coparticipants. Henley 1996. but cosmological and ideological: accepting and being accepted as part of the core rituals of social reproduction and their conceptual underpinnings. Foreign things are endowed with positive symbolic meaning. As a Kuikuru chief once told me: “We don’t make war. The stage not only had to be set. but above all. as is the case for certain Amerindian societies (Fausto 2001. however. to have a plaza. is establishing the physical prerequisites necessary for the execution of core rituals: that is. practices. rather.

to not only accommodate but incorporate immigrant groups that were displaced in the context of Western expansion. Xinguano society was regional since prehistoric times.162 • The Ecology of Power One thing is certain. concepts.g. largely because of depopulation during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. precisely because Xinguano society is necessarily regional in nature. Xinguano society is a very clear case of the latter: core rituals of social reproduction (chiefly rites of passage) and associated origin myths simultaneously depend upon and legitimize supralocal participation and integration. In this sense. blocks of communities (e. The regional nature of Xinguano culture and society is thus not an epiphenomenon of local history—an inevitable social fusion created by local conditions of multiethnic interaction and postcontact compression. meant that established communities that were suffering from severe depopulation may have been especially willing to assimilate newcomer communities. resulted in the incorporation of things. Max Schmidt (1917) long ago noted was common among Arawakan peoples. if you will. even whole communities or. . interaction and alliance networks that link diverse communities (ubiquitous in Amazonia). it is worth framing a distinction that is often overlooked in regional studies: the difference between regional social systems. Xinguano communities were preadapted. But. in fact. The centrifugal forces created by Luso-Brazilian colonialism combined by the centripetal acculturative force of Xinguano society. created unique conditions for the ethnogenesis of the pluriethnic culture pattern documented ethnographically. people. perhaps even. a “moral community” composed of multiple communities incapable of symbolically reproducing themselves independently of one another. and redoubled by the demographic vacuum created by catastrophic depopulation. positing a more or less simultaneous incorporation of Carib-speakers from diverse villages). or proselytizing. families. what is also clear is that Xinguano communities did not actively draw other groups (or individuals) into their midst through conquest. that is.. prisoner capture. a force that. not only ensuring physical and social proximity but also drawing these newcomer groups into the orbit of Xinguano regionality. but instead accommodated groups who appeared on the peripheries of the Upper Xingu. immigrant groups increasingly took over the abandoned areas. that is. Parenthetically. Territories contracted. a cultural ethos of accommodation (based on local hospitality and “good-neighbor” relations) and permeable social boundaries. In fact. and regional societies.

punctuated by severe demographic shocks that left communities in a state of crisis. people were sick and dying. suggesting that Xinguanos had labored under various epidemic shocks after circa 1550–1600. from the Paraquai River basin and sub-Andean Bolivia.g. in particular. Nevertheless. (Ireland 1988: 162) Undoubtedly. not to mention political reorientation. In fact. There was no one to bury the dead. The violence of bandeirante raids and conflicts with wild Indians is clear from indigenous narratives. and there the vultures came to eat them. but we can be less certain of the effects of epidemics. Metraux 1927. Saignes . and long-distance movements of some individuals and social groups (e. is clearly documented—a single epidemic could wipe out an entire village—and the secondary economic and social effects. Although demographic history prior to 1884 is poorly known. as clearly indicated by the dramatic decreases in settlement size and regional density by the seventeenth century.g. epidemic disease had similar catastrophic effects on Xinguano communities in prior unrecorded eras.In the Shadow of Empire • 163 Demography and Social Change For at least two centuries preceding Steinen’s expeditions. Cook 1981. 1978. vividly recount the 1954 measles epidemic: Suddenly in every household. given the probable articulation of regional systems. Infants lay against the bodies of their dead mothers. entire villages and large tracts of land were abandoned by Arawakan speaking peoples. the social environment of the Upper Xingu was capricious. Susnik 1972. People died in their hammocks and their corpses began to rot in the same house where others lay dying. The most obvious disease vectors originated to the south and west. Dobyns 1966. Nordenskiöld 1917. 1993.. There they died. Thornton 1991). Earthwork construction and maintenance had apparently ceased by at least the mid-1600s and. these suggestive findings from archaeology conform to reconstructions of devastating depopulation throughout the period after circa 1500–1600 as a result of “pandemics” diffusing across much or all of the New World (e. the dramatic impact of epidemics. Newsom 1995. by the early 1700s at the latest. exchange. the radical changes in Xinguano settlement patterns are exactly what could be expected with demographic collapse (Ramensofsky 1987). Clastres 1987: 79–99. for instance. The Waujá. we were too weak ourselves to do anything but wait for death. if not anomie. … People went outside to defecate and collapsed behind their houses.. including conflict. were equally critical. … As the days passed.

several of the expeditioners were ill during their stay in the Upper Xingu (Steinen 1894). the effects of epidemics and the pattern and effects of demographic “shocks” and overall depopulation can be more fully explored. the nearby Xavante “were struck by an epidemic. 1400–1600) villages. By the 1880s and 1890s. at least. among the Bakairi. Mojos. settled populations formed an almost unbroken chain along the southern peripheries of Amazonia (e. Ireland 1988) and. Pareci. In the 1700s. Hemming 1978.. some references to specific epidemics do exist. as decribed later). indeed. Pareci. Terena. Measles also took a high toll on the Karaja at about this time and by the early 1800s the area was in “wretched condition. Ribeiro 1970).g. Xingu. dramatic depopulation had been reported across much of southern Amazonia (e. Indigenous oral history records significant depopulation at the time of Steinen’s expeditions (Franchetto 1992. More than half of the Upper Xingu villages ceased to exist as discrete communities during the years from 1884 to 1950. and thus disease vectors. and once they entered into these populations. Bakairi. The rapid depopulation documented in the Upper Xingu after 1884 is widely recognized and has been the focus of several commentaries (Agostinho 1972.. In fact. Although documentary evidence of epidemics in southeastern Amazonia is scarce. diseases expanded over vast areas. and exacted a ver y great toll among these densely settled populations (mordibity up to 100 percent and mortality over 50 percent is apparent from more recent periods. By the late 1700s. 1987).164 • The Ecology of Power 1990).D. Regardless of the source region. The proximity of European colonists. among others) and many villages were already decimated by the mid-1700s (Chiam 1983. Bauré. leaves little doubt that epidemics occasionally struck the area after this time. had been reported in the Middle and Upper Xingu (Nimuendaju 1948c. This fact and the relative lack of detailed historical accounts makes it difficult to estimate the rate of population loss for individual villages and little is known regarding the .g. Historic Period Demographics Early Period (1885–1950): This period was characterized by the frequent amalgamation of village populations as a result of depopulation. allegedly measles which killed many and caused others to flee” (Neel et al. and Bororo. 1964: 55). Karajá. Ranke 1898: 130). and others). Galvão and Simões 1966. During this period. Village size in 1884 (and today) was a fraction of that documented for late prehistoric/early protohistoric (A. after … disease had severely reduced local populations” (Ehrenreich 1965: 5). including smallpox.to late-1700s. to the Upper Xingu by at least the mid. epidemics of infectious diseases.

infectious diseases and their secondary effects can be singled out as the preeminent cause of depopulation (Agostinho 1972. Heckenberger 1996). Ribeiro 1970). These minimally included: five Tupi (four Kamayura and one Aueti). and they abandoned the Upper Xingu altogether by the early 1900s (Oberg 1953 Schmidt 1905).6). three of which had dissociated by 1896. The survival of local communities throughout this period depended on the ability of diverse groups to amalgamate in response to population loss. In 1896. In 1887. It is possible to state with reasonable certainty that overall regional population was reduced by 75–80 percent or more between 1884–1950. Excluding the eight Bakairi villages. Meyer (1897: 139) suggests a total of thirty-nine villages. Eight of these were small villages (about twenty to fifty individuals each) of the Bakairi. 1990. The net effect was increased social integration.1. Schmidt 1942: 242). and others surely disappeared before 1884. and two Trumai settlements (Steinen 1894). 1946 and 1950 (Galvão and Simões 1966: 45. who had entered the Upper Xingu in the mid-1800s (Oberg 1953). Thus.In the Shadow of Empire • 165 exact timing. Epidemics of infectious disease were reported in 1896. There was a strong . in the sense that the area was “never penetrated by the hostile or exploitative elements of the national society” (Turner 1988: 269). 1918. Ranke 1898: 130. By 1952 the total population was 652 in ten villages and in 1963 there were 623 in nine villages (Galvão and Simões 1966: 43–45). with a total population of some three thousand (see also Ranke 1898). there seems to have been twenty-three to thirty-one Xinguano settlements. The exact pattern of village dissociation or amalgamation after periods of extreme demographic stress is poorly understood. village populations range from about 80 to 320 (Baruzzi et al. Because contact in the Upper Xingu can be described as peaceful over the past century. Steinen estimated thirty-one villages in the Upper Xingu with a regional population of twenty-five hundred to three thousand people. Meyer reported that the Upper Xingu Bakairi were rapidly deteriorating and could hardly feed themselves. Halverston (cited in Carneiro 1957: 208) reports a total population of 1840 living in twelve to thirteen villages in 1926. Thus. Mehinaku and Yawalapiti). although one village might suffer great losses and perhaps dissociate. the average village size in 1926 was about 150 persons while in 1950 it was about 65. nine Carib (“Nafuqua”). A decade later. Figure 5. largely as the result of disease (Agostinho 1972) (Figure 5. Today. nature or magnitude of specific epidemic “shocks” during this period (Table 5. seven Arawak (one Kustenau and two Waujá. Meyer (1897: 194) reports fifteen Carib villages.7). another village could sometimes maintain population levels through incorporation of new members (Galvão and Simões 1966).

1890–1995.166 • The Ecology of Power TABLE 5.1 Demographic Estimates for Upper Xingu Villages.* Year Kam 1887 1896 1924 1934 1937 1938 1946 1948 1950 1952 1954 1954 1962 1963 1965 1967 1970 1971 1974 1976 1977 1978 1980 1983 1984 1987 1989 1995 * Village Awe – – – 80 – – – – – 30 – 27 31 23 – 36 26 40 41 44 52 – – 50 33 52 36 66 80 91 Kal 270 – – – – – – – 180 155 132 148 150 110 – 100 80 109 115 120 130 – – 165 160 139 191 229 249 311 Nah/Mat 192 – – – 130 40 – – 28 18/ 16 34 44 44 35 – 51 50 55 60 – 42 – – 40 82 55 74 84 102 72 202 – 200 – – – – 144 130 148 145 130 – 118 100 118 161 150 136 – – 170 187 210 221 240 279 327 Kui – Wau 171 228 – – – – – – – 98 – 95 104 78 – 86 70 62 95 115 114 – – 110 102 131 146 168 140 218 Meh 154 – – – – – – – – 110 – 56 60 60 68 55 55 57 63 – 80 77 83 80 73 95 95 112 121 144 Yaw – – – – – – – – – 28 – 12 25 25 – 41 22 34 47 60 94 86 – 100 121 117 135 148 187 165 Tru – – – – – – 43 – – 25 – 18 21 19 – 21 20 22 24 26 30 – – 20 37 52 71 70 78 85 Total 216 300 – – – – 198 242 110 110 – 110 124 94 – 115 118 118 128 130 148 – – 170 192 192 207 239 279 326 3–4000 – – – – – – – – 734 – 658 704 574 – 623 542 615 734 – 826 – – 905 981 1043 1176 1356 1513 1797 For full references see Heckenberger (1996: 288) .

1880s–1990s. 1880s–1990s.In the Shadow of Empire • 167 Fig.6 Depopulation of Xinguano villages. Fig.7 Composite depopulation. 5. . 5.

Oberg 1953). in part. 2001) suggestion that several subsytems. The Yawalapiti. Oberg 1953). Oberg 1953). For example. 2001. were reduced to one village of 110 members in the 1940s (Galvão 1953). Nevertheless. with perhaps as many as 300 individuals.168 • The Ecology of Power tendency for groups to merge with related linguistic groups. It has been suggested that communities with higher rates of population increase prior to 1884 were better able to recover from epidemics (Ribeiro 1970). which correspond to the major linguistic divisions. only the “Kamayura”and “Aueti” mixed villages remained by the early 1900s. It is not possible to identify the exact factors that led to the dispersal of one village and not another. The Kamayura who lived in four settlements in the 1880s. The 28 Nafuqua moved into the Matipu village. By 1948. only three remained by the 1950s. exist within the larger Xinguano cultural system. the Anagahïtï. The Mehinaku were likewise forced to merge their two villages (Gregor 1977: 19). . Villas-Boas and Villas-Boas 1973). The sequence of village dissociations can be. in 1953 (Galvão and Simões 1966. 2001. among the Carib groups. who themselves had been reduced from two villages to one village by the early 1900s (Oberg 1953. supporting Franchetto’s (1987. reconstructed from historical records. The Arawak-speaking groups have a similar history of village mergers. The size and internal cohesion of individual villages was undoubtedly an important factor. Coelho. reduced to a handful of people. cross-cutting linguistic and village boundaries. three Carib villages had already merged with the Kalapalo by 1896. the Kustenau were reduced to two individuals who joined the Waujá. itself reduced to sixteen people. the extensive kinnetworks that all Xinguanos maintain. In several cases. moved in with the Kalapalo in 1948 (Oberg 1953). other groups having merged (coalesced) with them (Bastos 1989b. Lima 1955. Ireland 1988: 161). villages that had split during the period between the late 1800s–early 1900s merged as a result of population loss (Heckenberger 1996). Of various Tupi-speaking groups who had entered the area after the Caribs and Arawaks. but differential population loss from epidemics seems to have been the most common cause. The few remaining Ipatse moved in with the Kuikuru by 1951 and by 1954 the Kuikuru village included members of four extinct villages (Dole 1969: 110. who were numerous in Steinen’s time and had occupied two villages. enabled displaced individuals/kin-groups to seek residence in one of many villages. were reduced to twenty-eight individuals scattered between various other villages because of a lack of marriagable women by 1948 (Agostinho 1972: 358–360. Of the at least nine Carib villages in the 1880s.

The general pattern of population loss would have undoubtedly continued if not for the intervention of Brazilian governmental agencies and the establishment of programs of medical assistance. Oberg 1953. and undoubtedly other unmonitored groups. with 114 total deaths recorded (16 percent of regional population). by the availibility of outside medical assistance. Murphy and Quain 1955. The Nafuqua. An earlier influenza epidemic (1946) was recorded among the Kalapalo and Kuikuru. population trends can be more accurately described over the past 50 years or so (Table 5.In the Shadow of Empire • 169 More isolated villages (those not on the major rivers traveled by early expeditioners) were perhaps buffered to some degree (Agostinho 1972). Yaruma. Morbidity during this epidemic ran nearly 100 percent in most villages. Nutels 1968). Some villages suffered attrition through conflicts with neighboring groups of hostile ngikogo. . Juruna. Nutels 1968: 70). Demographic profiles for this period show that the pattern of depopulation cannot be simply conceived as a steady decline. Steinen 1894). Thornton 1991). the variable effects of that epidemic on individual villages can be explained. and through occasional raiding between Xinguano villages (Moennich 1942. such as influenza among the Kamayura and Kalapalo in 1950 (Carneiro 1957: 204. with twenty-five recorded deaths (Nutels 1968). The impact of this epidemic was more far-reaching. child care and other activities were greatly disrupted. however.2). most notably a widespread measles epidemic in 1954 (Mota 1955) and another apparent epidemic in 1963–1964. namely rudimentary vaccination programs. Mota 1955. The effect of individual epidemics on individual villages can therefore be more clearly estimated. after 1950 (Baruzzi et al. Kustenau and Waujá seem to have suffered greater losses due to their proximity to the major routes of access into the region (Carneiro 1957). Kamayura. however. The overall decline in population was punctuated by specific shocks (related to individual epidemics) followed by periods of recovery. often quite rapid (cf.g. in part. Suyá. as subsistence.. These trends are somewhat different for more recent times. The Late Period (1950–Present): Because of more regular and complete demographic data after 1950. “wild Indians” (e. Oliveira 1968. The measles epidemic of 1954 is the best known of recent epidemics since medical personnel were in the area now known as the PIX (Parque Indígena do Xingu) at the time. Several epidemics are clearly recognizable after 1950. More isolated epidemics occurred among several groups. although the nature of available evidence often forces this portrayal of post-European population decline. 1978. Ikpeng and others). The numerous populations mergers documented prior to 1950 were not as characteristic of local population dynamics after this time. in fact.

Kalapalo and Kuikuru) all reached their population nadir around this time. 1978) insured the minimal conditions for survival. whooping cough. Location/Community Post Jacare (initial outbreak) Kamayura Post Vasconcelos (Leonardo) Kamayura Aueti Yawalapiti Trumai Matipu Mehinaku Waujá Others Kuikuru Before Assistance After Assistance Kalapalo (no assist.g. Relatively high mortality due to communicable diseases. particularly. most villages had experienced significant population recovery. the establishment of a more regular vaccination program after 1965 (Baruzzi et al. and as a result.2 Morbidity and Mortality of 1954 Measles Epidemic. then long-term impacts on subsistence. hygiene and general health for the entire community are common (Polunin 1977). and secondary complications such as pneumonia. including malaria. By the 1960s.) Waujá Total 150 97 657 134 05 04 40 19 114 115 31 25 21 18 07 07 43 18 08 00 02 00 00 02 07 09 09 Number Afflicted Number of Deaths leading to further complications and general deterioration in community health (Mota 1955). have continued to plague local communities. influenza. The creation of the PIX in 1961 and. all Xinguano communities have undergone dramatic demographic rebound since the 1950s and 1960s. Several of the smaller villages that were reaching critical levels in the 1950s had surpassed their pre-1954 levels. If large portions of a village are affected by an epidemic. tuberculosis and others. the Mehinaku. Although actual reports are unavailable.. some of the larger villages (e. .170 • The Ecology of Power TABLE 5. Nevertheless. an epidemic apparently struck local villages in 1963–1964 with significant population losses. Waujá.

does not seem to have played a significant role in demographic profiles after 1950. Many villages have attained the size of the 1880s villages (i. several have undergone fissions (Kamayura. as known elsewhere in the region (Baruzzi 1977. A prolonged outbreak of chicken pox began in the Kuikuru village by April 1993 with many reported cases in the Kuikuru and other villages until late 1993. The Kuikuru village population in 1994 (322 individuals) was the largest historically recorded village in the Upper Xingu before it split in 1997. one Kuikuru man who lived in the Yawalapiti village died of the disease in late 1993. including respiratory and other infectious diseases. Continued health problems leading to higher than normal mortality. see Chagnon and Melancon 1983). The more recent outbreaks of infectious disease indicate that the secondary complications resulting from the actual diseases (conditions such as pneumonia. among the Kamayura there was a dramatic increase in the proportion of the population under fifteen years old between 1949 and 1971 (Junqueira 1975. There were seven deaths (five adults) in the Kuikuru village.. In part because of their rapid growth. In fact. dehydration. as elsewhere in Amazonia (Flowers 1983. The limited available data regarding population structure indicate that fertility rates were not significantly reduced by the physiological effects of poor health or by artificial means. several confirmed cases of malaria (still common slightly downriver from the Upper Xingu in the PIX). been very dramatic since about 1970. malnutrition. Kalapalo. because of continuous contacts with outsiders in villages and through a continuous stream of Indian travelers to and from Brazilian towns and cities. Matipu/Nafuqua and Mehinaku). although these factors undoubtedly affected populations in restricted contexts. in fact. continue to plague the area. these afflictions have seldom reached epidemic proportions. Demoralization in individual villages and raiding against and out-migration from weakened villages. The significant rebound is indicative of the fact that there are no . 1979). In composite. diarrhea.e. apparent prior to 1950 (Murphy and Quain 1955). indeed. at least four virulent outbreaks of the flu. although a measles epidemic was recorded in the PIX in 1978 (Serra 1979).In the Shadow of Empire • 171 In recent years. as well as metabolic and chronic diseases. etc. Kuikuru. over 30 percent of the Upper Xingu regional population was below the age of ten in 1970 (Baruzzi and Iunes 1970). and possible cases of whooping cough and tuberculosis were recognized. Population growth in many villages has. 200–300 people) and. several of which apparently were the result of communicable diseases or the complications from them.) are equally or more lethal than the actual diseases (Mota 1955. the village has fissioned twice in the past decade. Hern 1994). Vidal 1977). In 1993.

and there seems to be a dramatic tendency for demographic growth. Lindenbaum 1979). In a broader perspective. the local division of labor. village leadership and shamanism. a “founder’s effect” that created a context ripe for sociocultural innovation. The ability of individuals and kingroups to respond to demographic shocks through extralocal residential mobility is. An ethos of accommodation apparently characterized Upper Xingu social relations . 1984. Demography. Structure. locally disrupting economic. Dole 1969. in fact. Gregor 1977: 263). It would be stretching it to assume that these conditions duplicate ancient demographic dynamics. for instance. 1951. sedentary populations. In fact. and dominated by contingency and strategy (cf. Many villages were also left with large numbers of orphans with ambiguous kin-networks (Basso 1973. because of a Xinguano cultural “ethos of accommodation” (Gregor 1990) that condemns antisocial behavior. died or mourned the passing of those who did. even population explosion. in part. The sheer number of deaths often forced individuals and kingroups to seek support or refuge outside of their local group and. a widely documented effect of depopulation (Baldus 1974. during a crisis as traumatic as an epidemic. Wagley 1940. Gregor 1977. negotiated. and Power Given the magnitude of disruption to local groups following epidemics. based on. it is important to consider the social consequences of demographic shocks and prolonged demographic stress.172 • The Ecology of Power cultural or biological contraception mechanisms widely in effect. ceremonial and political patterns as key members became ill. Rapid depopulation led to significant deficits in personnel to fulfill various social roles. but it does suggest that there is an internal cultural tendency to develop large. These related factors had immediate and often profound influences on the social reconstitution of villages after epidemics. Ireland 1988). facilitated by the ambiguous kin and affinal relations and the necessary relaxation of preferred residence and marriage practices resulting from depopulation (Basso 1984. marriage and residence patterns. or at least considerable divergence between structural “rules” and practical actions. High mortality among adults and especially elders resulted in the rapid loss of cultural knowledge. not only compromised or strengthened the position of individuals and kin groups within communities but also villages in a regional sociopolitical arena. whole villages dissociated and were forced to move to other villages. Posey 1994. such as argumentative and confrontational behavior and promotes hospitality within and between groups. Kinship relations cross-cutting lines of village affiliation and language thus became more common. we might expect social action to be particularly experimental. the differential impact of epidemics on communities. Vidal 1977).

illness and death are typically viewed as the result of intentional acts by malicious spirits or witches. often prompt retaliation by affected parties in the form of witchcraft accusations and executions. The interpretation of any incident of witchcraft is necessarily defined within the context of local politics. Within the milieu of demographic shocks. and that a number of persons he comes into contact with every day are witches. accusations. Turner 1964). For modern Xinguanos. responses to illness and death were framed within the context of political action. or simply spite. however. but their actions are viewed as intentional attacks against specific individuals based on jealousy. The primary motivation for witchcraft accusations and executions is to avenge the death of kin. anyone can contract a witch to attack their enemies or political rivals. Morbidity and mortality are not seen as merely a reflection of biological or natural conditions. In the time when the Whitepeople first . Thus. but accusations are based on real suspicions of who. vengeance. directly correlate to patterns of morbidity and mortality (cf. Outbreaks of disease are seen as symptomatic of local interpersonal hostilities and. The witch-charms/illness (kugífe) had arrived. sociopolitical relations affect who one suspects—that is. in the form of a largely defensive posture in prehistory (like today). who can be considered trustworthy or antagonistic—and influence whose word one believes. The occurrence of witchcraft. Witches act out of malice. but it is sudden illness and especially death. and executions. We became few. witchcraft accusations are not simply born of local political strategizing. the nature and direction of social change must be considered in the context of native perceptions of illness and death. the deaths began.In the Shadow of Empire • 173 throughout the contact period and perhaps before. including threats. and toward this end many individuals do not strengthen but compromise their social standing. As Carneiro (1977:4) notes: … nothing is so firmly rooted in the mind of a Kuikuru than the notion that most of his [and his family’s] afflictions are directly due to sorcery. But. In other words. As one Kuikuru elder puts it: But later. deaths. in fact. and even place themselves in serious danger. are most commonly attributed to witchcraft. is guilty. they are by nature malicious and bereft of human social feelings. as such. a fact that does not escape indigenous notice. but this pattern was certainly reinforced by the exigencies of the post-European period. but instead emanate more directly from the supernatural. notably depopulation and territorial compression. that prompts witchcraft accusations. not political strategy. notably witchcraft beliefs. Furthermore.

break down the social fabric and create instability within villages. But primary political power. and factional relations (Basso 1984b). they. and residential movements (Basso 1973. Carneiro 1977. fear and anxiety related to witchcraft becomes intense. Surrounding outbreaks of epidemic disease (which at least for the period after 1884 were fairly regular). Nonetheless. or even factional groups look to other villages to escape threats or accusations of witchcraft. heightened anxiety related to witchcraft can create a centrifugal social force within villages as individuals.. In fact. even eclipsing that of any local chief of high rank.) In the face of high mortality from infectious disease.” must be placed in the broader context of indigenous medical systems. 1953–1954). Epidemics. or closely related villages. drew villages closer together by prompting out migration from one village to another to avoid threats or accusations of witchcraft. the recent death of . (Franchetto 1993: 114–115 author’s translation. The kugífe (darts) flew. Gregor 1990:118. by disease-related deaths. the old ones. the threat of witchcraft or accusations of it colored all social relations and strongly influenced decisions regarding marriage. The fear of witchcraft. in which healing acts are closely linked with notions of disease causation classification (cf. particularly with respect to the relative political power of shamans versus hereditary chiefs (e. This force. the primary mechanisms for social mobilization and control. In fact. suspicions and anger generated within villages. households.174 • The Ecology of Power came. affiliation and residence. they brought [back] the kugífe. that is. in a general sense. in the historical case of the Kuikuru that Dole describes (c.g. including the primary village chief. Xinguano shamanism and witchcraft are two closely related elements of that system (herbalism and the harmful influences of spirits are others). or following indigenous thought “epidemics of witchcraft. Ireland 1988). coupled with exigencies of population loss. so does the actual power of shamans. occasional executions. the witches. As the invisible power of witches (read illness and death) increases. shamans can play a very active role in political action. Turner 1975: 159). Dole 1969)? As is clear from Dole’s description of the influential Kuikuru diviner Metsé. who was not of chiefly rank. the only individuals capable of divining the source of physical malady. This brings up a problematical issue: what transformations did demographic stress create in local relations of power. may dissuade individuals from overtly antisocial behavior. as do local conflicts resulting in accusations. Many died. promoting social harmony and integration (Dole 1966). particularly in the context of epidemics. lies not in the hands of the shaman but rather the chief.

Afukaká (grandfather of the current principal chief). centering on natural spirits and oriented toward sociality. bloodline) to ascend to one of the two principal chiefly offices—the “village chief ” and the “plaza chief. The difference is simple and fundamental: one is born to power and the other must earn it. or otherwise accumulate the symbolic capital upon which political authority is anchored. Only those born of high chiefly rank have the requisite geneological substance (i. with other prominent individuals playing a secondary role. and soul-recoveries conducted by multiple shamans. medical practitioners. There is no necessary link between shamanism and the political power of chiefs. can also rise to prominence through economic gains (accumulated payments). can formally receive visitors. there is.” as well as herbalists. play. Shamans can. a sharp dividing line between the two and. contrary to the common (and often erroneous) assumption that in Amazonia “there is.” the latter typically being the more prominent in public political and ritual activities.. which are oriented toward the symbolic reproduction of society and legitimizing past. in fact. no sharp dividing line between the office of chief and that of shaman” (Furst 1991: 108). based on their abilities as healers and/or diviners. into lasting political prominence. and future hierarchical social relations (see Basso 1973. overseen by chiefly individuals. be commemorated in chiefly rites. and (b) chiefly rituals. including “diviners” and “curers. present. a person of chiefly rank can rise to become a “true” (sitting) chief whether they are a shaman or not.e. learn the chiefly language. or can legitimately use chiefly adornments. Only high ranking individuals can officiate the major chiefly rituals of passage. In short. In Xinguano society. several years earlier (Carneiro 1994) had left a political vacuum that no powerful legitimate chief filled until decades later. between chiefly status. and influence in ritual and secular contexts and that of nonchiefly individuals and families. generally speaking.In the Shadow of Empire • 175 the powerful chief. except insofar as these relate to the actions of witches (and to a lesser degree malicious spirits). political strategy. Gregor 1977 for fuller discussions). more generally. It is widely acknowledged that these individuals . Here it is important to recognize that there are two major ceremonial complexes: (a) “spirit”rituals. shamans have limited influence in local politics or the structure of social relations. transform their situational influence. including masking rituals sponsored and conducted by any prominent individual. but a shaman cannot become a true chief unless he is of chiefly blood. as apparently in other Arawakan societies of southern Amazonia as well (see Métraux 1942). and health. In most situations. however. Public political and ritual actions are dominated by chiefs.

We also can assume.” following Crumley (1987. we are comparing distinctive. given their widespread distribution and similarities across the southern peripheries of Amazonia.g. 1991). the death of a powerful chief (and his potential heirs) is an inherently public and political affair. masculine/feminine. following the same comparative logic. that hereditary chiefs and chiefly hierarchies were also fundamental elements of prehistoric sociopolitical systems. the assumed or invisible power of witches or those that contract them) and accusations of it. as broadly defined symbolic complexes. and another in which status positions are based largely on personal achievement. even today when bloodlines are mixed and political power diminished from depopulation. In this sense witchcraft (i.e. often feel acutely threatened by witchcraft (Carneiro 1977). an assumption that finds some concrete validation in the objectification of chiefly power in plaza rituals and symbolism together with the long term continuity of village spatial organization (Heckenberger 1996). chief/non-chief. Viveiros de Castro 1996). as alternative sources of power.. were significant among ancient Xinguanos.. witchcraft execution. spiritual/practical). that is. Ireland 1996).e. labor mobilization)—is as much a matter of blood as achievement. the distribution of power or struggles over it do not merely correspond to a hierarchy from highest chiefs to lowest commoners but also on a “heterarchy. Obviously. interpreted not in the context of struggles for political power between rival factions or villages. In other words. plaza ritual.176 • The Ecology of Power are often wealthier than average (being somewhat relieved of the ostentatious generosity demanded of chiefs). based on genealogy. as well as a component of competition between politically powerful. Contemporary chiefs. but as the result of petty disputes. often with far reaching repercussions. There is little doubt that both shamanism and witchcraft. Clastres 1975. P. as well as shamanism (Descola 1988. or potentially powerful rivals (e. in fact.g. although interpenetrating. True political prominence—the ability to dominate and control the major instruments of political action (i. . and more generally throughout Amazonia and the New World (Furst 1976. In this vein. whereas that of nonchiefly individuals is conceived as entirely interpersonal. can represent forms of resistance or reactions to the accumulation or concentration of power. external contacts. Clastres 1987).. domains of power and inequality: one in which status is based on an inherent hierarchical (“elite”) ideology. of alternative and often competing centers of power ranked in diverse ways according to conditions (e. H..

(as known though historical performance (Comaroff 1985).In the Shadow of Empire • 177 Although we cannot precisely evaluate relative changes in the power of shamans. . Ethnographic patterns are the topic of Part II. or chiefs as overlapping domains or dimensions of power. it seems certain that if we take the ethnographic period as our model. witches. we must be careful not to conflate the practice of a cultural structure at a particular moment with the limits of the structure itself. we are likely to overestimate the position of shamans and witches and underestimate that of high ranking chiefs in local power relations. In other words.


and. Fawcett was inspired by the spectacular nineteenth-century archaeological discoveries in tropical America. such as those in Mesoamerica and. in 1906. He mounted four expeditions in the Bolivian lowlands (1906–1913). Brazil (1920 and 1925). Hiram Bingham’s discovery of Machu Picchu in 1911. in differing degrees. they entrust to it in abbreviated and practical. since the present is necessarily insignificant when compared with the long period of the past because of which we have emerged in the form we have today. significantly. all the ‘totalitarian institutions’. form the fundamental principles of the arbitrary content of culture. indeed. bearing. treating the body as a memory. that seek to produce a new man through a process of ‘deculturation’ and ‘reculturation’ set such a store on the seemingly most insignificant details of dress. physical and verbal manners. exploring as far east as the Mamoré River in the central Llanos de Mojos. Pierre Bourdieu 1977: 94 The last person to go looking for lost civilizations in the southern Amazon was Colonel Percy Fawcett. i. in Goffman’s phrase. the lost civilization of Mu or El Dorado. and later in northern Mato Grosso. 179 .e. Emile Durkheim 1977: 11 If all societies and. and History In each one of us. an English explorer who looked in vain for the lost cities of legend.PART II Body. particularly. the reason is that. Memory. mnemonic. in the nature of things it is even true that our past personae predominate in us. is contained the person we were yesterday.. Only five years before.

shot dead by a local bowman (Basso 1995). although not unique in the region. Now it seems inescapable to me. in a word. because he and his two companions were lost in the Upper Xingu in 1925 (Fawcett 1953).” as the Bororo called him). As far as we know. complex. He began in the Guaporé. The story matches that of Antonio Pires de Campo Filho. who. which separate the middle and upper reaches of the Xingu River. helped “open up” the frontiers of Brazil’s vast interior (the sertão). Fawcett turned his attention to the southern peripheries of the Amazon. a society. more than one hundred years later in 1884 and 1887.180 • The Ecology of Power Fawcett himself had scoured the countryside in the Andean foothills and lowland forests in search of the elusive Amazonian cities of “Indian stories. regional ethnohistory. following in his father’s footsteps (“Pai Piro. the easternmost tributary of the mighty Madeira River and home to the once powerful “theocratic chiefdoms of eastern Bolivia. Pires de Campo. His last letter. In route to the Von Martius cataracts. The Xinguano peoples. mounted an army of Bororo conscripts to march against the Southern Kayapó villages. Xinguanos tell a tale. was from “Dead Horse camp. and 54º 35’ W. Jr. He was killed by an arrow. In Mato Grosso. the wilderness northeast of Cuiabá—a city his father helped to found in the 1720s—he was shot dead by an Indian arrow.. It was here. The reports of his last expedition are scanty. but his interest was not lost civilizations.” a rudimentary social and historical form that twentieth century authors commonly called “primitive tribes. an akiña. and was never heard from again. Slaving was risky business.” as Steward and Faron (1959) later called them. that the Western dream of lost civilizations in the southern Amazon died as well. that the Xinguano nation is a cultural history. that is. around 1750. he entered the Upper Xingu basin. Fawcett was not the first explorer to meet their demise in the Upper Xingu region. and oral history (summarized in Part I) and ethnography (summarized in Part II). a bandeirante looking for slaves who had attacked multiple Xinguano communities long ago. but “naturvölkern.” where his horse had died and he turned back in 1920. on the border of the Xinguano lands. in fact. of an earlier white man (cagaiha) who had invaded their lands. 1925. dated May 29. overlooking the Upper Xingu basin. perched on the northern margins of the Planalto Central. somewhere around 11º 43’ S.” (b) in their regionality (the .” Lost civilizations were not what I intended to find hidden in the forests of the southern Amazon. based on archaeology.” In 1920. Steinen was the next cagaiha to come to the Xingu. are distinctive from many native Amazonians in several important respects: (1) politics: they are notable in (a) the degree to which they reckon descent (and from it history) asymmetrically according to genealogy and “rank.

and specialization as critical elements of local political-economies. place. Memory. and (c) their in-focused philosophy of social reproduction. in 1492. (3) staple economy: they have an Amazonian equivalent to a “meat ’n’ potatoes” diet. only in this case it is “fish ’n’ beiju.to medium-sized “complex societies” scattered across much of the Americas. if not today. In other words. As Robert Carneiro (1995: 47) puts it: “Ecological interpretations of Amazonian . Before proceeding to questions of personhood. how are they or were they chiefdoms or chiefly societies. Bauré. seldom abandoning a place once they have settled there. what would a genuinely Amazonian complex society look like if we stumbled upon it? How were they complex? What practices or principles made it so (complex)? What bodies or persons would make it (complexity) up? These questions must be asked at the “grassroots” level—that is. but. closely related to the Xinguanos. nuts. on the ground—how we visualize and measure bodies and persons as they actually move through time. instead. the Xinguano social formations were likely every bit as large as those of the Amazon and Orinoco rivers and circumCaribbean areas. and History • 181 necessarily regional nature of sociality). particularly chiefly rites-of-passage. as Kroeber (1947) once called the small. and (4) material culture: rather than technological austerity. settled. let’s assume that there were “minor civilizations” in the Upper Xingu. and the built environment.” in fact. For the sake of argument. derives from Arawakspeaking groups in the southern Amazon. Overall. (2) settlement: they are unusually sedentary. Xinguano culture is thus representative of a way of life not uncommon in 1492. payment. The word “chiefdom. historically contiguous with other major regional polities (or regions of polities) of the southern Amazon.Body.” with some fruits. when considered at all. and Terêna. centered on major intercommunity rituals. regional. as if there is a priori agreement as to what constitutes one in the first place. the body and cultural memory as they are reflected in local patterns of sociality. what do we then call Xinguanos now: Tribes? Simple? Small-scale? This might be rephrased to ask not if they were chiefdoms or why and when they became so. such as the Pareci. spatial organization. has tended to be narrowly construed within the viewpoint of cultural ecology. they have a remarkable diversity of material culture. They are the obvious descendants of pre-Columbian polities. 1955). But. not how they ought to. the “theocratic chiefdoms” (Oberg 1949. assuming there were “chiefdoms” in the Upper Xingu in 1492. minor crops. including wealth. and hierarchical social formations. and a variety of other treats on the side. it is important to reassert that the question of complexity in Amazonia.

graspable. “complexity has developed out of simplicity.” Carneiro (1987: 111) writes. evolution. the “widespread social philosophy that defines humanity not by instrinsic properties but by its position in a whole series of contrast sets” (Descola 1992). Vilaça 1992. with various ecological factors assigned either a positive or negative role. recognizing the critical importance of both. as Marilyn Strathern (1999: 253) notes. from a Western historiographic point of view: what bodies do we have to look at. So.” or. Lima 1996. “It is in the nature of things. The viewpoint espoused here shares elements of “Amerindian perspectivism”. biological. I attempt to draw some common ground between Amazonian ecology and the Amerindian imagination. ‘on their skins’.” The problem is that the reverse is also true: complexity creates simplicity. “that simplicity precedes complexity. while it is persons who hold perspectives in one another. have dominated Amazonian research for the last halfcentury. including the body. an apical ancestor for such a view in social sciences. There is a very powerful indigenous model. The primary interest here is how we see Amazonian bodies. a subtext of Amazonian culture history appears. what “transpires between persons becomes reified. which entreats how living Amazonian “persons” see other bodies and persons. The persons of the past are knowable. house. is portrayed. whether general.182 • The Ecology of Power culture history. what I call the “archaeology of the Amerindian imagination. of all kinds. in other words.” Quoting Herbert Spencer. as proposed by Viveiros de Castro (1996b. inspired by Julian Steward. but the Franco-Brazilian tradition of structuralism inspired by Claude Lévi-Strauss. at least situationally. village. In Part II. relatively unproblematically. When seen is this light. an example par excellence of the archaeology of the Amerindian imagination. whether it is the skin of the land or the body or the clan with its universe of names. and in their “visible” traffic in the world. incoherent homogeneity. in these reifications that the idea (or ideal) of an Amerindian perspectivism can be concretely extended to yesterday persons. through their relations with other persons. to a definite. 1998. 2000).” It is here. or cultural. and broader landscapes. he notes that evolution is “a change from an indefinite.” an enterprise dominated not by North American cultural ecology. coherent heterogeneity. as an increase in organizational or functional heterogeneity and integration.” In this view. Such self-scaling . with no other point of view being even a serious competitor. The chapters focus on the ideologies and practices that underlie Xinguano sociality and explore the unique patterns of symbolic and social self-organization of Amerindian cultural systems and how these are manifest or iterate across different spatiotemporal scales.

rather than the evolution of (functional) complexity. and technological scale. that is critical to the emergence and organization of most ancient kingdoms and chiefdoms. or simplified—what is being “gridded off ” or partitioned—is space. or other medium) but also to the objectification of local cultural conceptions of human bodies and the built enviornment. as noted by Dumont (1970). It is made obvious in the crystalline social and spatial calculi of Xinguano culture. Descola 2001. made legible. as in Bali. Specifically. although contingent and political due to the interplay between them.. ecology. Social hierarchy. This codification and partitioning of space-time. are rituals. It creates precisely the type of symbolic simplicity and “seriality. notably in how bodies orient themselves in ritual. what is being standardized. the “State. simultaneously symbolic (a system of value).” This evolution of simplicity is tied to the development or inflection of a discourse of power tied not only to inscription (on paper. economic. organized in each case according to exact calculi of society.” in the face of great superficial differences in. village space. demographic. legibility. and landscape. This serial redundancy (mimesis) or. as Geertz (1980) so eloquently captures in his model of the Balinese “theater state”. that seems to underlay many if not most “early complex societies.g. Hornborg 2001. and the cosmos. Personhood and the body are long-standing themes in Amazonia ethnology. Memory. for instance. Based on a review of James Scott’s novel Seeing like a State (1998).” Thus. Yoffee (2001) proposes that what occurs in these complex societies is “a tendency toward standardization. is an exemplary case of such a cascade. it is “the evolution of (symbolic) simplicity” and the social ideologies tied to it. And. in Amazonia. such as houses.Body. and cultural memory through time. and History • 183 or cascading features of sociocultural systems provide critical comparative means to consider sociality. and Viveiros de Castro’s (1987: 20) seminal . villages (plazas). the built environment. “[p]olitical power inhered less in property than in people. is a critical element of the ecology of power. In the Upper Xingu. if we choose to use this term. the self-scaling quality of cascading sociosymbolic systems are widely noted in Amazonia (e. and landscape. stone. They also provide a means to compare Amerindian perspectives on the person and polity with those of other world areas.” and the appropriate local meaning of complexity. spatial (a system of ethnophysics and geography) and social (a system of sociality). embodied in houses. As Seeger. in other words. Da Matta. and broader countrysides. wood.” and it is in the conceptions of personhood that we must look to develop a concretely Amazonian definition of political power. The raison d’etat. plaza communities. the precise orientations of human bodies (of varying sizes) within spaces. Viveiros de Castro 2001). and simplification.

they go on. like spirits. describes the diversity of bodies: the physical body. the communicative body. is the existential experience of the practical and practicing human subject” (Scheper-Hughes 1994: 232). or in other words yet another effect of the body as transcendental historical agent. She also notes that “what is missing in both the body social of the symbolic anthropologists. Turner 1994. and medical (medicalized) bodies. “The fabrication. 1998: 479). but the construction of persons and the fabrication of bodies. and enemies.” Fausto (1999: 934) elaborates: “birth and mortuary rites. the body politic. for conferring on them singularity. consumer bodies. Strathern 1996. not only in the . or the body in its collective aspect. decoration. 1986. agency. social or cosmological—are so frequently expressed through bodily idioms. 1995). A. Turner (1994: 38) is critical of Foucault’s inattention to the contextual and cultural specificity of actual human bodies: Population growth. and destruction of bodies are themes around which revolve mythologies. and social organization” (see also Carneiro da Cunha 1978. Scheper-Hughes (1994: 232. the world’s body.” Thus. Turner 1980). and in the bio-power of Foucault’s body politic. parallels the popularity of these topics in social theory.184 • The Ecology of Power article on corporeality in Amazonia suggests. theoretical treatments of the body—the proliferation of conceptual “bodies”—are seldom accompanied by in-depth treatments of how bodies change through time and space. and the capacity to interact with external entities. deities. for instance. “structure themselves in terms of symbolic idioms that … do not speak of the definition of groups and the transmission of goods. seclusions and displays are all means for producing persons. which in turn cause specific bodies—yet the reasons for the population growth remain outside the analysis —leaving it in effect a deus ex machina. Thus. in short causes specific discourses. transformation. shamanic and warfare festivals. animals. Amerindian societies. The interest in the body and personhood in Amazonia. the social body. generally. and the idea of “embodiment” as a primary social process does not necessarily correspond to a robust understanding of bodies. although “suddenly omnipresent in academic literature” (Strathern and Lambek 1998: 5). transformations of the body and social persona are seen as one and the same and “the categories of identity—be they personal. The theoretical infatuation in the 1980s and 1990s with the body as representation of person and society. expanding on O’Neill 1985). fertility. beauty. initiations and naming ceremonies. particularly through food practices and body decoration” (Viveiros de Castro 1977. at least not all bodies (Csordas 1994. ceremonial life.

as Viveiros de Castro (2001: 23) notes. in each case. and History • 185 sense of the bodily metamorphoses and life-changes of individual human actors (Vilaça 1993. when considered historically. Memory. persons. polyvocality and multidimensionality. although popular. such as society. or individuals—to notions of dynamic networks and hybrids. dependent on the actual scale. such views are not. the whole language of social analysis has shifted from steady states or forms—bounded units. but also in terms of the agency of larger social groupings.Body. This turn is no doubt critical but. corporeality. “takes for granted”. comparison involves issues of scales and the iteration . both in the lived world and the analytical world of the anthropologists. for example.” These are taken as givens. of course. which creates significant challenges for comparison. and. The question of which is appropriate for sociological or historical analysis. from “its” to “itys” will not in and of itself solve the ethnological problems that confront us today. that every person on earth has more or less the same ideas about what qualifies as ‘people’ (and what qualifies people). Nonetheless. materiality. culture. rather than history or science there are perspectives. or dynamics of bodies that can be visualized as they move through time and space. the person. Herdt (1999) aptly coins the generic and uniformitarian categorizations of world and body (or mind) as “it entities. In other words. temporality and historicity. Societies. the problem Wolf (1982) noted of “turning names into things” often still remains. sites. age. referring to the idea that gender. spatiality. This shift to a more processual language is more pervasive: rather than society there is sociality. rather than culture there is the (re)production of meaning. by asking: who are the persons and bodies of which we speak? Persons and bodies come in radically different shapes and sizes. Fausto 2001). spatial. conviviality. there are diverse bodies at play. These larger social bodies not only have different temporal. and material characteristics but also distinctive capacities for cultural memory and intentionality. generally. that is. and achieved qualities are not only dimensions of social division but also of inequality and political asymmetries. The popular discussion of a “politics of persons” in Amazonia for instance. and cultures are thus moving targets in an “ecology of body and affect” (Devish 1998). In recent decades. and scapes and the list goes on. In other words. and human nature as of the “you know it when you see it variety. which must be locally resolved. is context and problem specific. form. assumed or fixed conditions of the body. “exactly what it should not: that we know who the persons are. tied to actual historical cases of how these processes played out over time.” Changing the terminology.” such as the body with two arms and two legs.

or persons. ritual. specific correspondences must be found between the past and the present: careful attention must be directed at how we develop analogies or. obviously require “bridge-building” between partial connections.” a term borrowed from Roy Wagner.186 • The Ecology of Power of bodies and persons across scales within specific contexts. This was. the way we write societies. communities. To suggest an archaeology of the body implies persons. more specifically in this case. M. The reason is simple: there can be no such thing as an archaeology or history of mind (memory) or person without an archaeology or history of the body. particularly the symbolic self-scaling so clearly evident in Amerindian systems of thought (i. anthropologists “do” or “see” history. homologies within specific sociohistorical trajectories. as well as relations between similar-scaled bodies and persons that are the focus of traditional sociological analysis.” To understand bodies. and it is basic to historical anthropology: how do we compare across different spatiotemporal scales within specific cultural histories.e. Strathern (1992: 107. 1991). to “know” yesterday persons. and how things cascade across (through) these levels. and larger aggregations and regions where persons exist. cultures.to consider how things we can hear or see or otherwise experience translate into the past or in other words. because “the privileging of the body in the mind/ body dichotomy reverses a bias in Western thought going back at least to Aristotle” (Richlin 1997: 25). let’s say that “persons” are what humans see as other human bodies. or habitus from a historical point of view . of course. The focus on the body here is not. the cascades that constitute what I discuss below and in Chapter 8 as the “fractal person. what bodily characteristics or changes we see in them. Persons are who we want to get to know. in the largest sense of other individuals. For convenience’s sake. Boas’ (and Braudel’s) problem. bodies. Maurice MerleauPonty (1961: 91) describes this as “varying the point of view while keeping the object fixed. This involves understanding indigenous Amerindian systems of thought and action in themselves. citing Keesing 1982) describes this as “Bateson’s problem”: “The problem was not how to fit together different parts of a society but how to fit together in an account different sources of an anthropological explanation.” The question is: “How do perspectives fit together?” and answers. however. the movements of human beings and in larger social bodies through time and place.. as well. neighborhoods. . but it is bodies that we must “sense” in order to do so. and communities. but it automatically assumes physical bodies: houses. It also involves the way we. language. families.

and understandings. and an archaeology of indigenous knowledge. a narrow “symbolic [or linguistic] approach treating culture as text [or language] will not account for those bodily techniques of incorporation. or historical personages. or “doing history” as an anthropologist. like many places. What is in opposition at one level or from one perspective may be subsumed together at another. However. as Noyes and Abrahams (1999) point out. as Gellner (1995: 50) suggests. and some ways of knowing them are more effective than others. in which memory is made . the motivations and accidents of yesterday persons are particularly poorly known. requires the articulation of objective history. taking as its point of departure material culture (materiality). the particular histories of particular peoples. count. We might even conclude that the traces of cultural meaning—the “bric-a-brac” of past social action washed upon the shores of modern times—are simply unknowable beyond the memories of the living. and language. and social processes commonly glossed as mimesis and alterity (Taussig 1993).Body. there is still very little consensus on the methodological question of how to know the persons of yesterday. as well as how they are pieced together into persons by other persons. an archaeology of the body. what Marx called “dead labour”? Historical anthropology. we might say. Alterity is about how persons “see” other persons. Here we might note that. spatial. with the subjective history of the actual human bodies. in terms of the construction of persons. social practice. actions. the history of objects (artifacts and texts) and places. Memory. making translation as much as direct measurement the basis of comparison. Cultural history. memories. defined. In Amazonia. archaeology sensu stricto. with an archaeology of text. through varied symbolic. whereas mimesis is how alterity becomes inflected inward in the reproduction of the persons. or submit to statistical analysis (Turner 1974). “Things do have their reality and exercise constraints over us. It combines. for the purposes of general understanding. The (arbitrary) cultural schemes and symbolic meanings—local conceptions about the natural order of things and persons—are neither natural or given but are culturally constructed and relative. and History • 187 Writing persons as active agents into our historical renderings requires ways to “see” bodies and how they concretely move through time. Nonetheless. and meaning is often very it is hard to measure. past personae. “mimesis stands in contrast to a stable subject/object opposition [alterity] and describes embodied imitation” (Strathern and Lambek 1998: 11). How do we animate. given the limited amount of work done there. All human action is meaningful. has always been a central concern of anthropology.” Thus.

Analysis focuses on how things flow and are sedimented in places. in other words. ways that determine human action. Nora 1998) and inscribed or “written” on “the skin of the land. the arrangement of houses and villages. like practices. the “crystallized secretions of once living human experience” (Turner 1982: 17). through a dialectic process of internalizing the exterior and externalizing the interior. events constitutive of historical personages and collective identity. dominant narratives. In other words. Thus. In particular. reproduced through discourse. how material things are joined together. “refering to the organized schemas for enacting (culturally typical) relations and situations” that “often take on an ordering function. spatial relations. in objects. but these often covary with other symbols and practices. and bodily practice (Connerton 1989. in one way or another. 1996).” In other words. achieving a degree of generality and transferability across a variety of social situations” (the cascades again.” The focus of analysis changes from direct experience. ritual. sedimented through repeated cultural activities. to expressions and physical traces. as Lefebvre (1991: 26) noted long ago. to how these are instantiated in practice. Obviously. not only do some symbols and practices adhere over time. into material residues. Since social space is a social product. are “inseparable from the bodily activity of their production” (Ingold 1996: 152). DeMarrias et al.188 • The Ecology of Power material and inalienable. in and of themselves. patterned (generalized and repetitive) expressions include institutions. Cultural meanings. some meanings and cultural schemas are clearly more resilient than others. . and in ritual cycles—in other words. Ortner 1990: 60). this is because mind and body. in the movements of the body. A. “fitting of body to world” (Merleau-Ponty 1962. this requires the focus be upon “how societies remember” through the collective memory that is made present in commemorations. specifically the shared cultural memory of certain places. ritual. rituals. and how abstract ideologies acquire external or concrete expression that can be “recovered” by the outsider. which create patterns and trends that can be monitored and correlated though time. something that cannot be transmitted to an outsider in words. in body memory as well as the memory of the imagination (Bourdieu 1977: 87–95). To speak of a history or archaeology of bodies and persons plunges us headlong into issues of memory. places and landscapes. and material culture. customs. Strathern 1996). times. material objects. The past is sedimented or inscribed in landscape. “the spatial practices of a society secretes that society’s space. sediment themselves. from a later place and time (Bourdieu 1977: 87. or. how expressions are inscribed in enduring ways.” The focus changes from cultural schemas.

and subsistence economics. and roads/pathways exiting radially from it. are identical. each implied. underlies the proposition of the Arawak Diaspora (a spatiotemporal entity of a very large order). that words and gestures are not autonomous. to broader cultural patterns revealing a more basic. are for all intents and purposes identical to present-day forms. Continuity in village placement is also obvious. .only once again the degree of alteration is much greater. All these features clearly show not only cultural continuity from the earliest occupations to the present but also continuity in basic elements of the staple economy (manioc and fish) and settled lifeways. The response I once got when I asked a Kuikuru man about the pots sums it up well: “This [pot] is ahukugu. and History • 189 words and gestures. no doubt cleared in the past as today for manioc gardens.” As discussed earlier. Even the most seemingly mundane. the distinctive ceramic industry. Continuity in their function is also clear. This simple proposition. not only because of conservatism in the industry but also the use-wear apparent on ceramic sherds. that is. the arteries linking the village to other villages and to other prominent features of the landscape. Fortunately for anyone interested in pursuing an archaeology of cultural meanings.Body. A simple comparison of the village layout of an ancient village. you need not go far from a contemporary village to run across an ancient one. technology. spatial organization. is the same pattern of fairly intensive landuse and landscape alteration witnessed around villages today . and the Xinguano Tradition (a still smaller regional spatiotemporal entity). land use. this pot [atange] is for cooking fish. if not “pregnant. the Southern Amazonian Periphery (a smaller macroregional spatiotemporal entity within the diaspora). if not hear “for the thousandth time”). several enduring features serve as our guides: the circular central plaza with radial (spokelike) roads. The vast tracts of forests denuded in the age of the ancient villages. with a contemporary village shows this clearly: the village “core.” the plaza. and that one for fish” (and I could sense. elemental continuity in a general Xinguano “way of being. Prehistoric pot sherds. This redundancy of cultural meaning—through metonymy and mimesis and alterity—enables us to relate village location. ideas and things are not autonomous but mutually pre-disposed. small things are invested with multifaceted but comparable meanings. the majority of which relate to several functionally distinctive items of cookware. Memory. like Kuhikugu. it is for cooking manioc. emphasized in part only on account of their visibility over the long run. associated with these plaza sites. Xinguano culture stamps itself on just about everything in its midst. This one manioc.” in the other.

or some such appellation for a small. Body memory bespeaks more than the reproduction of the everyday bodily dispositions (hexus). as indeed persons would seem to ‘bud’ out of one another in a speeded-up cinematic depiction of human life. a hierarchical “House” type of social organizations. basic elements of Xinguano culture in recent times are used to illustrate fundamental elements of regional culture through time: an ethos of settled village life. Vilaça 1992. a complex. for a general discussion of “feasting. The Upper Xingu is critical to Amazonian ethnology because it represents a living example of a type of social formation. which is tied to the (re)production of chiefs.” an experience “at once tactile and corporeal. It was a theater state. which in this case relates to rituals of social reproduction (the simultaneous reproduction of the individual and the plural). different projections of its fractality. and other parts of South and North America were also flexing nascent political muscles that would become. Fausto 2001. a history that it has carried forward.” again in New Ireland: A genealogy is thus an enchainment of people. and the (re)construction of places through time. generally. It represents a genuinely Amazonian complex society. what Steward and Faron (1959) called a “theocratic chiefdom”. can be seen as a bodily metamorphosis. where small fledgling temple centers grew into great theaters of disciplinary power. Its history can be traced deep into the heart of the broad history of tropical America—the roots of the American “formative period”—to a time when it. (1991: 163) In Part II. amid diverse challenges. defining bodies. the (re)placement of ancestors. or “transcorporeal” moment. holistic landscape. is subjective (perspectival) to the degree that anyone can only “see” certain things. Austronesians). into the present.” see Dietler and Hayden 2001). whereby “the initiate … is moved to incorporate the essential dimensions of … culture.to medium-sized ancient complex society. The initiation rite.190 • The Ecology of Power Describing where one type of body or memory ends and another begins. Persons as human being and person as lineage or clan are equally arbitrary sectionings or identifications of this enchainment. as well as verbal and visual” (see Devisch 1998. the small to medium-sized chiefly polity that was once common in the world but today is quite rare. although this is an important part. The constitution of persons (and doxa) is an equally important element. . sooner in some areas. such as coastal Peru. similar to what Foster (1995) calls “replacing the ancestors” (New Ireland. The rituals are also succinct encapsulations of what Wagner (1991) calls “the fractal person.

roadways. such as bridges. If manioc cultivation did not create this culture. reservoirs. and other markers of human presence. straight roads extending to the horizon in one or two directions. piquí groves (inka or imbepe). ports. As one passes through this complex. wide open fields of sapé (inhe). having once been within the direct sustaining area of the large ancient villages.CHAPTER 6 Landscape and Livelihood: The Ethos of Settled Village Life The Kuikuru and their neighbors probably had bigger villages. diverse areas of secondary forest growth. Some constructions or 191 . weirs. fenced gardens. an invasive grass that is critical as house thatch. Robert Carneiro (1983:103) For Xinguanos. These diverse features are tied together through a complex network of paths. canoe thoroughfares and canals. and perhaps even had social classes. the good life is a settled life in a beautiful village (ete) with a large. it at least provided the economic foundation on which it could be reared. groves of piquí fruit (imbe) trees. mobilized labor on a larger scale. The local landscape of the village expands into a broad countryside of manioc (kuigi) gardens. sapé fields (inhepe) and scrub forest (tahugape). constructed countyside of manioc gardens (kuigi-anda). itself often in an advanced stage of regrowth. open plaza and wide. one ultimately reaches the deep forest (itsuni). and other constructions. which is graded from low (tahuga) to medium-sized (tahugape). stronger chiefs.

snails. or a broken branch. it was intentionally. Denevan 2001). rather than post-1492 secondary regrowth. medicinal plants. This is seen to explain why . seen as “ecologically noble” societies. 2003). symbolically and economically critical to “the people. indigenous peoples. of settled village life. and ecological uncertainty keep populations and productivity low or. less of the land is under use. such as low soil fertility. so-called swidden or slash-and-burn horticulture (nonplow. 1985. but the land has been radically transformed over dozens of generations. but considering the generally long rotational cycles here and elsewhere in lowlands (Carneiro 1983. a fully saturated anthropogenic landscape (Heckenberger et al. it cannot be assumed that the forest is climax forest. Xinguanos. and animals from the deep forest. This is not to say that there was no forest five hundred years ago.” This deep intimacy and knowledge—this situated-ness in the land—is part and parcel of a techno-economic system and a worldview. but many others only noticeable to the trained observer. like so many past Amazonians. over a millennium or more. A small notch in a tree or the tell-tale machete cut of leaves and saplings. Today. and an ethos of settled village life permeates their bodies. Today. Limiting factors. since there are so fewer villages. in general. agriculturalists and fisherpeople. like the southern Arawak. very little if any had never felt some managerial impact by Xinguanos. as Xinguano life ways require plants. such as the jaguar or uengïfi tree. so fewer people. but most of it is still familiar. or the ancient grandparents of humans. and noncontiguous). marked by subtle changes in vegetation or the history of ancestral and spirit places. Not all of the land was under cultivation in 1492. Patches of “old stand” forest undoubtedly exist. etc. as a resource (for woods. Native lifeways are typically portrayed as exemplary of extensive tropical cultivation. None of the landscape was entirely foreign either. their culture and the land around them. Making a Living Native Amazonian agriculture and settlement patterns have been a topic of great interest to anthropologists and ecologists alike. woods. a significant portion of the Xinguano lands are covered in forest. in essence. a cultural aesthetic. and much of it turned into a cultural parkland. nonirrigated. are all unequivocal marks that someone has passed this way. birds. game scarcity. are settled. animals. some of which are critical to their symbolic and social lives. than in 1492. Meggers 1996). and where forests remained.192 • The Ecology of Power features are quite obvious. as discussed later (Chapter 7).) essential to Xinguano life: it was. keep it so (Descola 1996a. but given the scale of prehistoric land use. alternatively.

did not doubt that cultural development was determined by ecological factors but saw possibilities in many parts of the Amazon. They subsist primarily on manioc and fish.1 and Figure 6. This is often seen to inhibit the development of stable regional sociopolitical structures as well and instead supralocal systems of interaction involve fluctuating alliances within small fragmented regions but not integration in regional societies. 1991a. and hence political evolution. and William Denevan (1966) represent the first generation of contemporary scholars to note the massive impacts of Euro-American colonialism and. the other “staple” crop (of much lesser importance) (Figure 6. of course. and human ecology. The “juice” of bitter manioc processing (water filled with suspended manioc . 1976. 1994a. Donald Lathrap (1970). except for those essentially impossible to farm. 1985). which suggested that political development was determined by environmental limitations. Manioc is also dissolved in water (lisiñï).2) Almost everyday. where certain ecological patterns prevail. Max Schmidt noted the profound impacts of contact that destroyed much of what he called Arawak “high culture. Robert Carneiro’s (1957. fishing.” Robert Carneiro (1957). with respect to Amazonia. fairly mobile. thus. and autonomous: colonialism. political evolution. 1977. Gross 1975). Lathrap et al. “underproduce” and live in small. dispersed.Landscape and Livelihood • 193 Amazonian peoples. fish—the only steady meat supply and usually abundant throughout the year.2 Xinguanos stand out in Amazonia as farmers. The Kuikuru do not traditionally drink much else other than water with fine manioc cake crumbled up in it. based on his fieldwork with the Kuikuru in 1953–1954. and piquí fruit (Descola 1996a. He and others. more recently. which makes up some 80 to 90 percent of their diet (Carneiro 1994). and. which suggested that a larger population could be supported by the existing technology. and amplified in 1975. most notably the productivity of soils for agriculture: Amazonian soils were of the worst variety for agriculture. Manioc is typically eaten as dry flatbread (kine) with turtle meat or eggs. Carneiro refuted this hypothesis. Carneiro was just finishing his doctoral fieldwork when Meggers’s seminal article “The Environmental Limitation on the Development of Culture” (1954) appeared. Anna Roosevelt (1980. 1985) research in the Upper Xingu has been central in debates over Amazonian agriculture. 1983. Denevan (1966. 1987. the difficulty of using contemporary groups as a proxy for past Amazonian peoples. 1999).1 There is. particularly. notably based on manioc. monkey. including Lathrap (1970. almost everybody eats some fish. generally. 1992. 1996). autonomous communities. another possible explanation why Amazonian societies are small. sometimes with the pulp of piquí. 1985. 1989. and.

1 Woman carrying manioc to house in tatahongo basket (1993). needed to remove toxins. like most of the Kuikuru. 6.3 Although manioc provides the singular staple in the diet. becomes a watery porridge after boiling for several hours.2 Woman cooking piquí fruit (1993). Fig. like other Amerindian peoples. is a sweet-tasting treat. particles).194 • The Ecology of Power Fig. 6. and I. Kuigiko. consume a wide diversity of . would often visit friends and neighbors when they had some. It is one of the few “sweets” in the Kuikuru diet. as it is called. although it spoils overnight. the Kuikuru.

insects. 1985. corn is also considered a treat. Fish was the real issue. in that they opened up large. others are let go to sapé fields (inhepe) grass. banana. These are planted far and wide across the landscape. 1994). and manga trees are also available. hydrology. and. these initial Xinguanos already raised manioc. today. and what we see today is the product of abandonment and reuse at highly reduced levels of population. planted in a new place every few years. They stay. Xinguanos. 1985). as farmers. unless they abandon an area or population is reduced. vegetation. melons. which is the second crop of importance. Roosevelt 1980. had pottery. and Bauré. building these places up physically through their earthworks and soil alterations. only in this case that means manioc and fish since they taboo almost all red meat. are the kind that do not move around much. and animal life. engineered settlements. a patchiness that results from the intentional construction of massive landscape features. and among other things. and lived in river settings. 1994) contention that the agricultural base of the great várzea chiefdoms was maize or some indigenous cereal crop. were based on manioc. including Xinguano. 2001. In the Upper Xingu today. fruits. banana. the southern Amazonian chiefdoms. However. rather than menioc or other root crop. with complicated mosaic patterns of soils. nuts. contiguous tracts of agricultural land. at least after circa A. and most notably. Lathrap et al. and some stands of high forest (itsuni). major roadways. denuded of original forest and which were cultivated in long-term rotational cycles that include manioc gardens. as are peanuts. more or less fixed in place and practice swidden agriculture in a long-term rotational cycle. like their protoArawak ancestors. is convincing in several parts of the region. The Xinguanos entered the region as part of the Arawak diaspora. In fact they almost define it. as it served as the primary protein source of most Amazonians. Pareci. piquí. 2002). a host of imported plants. legumes. as Carneiro (1957. The landscape is built up over millennia of human occupation (Balée 1989. citrus.D. or tahugape (taller). 1985) notes. Roosevelt’s (1980. sweet potato. some become piquí groves (inka). They kept doing so in more or less the same places. many others just grow up as scrub and low forest tahuga. Root-crops were the staples and did not require significant “improvements” to the land or longer cropping . 1000 (see also Lathrap et al. In many ways. but this does not change the fact that the Xinguanos maintain the Amazonian equivalent of a “meat-and-potato” diet. they are typical Amazonian forest farmers. and. honey. bridges. Only rarely do plots return to high forest. and dikes (for weirs). envisioned by many as the typical riverine pattern (Denevan 1996. berries.Landscape and Livelihood • 195 animals.

at any rate. the fisheries of the Upper Xingu are remarkably diverse and productive. ponding water and building major fish weirs that fill to brimming as the water level decreases from February to August.4). some groups became focused on staple root crops. Erickson 1995. 1977) view that the Neolithic revolution was the long term expansion of a tropical agriculture system that involved growing a wide range of things and likely had been in place for some time. There are high-water weirs (ataca). which are great pole and thatch structures with a few to several dozen conical traps (today) (Figure 6. and because of this. Arawak groups. as they.” and a concomitant ethos of settled village life. and scoop baskets (kusu) effectively capture large quantities (hundreds of kilos). in turn. tending them. too..4 They do not move their . fishing. and low-water ponds where funnel traps (utu). an Amazonian people that did not have some “mindset” of growing things. 1986. Carneiro (1957) noted this settledness inherent in the Xinguano way of life. Xinguanos are also fish-farmers. in that they seldom moved their villages. Hastorf (2002) calls this a “horticultural mind-set. Denevan 1966. as Sauer (1952) recognized. Weirs. once again. in building and modifying many things. but beginning some four thousand to three thousand years ago. present among the Enauene Naue (Saluma). 1985).g. weeding the forests and the garden patches. 2001. have such an “agricultural mindset. and other elaborate perishable fishing technologies are a widely shared Arawak feature. They artificially construct or modify various features that serve primarily or solely for fish harvesting. and. Throughout the southern Amazon. It is hard to imagine. The “agricultural mind-set” is perhaps best summed up by noting that there are two ways to “starve” in the Upper Xingu: not having enough manioc (kine) or not having enough fish (kanga). Xinguanos. riverine settings. only makes them more settled. In short. Lathrap et al. The Amazon is one of those tropical. Although less important in recent times than in the past. they tend to be very “hands-on” with the local environment.3).196 • The Ecology of Power periods (Carneiro 1970. There is no life without them. in fact. and in making a clear and indelible mark on the land. Pareci and among Bauré (e. This supports Lathrap’s (1970. this. dunk basket traps (kundu). selecting for them. commonly subsist on fish and root-crops. coevolutionary process of domestication. 2000a. and the Xinguanos have a technology that can capitalize on virtually all these resources (Carneiro 1986. by choice. had highly sophisticated fisheries: Polynesians are somewhat akin. where the overwhelming intimacy of plants and people led to an early. at least.” a cultural penchant or predilection some peoples have for tending and growing things. 2001a). Oberg 1953) (Figure 6.

and often settlement relocations involve splits. 6.3 Fish weir (ataca) across Angahuku River (1993) Fig. usually only a short way (within a kilometer or two at the most). and not village . most commonly because of the political tensions in larger villages.Landscape and Livelihood • 197 Fig.4 Woman fishing with kundu trap in reservoir along Ipatse stream adjacent to X13 in dry season (1993). villages easily. 6.

this practice is similar today to past travel within the Xinguano lands. I know of only a few cases where manioc flour was “traded. supplemented by a wide variety of wild plants and animals but. although they do make long distance trips.) (Carneiro 1983. which is scraped off after boiling (or occasionally bitten off raw) to be stored in large. but often they just don’t. and most likely part and parcel of proto-Southern Arawak. Carneiro 1957. The vast majority of calories is derived from some 46 varieties of bitter manioc (Manihot esculenta spp. rapid trips to Brazilian cities and neighboring indigenous groups in order to trade things and esoteric knowledge. The piquí is like an avocado. but the most critical foods—manioc flour and fish—are both most common in the dry season. manioc is the “economic foundation” of Xinguano culture. throughout the year. Basic Diet The Xinguano diet is comprised primarily of a wide range of cultivated plants and fish. The central mechanism of domestic economy is “householding” (see Halperin 1994. 1994: 207). There is also an element of “feast-andfamine. which is harvested in the fall in large quantities from groves and individual plantings around villages. only with a substantially “fleshier” skin around the core. which insures that there is a steady supply of fish. This is a very deep characteristic as well. following Polanyi 1944. The second largest food crop is piquí fruit.” so that different foods come into season for a brief time. Major fish weirs. is commonly viewed as characteristic of Amazonian peoples (see Chapter 8). Cultivated plants make up some 85 to 90 percent of the diet. In terms of bodily movement. Gregor 1977). . The Xinguanos do not trek. 1957). as suggested among minimally to moderately hierarchical societies elsewhere. each owned by the planter or his male heirs. Chapter 7 more closely examines these patterns. in this case through material culture and the likelihood of continuity in basic economic patterns. not reciprocity. Nor is it chiefly redistribution. when people put on weight. as Carneiro (1983: 103) notes. subaqueous basketry tubes. are productive precisely during high water. individually owned and communal. Yearly low periods (January to May) are never very low and people could collect more manioc and fish. see Basso 1973.198 • The Ecology of Power abandonment. 1983. Manioc is commonly shared with housemates and close relatives in adjacent houses (who also routinely give one another fish). but for now it is critical to further develop the methodological bridge between the past and present. (For a more comprehensive general description of Xinguano subsistence. and slim down instead. clearly.” in both cases related to the demands of outside filmmakers hiring up much of one or another community.

tobacco (Nicotiana sp. including buriti (Mauritia flexuosa). cotton (Gossypium barbadense). which rotate between the several major chiefly houses in the village. manioc processing proceeds through the following general steps: (1) tubers are collected from gardens and brought to the village. (4) grated pulp is rinsed through a mat stainer (tuafi) over a large ahukugu vessel separating the pulp into a fine fraction (which passes through the strainer) and a heavy fraction (which does not pass through the strainer is removed and dried as a small loaf or timbuku). mats. internal house walls.Landscape and Livelihood • 199 Larger chiefly households collect a surplus by first-fruits rights on piquí and manioc contributions for the major chiefly rituals. hot peppers (Capsicum sp. goiába (Psidium guajava). squash (Cucerbita maxima). notably piquí and macaúba. Parenthetically.). Carneiro 1978a). Some of these. for example. and these extra quantities are used to sponsor prestige building activities (rituals and public works). see Carneiro 1983: 96–99. skirts. which grows in low ground wet areas. including maize (Zea mays). Numerous other domesticates. pineapple (Ananas comosus).). It is perhaps the most important industrial plant. A variety of palms. seats. as its leaves and stalks are used for myriad purposes (e. (6) the fine fraction precipitate is removed from the bottom of the pot in sections and dried. Dole 1978). and urucú (Bixa orellana) are also used from the Upper Xingu. Salt is manufactured from the ashes of water hyacynth (aguapé) and from burned tree termite nests. is of primary importance not only as a fruit palm but also for its industrial value. and others. as well as piquí (Caryocar brasiliense) and other fruit trees. cordage. and (7) the dried sections are ground into flour (kuigiñu). are likely semidomesticates since they occur primarily in areas of past habitation sites (see Balée and Moore 1991. (5) the water from the staining process is removed and boiled for several hours to remove toxins and produce a thick beverage called kuigiku.. Large households also have the means to produce significantly more. sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas). Several nonfood native crops. timbuku are sometimes ground into flour but only if the kuigiñu runs out (for more detailed descriptions of manioc processing. (3) peeled tubers are grated using a wooden grater (iñagi). . (2) tubers are peeled (traditionally using a shell). Manioc is processed and cooked through a sophisticated process that is unique to the Upper Xingu. such as gourd (Lagenaria siceraria). buriti palm (Mauritia flexuosa).g. macaúba (Acrocomia sclerocarpa). including its specialized ceramic vessels (Dole 1978). cajú (Anacardium occidentale) and mangába (Hancornia speciosa) are also exploited for their fruits. peanuts (Arachis hypogaea) and many recently introduced nonnative cultigens are planted for consumption. and occasionally house thatch). In brief summary.

cutting off the Anahuku River at Ahanitahagu. nets. Carneiro 1957: 126–131). Xinguanos (especially Carib and Arawak groups) have strong restrictions against the consumption of “red” meat from the terrestrial animals which abound in the area (including.) and several species of birds. In recent times. among others) . water turtles and their eggs. weirs. utu and ataka. Two primary traps. squat weirs with one or a few ataka or utu traps were constructed by individuals or a related group of men for their private use (such as one present at Heulugihïtï). major rivers and standing bodies of water. armadillo. ranging from small “mudholes” to expansive and deep lakes (Basso 1973: 37–39.. coati. tortoise. bow and arrow. sloth.). and lances. including jacú (Penelope sp. is also of singular importance as house thatch. Weirs are also placed across more or less standing bodies of water to facilitate fishing with poison (inté) or with a plunge basket trap (kundu). provides the means to exploit virtually all of the diverse fishing areas in the region. and Crax sp. and constitute the primary source of animal protein. and other things. which includes varieties of traps. peccary. Weirs are constructed by using a stick or pole frame with palm leaf thatch placed between the wooden braces below the water line. capyvara. saúva ants. Other forms of animal protein are exploited. has become increasingly important. deer. Small temporary camps (nonovernight) are a common feature of these special activity sites.). and several species of Cracidae (Penelope sp. medicines. including: wasp larvae.).) and one smaller dove species (Leptotila sp. agouti. Mitu sp. Carneiro (1994: 207) suggests that fish (including at least eighty to one hundred species) provide about 10 to 15 percent of the diet. are placed in linear pole and thatch weirs. since red meat is usually strictly avoided (see Carneiro 1957:116–125).200 • The Ecology of Power Sapé grass (Imperata sp. where harvesting is prolonged. the largest. These include small streams and rivers. was a tall (over three meters) community built pole and thatch weir nearly a kilometer in length and containing some forty conical ataka traps. Weirs built by the Kuikuru range considerably in size. cayman. paca. Innumerable other wild plant products are used for industrial purposes. poison. Second to agriculture in terms of subsistence activities and dietary importance is fishing. several species of grasshoppers (sometimes taken in large quantities). Traditional Xinguano fishing technology.. Monkeys and birds are especially sought during times when individuals are under dietary restrictions that preclude the consumption of fish. a Western introduction. a disturbed ground colonizer. tapir. sloth. hook-and-line fishing. smaller. one type of monkey (Cebus sp. The house frame is constructed using select forest trees (Carneiro 1978b).

or maintenance of the fields. but became increasingly settled because of the abundant aquatic resources and were therefore faced with the decision to restrict hunting around settled villages to conserve animal populations or to revert to a more mobile lifestyle. If conservation of scarce terrestrial game is the “function” of the food taboos. and animal blood through butchering) as highly dangerous. Carneiro 1957.Landscape and Livelihood • 201 (Basso 1973. Ross 1978). such a model does not seem to fit our current understanding of Xinguano histories. following general discussions in the region (e. Carneiro (1978a) provides a model to explain the emergence of such restrictive food taboos: when Xinguanos first moved into the basin. planting. the reason for the taboos is equally symbolic and social. for instance. Often. many animals are attracted to and concentrated to the “cultural forests” as well. paca. The aversion to blood can be tied to Xinguano origin myths. Usually as the household members return from bathing. wheras Xinguanos refused to do so and are therefore peaceful. agouti. a cultural value (see Chapter 7). women set about roasting . and others that concentrate in anthropogenic areas). view them as functional adaptations to natural resources. in that Xinguanos appear to have colonized the area as settled agriculturalists and fisherpeople (as described in Chapter 3). Although logically compelling.” which sees any contact with blood (menstrual blood. like other Xinguanos. men go to the gardens with them or alone to conduct the clearance. the Sun) to all human groups: white men (kagaiha) and “wild Indians” (ngikogo) drank of the bloodfilled gourd and are thus violent. they were primarily hunters. and most authors. especially. members of the household disperse soon after bathing to conduct their basic economic activities in the cool morning hours: women travel to the gardens to collect manioc tubers. Xinguano taboos also clearly relate to symbolic blood “pollution. normally begin their day by bathing and collecting fresh water for the day’s activities. However. Carvalho 1951).g. In fact.. would often say that “we don’t eat that but so and so does”). among ethnic groups (the Kuikuru. notably “conservation” of generally scarce terrestrial game. which characterize human aggression according to the consumption of blood offered by the creator (Tuangi or Giti. Xinguano strategies are so effective as to have created truly park-like conditions for some game (deer. Xinguano food taboos are among the most restrictive known in Amazonia. Objects as Subjects The Kuikuru. Dietary restrictions (taboos) vary slightly from village to village depending on location and. human blood spilled through aggression and killing.

special procurement sites. and the Xinguanos are seldom far from it. crossroads.. wood. with outlying seasonal hamlets. Xinguanos live in a world of rivers and forests. animal skin. for much of the past one thousand years much of the Xinguano lands have been touched in this way. roads—form an intermediate area (still largely constructed or anthropogenic) that leads farther and farther into the natural world lying beyond the boundaries of the village. The basic local unit of Xinguano society is the plaza village. feathers). and durable goods (generally nondecomposable manufactures. These areas do not remain forests long. shell. It includes utilitarian tools and perishable goods (generally soft organic remains. or to collect any number of other valuable resources. they go out onto the land regularly.g. it is the heads of households who “own” hamlets away from the village. In fact. it is the source of basic foods and provides a vast network of riparian pathways. and certain animals). Xinguano technology is extremely diverse and a detailed examination of it is not possible here. stone . is made to be consumed dry. ceramics. semidurable goods (hard organic remains. however. Like many Amazonians. a thicker variety. As so frequently noted about indigenous conceptions of nature (Descola 1996. less commonly. may spend more time in hamlets away from the village. The land is peopled by many “others. certain trees and plants. is prepared to mix with fresh water and eaten. By in large. Some beiju. and piquí orchards. often as retreats. Water means life. manioc gardens. the domestication of nature erases any sharp physical or material break between nature and culture as well. the rest. Some families. sapé grass fields. These “places”—gardens.g. cordage. baskets. but villages are always positioned in terra firme forest. hunt. Xinguano peoples generally prefer areas somewhat removed from the major rivers and instead settle beside the numerous smaller steams and lakes. who often position their settlements next to the major rivers.. “special places” of spirits and ancestors.” as discussed in Chapter 7. ports. campsites. to tend manioc gardens.g.202 • The Ecology of Power manioc flatbread (beiju) for consumption throughout the day. e. The saturation of the landscape is most obvious by just looking at the path networks that go just about everywhere.. bone). Viveiros de Castro 1998). e. e. because even deep in the forest there are hamlets. Unlike the floodplain peoples of the Amazon proper and some of its major tributaries. perhaps bathing on the way. regardless of distance to water. a particular thin variety. or at least the marks of previous land use (dark earth. bridges. Many of the men will have already set out early each day. It is wrong to assume that this is a natural world. however. and instead are converted quickly into mosaic parklands of secondary forest. to fish or. depending on their social relation to core groups in the village itself. baths.

carry. Baskets. in which they carry and store manioc. they use baskets to make salt. cotton string armbands and belts. and even the big silos in which the flour is stored. at the ends of houses. jaguar skin headdresses and belts. which tend to dominate the domestic sleeping quarters. among other objects and constructions. plaited. the large wheel-shaped plaited seives. store such valuables as cotton and spindle whorls. shell belts/necklaces. In addition to hammocks. benches. seated into perforations made with “dog-fish” fangs. and the two or three wooden staves (apo). and other wooden furniture in their houses. embroidered. while ubiquitous. and given a patina by long use … [and] reacted immediately and with great flexibility to their [human] presence. and masks. although ceramics are ubiquitous elements of household material culture. there is no better sign of the Xinguano focus on manioc agriculture than the degree to which it also defines a very precise material culture. wove. In particular. masks. carved benches. woven belts. Traditional adornments come in several varieties: featherwork. (Note: today mourners cover their bodies with Western clothes). by no means dominates among the wide diversity of perishable artifacts. There are no clothes. a wooden grating board (peppered with buriti palm splints. but the inventory of Kuikuru ritual paraphenalia includes. pottery). and cut into pointed little teeth with piranha teeth). which is critical for making digging sticks. As is the case with ceramics. “those houses were not so much built as knotted together. per se. together with wood.Landscape and Livelihood • 203 tools. catch. The mats (taufi) used for processing manioc. in fact. the manioc kit. They are not discussed here. except those that are worn with masks. they weave baskets enclosing large gourds in which they stored piquí oil. their every movement”. store piquí pulp. the Kuikuru have racks. and cotton and bark leggings and piquí-net ankle rattles. They carry manioc in a large. placed over the large manioc processing pot (ahukugu). among other things. as LéviStrauss (1961: 198) notes. Perishables far outnumber durable and semi-durable goods. specially made plaited basket (tatahongo). cords. ceramics. discussed below. make up the majority of the material culture inventory. and store fish for a day or so. baskets. Nonetheless. occasionally with stone pendants. are all an assemblage of industrial baskets acutely related to the manioc agricultural economy. Processing manioc involves an assembly of baskets and pots. and other perishable artifacts. considering other nets. five types of . Also. Manioc processing also includes a shell (freshwater mussell) used for peeling tubers and for scraping piquí fruit off the husk. Indeed. jaguar claw necklaces. Perishable artifacts are followed by the industrial product par excellence. the Kuikuru make a wide assortment of basketry.

construct nearly everything within their remarkably large repertoire of material culture (by Amazonian standards) according to some very clear guidelines (Petersen et al. These are generally stored in the central communal structure (kuakutu). the “idol” of recently deceased chiefs (Figure 6. The weaving habits of the Kuikuru hint at a deep history hitherto undescribed by ethnographers. and the kuarup trunk. Shamans and other types of specialists also have special “tool kits. down to the right (S-spin.” chiefly accouterments and paraphernalia are discussed below. as are the structures associated with chiefliness—the chief ’s house (tajife). and taken for granted (Adovasio 1977). tie their knots. the kuakutu. the sepulture (tafiti). S-twist. with three large ahukugu (Form IA) manioc cooking pots from (Steinen 1896).” or “flute” house. 6. They are markers of identities and histories that sometimes span across wide stretches of time and space. 2001b).204 • The Ecology of Power bamboo flutes. . these details of culture and culture history are often overlooked in late-twentieth-century ethnological treatments. in fact. methodically. such motor habits become second nature. and.5). and over ten varieties of woven and carved masks. Like we tie our shoes almost unthinkingly. Again. and weave their baskets.” “mask. one wooden flute. Consider the patterns in which they spin their cords.5 Man sitting on tafite. internalized. often known as the “men’s. and S-weft slant). Fig.

either for the business of chronology or cultural process.. Another primary atange form has a straight (direct). Weiner 1992). so. related. There are often small roasting racks here as well. Just as the domestication of place perpetuates certain practices.10). and what they tell us about what people eat. The indoor kitchen is composed of several features. everyday things that the Kuikuru keep next to their hammocks. alato. do the movements of the working body.9. see later)—and cook fish and other things in the atange (Type IB) (Figures 6. ceramics. since there is no need to move it in manioc cooking. It is important to mention that function. Much of what we know about Xinguano ceramics comes from the one primary pottery-making village of the Waujá. and these alone. are kitchen utensils. There is actually only a very small difference. archaeologists. it stays put. serving.g.7). used for manioc processing (big ones like the montigoho) and water storage. particularly.8. too. end handles). notably the one item they cook in. As for the ahukugu cooking pot. the paths of things in motion (Appadurai 1986. next to the montigoho. for their part. to the planting. processing. unthickened rim with zoomorphic adornos or other appendages (e. and their related families in other villages. However. The atange pots are used for storing. imitating the divine ceramics littered about in the dawn time (See “The Mirror World of Dawn time” . the movements of things. atange.” cooked and made into food. although sometimes still quite large. have generally been more interested in change rather than conservativism. make ceramics in the way given to the Waujá by Tuangi. most notable of which is the large manioc griddle. bitter manioc. and large mortars made from large tree trunks set in the ground. and piquí are “domesticated.6 and 6. fish. is my taxonomic point of departure: they process and cook manioc in the large buck-pots—ahukugu and montigoho (what I call Type IA. Types IA and IB are very similar pots in form and manufacture. Their other utensils include other ahukugu pots. and get quite a bit smaller than the smallest ahukugu. it is through these baskets and ceramics. In Kuikuru industrial technology. The rims of the fish-cooking atange are out-turned to provide a handle (Figures 6. 6. between the two. and always there are a couple of supports around to put a smaller. and 6. except in the rim and appendages. which distinguishes the pots in native classification. for instance. Overall. cooking. and. which get quite a bit larger than the largest atange. fish cooking pot. and wielding of manioc effects. their food preparation items.Landscape and Livelihood • 205 If ethnographers have often ignored materiality. the most basic. kuge. for the moment. Native lore has it that human beings. cooking fish. in most cases. what interests us here. that raw foods. propped up by three supports (undagi).

like today (lower left). 6.7 and the bottom vessel is shown during manufacture in Figure 6.7 Large ahukugu form (IA) sherds. top left).12.6 Drawing of ahukugu form ceramic sherd from excavated prehistoric context (top) and contemporary made vessel (actual sherd from which top is reconstructed is shown in Figure 6. Fig. . Note use-wear notch from manioc processing using wooden staves (apo). 6.206 • The Ecology of Power Fig. which preserve red exterior slip.

and touching pottery and clay. 6. 6. learned by watching. This way is clearly known.8 Small effigy bowl (atange) from Steinen (1896). There is no exact formula or recipe other than that passed down for generations.Landscape and Livelihood • 207 Fig. Fig.9 Late prehistoric adorno. as well as if it were written in a manual (so it would seem anyway. section of Chapter 7 for more on the origin of Tuangi.). and listening. given the continuity in the basic procedure over more than .

As elsewhere in Amazonia. a status restricted to very few people. a thousand years). baskets. and the myriad paraphernalia of ritual and shamanistic life. some Xinguano told us it is so. tajïfe.g. kagutu flutes) are known by only one or a few people. Chiefs are commonly alogi. buff (unslipped) black-painted designs and black-painted vessel interior (1995). nets. and the murals of chief ’s houses. Every house own has its own varied set of pots and often spares in storage. and traps (except the women’s fishing trap kusu). or not only because. Just as methodically as they make ceramics. The skills required to make some items (e. [imbene-ingï].. the most obvious remains found in archaeological sites are ceramics. but because in ancient and recent villages we run across ceramic remains all the time in archaeological sites. improve land. and one that serves as an important means of gaining prominence (although not in and of itself). the kuarup trunks. Men produce virtually all objects of a ritual nature. or weave hammocks (tige) and the all purpose tuafi mat. Second. the terra preta. Some men are alogi. manioc silos [kuigi-ingï]. Women produce utilitarian objects and manioc flour. so too do the men carefully paint the pots. some five hundred kilometers west). and hammocks constitute the primary furnishings of the traditional house (the Xinguano hammocks. It is simply the way. We find sherds in trash heaps behind every house or sometimes littered about. We know this not because.10 Jaguar effigy pot showing differential red slip. Pottery. master craftsmen.208 • The Ecology of Power Fig. benches. and piquí underwater storage baskets. 6. whereas men build structures. are identical to those of the Pareci. make wooden tools and household furniture (benches. knowing how to make most everything and how to make it well. I might add. utu fish trap. indicative everywhere . racks. Ceramic-making is largely the domain of Xinguano women.

genetically affiliated with other members of the Amazonian Barrancoid (“Incised-Rim”) tradition. and together they form the basis upon which Xinguanos identify these ancient sites. minor influences from both of the major várzea traditions of late prehistory. are similar to those with ankle adornments known elsewhere in the Amazon area (cf. Santarem and Konduri) and Amazonian Polychrome are evident. However. have always been found together. show clear affinities to the so-called IncisedPunctate (Konduri-like) ceramic tradition. (3) open. sites typically interpreted as being of divine origin.e. 44 examples from MT-FX-11) also are common in Ipavu Phase deposits and historic Xinguano Phase sites. There are four primary ceramic vessel forms associated with both ancient and modern occupations (Heckenberger and Toney. Meggers and Evans 1957: Plate 18). likely contemporary with the mid. based on observation of contemporary potterymaking groups (Arawakan Xinguano).Landscape and Livelihood • 209 they occur in the Xingu of pre-Xinguano habitation sites. and (4) manioc cake (beijú) griddles (Form IV).). Cylindrical solid pot and griddle supports (28 examples from MT-FX-06. Kuhikugu and the other sites. a detailed attribute analysis was not conducted for the essentially modern Xinguano Phase materials. The ultimate aim is to adequately describe the primary aspects of the prehistoric ceramic industry and compare them to the contemporary industry. and therefore important elements of the landscape. So far these two features. the Xinguano ceramic industry shows remarkable continuity from the earliest occupations until the present and therefore can be treated as a single evolving ceramic tradition. The anthropomorphic urn or figurine leg fragments. In all known cases. those associated with the primary Western Complex sites of Nokugu and Kuhikugu. Pottery As noted above. Because of the ease of characterizing the contemporary industry.to late occupations at Nokugu.. for instance. Ceramics from Lake Miararré. ceramics and black-earth.d. the technique of manufacture of Ipavu Phase vessels is similar . are another highly visible feature of the archaeological landscape.5 The following discussion focuses on Pre-Columbian ceramic artifacts and. A summary of the results of the detailed analysis conducted on key portions (rims and some bases and other diagnostic fragments) of the pre-Columbian assemblage is presented later. These include: (1) small to large open-mouthed and flat-bottomed vessels (Form I). the “Incised-Punctate” (i. (2) constricted-mouthed small to large jars (Form II). in particular. n.to slightly constricted-mouthed globular bowls (Form III).

Often the interiors and slipped portions of the exteriors are burnished with a small pebble. decribed below). the exterior of pots is sometimes painted with black pigment in unslipped areas. the slabs are thick strips of clay. Some pots are fired more than once to remove “firing clouds.7 Today. after excess material has been removed with a scraping tool. principally the Waujá. Two manufacture “clumps. among other tempers. often mixed with cauíxi. the Arawak-speaking groups. but there is no evidence of coiling (the spiral. but two varieties of tree-bark (caraipé). The pots analyzed from prehistoric contexts showed ample evidence that the same basic manufacturing procedure was used prehistorically. ignited and left to burn for thirty minutes to over an hour. The same pigment is used as a surface treatment on the interior of all pots. similar to those used by contemporary Waujá potters were also recovered from the excavation trench and surface collection at Nokugu. however.” with characteristic textile/basket impressions and in one case actual fingerprints. Incised decoration is sometimes executed on the inside (upward-facing) rim and is often coupled with rim lip punctation (notching). sherd cores have a pronounced single gray core and lighter exterior. when prehistoric (or modern) sherds do not have a fairly uniform light gray/cream core coloration. These manufacture clumps are consistent with the oblong clumps of clay formed by contemporary potters after mixing raw clay with cauixi tempering material (which generally varies between about 40 to 60 percent of the paste). particularly in large manioc processing/ cooking vessels (Form IA. excess paste is removed with a scraping tool and pots are scrubbed with a sandpaper-like leaf (lixeira) when they are largely dry. Two small quartz burnishing stones. After firing. pots are placed in the firing position (upright on the ground surface) and sherds are placed around them to form a rough oven (reducing environment).” As would be expected of this technique of firing. some prehistoric vessels show a control over the medium notably higher than today’s standards.6 Prehistoric vessels were manufactured by paddle and anvil modeling and/or slab/block construction. additive process of wall construction using thin cylindrical strips. were also used. Commonly a red slip is applied prior to firing across the exterior or parts of it. Both Ipavu and Xinguano Phase potters relied primarily on cauíxi (sponge spicule) as a temper. In some cases. or coils. described below). were recovered from the excavation trench at Nokugu. Bark from one preferred species of tree is forced between the cracks and all around the enclosure. After initial forming and prior to firing. of clay). Modeled adornos are attached to the rims of some pots (notably Form IC.210 • The Ecology of Power to that of contemporary Xinguano potters. .

0% of typed vessels. In considering the overall Western Complex inventory of ceramic forms presented above (a total of 688 forms).000+ sherds) vis à vis the Eastern Complex (700+ sherds). the repeated occurrence of distinctive forms in Eastern Complex sites is likely not the result of sampling bias and supports the distinction between the Western and Eastern Complexes suggested by settlement pattern data (circular mounded-wall houses. and Form III and IV about 6. . suggesting interaction between the two.5% of typed vessels). that most prehistoric sherds found on the surface and many from excavations were heavily eroded. III and IV forms also present. however. although there are significant similarities in technology. decorative styles and inferred function.5% each. Forms IG (“false-rim” vessels) and IIB (mid-body carinated bowls) are restricted to the Eastern Complex and Form IIC large shouldered jars are absent from the Eastern Complex.Landscape and Livelihood • 211 Several differences between prehistoric and contemporary manufacture techniques are notable: (1) zoned red slipping is used today for decoration on some vessels. Form II vessels constitute about 2. Of the Form I forms. differ little from analogous forms in the contemporary Waujá industry (Figures 6.8 The primary prehistoric ceramic forms.2% (52. and Form IV griddles. the 363 Form IA vessels constitute 62. preliminary analysis of the Eastern Complex and modern Xinguano ceramic assemblages indicate a similar preponderance of Form IA and IB forms (85% seems about right for the contemporary Kuikuru). (2) black paint is applied by contemporary potters for designs on unslipped areas of vessel exteriors.88% of the total Western Complex typed vessels). the preponderance of cauixi temper. although this decorative technique was not identified on Ipavu Phase sherds. including slip and paint (frequencies of slipping by type would therefore be misleading). Several ceramic forms distinctive to either the Eastern or Western Complex have been identified. prehistorically there are only two examples of black-on-red painting. These “core” elements are virtually identical in terms of their form and size range.8% of typed vessels) and the 182 Form IB vessels 31.11 and 6. form. notably including the Form IA and IB varieties of open-mouthed cooking/storage. lack of village earthworks in Eastern Complex sites) and oral history (Eastern Complex being the ancestral homeland of Carib-speaking Xinguanos).12). Changes in the decorative incised/ punctate motifs used on rim interiors and lips were also recognized and are described later. and (3) exterior white slip was used in rare Ipavu Phase examples. with lesser quantities of Form II. Given the large size of the Western Complex ceramic assemblage (7.2% (26. Although unquantified. It should be noted. one thing is clear: Form I dominates the ceramic assemblage with 584 forms (84.

Manioc processing and cooking Fig. 6. Size and rim form are the primary characteristics the Kuikuru use to distinguish between Type IA (ahukugu) and IB (atange) forms. punctation and rim adorno applique) are also essentially the same today as they were in the past. although the introduction of aluminum and plastic vessels has resulted in the near total replacement of ceramic vessels for water carrying and storage and many food processing activities. incision. and burnishing) and decoration (rim incising. especially Form IA (for cooking the water/broth produced after processing manioc and fish). This “core” vessel inventory is especially well adapted to the unique subsistence economy of the Upper Xinguanos. Form IB (for cooking fish) and Type IV (beijú. punctation and painting. Ahukugu forms are decorated only by painting. atange and atange-kusïgï (smaller) (which includes the everted rim form [Form IB] and direct rim form [Form IC]).11 Thin-walled prehistoric vessel from excavation trench one.212 • The Ecology of Power and the paddle anvil (slab/clump) manufacturing technique. focused on cooked fish and manioc products. Cooking continues to be dominated by ceramics vessels. Techniques of surface treatment (exterior red slip. griddles). whereas atange forms are decorated by adornos. . The “core” elements of the prehistoric industry have direct correlates in the contemporary industry which the Kuikuru classify according to several mutually exclusive varieties: ahukugu and ahukugu-gugu (smaller) forms (equivalent to Form IA vessels). and alato (Type IV griddles). interior black pigment.

the two industries are closely affiliated. the Form IIA pedestal base pot (Figure 6. IB. and of course griddles. Aside from these few notable exceptions. are especially well suited to the processing of the manioc tubers and the cooking of their byproducts. well described elsewhere (Dole 1978). IIA. IIIB.Landscape and Livelihood • 213 Fig. IIIA. For instance.1). testified to by the reluctance of contemporary Xinguanos to abandon the traditional ahukugu (Form IA) or alato (Form IV griddles) for cooking manioc. even when metal forms could easily be substituted today. is based on a technique that is unique to the Upper Xingu within Amazonia. 1993). All major prehistoric ceramic types (I-IV) have been identified in contemporary industries (Table 6.12 Ceramic making (A–B. in the Upper Xingu. almost the entire range of variability known from Xinguano ceramic industries after 1884 falls within the range of variability of the prehistoric industry. although the reverse is not true. 6. and IV). Form IA ceramics. at least representing communication and/or trade. demonstrated by the presence of the primary Ipavu Phase forms (Forms IA. The principal change between prehistoric and historic Xinguano ceramic industries has been a reduction in the overall . although cruder generally similar examples have been documented by the author.11) has no exact contemporary analog (as pedestal bases have been abandoned and no contemporary pots reach the fineness/thinness of this pot). In fact.

1500. Other Xinguano groups. a predictable development given the severe disruption and depopulation these groups have suffered after A.12). IB/IC and IV as primary forms. The two most informative wear patterns are: (1) significant erosion on the inside rim and vessel interior.1 Correlation of Ceramic Forms. Ipavu Phase Western Complex X X X X X X – X – X X X X X Ipavu Phase Eastern Complex X X ? – X – X X X – X X X – Xinguano Phase X X X – ? X – X – – X X X X Form Type IA Type IB Type IC Type ID Type IE Type IF Type IG Type IIA Type IIB Type IIC Type IIIA Type IIIB Type IV Pot supports diversity and sophistication of the industry. like the Kuikuru. respectively.D. Only Arawak-speakers have made pottery historically in the Upper Xingu basin (Figure 6. which the Waujá call kamalupï (kamalupï ti = small). The constricted-mouth jars (Form II) and castellated open-mouthed vessels (Form ID) are not widely used by the .214 • The Ecology of Power TABLE 6. likely because of the processing or cooking of bitter manioc notable for its acidic toxins. The Arawaks likewise recognize Form IA. resulting from the cross-bars placed over the pots to process manioc. It is worthwhile to mention that ceramic use-wear patterns on Form IA ceramic vessels correlate well between the Ipavu Phase and Xinguano Phase assemblages. and (2) wide notches worn into the rim lips of large Form IA vessels. generally trade with the Waujá for their ceramics within living memory. makula (makula ti). and (heshe tay).

A. however. continuity in village spatial patterns (circular plazas with radial roads) and regional settlement patterns (i. but they have become less common in recent years. surface treatment (pebble burnishing.e. are reserved for ritual contexts. By and large. . continued use of select terra firme marginal settings for village locations). the initial stage of manufacture of Form IA vessels. notably Form IC rim adornos becoming more robust and elaborate (baroque) in recent years. construction technique (paddle and anvil/slab and block). D . provides the concrete basis for discussing change or continuity within other aspects of culture. but are used by the Arawakan groups. 950–present). designated Type 3 by Dole 1961/62). for instance: (1) a change. temper (cauíxi.. 950 at least) Arawakan-speaking ceramic making groups. 1500–1800) and earlier (post-A.Landscape and Livelihood • 215 Kuikuru. is the same as that for manufacturing a griddle. as was true for prehistoric groups as well. by some potters to accommodate the tourist trade. D . the overall industry has remained the same in terms of form. exterior red slip and interior black pigment) and decoration (incised-line and sometimes punctation on the rim/lip. black line and blackened-zone painting. and (5) abandonment of the pedestal base. Form IF castellated jars. Griddles (alato to the Kuikuru) are widely used by all Xinguano groups and are sometimes formed from the bottoms of Form IA vessel bases. They are not commonly present in contemporary Kuikuru households. Minor changes in stylistic preferences occurred from the Ipavu Phase to the Xinguano Phase. as well as by Ipavu Phase communties. Cultural continuity. (4) modification of certain forms. (2) a possible shift in painting technique from black-on-red to black on unslipped areas. (3) differential use of red slip in contemporary times. by the eighteenth century. The demonstration of long-term continuity in the local ceramic industries has great implications for reconstructions of culture history and sociohistorical process locally and across the broad region.D. In fact. that is constructing the base. with small amounts of other tempering materials). from parallel incised line/lip nicked to chevron design decoration on Form IB rims (commonly a large variant of Form IB. contemporary Arawakan potters (Waujá/Mehinaku linguistic group) are the descendants of contact period (late Ipavu Phase. What is most striking about the ceramic industry is how little the overall industry has changed from the earliest ceramics (documented in direct association with the earliest radiocarbon dates) to contemporary industries. demonstrated by the conservatism in Upper Xingu ceramic industries (from c. referred to by the Waujá as yanapï. A. In other words. rim adornos). Pot stands or supports (undagi) also were used widely by all Xinguanos in the recent past.

Carneiro (1960. then.216 • The Ecology of Power Productivity In the Upper Xingu. the unique ceramic complex of the Xinguanos today is essentially identical (although steam-lined) relative to pre-Columbian ceramics. raised causeways and embankments and managed reservoirs all fit traditional models of agriculture (irrigation is less of a problem in Amazonia. it did not involve radical innovation. Carneiro 1957). The very fact that there were late prehistoric villages much larger than today and many more of them necessitates that overall production must have been much higher than today. Manioc. at least seasonally. intensification of subsistence practices apparently involved increased productivity of the primary food sources. as far as we can tell. although things were surely more intensive in 1492 than a thousand years earlier. but more that. it is important to note. undoubtedly provided additional means to increase productivity in prehistoric times. Storage and the creation of a surplus. notably including the ahukugu. 1983. can be produced. technological innovations to improve productivity). manioc and fish. is levels of production. 1985) has demonstrated how agricultural productivity within a domestic mode of production similar to today could be increased far beyond historically known levels. the productivity of fisheries and other native resources could be significantly increased above contemporary levels. . Likewise. In fact. as the basic mode of production appears to have been in place throughout the cultural sequence (i. The real issue. and other sites along the upper Ipatse stream (and undoubtedly elsewhere). processed. the major features of this came with them to the area. This does not necessitate that individual families produced more than contemporary Xinguanos or that the domestic mode of production characteristic of contemporary villages was transformed into a more generalized communal mode of production. as suggested by the continuity in basic utilitarian ceramic technology.. rather than intensification per se (i. and stored in great quantities (Carneiro 1957. can be used or produced at much higher levels than ethnographically known (see Beckerman 1979. such as the introduction of some new cultigen or technical invention: it was instead an improvement. So. for instance. streamlining. Akagahïtï. 1983. and elaboration of the production system. the major vessel forms. As noted. even during the dry season from June–September). a largely domestic mode of production using the same basic technology).e. 1985) and piquí is likewise processed and stored as pulp under water.e. and certainly much more so than today.. that the partially constructed and managed wetlands of Heulugïhitï. in fact. Many of the subsistence and industrial resources of the Kuikuru. It is not that they did not intensify. as noted earlier. Nonetheless.

Contemporary gardens are opened in areas of primary or secondary forests. 1995). Recent studies provide evidence that traditional views often underestimate the nutritional status of manioc (Dufour 1994. 1995). As discussed in Chapter 3.. the plot usually stands fallow for more or less ten to thirty years. could support village populations as high as two thousand persons. the limitations of a stone-axe technology would have made felling stands of primary (climax) forest considerably more difficult than today using metal axes (Carneiro 1974) (Figure 6. the amount of once denuded land. although sometimes fields continued to be use as sources for sapé grass (Imperata sp. fishing. and atange forms. as evidenced in aerial photographs in the area of Nokugu and Kuhikugu.Landscape and Livelihood • 217 alato. Furthermore. it appears likely that prehistoric manioc farmers did not shift their fields as frequently as contemporary groups do and they used areas adjacent to villages more intensively.e. respectively) that we can assume served the same relatively narrow primary function: processing and cooking of manioc (ahukugu and alato) and fish (atange). abandoned and reused usually after more than a decade of fallow. Gross 1975). quickly return to scrub forest (after 10 to 30 years) and primary forest (50 to 70 years) (Carneiro 1983). for example. used for two to five years and then abandoned. not to mention the fact that there were quite a few more of them across the region than today (see also Beckerman 1979). Obvious manioc-processing use-wear on contemporary manioc pots is identical with that seen on past pots (i. but manioc would not provide for a balanced diet unless supplemented by .) or for harvesting cultivated piquí trees (Caryocar brasiliensis) planted while the plot is still producing manioc (Carneiro 1983). based on manioc agriculture. and supplemented by diverse secondary resources. his theory is supported by the fact that there were villages many times larger than contemporary villages in the past. Although questioned by some authors (Descola 1996a. that is to say there was longer cropping and shorter fallows in prehistoric manioc gardens. and IB. provides ample evidence for the scale of deforestation prehistorically (dramatically higher than anything known historically). notches worn into the rim by the placement of wooden staves over the vessel to support manioc straining mats and erosion on the vessel interior related to processing acidic bitter manioc). Highly processed bitter manioc is not nearly as nutrient deficient as analyses of unprocessed or minimally processed sweet manioc tubers (from which many studies of manioc are based) suggest (Dufour 1994. used for short periods. As noted for Amazonia generally (Denevan 1992). correspond exactly to the primary forms in the prehistoric assemblages (Types IA.13). IV. Carneiro’s suggestion that a technology essentially identical to today’s. Contemporary gardens.

Many of these resources can also be harvested at levels far surpassing contemporary levels using a technology essentially identical to those of the present-day Xinguanos. For instance. birds and plant products (notably palm fruits and other fruits). prominent individuals are able to organize communal labor projects that require fishing by a large group of related men and production and preparation.g. such as the kuarup and tiponhï or community projects. the Kuikuru community also maintained a nearly one kilometer long weir with some forty conical ataka traps at Nokugu from February to May 1993 that routinely . Xinguanos presently possess the means to harvest fish using native technologies from all nearby habitats. insects (e. such as the construction of the chief ’s house (tajife) or men’s house (kuakutu). ants. through fish poisoning and traps. In contemporary villages. significant quantities of animal protein.218 • The Ecology of Power Fig. several hundred kilograms of fish were captured from the shallow waters at Heulugïhitï by the Kuikuru using kundu dunk traps for one ceremonial payment. In contemporary villages. the primary protein source is fish. 6.. grasshoppers and wasp larvae). and in fishing expeditions organized by chiefs in preparation for major rituals. in community and individual weirs. with other supplementary protein sources including turtles and turtle eggs.13 Wooden-hafted stone axe from Steinen (1896). and fish can be harvested in great numbers.

however. generally. including stores of manioc flour (kuiginhu). that can range from about a half a meter to over a meter in diameter and are two to four meters high (I have seen three of the large ones. although large. while fish become more scarce in high water. which is only sporadically used. It is important to point out the seasonal variation of fishing productivity. there is significant variation in body weight over the course of the year. 1994).Landscape and Livelihood • 219 produced ten to fifty kilos of fish on an almost daily basis. by the large quantities of stored resources (e. Seasonally available fruits. especially in broadly terra firme areas (cf. and piquí pulp (stored subaqueously in basketry tubes ranging from handbag-sized to well over a meter long and nearly half a meter in girth). reports that he witnessed over eleven thousand . peppers. other foods are available. This economic depression in fishing resources is offset. roasted piquí nuts (minga). piquí. peanuts. Carneiro (personal communication. This weir is not rebuilt every year. as well as a variety of insects/larvae are harvested in quantities which. and nuts) and numerous resources that are of only secondary importance during other times of the year. sweet potato. Garson 1980. also can be collected in large quantities and many of these food stuffs are storable for long periods of time. turtles (sometimes kept in pens or tethered with a string through the carapace) and turtle eggs.. that hold a ton or more of manioc flour. What is clear is that fish can be captured anytime. In fact. such as roasted piquí nuts (minga) and roasted corn. in fact. contemporary villagers must expend considerably more effort on fishing during times of the year when water levels are at their highest (typically from March to June). with many individuals losing several kilos during the “leaner” months. do not approach availability.g. and secondary sources. but has been rebuilt three times over the past ten years and each time it was “owned” by a different person. when the water rises others become available. As Beckerman (1979) also suggests. but the Upper Xingu case demonstrates the vast potential of these resources. and others. Thus. mangaba. manioc flour. Native cultivated plants other than manioc. Piquí is particularly noteworthy and. the range of plant and nongame animals available for exploitation throughout the lowland forests provides a vast store of foodstuffs with diverse nutritional value. including several varieties of palm fruits (available in different seasons). among others. including maize. in a single chief ’s house). Little attention has been paid to issues of increasing productivity of aquatic resources in lowland economies. and usually in large quantities: when the water is low some fisheries and techniques are available. Limp and Reidhead 1979). roasted corn (ana). piquí pulp.

but how. the creation of the indigenous park (PIX) in 1961. The suggestion that the Upper Xingu subsistence economy could be significantly intensified. but no study has yet suggested that upland horticulturalists can long exceed the limits imposed by Amazonian nutrient cycles. such as settlement or economy.000 in the 1880s to nearly 500 between 1955 to 1965).220 • The Ecology of Power piquí fruits collected by the Kuikuru in preparation for a single egitse ceremony the following year. Lately. As villages became fewer and smaller due to depopulation. settled populations. Gross (1983: 445) represents the long-held majority position when he states that: “There are alternative strategies. and marginalization over the past five hundred years (Beckerman 1991. numerous discrete village merged with others between the late 1800s and mid-1900s (some two dozen or more villages were reduced to eight by the late 1940s and population was reduced from 3. including the Upper Xingu. and the increasing engagement of local communities with the national political economy. considered in composite (i. Indeed. including Arawak. The historical circumstances of depopulation and cultural change over the past five hundred years. settled villages in various portions of Amazonia. The general argument suggests that: “[u]nder extensive management systems. In sum. demand caution in any attempt to reconstruct “traditional” Xinguano cultural patterns.000 to 4. that imply the existence of highly productive resource management strategies. the increased labor time cost of subsistence production provides a strong incentive for groups to keep their settlement density low and move about frequently (5–20 year intervals)” (Gross 1983: 429). given the general paucity of studies that precisely characterize the parameters for human economic exploitation of Amazonian environments.” But the question still remains. we must exercise caution in suggesting limitations posed generally by Amazonian biotic regimes on human development or projecting the conditions of contemporary peoples. onto past social formations. disenfranchisement. Xinguano settlement patterns have been in a nearly continual state of flux throughout much of the cultural sequence. what exactly are those limits in one area of Amazonia or another? And here we might note that archaeological research conducted since the 1970s suggests the presence of large. the question that archaeology and early ethnohistory pose is not if past resource management strategies could support large. Roosevelt 1989).e.. largely due to the effects of vaccination programs and medical assistance . does not accord well with some reconstructions of the productivity of the “tropical forest” economy in terra firme settings. village populations began to rebound in numbers. Carib and other groups). crops and techniques. In light of the recognition of large population aggregates. who have undergone significant depopulation. after 1970.

As noted above. or phylogenetic. abandoned early on after the “conquest” of the Americas and a reduced threat of warfare (cf. Carib-speaking Yaruma. Ikpeng. facilitated by the availability of past settlement areas. and provide the basis for comparison. When villages are moved greater distances it is for supernatural or political reasons (notably. permanent villages (ete) have consisted of a few to over twenty houses. approach. In historic times (after 1884). Xinguano villages generally constitute discrete language communities. It is one of the strongest cases in Amazonia for such a homological experiment in constructing. aligning. the basic settlement pattern is a permanent village area (locality) of about one to three kilometers. 1600. Thus. Kalapalo. between past and present patterns. with satellite residential and special activity areas within a loosely defined village territory (5-10 km around the village). the Kalapalo.g. After circa A . Matipu and Nafuqua). shared by all of the major constituent groups of the Xinguano nation. macro-Tupi Aueti. an . both on the ground and from remote-sensing data. enduring features of Xinguano settlement patterns and land use also are obvious. Smaller villages with as few as three or four houses have been reported.. and Bakairi. generally within a kilometer or two of the old village. each speaking a distinctive language. and linear mounds no longer divided the plaza or roads from domestic areas within villages. several villages have split (e. Kamayurá and Kuikuru). the creation of the PIX). the Kuikuru village (1993) of 330 people in twenty-three to twenty-four houses is the largest historically known village. Carneiro 1987b). and Trumai. although houses within villages are rebuilt every 5–10 years. The large village is the normal pattern and considered quite “beautiful” and it is a source of great pride among its members. in recent times. and four dialects of Upper Xingu Carib (Kuikuru. Village fissions typically involve the establishment of a new community. Other communities. and reconstructing cultural histories: the direct historical. although numerous villages numbering well over two hundred have been noted. These include TupiGuarani Kamayurá. for instance. a ring of houses around a large circular plaza. Arawak Yawalapiti and Mehinaku/ Waujá (dialects of the same language). if not unbroken links. but the two generally remain close. circular plaza villages became much smaller. This reformed pattern. In recent times. D . whole villages are seldom moved (Carneiro 1960). Nonetheless.Landscape and Livelihood • 221 initiated in the early 1950s (Nutels 1968). fortifications were abandoned. When villages are relocated they seldom move far. but apparently reflect depopulated villages or recently fissioned groups. A crucial aspect of Upper Xingu settlement patterns: villages are more or less permanent and. Matipu/Nafuqua. is what we know from 1884 onward.

Gregor 1977). according to speech communities. but they are always less fully integrated into it (as discussed more fully in Chapter 4). “Relatives who live in different villages but speak the same language are socially closer … than are relatives who belong to village groups speaking different languages” (see Franchetto 1986. and supralocal clusters. In fact. within the broader regional system. Language is an important factor conditioning social relations and residence patterns.222 • The Ecology of Power “isolated” language. have also formed part of the Xinguano regional cultural system. as Basso (1983: 211) notes. .

past houses. interact with. 223 . people create. As discussed in Chapter 9.CHAPTER 7 In the Midst of Others: Landscapes of Memory Human beings are human only to the extent that they are in the midst of others and clothed in symbols that give purpose to their existence. gods. a vantage point. The plaza is an observatory. not only where community (otomo) identity and sociality are made and remade but where.. as humans and their “potential affines” (i. In the plaza. in the center (hugogo) or in front of the house. It is a metaphor of society. and occasional fences (or low curbs). as chiefs and common folk. the observer has a panoramic view in all directions and is able to see all the big. and tricksters). “potential consanguines” (i. but it also serves as a powerful metaphor that spatially represents relations between humans and all others kinds of social beings..e. From some vantage points the observer can see for kilometers along the principal roads. from which the movements of people or the land can be surveyed. all the social relations are marked and remarked in space. The plaza village is the center of life. André Leroi-Gourhan (1993: 313) Sitting in a plaza village. and off to the distant horizon. and decompose others persons. heroes. as consanguines and affines. a metanarrative of the universe.e. but of sociality and personhood. nature) and with their ancestors. well-built longhouses (üne) in a great ring and all the major entry points to the village. in doing so. the plaza serves as a cartography not only of space and geography.

or Heulugïhitï today. who are or will be buried there. There is a “horizon effect” over the 360º of the plaza. past the house gardens and. Near the end of the trail one passes across the wide. ancestors and affines. Some villages. The edges of the high forest (itsuni). “wilderness. ultimately. and one essentially at the end of the tangingu. “sun entrance”). There are two secondary ports. and relations between “the people” (kuge) and diverse “others. that are placed predictably at five major points along the Ipatse stream and one really big. what with the many settlements. white line that crosses the broad remnant floodplain of the Culuene River. gardens. sandy levee and galeria forest of the river bank and.” It is where relations with social others are instantiated and resolved. at the outlet of Ipatse Lake. and sapé fields. The trail is a long. sitting on the log bench in front of the men’s house (kuakutu). manioc gardens. The plaza is also a history. at the prominent sandstone outcrop that is the primary Kuikuru port (about four miles from the village). facing east (giti endoho. From the hugogo. (giti ihatigoho. and secondary forest in long. of seeing all at once. a ecological zone relatively unique to this stretch of the Culuene river. such as the one over Itsuva. orchards. such as the weirs. sometimes. raised road bridges. In many cases. community-owned one across the Angahuku (several hundred meters long and counting dozens of traps). One can look from the village to the northeast.” Even many wetland areas are the clear marking of human interventions. written through the lives of the persons who live and have lived there. but along the major roads one has glimpses of the distant horizon. as there are few trees left behind houses that rise above the houseline. one slightly downstream on the Culuene.1 along the bathing path (tungakua-imagï). the “exit of the sun”) there is a sensation of omniscience. across Itsuva bridge. paths. on account of their regularity and placement. bridges. what look. and out along the trail to the Culuene port (engutaho-imagï). occasional piquí groves (inka). these features overlap with archaeological bridge abutments. remote from the village margins along the innmerable kwigiimagï (paths to gardens) and hagï-imagï (paths to fishing spots). fields. including relations with “potential” and real. straight. have broad lake vistas.” are usually far in the distance. “rotational cycles. the weirs. like the old ones at Lake Kuhikugu (1860s–1960s) or adjacent to Lake Ipatse in the 1940s. or along the formal path (tangingu) heading due west. roads. The Xinguano landscape is an extraordinary artifact of human activities and virtually no part of the upland environment seems untouched. like . sometimes very long.224 • The Ecology of Power which maps out relations within and between otomo (a polyvalent indigenous concept discussed in Chapter 8). a scrubby savanna (oti) of xerophytic plants and “hardpan” (gley) soils.

one or two ensembles of kitchen utensils. engineering. and the great investment they make in place and in the land. The settled. This includes their heavy and bulky utilitarian ceramics. the axis mundi (of humanity and divinity). These technologies of power (disciplines) are a critical element of landscape. These persons and plazas represent containers of power in social networks woven into hierarchical systems of practice that permeate the social and material world. the plaza. the axis mundi.In the Midst of Others • 225 artificial ponds. are not uncommon. including the places of ancestors. well-built and sturdy houses. in general. As settled people. plaza cemeteries. Xinguanos take great pride in the condition of their villages and expend much effort keeping the men’s house. The southern Amazon. the seemingly endless repertoire of material culture. and control over place. were dammed with the weir embankments and the now dried settlements. forests. agricultural “mind-set” of Xinguano peoples permeates their life. Trips of one to a few days to special activity sites or occasional visits to relatives in other villages. including perhaps the large. although both men and women may spend a good portion of each day away from home engaging in brief forays to gardens. The participation in landscape. or more precisely to understand how the material and symbolic articulate to “inscribe” places and “emplace” persons . shallow lakes that nearly dry up today in the dry season. labor. and discussed again later in Chapter 9.” since the people who lived there (since the earliest Arawaks spread across the region) had such elaborated systems of architecture. channelled through chiefly persons. while incorporating many alternative readings (heterodoxies) that provide arenas for the expression of power (the status quo according to “tradition”) and resistance (change). the centralizing force is the central plaza. When households do move to their dryseason hamlets. they take along most or all of the extended family. is an ideal place to consider what Leroi-Gourhan (1993) aptly called the “domestication of time and space. roads and bridges in good repair.” described above. The plaza is the centerpiece of the Xinguano landscape and the keystone of their “ethos of settled life. and even trips to Brazilian cities today are typically “hit-and-run” forays to obtain goods for consumption in the village lasting only a few days or weeks. For now it is important to get some idea of the Xinguano landscapes. and astronomy. and symbolic capital. while perhaps building upon natural pools in the Ipatse stream. and rivers to procure resources. positioned in the hugogo. themselves. Xinguanos seldom leave their villages for long. usually during the ritual season (July to August). Here. but it appears that the reservoirs. mathematics. It remains to be shown. and ultimately build nice houses in which to install these persons and things.

Then there is the fundamental division of society into the anetão. produced. a “Xinguanified” Gê group living slightly north of the Upper Xingu basin). destinations. are the plaza villages. and the rest of society. The rest . but particularly by the critical events and individuals who lived there. there is the fundamental distinction between humans (kuge). chiefs. and passages of written history). three generations. or ngikogo) and “far-others” (non-Indians. special settings.226 • The Ecology of Power in landscape through a dialectic of objectification and embodiment (sensu Bourdieu 1977). piquí orchards. encampments. likely after the Portuguese camarada. The shift is made. young or old. intimately linked with historical figures and events. there is a scalar shift that permits it to be pushed farther back in time. roadways and riverways. and reproduced in a historically defined landscape of greater and lesser places. topograms as Santos Granero (1998) calls them. and locales. remembered by the chiefs who reigned and died there. spaces. in terms of direct reckoning is shallow. first. of remembered events. today called kamaga. or kagaiha). sometimes four. the chiefs for whom the elaborate mortuary feast—kuarup (egitse in Kuikuru)—are held. the hereditary chiefs.” Basso (2001) notes. remembered in chiefly discourse and narratives. and contemporary things and people. This is a richly layered world of spirits. but not needing a name. “constitute a narrative bridge leading from actual experiences in recent times to the stories of the very distant past. not only by physical relationships or the communities who lived there. Landscapes are made of persons and persons are made of landscapes. Although genealogy. sacred ancestor places. Social “others” are diverse. who automatically claim more direct descent from them and through them to even earlier heroes. “near-others” (other “wild” Indians. ports. History is expressed. paragraphs. gardens. these passages of Xinguano history. “Stories about ancestors and ancestral places. not only frame historical consciousness but also constitute a kind of cultural language of history (analogous to the sentences. and the people who own them. other villages. and ancient ancestors. whom we live with. after three or four generations. whether they be women or men.” integrated through the way places are identified. tied together through time and space by the specifiable actions of discrete humans and other beings. to heroes who are “owned” by chiefs. Places. or eat with is always tied to place. The places of ancient occupations are remembered. as is whom and what we remember. and other persons: the Xinguano landscape is permeated with “others” including past persons (see Seeger 1976 and 1981 for a detailed discussion of such things among the Suyá. back to the dawn time of Xinguano society. The greatest among these places. sleep with.

In the Midst of Others • 227

of society, in this “heroic mode of lineage formation” (Sahlins 1985), extends their genealogy beyond recent memory through the chiefs. The question is what level of the hierarchy can one engage and it is only the “sitting chiefs,” the anetï, who can invoke the legitimacy of the oldest ancestors. It is through names that the founders of the “House” are identifiable, the ability to speak, publically, the names of the heroes, the founders of the local group. “Otherness,” alterity, is a topic of great interest in Amazonian anthropology. How do Amazonian peoples define “others” and, thus, themselves, particularly their own lives and social relations. We might note the duality of regional systems, encompassing more settled peoples and more mobile “predatory” societies, within pluriethnic regional systems. Within Amazonia, in general, there are many types of alterity, but what interests us here is the alterity of rank, genealogy, hierarchy, such as birth-order and dynasty (the “first” sons). In the Xingu, “first-sons” are really first grandsons in terms of name transmission. They perpetuate the place of their fathers and grandfathers, although third-generation claims, no matter what the social position of the ancestor, are generally weak: the “power” has been lost. A good place to start to consider Kuikuru landscapes is in the origin stories and how these create, animate, and perpetuate relations between people and places, places of the ancestors, ngiholó-ìtupe, ancient places of the dawn times, ingilango (“distant past”).

The Mirror World of Dawn Time The boundaries of the Xinguano nation are defined by three sacred sites, Morená, Ahasukugu, and Kamukuaka, the places of early human ancestors. The latter two define the southern limits of “the people,” and lie well upstream (south) from the Kuikuru and contemporary Xinguano occupations on the Culuene and Batovi rivers, respectively. The former, Morená, the most sacred of all places, where the origins of humanity began, I briefly paraphrase here.2 In the beginning, in the deep past (ingilango) or “dawn-time,” as Basso (1984) calls it, there were no Xinguanos, only “dawn people” and spirit beings (itseke). Into this world was born Quantunga, the protohuman grandfather of the divine twins, Tuangi and Aulukuma (Sun, Giti, and Moon, Ngune, referring to their present form). Kuantunga was born of an unusual coupling, one that startled and annoyed his maternal grandfather, the great, great, great grandfather of the earliest Xinguanos, who was a great forest (tree) chief, an i-oto, as they call tree spirit-persons. A clever little bat had stolen into the chief ’s village and secretly inseminated his daughter, the yucucu tree, while she was in puberty seclusion (masope) in

228 • The Ecology of Power

the special seclusion area (unwa) of the chief ’s house. The fruit of this union was Quantunga. He was the eldest of four protohuman brothers, all i-oto as well, who received their chiefly blood through their mother, the yucucu.3 He was only a half-man really, as his lower half was that of a tree trunk and roots, but when he ventured out he wore the “clothes” of human form. 4 His daughters were fully human, with legs and all the human body parts: we can surmise this anyway, because he made dolls of them, which he brought to life, the “mothers” of Tuangi and Aulukuma. They lived at Morená. One day, while out hunting alone in the forest, far from Morená, Kuantunga was cornered by a great black jaguar, the chief, Netsuengï. His people, the village of animals at Ahasukugu, had formed a great circle to trap their prey and were closing in on the center, where Netsuengï encountered Kuantunga. He pleaded with Netsuengï, who agreed to free him in exchange for his daughters and instructed Kuantunga to step on his bow, at which point the powerful jaguar chief flicked him beyond the encircling hunters. But, Kuantunga was simply too fond of his daughters, however, to honor his agreement, and was forced to drastic measures. Necessity is the mother of invention and he resolved—thinking back to his special heritage, his maternal (at least) line of chiefly trees—to make dolls into new daughters. His solution, having been born himself of trees, was to make new daughters from trees as well, dolls into which he will breath life. He ultimately succeeds in making six, two from eku wood, two from hata, and two from uengïfi. After they have been given hair by a water itseke and seeds for teeth, they are all sent off to the village of tehego (a vine) to complete their vaginas and have intercourse, after which the chief asks for the eldest (eku) as a wife. The five remaining daughters were sent to Ahasukugu, the village of Netsuengï; the next oldest (eku) died drinking poisoned water. The next sister (hata) died by having intercourse with a tapir, and being split apart. The next daughter, because like the light-colored hata wood, she was fair complexioned and beautiful, was tricked into climbing up a palm tree by her (uengïfi) sisters due to their jealousy of her beauty. She fell, was impaled on a palm spine and also died. The two remaining daughters, both made from uengïfi wood (a powerful wood, the chief of the forest), ultimately arrive at the village of Netsuengï. He impregnates the younger of the two, who ultimately bears the divine twins: Tuangi (or Giti, Sun) and Aulukuma (or Ngune, Moon). Unfortunately, the younger of these two sisters was killed by the motherin-law, which prompted a premature birth. The older sister then raised them as her own children. Her surrogacy was soon revealed to the preternaturally

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matured twins by a hummingbird from whom they attempted to steal fruit. The twins, infuriated by the story, plotted and eventually killed their grandmother, and in retribution for his complicity, the jaguar was ultimately banished to the Milky Way, where he can be seen in the night skies even today. Before he was banished to the sky, he participated, as chief of his village, in the first kuarup that Giti and Ngune hosted in commemoration of their dead mother (who today presides over the village of Kuikuru ancestors in the sky). On the eve of his banishment, Giti and Ngune made the various lineages of humans that now people the earth: the ‘people,’ kuge, the other Indians, ngikogo, and the white people, kagaifa. Tuangi, the preeminent of two twins, made and distributed the things of the world to his children (and younger brothers). After creating the different human lines, he passed a cup of blood to the Xinguanos, which was offensive and they passed it on to the ngikogo, the “wild” or “fierce” Indians, who tasted lightly of it, hesitant but curious. They in turn passed it to the kagaifa, the whiteman, who freely drank of the gourd. This is why blood, for Xinguanos, is polluting, and why people are the way they are, bloodthirsty or not, warriors or not, meat-eaters or not:. Some blood is unavoidable—menstrual blood, postpartum blood, the blood of a dressed fish—but butchering meat or intentionally killing, which always involves blood, is taboo, and birthing happens under strict food and social taboos. Tuangi then offered the firearm to the Xinguanos. They declined it, being fearful of its destructive power; the ngikogo also declined, concerned with its lethal force as well. However, the white people gladly accepted it, predisposed (like drinking the blood) to its violent force.8 He then offered the war club, which the Xinguanos declined, still worried at the danger it embodied, but the ngikogo accepted and used the club to engage their enemies in warfare. The Xinguanos accepted the bow and arrow, with which to hunt and fish, and rarely used it against their enemies. Village specialization, the economic lynchpin of regional social networks, was also put in place by Tuangi, the creator, father, and older brother of the Xinguanos. Tuangi also fashioned a variety of things that the Xinguanos could use in their daily lives and distributed these to the different groups of the people: to the Waujá he gave ceramics; to the Mehinaku, salt; to the Kuikuru and Matipu, shell belts; to the Kalapalo and Nafuqua, shell necklaces; and to the Kamayura, he gave the black bow. These items form the specialties of the groups in the regional system of exchange that characterizes the Upper Xingu today. The Xinguanos came to occupy Morená and other places throughout the Xingu, after Tuangi had followed Netsuenga, his father, the jaguar chief, to the sky world (the Milky Way). Tuangi and Aulukuma recreated

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themselves as the light (sun and moon) in the primordial darkness of the dawn times. After orchestrating the destruction of his father, Netsuengï’s village of jaguars by ngikogo, Tuangi created “the people” (kuge) to inherit his ways and those of his maternal family, Morená and thereabouts, the sacred place of kuge. Tuangi gave to the people (kuge) his most sacred possession, the kuarup with all its vast related knowledge, trappings, and properties, before becoming Giti (sun). He and his brother, Ngune, live on today with all the Kuikuru heroes, ancestors, and all the beings of the Xinguano world, in the mirror-world of dawn time. This is the “master myth of the Upper Xingu,”as Carneiro (1989) calls it, Xinguano genesis. This and numerous other supporting and parallel akiña, are played out in storytelling, chiefly discourse, and ritual, tell of a world cohabited by many “others,” including animals, itseke, and dawnpersons. (Descola 1996; Viveiros de Castro 1998, 2001). Xinguano (hi)stories have this dual quality, a complementary temporality: on the one hand, they reflect happenings in ancient times, the dawn time, and, on the other hand, refer to an existing reality, a mirror world that shamans visit in trance and people in their dreams. The former is an ancient mythic time, in the beginning, that provides the foundation for the actual histories of Xinguano chiefs and otomo; the other is a nonlinear “structural” time that collapses past, present and future. The two worlds are interlinked, as the mirror world is inhabited by persons of the dawn time (“dawn persons”), including all the Kuikuru ancestors and affines, the ancient culture heroes, and then itseke. In the dawn time, humans and these other beings walked the earth together, but the two are generally separated and these other beings, itseke, heroes, and ancestors, exist in a mirror-image world in the sky and in dreams. The two do, however, “bleed” into one another. For instance, an old woman who died in 1993 returned in the dream of a kinswoman and told her the cause of her death: she had looked upon Tuangi’s great pot of shell necklaces, and due to his wrath, was made ill and died. Tuangi, whose current form, the sun (giti), is seen each day, or his father, Netsuengï, who is seen (lives) in the Milky Way, live amongst us in the mirror world of dawn time in the sky where they came to reside after a bodily transformation somewhat similar to that made by Kuikuru when they die and go to the village in the sky.

The Skin of the Land There is no right or correct point of entry to consider landscape, no set methodology that can be accepted beforehand. What works at one level of analysis, at one spatiotemporal scale, does not work at another, and this is true of not only your methods and instruments but also the questions we

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ask. Further, the transmission of knowledge and “facts” of the world, are socially constructed, engaged, and contested.The historical mood of research is, by necessity, perspectival—“the idea that we all hold different ways of knowing the world and different viewpoints from which to see it” (Strathern 1999: 251). Fortunately, as Strathern (1999: 253) puts it, “what transpires between persons becomes reified, graspable, ‘on their skins’, whether it is the skin of the land or the body or the clan with its universe of names.” The “landscape perspective,” if we can speak of one, focuses on the mutually defining qualities of landscape and persons: how enduring marks on the land orient social life and experience and how, in turn, performance and expression recreate the land. Such a perspective requires some immediate intimacy with a specific context—a “dwelling perspective” (Ingold 1993). Regional specialists widely accept that most lowland communities exist in intricate anthropogenic landscapes formed in the natural environment by the long term, occupation of specific ecological micro-niches (Balée 1989, 1995; Posey and Balée 1989). The Xingu provides an unparalleled example of how Amazonian communities create such landscapes over the long term, which, in turn, are important determinants of settlement patterns and culturally defined group territories. Settlement dynamics conform to these broad ecological conditions, with regard to past modifications of the environment, as they are held in cultural memory. The pattern of Xinguano village locations over the past 150 years documents highly selective patterns of land use and settlement. Certain localized areas have become the location of concentrated occupations over the long term, making the mosaic regional ecology even more “patchy.”5 In other words, naturally good habitation locations, meeting select hydrological, topographic and vegetational criteria, have been “improved” through more or less continuous occupation of certain areas (see Balée 1995). There are very few places in the Xingu that do not have a story, the landscape is literally “saturated” with meaning and knowledge. It is also clear that there are few areas of the landscape that remain untouched by the great chiefdoms of a few centuries ago.

Xinguano Landmarks The primary landmarks that define the Xinguano traditional lands are the three sites of Morená, Ahasukugu, and Kamukuaka. These are situated at the margins of the Upper Xingu basin. At about these places, subtle changes in the land become appparent. To the south or east of Ahasukugu, or to the south or west of Kamukuaka, the land rises up into the scrub forests of the central Brazilian plateau (corrado). To the north, below

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Morená, are the broad stretches of the Xingu River proper. The north is particularly critical to Xinguanos, defined by a complex of sacred sites around the ancient settlement of Morená, which in recent times marks the northernmost Xinguano village. In the more remote past, the site was wedged between the Yawalapiti (and later Kamayura and other) ancestors and those of the other Xinguanos, each composed of various otomo in the late 1800s. Tuangi and Aulukuma are responsible for many features of the landscape, but lakes, streams, and other features, such as the ditches made by Fitsi-fitsi (see Chapter 5), are the manufactures of other, lesser heroes. Sagakagagu, the “owner of the water” (tunga òto), made the lakes the Kuikuru have lived near for the past 150 years,6 He made lakes Ehumba, Kuhikugu, and Ipatse for ancestors of the Kuikuru during the dawn time. The making of the eastern lakes, Tafununu, Angahïnga, Aiha, and Magijapei is another story (see below). Sagakagagu was the son of a fish spirit (hugoi kuenga) and although he took human form, he was partially made of water (tunga). Somewhere on the Angahuku River, above what is today Lake Ehumba, after long putting up with the harassments of an evil uncle, he fought with him over a fish trap (utu) they were using when they were out fish-poisoning (halutininha). In anger he stomped the earth and in so doing created a great lake, into which welled up from the river great monsters (itseke), which attacked the bad uncle. Now knowing his power, he again stomped his foot, time and again, to create lakes for his good uncle (Lake Ehumba) and for the ancestors of the people. Sagakagagu continued on to Kuhikugu, where there was still no lake, but here he encountered a group of children playing with a basketry ring that women use to carry pots (tá), and which children try to shoot arrows through still today. They began firing on him—perhaps because he was using the “clothes” of sickness (“pox” blisters) and they knew he was an itseke. He asked them, now full of arrows, to call Yamahutulo, the female chief of the village to come and remove the arrows. He then created the lake to thank her, at which time he removed his “sickness clothes” and transformed into a beautiful man fully painted, and decked out in feathers and a shell collar. Sagakagagu told Yamahutulo to call her people to come and hide with her as he made the lake, since into the waters come itseke, but they didn’t want to as they were dancing. He told Yamahutulo and her brother, Amana, to stay in houses as the water rose up over them. He advised them to keep their doors closed so water monsters (itseke) could not get them. Sure enough, the itseke attacked and ate the dancers; the remainder

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became fish. Yamahutulo and Amana stayed in the house until after the water had risen way up and a great lake had formed. When they exited, they saw the immense lake that had consumed their lands and asked Sagakagagu to make it smaller. He reduced it to its present size, which explains why the smaller remnants at Séhu, Séku, Heulugihiti, and Ipatse stayed as much smaller lakes, but are largely dried up. After he made the lakes, Sagakagagu married the daughter of another jaguar chief spirit, Nokugu. In payment for his bride, he made Lake Ipatse and the weirs (ataca) that the Kuikuru still use today, one each for his five fathers-in-law: (1) Tsuva (Nokugu); (2) Kejegepe; (3) Tinhagipe; (4) Suhahugu; and (5) Wagandakagu (Wage, who was a fox [sagoko], and cousin to the jaguar). Yali, a great tapir, created half of Lake Ipatse and half of the Angahuku River, which was finished by a water turtle (Hikutaha), although he drowned a good part of Nokugu village, which is why there is so much ceramics under water there. The creation of Lake Tafununu and the smaller lakes north of it in the dawn time was unintentional. One day a man who lived in the area went to hunt birds, in a small (toucan) hunting stand, high up in a tree. As he waited in his stand at around dawn, he heard the sound of water in itsuni forest. He descended and saw a great tree filled with water, and over a large hole he discovered the rock cap that sealed off the water within. He removed the cap and inside were innumerable fish. He shot several small fish and returned home to his wife, whom he demanded keep the story secret for fear of problems. Everyday he went to fish and then one day, his brother-in-law arrived and inquired about his whereabouts. Where had he caught so many fish? His sister did not tell, but the next day the same thing occurred: the man disappeared and brought back many fish. Finally, the wife told her brother of the fish tree. Although she sworn him to secrecy, the brother-in-law stole off to the tree when the man was in his garden. He removed the stone cap and shot a great fish, which insanely charged the hole, smashed the invisible barrier and out spilled the tree’s water, enough to fill Lake Tafununu, the largest lake in the broad region, as well as Lake Angahïnga, Lake Aiha, and Lake Magijapei. Tafununu still contains the monstrous fish (itseke) from that tree, and to this day the Kuikuru do not pass in canoes or motorboats. Lake Tafununu actually consists of five separate lakes: (1) Anahïtuïepagu; (2) Agahahïtï-epagu; (3) Netunugu; (4) Tehukugu; and (5) Hakapeepagu. The ancient chiefs who presided over the Kuikuru sites there are also remembered: Marika was the chief of Kuguhi (X15); Amatuagu was the chief of Tafununu (X25) and Tamakafi was the chief of Tehukugu (X14).

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There are several other critical places at Tafununu, including Makaigikingahugu (where Bakairi peoples apparently killed people of Ipa otomo). There are also numerous named etua (campsites) along the outlet stream (the ipa uhuinagu). There are many, many more “place stories” that I have not heard or do not recount here, but all the living places, the ancestral sites (ingiholo itupe) and abandoned Kuikuru villages (etepe), also have stories and “owners,” spirits who once lived there in body and now live on in the mirror world of dawn time to preside over these places. There are thousands of little places with their own stories, as well, that dot the landscape. For instance, on a recent trip from Kuhikugu, the contemporary village at Lahatua to Asaheïtï, we saw an old trail still incised, only about a foot wide, following the path that had been cut over in the past three years. Both trails followed the ancient roadway, which, like all ancient roads had two parallel curbs some twenty meters apart, the whole length (about 4 km) of the way. Along the way, we stopped at the midpoint, where I was told that women carrying manioc-filled baskets could rest coming back from their garden hamlets. We also passed a tree in which a man, deceased now a generation or so, had built a toucan hunting stand some forty to fifty feet in the tree. “He was a good toucan hunter,” one of our group commented. Virtually every walk is not only a lesson in local ecology, but in history, as well.

Broad Ecological Patterns From a Western point of view, several principal ecological zones can be recognized in the Kuikuru study area, which, by relative order of prominence, are: (1) forests and anthropogenic forest parklands; (2) large rivers and floodplains, including diverse ox-bow and back-channel lakes; (3) secondary streams that emanate in the basin, and are defined by broad wetland marshes and multiple, complex channels (e.g., Angahuku); and (4) tertiary streams, such as Ipatse stream, which lie between forest and the active floodplain of the Culuene River. Conditions vary significantly, particularly in terms of floodplain areas, which are largely confined to the margins of the Culuene River. To date, no detailed studies have been made of local ecology, from either the standpoint of Western natural science or ethnoecology, which impedes precise characterization of variation between and within these “zones.” However, large scale patterning is clearly apparent in aerial photographs, satellite images, and on the ground, as one passes through the zones. Forests come in various types as well, but the two principal types are itsuni (“primary” or “high” tropical forest), although much or most of it in the Kuikuru study area is anthropogenic, and tahuga (old regrown

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gardens that are not planted in piquí [inka] or sapé grass) (see Carneiro 1978). Many minor variations of forest character, soil type, and vegetation, which are unnamed in any formal way, are easily perceived by the Kuikuru. Mosaic parklands dominate the countryside, composed not only of gardens, groves, grass fields and tahuga, but also ancient sites (ngiholó-itupe), abandoned villages (etepe), hamlets, and other markers of past land use. These areas would be forest if people abandoned them and, in many cases they have become reforested, due to depopulation, settlement abandonment, and diminished land use. There are also floodplain parklands, scrub and savanna lands between the sandy levees and galeria forests of the major rivers, like the Culuene. These areas are naturally xerophytic, with hardpan (gley) soils and sparse trees. In the Kuikuru area, the oti of the Culuene River is bordered by Ipatse stream and its associated modifications, such as weir embankments, ponds and reservoirs, causeways, and minor raised fields principally near major settlements. Thus, oti—scrubland or savanna— comes in two basic forms, natural and anthropogenic. Xinguano houses are thatched with either sapé grass, which grows exclusively in the anthropogenic “parklands” created around villages, or buriti leaves, which are generally found in abundance near villages. Rivers are also diverse. The largest, the Culuene River, emanates from far away in the Brazilian highlands near the city of Cuiabá. It has a generally muddied, well-defined channel, which the Kuikuru use for transportation, fishing, and to collect turtle eggs in the dry season, and white beaches, among other things. Other large meandering rivers also emanate from the flanks of the Brazilian highlands, such as the Curiseu and Batovi Rivers. Then there are several wide, multichanneled rivers and marshlands with crystal clear water and white sandy bottoms such as the Tuatuari and the Angahuku; these emanate from the basin itself, which together with the Culuene, are the two primary rivers in Kuikuru country. The former two rivers and characterized by swampy stream margins and criss-crossed channels. These serve as primary fishing areas for weir and trap fishing, as well as bow-fishing in open water, during the dry and wet seasons; however, the weirs are most productive in times of high water, from February to May. The wide variations in wetlands guarantees that there is a source for fish. There are places along this river where large itseke dwell, such as the giant frogs, paga paga kuenga, that had apparently tipped the canoe of early whites that had passed that way; another itsekekugu (place of the itseke), in this area is known as the “house of the black jaguar.” Ipatse stream is seasonally dry, in terms of flowage, from about July to September, although the ground under the principal drainage channel—a

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low sinuous depression that includes stretches heavily modified by weirs, tied together through seasonal ponds—remains wet throught the year. At the edges of major sites, bathing, watering, and fisheries facilities are recogonizable or still used today. Buriti grows in most well-watered settings and so this generally does not pose a significant problem, but given the highly constructed nature of forests around occupation sites, the possibility that buriti distributions are not entirely fortuitous must be considered. Natural lakes occur in areas that are otherwise forests, along small feeder streams; in virtually all cases they are nodes of habitation. Major settlements are always located at the interface of terra firme forest (flat dry forest land) and wetlands (for water and transportation). These wetlands include “white” (muddied), “clear” (highly transparent), and “black” water rivers; the white water rivers emanate well outside the Upper Xingu basin within the Planalto Central and descend rapidly (from about 500–1000 masl) before leveling out (to about 275–300 masl) in the basin itself. It is truly a basin, a peneplain covered largely with Holocene alluvium, although the terra firme uplands and portions of the floodplains are likely more ancient. Village places are critical nodes in the landscape, not only because of their history as places of ingiholo, but also because of their condensed symbolics: the social, spatial, and cosmological knowledge attached to them. Individuals and families stake a claim to areas they are actively using, such as hamlets, gardens, and weirs, and it would be at least rude to encroach without due license.

Village and Countryside In the Xingu, the plaza villages are the most enduring feature of the built environment that clearly demonstrates continuity through the cultural sequence. In comparing ancient and recent settlements, contemporary villages look just like prehistoric plazas, except that the residential areas are much reduced in size (perhaps as much as ten times or more). What is different is that in contemporary villages, the plaza has moved throughout a restricted area and in the past it stayed put. Xingu villages do not simply have cleared public space, a feature that indeed is nearly ubiquitous in the lowlands, but they are defined by it. The form of the plaza obviously conditions the placement of the domestic activities areas around it, particularly the ring of longhouses, which serve as the primary economic and social units below the village level. Each household or household group forms a discrete unit, but they are more or less identical features of a formal village plan dictated by the plaza. This can be contrasted to a

Household compounds form behind the longhouses of principal village chiefs. but instead occupied continuously throughout the Ipavu Phase. which are always located in one of the cardinal positions on the house ring (see Chapter 9). plaza size and placement remained more or less fixed. insofar as areas far removed from villages are less contested and used by more than one community. Xinguano communities do not maintain clearly defined or defended territories. The plaza core (hugogo) is the center of public ritual and political life. there is a point where plaza space is not expanded to accommodate more houses. behind houses. It is also the location of the village cemetery and the communal men’s house (kuakutu). insofar as it is the place of spirit beings. Ritual performance. Women virtually never enter the kuakutu since it is forbidden for them to see the flutes housed there. including lately soccer) and social and political activities (village meetings. in the latter case. through fission or wholesale movement of the village. or more precisely supernature. physical contests (wrestling and team ball games. in very reduced form. In late prehistoric villages. Beyond is “nature.and inter-village ceremonies. three settlement changes result from population growth and/or household splitting: (1) settlement relocation. Within a village territory. which were apparently not abandoned. Plaza frontage.7 Beyond the “trash yard” (tsulo). unless there is a public ceremony or redistributive event and even then they tend to remain a good distance from the kuakutu (Basso 1973). (2) reconstruction of houses to broaden the plaza and expand the domestic ring. like the domestic precincts or neighborhoods suggested for the late Ipavu Phase villages. becomes a marker of social standing within the household cluster. but each community has an area or territory to which they have almost exclusive right of usage.” In the village territory inka (piquí groves) and kwigi anda (manioc gardens). where the village layout is derived from and subordinate to its parts. comprised of the domestic sectors: circular plaza villages gravitate toward a unifying center. Communal “territories” are overlapping. and are. In contemporary villages. prompting outward expansion corresponding to the pie-shaped divisions created by the permanent paths.” deep forest (itsuni) and deep water. women seldom linger in the hugogo. The plaza as a whole can be treated as a single male-centric public domain. Either the village splits. one is essentially beyond the “village. reception of formal visitors and redistribution) are focused in and around the village center. and (3) construction of houses behind those of close kin. As village population continues to grow. satellite residential hamlets (hihitsingóho) and special activity . including intra. or clusters of domestic structures emerge behind the plaza frontage houses.In the Midst of Others • 237 multicentric pattern.

Garden sites are situated according to specific soil and vegetational characteristics. and (3) areas of egepe. are an important structural component of the cultural landscape. These paths connect the village with distant areas. just north of Nokugu. As Denevan (1992) notes. It is my impression that not all adult men have garden hamlets and it is typically prominent men (household heads) who maintain such areas not only as production centers to provide alimentary support for the major rituals but also as retreats to escape the public eye. engutoho (ports). including other villages. however. which is typically created. including roads to the river port on the Culuene. among others. one to the primary bathing area at Ipatse Lake. such as a 150meter bridge over the Itsuva outlet of Ipatse Lake adjacent to the Kuikuru village in 1993. this pattern is greatly facilitated by metal tools introduced into the Upper Xingu during the late nineteenth and early . Roads and pathways. Itsuni is usually located some distance from village areas because of recent and ancient deforestation. tracts of primary or at least. and converge with one another or with the major paths as one moves out from the village. ataca (weir locations). Gardens are not connected to the village with major paths but are often situated along major roads.1). including: etua (fishing camps).238 • The Ecology of Power areas also form enduring features of local cultural geography. tended and “owned” by a man and his family for a few years and then transformed into a piquí grove. old village sites. including diverse canoe-ways (Figure 7. corresponding roughly to three categories: (1) primary forest (itsuni). inka (piquí groves). In the near-village territory (1–5 km). All villages have several primary paths/roads (generically called amá). or “abandoned” for a few to many years. Minor pathways from each house lead to gardens. numerous special activity sites are exploited. These paths eventually link up with numerous tertiary paths to form a virtually unbroken web between primary settlement areas in the basin. Bridges are sometimes constructed over major waterways. and the formal path (tanginga) to Ahanitahagu. The primary special activity site is the garden. Areas in various stages of regrowth (tahuga-pe) are therefore the areas most commonly gardened. and over time give definition to the landscape and the resources in it (Posey and Balée 1989). (2) secondary regrowth forest or scrub. special bathing areas. and particularly garden hamlets. halutinenha (fish-poisoning spots). and so on. high forest do occur near villages. but itsuni is also felled for gardens. since they provide the means of communication between other villages. lakes or deep forest. and kwigi anda (manioc gardens). access to important natural resources and gardens. minor pathways to gardens (current and abandoned) form a complicated network throughout the area around each village.

they generally remain within the “territory” of the mother village. twentieth century. In garden and hamlets. Likewise. Xinguano villages are prone to move from time to time. improvements continue after abandonment and are even heritable: piquí planted in old gardens is “owned” by the planter and can be passed to his sons.In the Midst of Others • 239 Fig. but when a group splits from the mother village to form a new one. hamlets. 1983) has provided a definitive description of Kuikuru gardening practices that I was able to consider and corroborate in the field based on my own observations. usually after some significant event. Carneiro (1957. like places on the village ring. Villages will also occasionally fission. are part of a family estate. Symbolically. Historically.1 Canoe launch (from Steinen 1896). 7. the village and all the common Kuikuru lands are “owned” by the village chiefs. Sometimes a . such as house fires.

and other times a little farther. are grown in black-earth as well.5 10. Women are so involved with harvesting and processing manioc during the dry season that garden hamlets are often constructed when gardens are located some distance (> 5 km) from the village.8 6.7 7.1 5.8 2.1 3. and harvested for about three to four years before abandonment.65 hectares.8 4.1 15.2 7.6 5.9 68.1 4.6 4. Site Context % Org pH Mg Ca K Na Total P Kuikuru/Ipatse I Midden House Plaza Plaza Plaza Midden 13.5 5. but seldom far and never do successive plazas overlap.4 0. perhaps a kilometer or so away.240 • The Ecology of Power village simply “flip-flops” the plaza.5 5.9 52.8 38.6 6.8 5.4 5.1 20.1 3.4 9.7 8. maize fields are called by the same name as black-earth (egepe). Many adult men will clear and plant more than one garden at a time (59 plots maintained by 42 men in 1954 and 56 plots maintained by 35 men in 1975)(Carneiro 1983).2 19. 10 Black-earth soils are particularly sought after for maize gardens and. therefore.8 350 556 .3 142. are significantly more fertile (Table 7.4 5.2 54.2 5. in fact. as opposed to the generic term for manioc garden areas (anda). TABLE 7.1 509.9 4.1 2. sometimes they move it a hundred meters or so away.2 18.5 5.1 Select Soil Chemistry Data from Kuikuru/Ipatse I Village and Nokugu (X6).9 5.9 143.2 4.1 5.1 1. Women are responsible for harvesting. planted at the beginning of the wet season.2 5. Manioc gardens (anda) (following Carneiro 1983) averaging about 0.3 0.5 7.5 14. are cleared and burned during the dry season.1).8 7. Other plants demanding high amounts of nutrients. meaning simply place of manioc. Egepe soils are higher in pH and some chemical constituents than are natural “red” soils and.9 Soils in these two areas (primary itsuni forest and successional forest/ scrub) are apparently more or less comparable in terms of soil chemistry and fertility (Carneiro 1983: 66).5 5.5 1312 191 117 105 126 942 Nokugu Plaza Domestic 5.

” its people simply do not return to the mother village. Garden hamlets can be used for more prolonged stays to avoid tensions in the village and may become the seed of a new settlement. Eventually a plaza is built. near fishing areas on the floodplain and unforested savannas. and the old garden estates of the primary household heads at Lahatua (Kuhikugu) in the early to mid-1900s: Lauadoho. and now a few motorcycles). Djuwahïtï. particularly in the case of the two really powerful chiefs in the village—the factional rivals. Majaja. such hamlets were maintained mostly by prominent men. Campsites (etua) are short-term (one to a few days) occupation sites used for individual and communal fishing trips (fishing camps). but rather a settlement grows and attracts new people. for the procurement of specific resources. One thing is certain from the contemporary pattern: new villages always start as a garden house. There is little to tell one way or the other at present. The new village grows more and eventually begins burying its chiefly persons. and included many old villages sites (etepe) at places like Iña. After the dry season. Kuhugupe. Mujuhalu. The spatial organization of encampments is primarily determined by hammock placement and the activity areas created around them. typically along key portions of major rivers related to fishing spots and ports. and is formalized. the family returns to the village often with great stores of manioc flour and other resources unique to the area around the hamlet. and Kagaho. Special campsites are also constructed around village sites for visitors during the intertribal festival . Kagetepe. or as waystations along rivers and major paths. or near areas being developed as garden hamlets. Perhaps the primary “Houses” of the ancient regime villages had more fixed “estates” in past times. attracts new peoples. unlike fishing camps. at which point it becomes a mature. and then the “house. associated with the five villages the Kuikuru occupied from circa 1860 to 1961. Hukekugu. rather than a satellite. even if (like their regular houses) it is their sons and sons-in-laws who make and tend them. consisting of one or a few houses can indeed be far removed from the village (15 km or more) and families may reside at these hamlet sites for extended periods during the dry season (although this has changed dramatically in the past 15–20 years with the introduction of bicycles. Generally. Maijeinei. are seldom located in areas unsuitable for yearround habitation. Campsites are usually situated at some distance from a village site.In the Midst of Others • 241 Garden hamlets (hihitsigóho). Tungepehugu. Campsites with a temporary shelter are often precursors to the construction of more substantial houses and a garden hamlet and. motorboats. Around Ipa Kuhikugu. only prominent men—household heads—have the means to maintain garden houses. village.

242 • The Ecology of Power season (mid.” fish poison vine). Strathern 1996: 38) puts it . Place and Place-Making: The Sites of Memory Settled life is not a question of human bodies settling into the land. clay and turtle eggs are among the varied resources collected away from the village. that reflects history. the community (otomo) territory. two on the Culuene River (one primary port located in the most direct line from the village to the river and another subsidiary port to the north) and one at Ahangitahagu connecting Angahuku with the village via the “formal” entry path/road (tangingï). and how they fit together into cohesive territories. although these . Otomo maintain territorial boundaries defined by ancestral rights. materials for craftwork. There were three major ports used by the Kuikuru. nor of land settling into human bodies.to late dry season). Although terrestrial roads are more obvious features of the regional communication network. because of their proximity to the settlement. Other visitation is dependant on kinship ties that would assure residence within the village. housing materials. Special procurement sites are numerous. which require a longer stay to amass the desired harvest quantity. medicinal plants. Kuikuru “territory” can be described at several levels. and diverse materials are harvested far from the village. as well as a thing of land and body. and lies in an arrow straight line from the village. “domesticating it. Special activity sites (nonovernight) most frequently involve fishing. based largely on usufruct.” as (Merleau-Ponty 1962. Buriti palm. In recent times. and a critical element of this is the history of places. inté (“timbo. The port forms an integral and permanent part of the settlement pattern. honey. the extensive waterways are also an essential aspect of local transportation and communication. families. a nested hierarchy of social groups (“persons”). River ports are seldom used as overnight camps. firewood. Unlike fishing sites. into each and every body as it lives and moves through the landscape. especially during the wet season. which sits on a rock outcropping atop the levee of the Culuene River. various fruits. the resources around these special activity sites can usually be collected at will and typically do not involve an overnight stay.” making things in it and of it their own. One of the most notable special activity sites is the river port. and Houses (chiefly kindreds). about 5 km away. including the place rights of individuals. but of “fitting objects and the body together. Landscape is thus a thing of memory. and the ancestral lands of larger regional blocks. including human modified canals for travel by canoe (traditionally made from the bark of the uagï tree). but are used on a regular basis (every day or every few days).

the paradox is resolved by sponsoring mortuary feasts. The Kuikuru origin is from a budding-off event from the mother village of Óti (X24). thus creating founding ancestors. Kinship and political alliances exist between all the villages. which encompasses the major ports. and (2) within the acceptable range of settlement locations. In the former case. Such budding-off or drawing in typically reflects a significant shift in power. Séhu. Numerous factors contribute to the decision of a village (or some part of it) to move (Table 7. and the elaboration of social organization. fishing sites. there is a tendency in historic times for larger villages (250–350 individuals) to fission within or near the “territory” of the parent village and reoccupy abandoned or ancient site locations. There are two general tendencies in contemporary settlement patterns: (1) a reluctance to give up an established village locality (by all or part of the group). bridges.g. which suggests the long-standing relationship. Séku. However. a “buffer zone” apparently existed between clusters of primary settlements (the area that contains the minor Ipatse stream plaza villages. Atï/Kuhikugu split). these factors are carefully considered in deciding on new village locations (e.. Fissions usually involve one kin or factional group leaving the main village to set up permanent residence in a previous hamlet location. the degree of relatedness within the village. The latter involves an engulfment of ancestors. and Maijeinei. the persons that make the place a traditional living place. Kuhikugu/Uagihïtï split. increased involvement in warfare. More or less exclusive territorial rights are exercised by the otomo that correspond to an area about five to ten kilometers around the village. Traditional Arawak and Carib areas can be distinguished within the Xinguano lands. at Lake Tafununu or distance from river and distance from water at Lake Lamakuka).g.12 Splitting from a village or merging with a village creates a paradox of ancestors. . When there is a village split.. remembered by the unique persons who lived there and continue on in the mirror-world of dawn time. the daughter village does not move far. While the Kuikuru seldom give ecological reasons for moving.” redefining boundaries is an ongoing process as groups merge and split and individuals and families move about. such as buriti and sapé. the existence of a strong chief. these include the filling up of the land around it.In the Midst of Others • 243 have changed somewhat through time over the past five centuries. gardens.11 The Kuikuru make no distinction between the two as kuge. for instance). The new village usually maintains close ties with the parent village (e. In pre-Columbian times. and other “improvements” to the lands. generally.13 As Carneiro (1987a: 118) has suggested. difficulty of access to important resources. within these broad “territories.2).

in 2001. which founds Kuhikugu abandoned due to concerns with cemetery abandoned due to concerns with cemetery abandoned (cause unknown) abandoned due to witchcraft-house fires abandoned due to move to inside then PIX boundary political schism from Kuhikugu.14 the Kuikuru (Lahatua otomo) occupied five primary village sites at Kuhikugu-Lamakuka and three in the vicinity of Ipatse Lake. 1860–2002. as both discrete and related groups. especially the egitse or “kuarup” funeral ceremony.244 • The Ecology of Power Fissions are most common among larger villages. A splinter group left the group at Ipatse in 1997 to found a village at Afukuri in 1997. and another has established a “village” at Lahatua. rather than fissions. Since the Óti split (mid-1800s). because of a dispute over chiefly prerogatives. due to witchcraft (?) abandoned (cause unknown) amalgamation with Kuhikugu abandoned due to witchcraft-house fires abandoned to expand village current village political schism political schism Kuhikugu Locality Atïka Kuhikugu Lahatua Lamakuka Lahatua II 1860–1870 1870–1915 1915–1951 1951–1956 1956–1962 Ipatse Locality Atï Ipatse Itsuva Ahangitahagu Ipatse/Kuikuru I Ipatse/Kuikuru II Afukuri Lahatua 1910s–1920s 1920s–1930s 1930s–1940s 1962–1973 1973–1983 1983– 1997– 2001– . but the general trend since the 1880s (judging from the historical documentation of actual splits) has been mergers due to population loss. These moves have the effect of both decentralizing local power and expanding the overall position of the community. Location Date Óti ?–1860 Cause political schism. 200–300 persons (see Carneiro 1987a for a general discussion). at least for a generation until they establish their own founders through chiefly ceremonies. These patterns underscore the fact that villages do not move great distances even when they fission.2 Village Fissions. adjacent to the ancient site of Kuhikugu. Daughter communities remain socially linked. maintaining a strong link with the mother community. The TABLE 7.

The latter is a chiefly name associated with the old villages of ipa otomo—the “owner of Tafununu” an ancestral village of Kuikuru (along with Kuguhi). The Caribs were attacked by ngikogo at Tafununu at this time and moved west. one of the chiefly heroes (or founding “great men”) of Kuikuru legend. Based on language and oral history. sorcery. Óti. (3) they moved to the middle Angahuku. The split. they are “nieces” and “nephews” of the chief and stay in his house when visiting Kuikuru from the Yawalapiti.” Although the stories that I heard firsthand are equivocal about the exact relations between the various communities (otomo). place locations. must be in the mid. some of which pertain to the chiefs recounted in . The stories regarding the split originates at the time when white men appear. The history may be outlined as follows: (1) Carib peoples occupied the southeastern portion of the basin by A. pushing chiefly families to become more permanently linked with garden hamlets and overall improvements of these areas. including garden. Nïtsïmï. 2001). or other factors appears to be a reflection of the ethnographic situation of low population levels and limited threat of violent aggression by other communities. who first had a garden house there. where they were definitely attacked—likely several times—by whites. Hikutaha and Amatuagu are chiefly names that still come down to the present. and Amatuagu. (2) the ancestors of the Kuikuru were located at villages around Lake Tafununu ipa otomo—the “lake people”. Óti was a long-term village with many satellites. and regional ethnohistory. the garden house of Ihikutaha. it seems likely that the Kuikuru and Matipu were closely related communities of ipa otomo. is well remembered in a variety of stories.to late eighteenth century. I agree with Franchetto (1992: 346) that the general impression one gets is that Óti is the most prominent of these villages and the others are secondary or satellite villages. 1993. and definitively split after circa 1850–1860. and they are no longer “power” names. was precipitated over a chiefly dispute over construction of the chief ’s house (tajïfe). which gave rise to the foundation legend of the Kuikuru as a distinctive community. to establish a village at Kuhikugu (Atika). where they were certainly attacked by whites. house. for instance. The Kuikuru split from the “mother” village. 1500 or earlier. until forced to flee west due to attacks by ngikogo and. which according to oral history. The split that gave rise to the Kuikuru. where they grew up and live. Such moves are not serendipitous.D. (Franchetto 1986. or “houses.In the Midst of Others • 245 tendency toward fissioning of large groups because of factional relations. whites. Three of the eight named chiefs are the founders of Kuhikugu: they are Ihikutaha. and trail preparation. but typically represent a long-brewing social schism. perhaps.

Place names—the place of so and so. Séku. who had tiponhï there. Kagahïtï. even places that the Kuikuru wish to reoccupy. or special chiefly discourse that is the property of the primary chiefs. and other related villages (see Franchetto 1993)— the chiefs who are buried there. of which a mass grave is described. Tehukugu. as they provide a retreat from their energy-consuming political duties critical for prominent men and particularly chiefs. Nokugu. the founding local ancestors that legitimate current persons and their relations. and Séhu are a few old village sites that have been the recent sites of . etepe (e. other chiefly names pertain to even older times.. but this does not diminish the fact that the greatest concentrations of symbolic and economic capital are concentrated in the hands of hereditary chiefs. but some continuity in land tenure is maintained between generations. as well as labor and the flow of material wealth. Relations empowering some and excluding others (sources and containers of power) are diverse. but are permanent markers of past settlements. but such places are also known by their chiefs. who had kuarups there. political power. Franchetto 1992. Just as there are good places to live. or who received other chiefs there. These chiefly names are not only recounted in the anetï intagíñu. Hatsikugi. when the “Whitemen” were “bad” and attacked various Kuikuru villages (c. other stories go even farther back to the time when the most distantly ancestral villages were occupied. both meaning “place of. because manioc gardens are commonly planted in piquí and these groves and even individual trees are “owned” and inherited by closely related groups of men. places with many bad memories. Villages are generally named by place. the name of the chief who resided over the village (Tafununu). via long-term “ownership” of place and through it. These are commonly situated in past village sites. Netunugu. 1750 or soon thereafter).246 • The Ecology of Power chiefly discourses. something followed with the suffix -hïtï or -ekugu. “cursed” places. Kuguhi. such as those in the 1954 epidemic among the Kalapalo of “Jacui. It seems reasonable to suggest that. just as they can remember great names of chiefs of Óti. Actual land ownership beyond the village is primarily based on usufruct.” or the Kuikuru of Ina. Hamlets are another critical element of Xinguano settlement pattern. there are also bad places.g. to some degree. or among groups. where many people die d.” Also. There are also many places that are fondly remembered. “where the witchcraft darts flew” (Basso 1973. creating the conditions for a fully political economy. by attaching otomo. isomorphic with the chief. whereby the memory of the settlement is. circa 1500–1700 (see Franchetto 2001). Heulugihïtï. prime lands and resources. Ireland 1988). a place becomes a community. were more tightly controlled by elite groups in the past.

the father of the forest. such as the aforementioned paga-paga kuengï (great toad) that inhabit one or two bends in the mid. These hamlet sites can easily be expanded to more permanent or larger residential areas (i.2 Anaconda basking in the sun on the Tafununu outlet stream (1993). Another type of being that shares the land is the powerful itseke (Figures 7.4). built a canal bisecting the curve to avoid the beast. such as the ahasa. these kagaifa. place of the itseke. many such itseke live in the forests and waters of the Upper Xingu: some are spirits that seldom are apparent..to upper Angahuku River. I once heard a child call an anaconda an itseke.2–7. However.e. or the atugua (whirlwind spirit) and its aquatic cousin. is the deep waters of Lake Tafununu. In fact. it was here that the monster of the deep attacked an expedition of ngikogo who attacked the old Kuikuru villages on the lake. many do appear and directly attack humans and many of these take the form of giant beasts. It was here that this itseke overturned a canoe of white men a long time ago. villages) and village schisms often involve the movement of a large portion of a village to a prepared hamlet location (such as was the case of the Kuikuru split from Uagihïtï in the mid-1800s).In the Midst of Others • 247 garden hamlets). because snakes are considered Fig. 7. in fact. Another itsekekugu. . the whirlpool. the thin strip separating Netonugu from Tafununu proper. some malfareous or ambivalent by nature but only if their specific haunts or homes are happened upon (such as in deep parts of lakes).

Fabian (1998) notes that a Bororo plaza village is “a form of writing on the landscape” (Lévi-Strauss 1961. how the Yanesha of Peru “have ‘written’ their past history into the landscape. is graphic testimony. Santos-Granero (1998) describes. 1981: Turner 1979. 1996): the Bororo village fits the broadest interpretations of Goody’s definitions of lists (Goody 1977:80) and tables (Goody 1977: 54). in their eyes. for instance. Seeger 1976. and that in fact the Bororo village begins to fulfill the two main functions of writing systems according to Goody: that of . brought to the Kuikuru years ago by a kagaiha. 7.3 Etching of “father of the forest” spirit (Ahasa) and jaguar (from Steinen 1896). of the existence of itseke. itseke. 1963. A sperm whale tooth.248 • The Ecology of Power Fig.” as Zucchi (2002) also describes the northwest Amazon.

and isolated trees recede away into the distance. was carefully gridded out in prehistoric times by settlement “nodes” and interlinking roads positioned according to several basic orientations. which. as described earlier. and that of shifting language from the aural to the visual domain. straight roads or across the plaza to the lake. looking down the long. the ceque and huaca system of the “sacred valley” of the Inca. as he notes. a landscape that includes a “bright red road [that] extends to the horizon. fences.” is exactly the kind one might expect of the ancient regime towns or even the villages of today. each “places” or orders the other. the grasslands (oti). This raises a question: What are the central symbolic places of Xinguano conceptual landscapes? Rather than anomalous as Gow (1995: 43) implies. the river. The Xinguanos have a similar system of place-making. or at a wall of high forest far in the distance? . where kinship and ethnoastronomy.In the Midst of Others • 249 Fig. while buildings. 7.4 Jakuikatu wooden masks representing water spirits (itseke) (from Steinen 1896). information storage. maintain synonymity. (Goody 1977: 78) This also brings to mind. described by Zuidema (1990) and Bauer (1998). most notably the solstitial axes.

see even more. The great mounds of Marajó Island. There is no copy. historical. no maps. most of it anyway. looking out over the . uncolonized Amazonia looks like uninhabited wilderness.” Gow (1995:43) remarks. remembered through the body of individual persons. although no human presence is immediately apparent now. he goes on. or the panoramic vistas up and down the Rio Negro from the regional center of Açutuba. and political dimensions of a humanist ecology in Amazonia today: Seen from an airplane. at least based on my own experience.” “What’s going on. but it is not. Even the naïve viewer can see settlements from the air. or nearby in the adjacent lower Solimões. and find the marks of human activity in what is apparently virgin forest. Schaan 2004). is surely the way landscape is experienced by the Kuikuru. For Native Amazonian people. but there are many places in the broad forested lowlands for which this characterization does not entirely apply. but only lived experience. perched forty meters above the white sand beaches during the dry season. while the more knowledgeable voyager can see the network of irregular patches of secondary vegetation that are the mark of slash-and-burn agriculture. It is either currently inhabited or. this knowledge is essentially abstract. Gow’s observations ring true for much of Amazonia. “in the sense the term has for people in temperate climes. The most knowledgeable.250 • The Ecology of Power Visualizing Landscape: Memory and Representation “It is hard to see Amazonia as landscape.” To travel through Amazonia. look out over the galeria forests across broad savanna-scrub lands (Roosevelt 1991. for instance. no charts. some of which are hundreds of meters long and ten meters or more high.” being in the world. only the original. this knowledge is part of lived experience in the sense of “what is going on. For the ecologists. it shows constant evidence of recently having been so. if it is not. It is people’s land. the centers of clusters of a few to dozens of smaller mounds. precisely those areas perhaps that most dramatically show the marks of human activity. such as certain ecologists and Native Amazonian peoples themselves.” His description eloquently captures critical elements of the symbolic. and produced by their own accumulation of records on paper in their scientific practice. “is to pass through an endless succession of small enclosed places” and it is only “when an Amazonian landscape has been radically transformed by roads and deforestation is it revealed as visually extended space.

For the Yanesha. looking at major features on topographic maps or sate-llite images.e.” In short. indeed itsuni refers to certain types of vegetation and soil conditions that pertain even in archaeological sites (i. 2001) in the Vaupes River area describe similar deeply layered and ancient landscape oriented to sacred “centers. with virtually no place that is not touched and molded by human hands. do make maps. and comparing these with their own knowledge (see Steinen’s definition of a Suyá map in the sand in 1884. to reconstitute circles around ourselves extending to the limits of the unknown. including large. Incidentally. when seen from a satellite image. too. The importance of landscape. based on the plaza sun-dial compass and the straight roads leading off the landscape with Cartesian coordinate precision according to cardinal direction and destination points. is not unique to the Xingu. Even the itsuni wilderness shows evidence. and roads. Such landscapes are widely known from the Amazon. some Xinguanos are very adept at drawing maps and pictures on the ground and on paper. of the massive alterations of this forest. mathematical. although significant variation exists in each region. as many other Amerindian groups have equally saturated and deeply layered landscapes. not equivalent to natural forest). Neves 2000. and throughout the range of the large plaza villages of the southern Arawak. for instance. before . was an element of the deep temporality of Arawak generally. architectural.. and Neves (1998. according to Leroi-Gourhan (1993: 325–336). But. particularly as “the solar divinity left important landmarks” (Santos-Granero 1998: 131). there is no doubt that specialists contained in their persons knowledge of a sophisticated astronomical. Understanding the world. occurs in two modes: “a dynamic [itinerant and specific] one whereby we travel through space to take cognizance of it and a static one [imagined and general] that enables us. and rivers. an Arawak people of the Upper Amazon. like the southern Arawak and most big river and/or maritime peoples of the lowlands. plazas. In the Upper Xingu. and cartographic understanding that formed the basis of the crystalline form of the galactic polity in 1491. Zucchi (2002) and Vidal (2002) in the upper and middle Orinoco. see also Seeger 1976. 1999. 2001a). there is enough available information to suggest that this.In the Midst of Others • 251 vast seasonally flooded várzea (Heckenberger et al. settled riverine peoples. Petersen et al.” Xinguanos. the way sociality or memory are “written” or “inscribed” into landscape. and they often sit with me as I draw my maps. 1981). origin places are critical landmarks for demarcating lands. while remaining immobile. The Xinguano landscape is a fully “saturated” anthropogenic landscape. in general.

where forests stand. with exemplary centers. is precisely the process of “pruning” genealogy. in one sense. but only plazas. according to a slightly different logic. and a crop rotational cycle between manioc fields.” a cultural aesthetic of constructedness and monumentality. the house and the plaza. pyramids. stelae. The monuments the Xinguanos build or have built are quite different than those we might be accustomed to seeing. for example. piquí orchards. In their public works. and settlement nodes. and how readily they take to making and understanding them. The primary reasons then that the Xingu contrasts so remarkably with many other general images of Amerindians are found in their geography and ecological orientation. straight roads (up to 50 m wide). They demand that we explore another extreme: that they overdetermine sectors of the land and economy. they are so to speak “deeply situated” in the landscape. Zuidema 1990). Staple manioc agriculture is practiced in the terra firme oxisols. with the one caveat that. their historical ecology as a settled.” There are no temple mounds. the likes of which had largely been eclipsed in . Many great American civilizations mapped out their sacred and administrative landscapes in such a way. and sapé fields and lower scrub forests grown up as fallow or lightly managed plots. and how landscape inscribes itself in human bodies through ritual and daily activities. like the Amazon itself. and the galactic organization of ancient regime Xinguano peoples.252 • The Ecology of Power returning to the question of these cardinal sites of memory. including “owned” piquí groves—all the while observing a cultural aesthetic of “clearing” and land improvement. It is interesting how indigenous peoples relate to maps and map-making recently. as agriculturalists and riverine fisherpeople.” Chiefmaking and place-making—and person-making—are inflections of the same cascading system of entailments: history. oriented to a religious system that is part ancestor cult. what it looks like. it is important to paint a general picture of the landscape. the Xinguanos do seem to have a “monu-mentalité. and peripheral moats. roads. The Kuikuru like wide open spaces. but based on the same foundational materials: where rivers flow. Fabian 1998. fruit trees in yards and old gardens. regional society. and part “theistic. and tend to denude “natural” vegetation in wide swaths around these villages— maintaining large areas of manioc gardens. the “four quarters. not vertical. ballcourts or altars. as a prerequisite for some of “complex societies. they like big open villages. radial roads. where people live. Xinguano peoples have been in “place” for at least a thousand years. part animistic holism. how it came to be that way.” the ceque/huaca system of the sacred Inka valley of Cuzco (Bauer 1998. and they build wide. the monuments are “flat” (lateral).

for that matter. chiefly redistribution.” It is this symbolic saturation. wifegivers/takers. such as those of the Upper Xingu. the lived world is “an auditory saturation of space. and its origins “lie in art and politics. or throughout the Arawak diaspora. From the point of view of a bird. the Pareci. such as reciprocity. that makes the analysis of landscape a critical humanist problem. who live a more unsettled and autonomous life and not uncommonly are predatory on the “bottom-landers. Tilley 1996). rather than the survival of an individual organism.” but among humans. generalized exchange.” that resonates with the phenomenological acuity of Gow’s description (see also Munn 1986. as biological entity. Archaeology is also a critical form of dwelling as is “participant observation. bride-service etc.” Ingold (1996) promotes a “dwelling approach. Too much attention has been focused upon things that are ethnographically obvious.” as Taussig (1993: 83) calls it. or wealth. What we see here. ritual and mythology. adapted and adapting to external material conditions.. this reconstitution of circles around ourselves. Lévi-Strauss (1987: 19) remarks. recapitulated on the pages of southern Amazonian history. but also the exigencies and biases of our (the analyst’s) “being in the world”—dwelling—alongside our “objects” of analysis. that between settled populations in “domesticated” landscapes.” among some mammals it is “an olfactory saturation of this same space. how we come to know and view landscape relates to a great degree to “the life of the imagination. Thus.” The Xinguano landscape is saturated with meaning.” . rather than bride-price. payment.In the Midst of Others • 253 the early centuries of European colonialism. is a local version of a very common theme worldwide. and the upland peoples. “this saturation cedes its physical character and becomes symbolic.


generalising forms of concept and person that are neither singular or plural. Pierre Bourdieu 1977: 89 … to put it in structuralist terms that have become an argot of the social anthropologist’s craft.CHAPTER 8 Houses. through the intermediary of the divisions and hierarchies it sets up between things. Like the celebrated Kabyle house. a public household area where the occupants of the entire house mingle and receive visitors. and practices. and domestic family areas at either end of the house. inhabited space—and above all the house—is the principal locus for the objectification of the generative schemes. described by Bourdieu (1970). persons. Heroes. this tangible classifying system continuously inculcates and reinforces the taxonomic principles underlying all the arbitrary provisions of this culture. the possibility remains that social and cultural phenomena might be collapsed along a number of axes to yield scale-retaining understandings of unsuspected elegance and force. and. and History: The Fractal Person In a social formation in which the absence of the symbolicproduct-conserving techniques associated with literacy retards the objectification of symbolic and particularly cultural capital. Roy Wagner 1991: 159 The interior of the Xinguano house is oval in shape and divided into two parts: the center. 255 .

1 Inside of house under construction (1993). The construction of a house is a laborious task usually undertaken by two related men. the “owner” (oto). the “owner(s)” of the house.1). and the persona of the house is most openly revealed. . or brothers-in-law. visitors by the front alone (Figure 8. where visitors are received. inscribes on the body and in cultural memory. brothers. the basic schemas and divisions of culture through a process of objectification and embodiment. Upon entering the house. father and son. Entering through the front door. House members enter through the low front (egetilopïgï) or back (gipopïgï) doors. which dominate the center of the house in various combinations. storage racks and manioc silos. is found the house head. Behind the central posts. The Xinguano house is also conceived and built according to metaphors of the human body (Gregor 1977. in the hammock tied parallel to the house’s long axis (right-left). is where primary food cooking and preparation activities typically occur (the “kitchen”). in the same place. one encounters the most public space.256 • The Ecology of Power the house. 8. is the secondary head. the visitor has little doubt regarding the principal social divisions: on the right (ot[i]). and to the visitor’s left (ehengu[i]). with the support of their subordinate relatives. the only openings to the house. Construction involves: (1) erecting the two to ten large center posts (gahagu) placed Fig. its partitions and spaces. Sà 1979). The traditional Xinguano house (üne or ngüne) is an oblong pole and beam longhouse usually about two times as long as it is wide.

Houses. talking of the tajïfe. The two most powerful families. the visitor is greeted by three sculptures. the kuakutu (men’s house) is a reflection of the community and not only the individual household. with a steeply sloping roof that extends to the ground. the backyard “patio” and the paths leading out from it. (2) a center cross-beam (sipo) is attached across the tops of the center posts (ungita center and sata). and respected it with the utmost sanctity. Similarly. each with a “front-row seat” on the central plaza. and constitute the outer periphery of the village proper. include small round and oval structures. (4) smaller poles (setiso) are placed just outside the short wall posts and bent inward toward the center-beam. and which connects with “backyards” of related houses. Refuse is deposited in large middens ten to twenty meters behind the house. fruit trees. (5) thin crossbars are tied to these vertical poles (angao). When completed.1 The largest house in a village is the “chief ’s house” (tajïfe). the house looks like an oblong haystack. and three and a half to seven meters high. cagaihai-ungo). including manioc processing and other food preparation. and History • 257 along the central axis of the house. and bottle gourd. Heroes.2 The tajïfe is the only residential structure built by the community at large and at the request of the community. six to fourteen meters wide. among many others. pepper. although the Kuikuru have not had a chief for over a decade.to medium-sized square houses. Behind each house is an open cleared area or patio where most outdoor domestic activities are conducted. in turn. made from .” and that “the laws have changed. temporary structures or satellites to a primary longhouse. upon entering the traditional tajïfe. The chief once told me. banana. the two chiefly “Houses.” Traditional painting used in the tajïfe and the kuakutu include a front-facing panel on the roof gable and in the front of the house (on interior panels between adjacent the doors.” dominate the cardinal points and have secondary houses beside and behind the main house. Traditionally. often forming large raised mounds that. that in the past “in-laws passed farther from it. with variations attributable to household size. prestige and personal preferences. and (6) sapé grass thatch (or occasionally buriti palm frond) is attached to these horizontal crossbars. spoke more softly. between the two front doors on the kuakutu and on either side of the two uengïfi trunks that frame the front and back doors of the tajïfe). often with wattle and daub mud walls (reflecting neo-Brazilian influences. These composts (tsulo) are cultivated with diverse plants. The primary üne form a ring around the plaza. Other üne often have work structures behind them. with discrete wall and roof segments. Houses range from eleven to thirty-five meters long. Other house types. define. including maize. (3) short closely-spaced posts are positioned in the outline of the outside wall ungita-ngahapïgï. and small.

which enables the whole of society to be ranked against itself. and in the middle is the toad (paga paga). . food for the anaconda. hinhano and hisü.258 • The Ecology of Power the compact red clayish soils. this basic distinction between older and younger siblings. on one’s right is the jaguar (ekege). perpendicular to the primary east-west axis of village orientation (“sun entrance” and “exit”). those with descent and those without). From the point of view of the family and the household.e. Joyce and Gillespie 2000). Thus. the house—the primary dwelling—is the skin of social groups. their kindreds or “Houses” are nested within those of their older brothers). Minor Houses (high-ranking but subordinate chiefs) are situated at easterly or westerly side of the village. like human bodies and plaza villages. covered with the white clay (enuei). what amount to the kindreds of the major village chiefs. They are also part of larger northern and southern Houses. social segments. the basic structural relations are hierarchically ordered according to principles of gender and seniority: men are senior to women. or “Houses” (sensu Lévi-Strauss 1982. and older siblings outrank younger siblings. 1987. on the left is the anaconda (konto) or “bush-master” viper (ugu kuku).. hierarchy in the sense of Dumont (1970).e. and atugua (whirlwind) are the “spirit guides” of the most powerful shaman in the village. and political competition revolves around them. ingãdzu and hisü). with primary village leaders occupying cardinal positions (N and S) in the Kuikuru village. konto. and. Beyond the level of the individual and family. As one enters the tajïfe. Xinguano Social Memory: Enchainments The Xinguano house is intermediate between the human being and the plaza community. parents to children.. iterates across time into high-ranking and cadet descent lines (i. the ideology of rank extends outward to structure larger groupings within villages. Houses are positioned according to a very precise calculus in villages. The cardinal houses—the tajïfe (when present) and its oppositional counterpart—are thus the “heads” of the major villages factions. according to gender-specific distinctions between older and younger brothers. or otomo. is a critical element of cultural memory. hasü and ikene (cross-sex siblings are simply sisters and brothers. through kinship and alliance (i. and painted with urucu (red) and charcoal (black) mixed with tree sap. or sisters. Parenthetically. From this general social theorem. household clusters or factions. the spirits of ekege. see also Carsten and Hugh-Jones 1995. there are always several major and minor Houses in each village. Simple as it may seem. This combination of (white-red-black) is also used to paint both human bodies and the diverse (10–12) masks (other “skins”) they wear in animal/spirit ceremonies.

the ranking man of the ranking house (a dwelling and a kin-group) of the ranking House (a larger. selfsimilarity. Such a metaphor is useful for drawing our attention to the selfsimilar (“fractal-like”) scaling of cultural systems.” to describe such a holographic (self-scaling) effect in cultural systems. The Fractal Person This analytical imagery of this “cascading” phenomenon.”3 The concept of the fractal person refers to both the duality of social life. and History • 259 At the level of the village. never entirely individual or aggregate. To borrow Bourdieu’s (1970: 165) metonym. and the Xinguano nation. and the multidimensional properties of self-organization. while not necessarily fixed in place or in literal genealogical terms. anetï mugu) and daughters (anetïindiso). families. recognizing the openendedness. keeping its scale. chiefdom. the “otomo within the otomo. the “house is an empire within an empire. for which the principal “great chief ” (anetï ekugu) is “father”: that is. tribe.” into individuals “or magnified. there may have been regional chiefs: the highest ranked (first among equals) chief among all the chiefs in this cascading series of “moral personages” that constitute the Xinguano nation (the Kuikuru chief has referred on occasion to another village chief as “our chief ”). This pattern had a yet larger supralocal iteration in the galactic clusters of the Xinguano ancient regime.” so to speak. reproduces only versions of itself. in symbolic and social terms. houses. is radically different from that which anthropologists are more familiar: society. and the scaling of cultural schemas. great persons. in perhaps more familiar terms. within regional arenas.” kangamuke. societies. of both units of analysis and of sociality.” into communities. Houses and “Great Houses” (villages and galactic clusters). The chief is thus ancestor or affine to every villager. “fractal person.Houses.e. culture. the household is the “little chiefdom within the chiefdom” (Sahlins 1968: 24). ngamuke. “the fractal person. Major chiefs refer to community members in informal and formal discourse by the word for child. usually multihouse dwelling place and also a kin group) is not only the father of future chiefs. in genealogical terms chief ’s sons (i.. such as the genealogies of Xinguano social bodies: persons. but also father to the entire village. even regions. or “my children. There is evidence that. At once singular and plural. Heroes. each village resolves into a single kindred. metonymical principles of . Roy Wagner (1991) coins the term. “However diminished. the fractal person draws our attention to issues of scale and perspective: the anthropological object or subject changes depending upon the vantage point from which human phenomena is being observed.” or.

issues of self-scaling in ethnotheories of selfhood and otherness . structure and practice. resonates with Strathern’s (1991. underlying sense or structure of Amerindian thought. as discussed earlier—but it demands attention to scalar principles.” as Hornborg (1998: 168) notes.” The plaza. initiations. in particular. the region). symbolic and social self-similarity. “fractality” makes central the problem of symbolic iteration framed in terms of mimesis and alterity and social “transcorporeality” (corporeal metamorphosis): scale. different projections of its fractality.” Such regularity and correspondence. and other public (civil) affairs. defies narrow.” However. The idea of the fractal person.” The fractal person. and continuity and change. at least since LéviStrauss’s Mythologiques (Viveiros de Castro 1992: 5). community or nation] are equally arbitrary sectionings or identifications of this enchainment. saying that regions and locales are both critical and then assuming they can be directly compared—the ecological and historical fallacy. whereas the composition and decomposition of subjects. Wagner (1991) notes that “although the idea of fractality may appear abstract. This “tantalizing redundancy” or “seriality. is coupled with that of personhood (the subjectivity of an objective form. funerals. It is not simply scaling. the house. by definition. fractality. it is in fact no more so than singularity or plurality. “may be a key to finding an epistemologically modest and nonreductionist mode of comparison. which balances formalism and relativism. unit-like definitions. is the spatiosocial signature as well as mediator of these generalizing forms. a deep. 1999) concept of the “partible person. the dividuality or partibility of persons and their perspectives. In particular. the human body. the settlement. implies direct traffic. as well as in the natural spirit rituals that highlight or animate these ontological “others” (see Chapter 9). generalising forms of concept and person that are neither singular or plural. should not surprise us. 1992. As Wagner (1991: 166) notes: “the possibility remains that social and cultural phenomena might be collapsed along a number of axes to yield scale-retaining understandings of unsuspected elegance and force. and instead draws our attention to polyvalent but self-similar quality of cultural systems: “A genealogy is thus an enchainment of people … [and] person as human being or person as lineage or clan [house.” (Ibid: 163) The critical point here is that within the concept of the fractal person this idea of selfscaling or holography. It most directly implies the symbolic or social self-scaling of human cultural systems. which so clearly differentiate the Xinguano high ranking from the hoi polloi. or statistical analysis. particularly in the ritual context of chiefly ceremonies. or sociocultural holography.260 • The Ecology of Power self-organization.

the inner-fixedness (and mimesis) of fractal persons (in a sense genealogy or consanguinity). as seen in direct or potential exchange and affinity (traffic) between partible persons. is such a fractal “operator. as it relates to individual human bodies. the word telo. galactic clusters. represent. for theoretical and ethnographic reasons (Vivieros de Castro 2001). in-out. and regions. neighborhoods. The plaza. are critical examples of this pattern of cascading (self-scaling). in particular. One focuses on self-sameness. and world/universe. alterity and mimesis. houses.” expressing. and History • 261 and. this involves most directly questions of visibility. how social substance travels between “persons” that directly and consciously traffic with each other.2. is juxtaposed at different social levels to: (1) the people (kuge). but the reformulation or reiteration of alterity across different social and symbolic domains. the plaza is a symbolic window (Ohnuki-Tierney 1990) that enables us to consider self-scaling between human bodies. their concrete iterations in the spatial and temporal distributions of persons (their “places” and life histories) are critical.” on “the skin of the land” or in houses and village layouts. bilateral cross-cousins (1986:110). whereby “other” (non-relative). and us-them variety.” this symbolic self-organization and “holographic” (self-similar scaling) quality of cultural systems. In other words. From an analytical point of view. see also Basso 1973): Otomo defines both the local group [village community] and the kindred of ego. what cultural memories are preserved on “persons.” In other words. alterity. Introducing the criterion “sex” into the personal otomo. and transfigure other things of a different nature and scale. Heroes. the person. not how things traffic but how they entail. series of sameness/otherness. the categories of affinity are created— mother’s brother. rather than immediate relationship. Amazonian ethno-theories of the body. communities. houses. reproducing and inflecting the valences of self-similarity and difference that cascade throughout cultural systems: a prism-like structure that inflects all types of “persons” into all types of “others. not to the exclusion of otherness or cross-ness. Space is a critical means through which to operationalize the concept of the “fractal person. defined based upon filiation and siblingship. telo simply defines non-relative. each with their unique dimensionality and temporality. Franchetto (1986) describes just such a cascading set of self-scaling relations according to the basic schema of “self ” and “otherness” among Kuikuru (Figure 8. The Kuikuru system of alterity. particularly. fractality strikes at issues of topology. of the near-far. (2) the . and the world. father’s sister. up-down.Houses.

tango). Houses (chiefly kindreds) and Great Houses (maximal otomo).262 • The Ecology of Power Fig. This is no . or in certain contexts. shows a similar self-scaling geometry. houses. 8. ekugu. high-ranking female chiefs. starknowledge. house heads into chiefs (the primary village chiefs or anetï. is played out at the level of individual families. communities. On the ground. predicated on ranked sibling sets and affines. in other words. they come to stand for the group. and regions. and (3) chiefs and non-chiefs.2 Hierarchically organized conceptions of otherness. which. (2) the otomo/ telo series (following Franchetto 1986: 110). engineering. and female (tango) chiefs. including the distinctions between (1) Xinguanos (kuge) and other indigenous peoples (ngikogo) and “Whites” (cagaiha). “ethnophysics. lesser (nsono). and (4) non-affines and affines (non-affines are then divided into true. houses. siblings). neighborhoods. local group (otomo in its most common usage). the heads of chiefly kindreds or Houses). Thus. In addition to kinship. chiefs and chiefly families or kindreds (Houses) are an intermediate iteration of the social body between individual persons and the Xinguano nation as a whole or. otóhogo. these groups can be distinguished as domestic units. It is also combined with that of chiefliness. and climatology. through ranked systems of consanguinity and affinity. and notably the community into one or a few ranking “great chiefs” (anetï ekugu. or cross-ness. positions all members of Xinguano society in an overarching hierarchical structure. (3) relatives and nonrelatives. and classificatory. the former subdivided into great or “true” (ekugu). that turns family and household members into house heads. The social alterity.” the reservoir of knowledge that includes counting. in certain contexts and particularly in regional interaction.

local exogamy or endogamy. these elements (kindreds. So combined.Houses. and that the underlying kinship logic is cognatic. particularly in light of the cosmo-centrism of Amerindian systems of knowing (Descola 2001). Some of the . or ignored due to more immediate concerns such as personal and kingroup social standing. The most striking feature of Kuikuru social organization is the degree to which it is structured not by abstract principles or rules. residence. as Clastres (1987) called it in lowland South America. bride-service and bride-price) and provide only crude guidelines. Heroes. the “One”—the nascant Leviathan.. preference. proximity. which extend well beyond kin terms and marriage categories to “far-reaching and versatile intellectual templates” that structure every conceivable form of sociality. congruent with what Viveiros de Castro (1993. including “potential” consanguinity and affinity with non-humans. finite relations of brother–sister exchange. land and sky. rank endogamy. our interest lies in the divisions between things. Houses (including minor and major groupings.” as Sahlins called it. society and cosmos. place) can be divided into three units: houses (including all domestic structures in villages).” In this Xinguano case this follows a fairly typical bifurcate-merging “Iroquois” kinship terminology. manipulated. but these are highly diverse and contigent (e. Specifically. factional affiliation. Viveiros de Castro 1998. and practices. community and regional (galactic cluster) spatial patterns must wait for now (see Chapter 9). wife-taker/wife-giver. and History • 263 surprise. (Descola 1996b. Discussion of sedimentation of personhood in household. considering that one mirrors the other. 2001). or. and Great Houses (in which the village is a House within a regional sociopolitical network). but varies across time and kingroup. the kindred of household heads). Social Bodies There is a large body of ethnographic material written on Xinguano social organization (Coelho 1995). and personal safety (from sorcery or accusations of it). but by daily contingencies and individual preferences (Basso 1983. followed. Fausto and Viveiros de Castro 1993) calls the “Amazonian Dravidianate. cross-cousin marriage. Preferential structural rules do exist. For now. in the wife’s father’s house. 1998. persons. 2001. among other things.g. chiefs and chiefly families or kindreds (Houses) are an intermediate iteration of this symbolic cascading that extends from the individual person to more encompassing personages: the “One Giant Indian effect” or “heroic I. how people divide themselves: the alterities created by systems of consanguinity and affinity. Strathern 1999. at least temporarily as bride-service. By and large my own experience supports the view that basic residence is uxorilocal. 2001. 1984).

my data confirm that post-marital residence patterns show a tendency toward uxorilocality. At first glance.” a pattern Sorenson (1976: 133) calls extensive polylocality. and residence.” that is to say inherent as well in the structure of social and power relations in the past. are moving targets in the Xingu and are redefined situationally according to . Although a wide variety of daily contingencies condition individual decisions regarding residence (Basso 1984). affinity. Residence and affliation patterns are flexible and based on diffuse kin relations and individuals and families have “far-reaching resettlement privileges with friends or associates living in widely separated communities. The critical difference in Xinguano cognatic kinship is its duality. that some elements of this social flexibility are “traditional.264 • The Ecology of Power flexibility may. Fausto and Viveiros de Castro 1993. which today represents that “maximal local kingroup” (Dole 1969: 109–110). residence and affiliation. Kinship in the Xingu.4 Intervillage marriages among the Kuikuru are most common with other Carib-speaking groups. this seems like a simple transformation of a very basic Amerindian pattern (see Coelho 1995. Depopulation resulted in increased village exogamy. but population rebound over the last several decades has reduced the need to look beyond one’s natal village for spouses. Viveiros de Castro 1995). Maybury-Lewis 1979). castes. relate to “contact. Franchetto 1986).” generally. as is typical of both Central Brazilian and Amazonian societies (Dole 1969: 107. whereby related dialects (distinct local groups) form clusters in regional systems (Basso 1984. Petesch 1993. but larger “Houses” also apparent within the community (otomo). Although there is significant intermarriage across village lines. Polygyny is also common among chiefs. depopulation and increased cultural pluralism made it difficult or disadvantageous to practice normative patterns of marriage. in part. different top to bottom. Descent is cognatic and the primary kinship units are ego-centered kindreds. but affinity and the “outside. It is equally likely. differs from many Amazonian contexts or exegeses in the degree to which it is bifurcated and actually forms two systems: a system specific to the high-ranking personages (anetão) and the rest (majority) of persons. as well. There is a stated preference for cross-cousin marriages. or classes (perhaps less so in the ancient galactic clusters). although these categories are overlapping and complementary in social and spatial relations and do not form rigidly defined strata. however.” In other words. generally patri-uxorilocal households. at least first arranged marriages between chiefs commonly take this form. village endogamy is characteristic of most contemporary villagers. Marriage and residence also conform to linguistic proximity. including consanguinity.

depending on context. named moieties or complex age-grade.Houses. from a comparative perspective. generally conforming to the chiefly kindreds of minor and major Houses. vis-à-vis the Xinguano past. cross-cuts all dimensions of social structure. (2) suprahousehold interest groups. Social groups above the family are formed at three basic “institutional” levels: (1) house or household. that is the most “structural” element of sociality over the long term. It is this “structural contradiction. Thus.” is oriented to a relatively precise calculus of seniority. and “House societies” in general (Carsten and Hugh-Jones 1995). much like those often assumed to characterize all of Amazonia. that is. Conversely. the “Great House” in regional systems. Amazonia. which are distinguished from the majority of society (kamaga).5 and Xinguano endogamy. Social hierarchy has been noted by virtually every ethnologist working in the region. rank endogamy.” as Giddens (1984) calls it. more than any other. colors social relations and provides the basis to distinguish Xinguano sociality from that of many other Amazonian groups. or other world areas is the distinction between hereditary elite and commoner statuses. in the form of “House” groups. the “inside. ancestrality. as wives and brothers-in-laws to powerful chiefs. and History • 265 several broad social valences: local endogamy. the pan-populational “sodalities” considered characteristic of “tribes. In some respects. This bifurcation of society. castelike organization. economic control and political domination. The household forms the primary relational unit above the level of the . characteristic of chiefdoms. As Viveiros de Castro (1992: 375) suggests: “The Amazonian rule. while Xinguanos may lack lineal descent groups. the powerful and their sons do not live according to this residential solution. consanguinity. except through the body of the chief and the chiefly substances associated with it—the immanent de jure power of the chief. and (3) the village (or galactic cluster). purely symbolic and ritualized with little “real” consequences in terms of political power. if it is possible to speak of one. but typically it is viewed as a unique twist to an otherwise egalitarian system. linguistic group endogamy. conical clans. the most interesting aspect of Kuikuru social organization. all of which can be followed or not. Heroes. is this: within a general tendency towards uxorilocality. the ability of the powerful to bend tradition to their will. do not hold any legitimate claims to plaza politics and ritual. rooted in descent from local founding ancestors. genealogy. naming or other special associations. Only certain kingroups have primary chiefly rank (anetï).” they do not lack lineality. and is a basis for comparison with other world areas. and social hierarchy.” Thus two logics exist: one of the high-ranking and one of the hoi-polloi. that is. whereby affines. In fact. for what ever de facto power they hold.

just as a house or settlement can be considered a historical personage. via its heads and particularly the principal head. The issues resolved by adult men in formal discussions in the village center are first resolved in household context. and equivalencies. the household.266 • The Ecology of Power nuclear family and below that of the village. surplus. These cluster around Houses. would be “householding” rather than reciprocity or redistribution. but the extended family and household also forms a primary economic unit. according to the schema laid out by Polanyi (1957). at any rate. redistribution. at least. As a general rule. mutually dependent. the ring of houses forms a continuous link between primary villages heads. is also common. the larger the household. . Thus. Redistribution of large community payments by prominent men. mobilization. under the supervision. The house usually consists of a pair of related families or otherwise closely related individuals. the stronger the male household head is in community affairs. Nuclear families within the household have more or less equal access to essential resources through sharing of labor. father/son [six houses]. and even incipient “market behavior” (in the form of local and intercommunity uluki ceremonial trading) are all important elements of the economy. usually forms a voting block. decide for powerful men what they will decide for themselves. located in cardinal points of the plaza ring. principally the highest-ranking southern and second-ranking northern Houses. the kindreds of the highest ranking and most powerful chiefs. materials and foodstuffs. within the context of the cyclical uluki ritual exchange and occasional “windfalls. elders. Trade and borrowing between closely related individuals. and correspond to the kindred of the people who occupy the cardinal directions. Since the Kuikuru define them through named people.6 Many economic activities are conducted by nuclear family units. householding. however (Halperin 1993). and even children. Gregor 1977: 60). the spaces can be considered as virtual persons. families and households is common and based on general reciprocity. women. brothers-in-law [three houses]. as are generalized exchange. corresponding in this case to the heads of chiefly persons. although a single extended family can occupy a house. The household is therefore an important autonomous unit in political action and village activities (Basso 1973. and brothers [one house]). Reciprocity. The household consists of a fairly cohesive body of individuals who not only share common bonds of kinship and marriage (substance). and refers to the inhabitants of one house. Although the families that occupy either side of a longhouse may disagree. but who are also bonded by common interests and economic activities. where other voices.” The generalized economic pattern. of chiefs. with one or two “owners” (in 1993: father-in-law/son-in-law [eight houses].

a leader will often sponsor a community-wide ceremony to promote an activity that he wishes other villagers to participate in (Basso 1973: 110). and require the mobilization of labor beyond the household.Houses. representing the community at . Ceremonial teams include petitioners (tajope) who “feel the public pulse” of the community to determine if there is a sentiment to hold a particular ceremony and then formally request the ceremony from the “owner” (oto) (Carneiro 1957: 260). at appropriate times. However. like oto and tajope. the primary chiefly rites of passage. what Gregor (1977: 311–312) calls “Giving Food and Gifts to the Spirits” rituals. the exclusive “owners. tajïfe or an airplane runway) and are organized and administered by the primary village leaders (Figure 8.) There are numerous ceremonies that take place during the year (Carneiro 1994 counted seventeen. or the women’s uluri. The firstsimply involves making legitimate demands on one’s network of kin and friends. (2) rituals of sexual antagonism. There are two primary mechanisms through which labor can be mobilized. or carrying a house post can all be accomplished with the aid of close relations without incurring direct or immediate costs beyond a bit of food or the certainty of reciprocity (Carneiro 1957: 262). (3) intraand inter-otomo exchange rituals (uluki) overseen by chiefs.” in this case. or “ceremonial teams” (Carneiro 1957: 260). and History • 267 Other suprahousehold social groupings within the village emerge as short-lived task-specific work groups. chiefly rites of passage are requested by village spokesmen (tajope). This “owner-asker” complex (Dole 1956/58: 131–132). e-akipugu) from the forest to the river. that are concerned with the relations of nonhuman spirits to the village. Men gain prestige by requesting or sponsoring ceremonies. (Egiñoto [singers] are a type of inoto [specialists] that are integral. including the tipoñhï (ear-piercing) boy’s puberty initiation. but the list is much longer). There are four basic kinds of ritual: (1) intravillage masking or spirit rituals. and (4) the most sacred and intense rituals. Clearing gardens. but the major mobilizations are oriented to chiefly ritual. to the performance of certain rituals. as well as by specializing in ceremonial songs. includes chiefly rituals that are asked of the chiefs. held for anetï indiso. Heroes.7 Like other rituals. carrying a canoe (ehu and wagi-puhisa. For instance. and the ant-eater (agigi) spirit ritual with its distinctive character of sexual antagonism.3). individuals can sponsor someone who needs help with a large project. including the women’s chiefly rituals (yamuricuma and tolo). the egitse mortuary feasts. Community-wide task forces can also be organized for communal projects (such as building a kuakutu. and the most important of all.

Minimally. particularly subordinate kin (e. involve the accomplishment of a variety of tasks.. an individual needs to have the ability to provide the required ceremonial food payments (primarily fish and beiju) that are distributed in the hugogo. In contrast. ceremonial payments). and as a result are the more prominent men in public ritual activity.. Among men. As Basso (1973:108) notes: As a result of inegalitarian kinship and affinal relations. that can be relied on for support. certain men and women find themselves surrounded by satellites. The diverse inducements for ceremonial sponsorship. the larger the tasks that can be performed. anetão. large. The latter depends on the network of kin. Obviously. . beyond building prestige and public interest.268 • The Ecology of Power Fig.e. sonsand daughters-in-law. younger siblings.8 One objective of mobilizing such a work group is to amass the food and wealth to support larger communal undertakings (i. of chiefs (oto).g. the larger the network one can draw on. and offspring). relatives who … feel constrained to lend assistance when called upon. it is these certain individuals who are regularly able to muster the support necessary to sponsor major village ceremonies. the second mechanism of labor mobilization. these same men and women find they have few relatives who can make demands upon them.3 Kuakutu (1995). only both tijope and oto are. by necessity. 8.

for women). Only chiefly sons and daughters (anetï mugu and anetï indiso) are constructed. as sitting chiefs. at least symbolically. and practices. and particularly household heads in the village plaza. While any man can achieve considerable influence in the village arena. It is that second tier that stands.e. in such a way as to attain the position of “true chief ” (anetï ekugu or tango.. anetï are raised above the rest of society as an elite group. and the House is isomorphic with the kindred of the chief. the unusual influence of these individuals depends on a large local group of close subordinate kin upon whom they can depend for support. are actively demonstrating their ability to influence a large number of individuals. a more formal political structure is evident. the other is foreign alliances. These levels are hierarchical in . Chiefs and Others At the level of the community. only hereditary anetï. between adult men. operating within and between households. as copies of their parents and grandparents (through name transmission) and more remote founding ancestors (local culture heroes) recited in chiefly discourse. that depends not only on individual abilities and status. As Basso (1973: 107) notes for the Kalapalo. becomes more apparent: the heads of Houses are anetï.Houses. sons. and between prominent village leaders in a supravillage arena. with the full complement of chiefly properties.” as a personage. the idea of “House. if not hungry for power. poised to step in that is diverse and numerous enough. Heroes. staunch political supporters). Whoever becomes a village spokesperson in external affairs is strongly conditioned by hierarchical social categories. From birth. it is important to note that political process in villages is multiscalar. these individuals have demonstrated their willingness and capacity (because of the large local kingroup) to sponsor numerous village ceremonies and projects and thus achieve the prestige associated with these activities. At this level. through plaza ritual. and in so doing. (see Chapter 9). but to a large degree on the ability of a man to surround himself with close subordinate relatives (i. substances. There are two strategies: one is local solidarity. a moral body. can ascend to high office. and often ready. however. “leaders are persons who are continually expanding and reinforcing social ties.” As with other prominent men. including in-laws. whereby the village operates as a more or less cohesive body in external affairs. and History • 269 As we have seen. and brothers. Thus. namely the difference between chiefly (anetï) and nonchiefly (kamaga) individuals. social hierarchy is always relatively clear about the relations standing behind the sitting chiefs and their political legitimacy (since to a large degree the hierarchies are constructed or at least centered around them). For the present purposes.

but depopulation may have blurred the lines. the bilateral transmission of anetï status (from either parent to all offspring) and the flexible (nonexclusive) marriage patterns. they are irregular nearing the vanishing point of the anetão aristocracy (third.” that. and through them.9 The pyramidal structure. Anetï is not a uniform status.270 • The Ecology of Power that important decisions are resolved at one level. or fifth sons. since the anetão are living human beings. the weightiest social actors in the village arena. but the plaza forum is dominated by prominent adult men and the supra-village political arena is dominated by the most influential men. a type of social structure elsewhere commonly referred to as a “conical clan” (Sahlins 1968: 24). as a group. as reproductions of ancestors. affines to the principal House(s). Many people are anetï and as such have a claim to chiefly position. that make up the “social class” or “caste. such that over time. perhaps as subtly as one or two feathers. certain bloodlines are exalted above others (e. Other people’s claims are more contested. or are related to foreign chiefly lines. are not. All individuals may speak their minds within their houses and domestic affairs and informal information exchange and gossip are common between houses.g. benches. Younger siblings have progressively weaker claims to anetï status. Chiefly Status: The Anetão Village chiefs throughout the Upper Xingu share one thing in common: they are members of a bilaterally inherited elite status group. of third. Some individuals are recognized as anetï by everyone. all Kuikuru have anetï ancestors. those individuals who are or could be accepted as village leaders. given the small size of community. High-ranking families.. the village chiefs. while tied to material things. an extension over time and space of the . Hierarchy is defined based on birth order (primogeniture). claims to chiefly rank or office become more irregular and unacceptable. As the genealogical ties to individuals with high chiefly rank (i. fourth.. like houses. All individuals can be ranked according to the strength of their claim to anetï status with respect to sitting chiefs and recent ancestors. the anetão. fourth. before a mandate is given to an individual to act as a representative at a higher level. first sons and daughters of first sons and daughters (primogeniture and cross-generational name transmission). are made and remade by people using things. called anetï by the Kuikuru. In fact. socially distinctive from the rest of Xinguano society. primarily on the strength of their anetï parent and their position relative to that parent. first-sons of first-sons opposed to fifth-sons of fifth-sons). becomes increasingly attenuated. and fifth sons). founding ancestors). which seem to make up about 20 percent of village population.e. objects.

in particular.Houses.” to a social superior (elders and chiefs) or in-law. while having special rights and prerogatives (sponsoring rituals.” or host. siblings.. are subordinate to primary chiefs. or “small” chief) who. not only locally recognized chiefly attributes (genealogy and “personality”) but through ritual presentation in the natal and other villages. to the things that chiefs (their fathers. although there are always many strongly anetï (i. It crystalizes over the long term in the definition of a hereditary elite status (anetï). ideally. Principal among chiefs are the titled. ensure political authority. strong anetï are the firstborn sons . specialized (“esoteric”) knowledge. but high chiefly rank does not. or respect. demeanor: these elements comprise the symbolic capital to finance their power. but established in the productive and political climate of local rulers. A similar. having high chiefly rank) individuals. wealth. mothers. reign supreme: the hugogó òto (the “owner of the middle. hierarchy among women interpenetrates that of men. represented the community as a kuarup “owner. grandparents. men and women who are unquestionably strong in chiefly blood. real (the tajïfe) or de facto. A second-tier is composed of weaker and ascendant chiefly individuals (anetï insoño. the offspring of powerful anetï are recognized in ritual by other chiefs. but slightly subordinate.” or eté). and History • 271 separation of elder (superior) and younger (inferior) siblings and the principle of primogeniture. These men have mastery of the full complement of chiefly knowledge and demeanor. women are called “tango”) of whom two. and who learn and use the chiefly dialect (anetï intaríñu). or are poised to do so. A rank of common people (kamaga) is subordinate to chiefly ranks. and they determine who can conduct the principal chiefly rituals. Xinguano hierarchy is tied to native conceptions of ihuse. such as the chief ’s house.e. affines) use to convert their legitimacy into real power: for example. having received visitors for the community. in and of itself. is thus characterized by an upper tier of highranking individuals. oration). Primogeniture and internal hierarchy within kingroups not only creates legitimacy for chief ’s sons. Heroes. deference. but also provides greater access in chiefly places. based itself on primogeniture. and as participant.” or hugogo) and the eté oto (“owner of the village. being “ihuse-ndagu. labor projects. The title anetï ékugu is specifically used for adult men who actually occupy chiefly office.” chiefs (anetï ekugu. Ascension to chiefly office requires that an individual not only be strongly anetï. meaning “true” or “great” chief. Perhaps most importantly. Sons also can depend on the father’s large kindreds. Chiefs are anetï who can and have performed all of the duties of chief. or “sitting. which in practice equates to being in a state of humility. crystallized in chiefly rites of passage.

and broader population clusters. trips. the local group. to choose others for wrestling line-ups. and to nominate or appoint assistants of various kinds. to represent the Kuikuru in external affairs. The hugogó òto directed village public and political life. traced cognatically. chiefs cycle through titles in the course of their lives and as “symbolic property. Today. assumed to be related to the depth of one’s genealogy within the group (a founder principle) For example. the then hugogó òto has changed to eté òto. two Kuikuru men were considered anetï ekugu: the eté òto (“owner of the village”) and the hugogó òto (“owner of the middle/ plaza”). which represents both a genealogical past and a potential future as an ancestor. It is thus a container of power. As the village grows and the number of voices multiplies. having (by definition) a community mandate to receive outsiders. In other words.272 • The Ecology of Power and daughters of a firstborn parent. at least. and a senior line (first-borns) more than a junior line. since the previous one had left the village. This space (read political power) is increasingly restricted to and controlled by powerful men. like the city or nodes in a galactic polity. the center of public political activity and ritual performance. or other activities. The difference between the hugogó òto and the eté òto was pronounced. The eté òto was a village elder who acted primarily as a figurehead. individuals are less capable of directly affecting political process except insofar as they represent larger social groups.” or “inalienable possessions. metaphorically. The hugogó òto also mediated all supravillage contacts.10 although his actual status and role have changed gradually in cadence with the incremental phases of his specific life history. household and factional leaders. In 1993. although both were considered anetï ekugu. he is a man of the plaza. As the name suggests.” the names take on a history. The historical results are chiefly lines that on the ground create distinctive social strata composed of individuals of greater and lesser substance (class-like organizations). but it is they and they alone who mediate contacts beyond the village that affect the community. Like names. and to generally direct village affairs. although he was consulted about important decisions and his voice could add considerable weight to the position of one or another political coalition. an older sibling preserves more genealogical substance from his forebears than does a junior. at a larger scale (an embryonic “theater state”). leading back to the founders of the village. access to political process—access to the plaza—is critical to the operation of political power. Anetï ekugu are particularly influential. and it is the most prominent among them who compete for the authority to represent the village as a whole . Village chiefs gain their mandate in the context of the village. even though this is usually in ritualized form.

that is not also tied to some members of the community: the primary chief is a brother-in-law to several chiefs.4). two primary kin-groups have been central: the highest-ranking family (House A) and the ascendent and opposing kin group (House B). at the south (A) and north (B) poles of the village ring. in terms of descent from founding Kuikuru ancestors. and is from the line of Ipatse chiefs.e.5). claim to “chiefly” anetï status) and their efficacy in meeting the desires and expectations of their fellow villagers. at least.. Major Houses The village can be divided into two major Houses and several secondary houses. the eté òto. which in most cases means being strongly anetï. including his primary political rival (to which he is a wife-giver) and the older brother of the two other principal chiefs today as well as first cousin to several others. She was the conduit through which the three primary contemporary lines come down to the present: through her first-born son. and “cousin” to all through past and present chiefly marriages. her first-born daughter. an individual must be a chief. Ngohugu. The ability to form and maintain a following in village politics depends on the inherent characteristics of that individual. and History • 273 (person) to the outside. including their legitimacy (i. and one other woman. is through the now deceased matriarch of House A (Auna. For the past three decades (and two villages) the two Houses have sat directly across the plaza from one another. Over the past fifty years. her granddaughter (daughter of the eté òto). however. There are no households that are not directly related to all others and no village. and it largely mandates at the village level. three women were considered tango: her only daughter (sister of the eté òto). also a powerful chief of Lahatua. After her death. headed by chiefly persons. To engage in external politics. in 1993. the elder) (Figure 8. The largest concentration of closely related and strongly anetï individuals is by far in House A. As noted earlier. the ability to maintain subordinate kin close at hand is important for the maintenance of political power. The present eté òto. in the regional system. in the 1930s and 1940s) is the head of household cluster A. the middle-aged chief Afukaká (the name of his grandfather.Houses. Heroes. the brother-in-law of the ranking House A (Figure 8. but not without significant rivalry even so. into which Auna the elder she married upon the death of her first husband. She was the mother of the current eté òto and two of the three ranking female chiefs (tango) in the village. . following rules of primogeniture and name transmission. typically in collaboration with the northern house. as well as various nonchiefly houses (dwelling owned by non-aneti). The primary legitimacy of both House A and B. who carries the name of her mother’s mother.

with three large plaza-front houses. aneti . and the southern House is quite large—called “a cidade” (the city) jokingly by Kuikuru. 8. house 13 house 14 house 15 . two small rear houses.4 Kinship diagram of southern House (1993). particularly if these kin are also influential. bracketed by two plaza .274 • The Ecology of Power house 2 house 1 house 23 house 24 anetï ekugu strongly anetï anetï kamaga tango . 8.5 Kinship diagram of northern House (1993). irregular aneti kamaga tango . aneti kamaga 13 14 15 Fig. aneti kamaga 1995 1 2 1994 24 23 Fig.

like the ascendence of House B. Heroes. related to the person holding the office. stands in this position throughout the life of that village. such as when a chief is born weak or a commoner made strong. Afukaká. including the Waujá and Mehinaku (Ireland 1996). The two positions form a diarchy. grandfather of the current eté òto died without sons. . When a new village is opened. transpire over generations. Afukaká to Auna. Rights and obligations are transferred bilaterally. In 1993. When there are irregularities related to birth. through bad dreams the child can be weak. courage. the grandson of the eté òto (currently too young to be elevated to chief). once named. whereby either chief can be dominant. and. including the genealogical substance of chiefs. This is one of several reasons the Kuikuru give for there being weak anetï. its “owner” (eté òto) is named. and History • 275 houses of very near kin. The latter was confident that his oldest son would “fill his place. Invariably.g. although he has “shame” to say so directly. and in his physical form. and shifts in power. In the Kuikuru village. The hugogó òto (“owner of the village center”) is also a named position that constitutes a more or less permanent position of political authority. although the line remains strong with the oldest daughter. Afukaká/Auna. to Afukaká. Similar patrilineal transmission is known from other villages. just as there are reasons. In part. are more enduring as composite persons than individual chiefs.Houses. the then hugogó òto (now eté òto) was the most powerful and legitimate chief. This is essentially the situation of the House B leader.” but the son tragically died in 1993. for their children to be strong and likewise.major Houses are fixed in place and it is this physical immobility that cements their continuity. the office of principal chief passed from father to oldest son for at least three generations (and the oldest son of the current chief is the presumptive heir). particularly through strategic marriage. In the Yawalapiti village. Houses. or until he dies or leaves the village. The Kuikuru say that parents must dream of powerful spirits. The proof is in the exploits and actions of the chief. on the other hand. and prowess. if he carries the name forward or if the House passes into the hands of diverse claimants to the same apical ancestors. both mythical and historical. cognatically. like the jaguar. House B is composed of one large and one small plaza house and two smaller rear houses. a generation was skipped when a powerful anetï ekugu. to Afukaká. with one house and its two rear houses closely aligned. there are always measures and explanations (e.. who bears the name Auna and her oldest son. the “mandate of heaven”). Only time will tell. for strong kamaga to ascend to positions of power. to Auna. Today. he is presented as the village chief to outsiders. Whether there is something deeper or not conditioning the oscillation between gender.

is the sister of the eté òto. or even other villages (see Gregor 1977: 83). and emergence as a village leader is not a direct outgrowth of powerful parents or grandparents. a brother-in-law. and they are privy to position. Village chiefs are expected to be knowledgeable about the external world and advise the community in these matters. Anetï ekugu do not gain public support merely on the strength of their anetï status. The older wife. but also must be efficacious leaders and model citizens. in particular the oldest son. The leader of House B is an affine. The core of the former is the principal village chief (the eté òto) and his immediate . The influence of this factional group is extended by the marriage of the founder’s son to two women closely associated with House A. which creates the conditions for greater legitimacy for their offspring. positioning House B squarely within the central families of the otomo. has a large kingroup.” as was his father before him. Clearly. however. from an early age the oldest sons are groomed to follow in the place of their father.11 House as Faction The primary political rivalry is that between House A (south) and House B (north). Thus. and his daughters married men from other villages). those individuals who have widely recognized status as anetï at birth. has a privileged position for leadership. being married to the elder sister of the House A brothers.276 • The Ecology of Power corresponding to the center of political gravity. as in the previous village (Franchetto 1986). Not everyone who has legitimate anetï status has political aspirations. have greater ease in promoting themselves as village leaders later in life. they are recognized as legitimate by virtue of their father. In the case of House B. House A. as well as aligning it with the chiefly families of Aiha (Kalapalo) and the Mehinaku. the FUNAI Indian Post. traditionally. the eté òto has power because he is legitimate (he is the first son of a powerful tango who was the first daughter of a powerful anetï ekugu). but also because he is efficacious in that he can influence other people. often describe the dangers of going to the city. This House also benefited by a privileged position in village external relationships (considering that the House B founder was among the first Portuguese speakers in the village in the 1950. His strategy is that of the “bigman. For example. for instance. the skill of both father and son at political strategy was critical to maintain a large and powerful local kin group. and is politically minded. supposed to be champion wrestlers and powerful orators. The sons of powerful chiefs. a village tango. the nocturnal public orations given by the eté òto. Together they orchestrated several key marriages. They are also.

and the household heads of eastern and western houses are likewise prominent. when discussing the matter in 1993. His grandson now has the name. Following the death of the principal anetï ekugu of the 1940s and early 1950s. and mother of the primary chiefly persons in both the southern and northern Houses. whereby the then eté òto was first. Heroes. ensured his social dominance over all three Kuikuru villages (Ipatse. The House B leader. instilling in a male heir the legitimate connections to Kuikuru founding ancestors. as the only other individual versed in the chief ’s language. the then hugogó òto (now eté òto) was second. Afukaká the elder. Powerful persons and particularly. the ranking chiefs. and History • 277 kindred. The leaders of the two Houses are the primary village leaders. the ranking woman. the primary adult support group (political base). that the former eté òto used as a presiding chief at Ipatse. The eté óto in 1993 seldom received outside visitors in his house or formally in the plaza. the responsibility fell on him. however. The newly formed power does not. which either stabilize as a secondary line or represent alternative lines. Afukuri. The northern House derives legitimacy within the Kuikuru from the southern line. died and was buried in the original village (Ipatse). two and three. liked to refer to individuals as chief one. except in those occasions when the hugogó òto was indisposed (such as when he was in mourning) and. and he was third (faction B leader and the eté òto formed a loose coalition at the time). has held all the titles in the course of his life. Descriptions of those who were anetï ekugu varied within the village. “for us your friend [the then hugogó òto] is our chief.Houses. The ascendence of House B in Kuikuru politics was recently crystallized (2001) in the chiefly initiation (tiponhï) of an heir to the chiefly lines. When I asked the oldest living Kuikuru man who the anetï ekugu were he simply said. which in 1993 included his mother. where he was the ranking person among the closely related founders of Afukuri. through the fact that the former eté òto’s son. see Basso 1973: 119). he has made the split of the other village complete and. interred in their midst. collect names as well as titles. upon becoming the eté òto. the mother of the hugogó òto and her second husband. the heir to the recent Ipatse line (1920s to 1950s). the rightful heir of the newly formed village. among other names. (Franchetto 1986: 18. The line is subsumed by the ancestors of the Ipatse elite. and Lahatua). both sequentially and opportunistically. no powerful anetï apparently emerged for . the matriarch of the southern House.” The then eté òto moved to the new village at Afukuri when it was opened in 1997. The House A leader. operate autonomously from the “mother” village at Ipatse. By taking on the title eté òto. Disputes between political rivals often focus on each individual’s hereditary claim to anetï status.

are oftentimes individuals strongly colored in one or the other area: legitimate . parented more legitimate heirs. particularly by his marriage to first the younger sister of the hugogo óto and. The House B leader is the model of his rival. an extremely astute and savvy politician as is his son. the chief and his younger brother. Throughout the time I have lived in the village.” specifically the new and powerful cagaiha. held power for several decades. including to the Mehinaku and Kalapalo elite. They are almost secondnature for him and he applies or bends them with ease. His ascendancy as patriarch of House B has expanded the group of subordinate relatives surrounding his father. Dole 1966. He inserted himself into a prominent position because of his mastery of Portuguese at a time when few anetï spoke it (c.278 • The Ecology of Power some time. His marriage and those of his children insured broadly spread alliances and diffuse claims to legitimacy. 1960–1980). Their rivals. The people who need to try the least to gain support are strong in both legitimacy and efficacy. although only weakly legitimate themselves. The son. took over the de facto role of the chief. though not anetï. Both he and his father are studies in how historical factors and personal ambition can bend tradition. not everybody is political. creating the conditions to improve and perpepuate the new line of power. He was also. married the senior daughter of House A and thus ensured the local legitimacy of his children. before gradually passing the reins of authority to his son. a big-man.” (referring to the father of his brother-in-law. who must often compete harder for public sympathy.” Most adult men are active political players. the patriarch of House B. the founder of House B) (Carneiro 1994: 208. although rich in the blood. but also because he has mastered all the chiefly ways. This man. His children. may amount to very little because their parents “dreamed bad. each with their own genealogy and track-record (legitimacy) and their own ability to put things into motion (efficacy). as it is he who defines chiefliness. but they are the exception to the rule of factional anetï (elite) rivalry. skill. depending on wit. like everywhere. At this time the village chief (eté òto) was a “quiet individual who played a very small role in his village politics … [and] another more vigorous individual. co-opting a traditional prerogative of chiefs. the daughter. and their brother-in-law. 1969). formally receiving “outsiders. essentially run politics in the Kuikuru community. and some are genuinely disinterested in directing public activities. in particular. Some individuals are unable to maintain a sustained voice in village politics. In Kuikuru politics. House A leader is a model chief. and cunning over legitimacy. later. The position of patriarch was passed onto his son gradually over the past 15–20 years. The sons of powerful anetï.

The latent ability of powerful chiefs to muster support for intervillage ceremonies (feasts). journalists. Considered historically. and goods coming in from the outside (like things from FUNAI or payments by researchers. critical. The chief is expected to redistribute these benefits throughout the village and is constantly evaluated on the basis of his generosity and productivity (efficacy at “getting the goods”). perhaps. daughters. while the “owner of the village” (eté òto) is more a senior statesman or figurehead for the village. through the inheritance over time. In fact. The latter has real power in influencing people in village councils and more discreetly through private commentary. . particularly between Houses in the village and within the supravillage political arena. it is the sitting chief’s sons. ceremonial participation. criticism (complaint) and gossip. this year their first pickup truck. filmmakers and the like) (Basso 1973: 132). While everybody knows very clearly how relations stack up in each house or factional core group. harmony and beauty). such that in return for their support. large in-board riverboats. of “sacred” things. The hugogó òto “owns” the village plaza. or energetic participants in village politics. These are the climbers on the social power ladder and. Heroes. motorboats. Thus. he will achieve certain things for them and generally promote Kuikuru ideals. and. “House. ascend to office by replacing their parents in one of the enduring Houses. Nevertheless. which today includes things like solar-powered artesian wells.g. diligence in work. or ought to. but he does not receive visitors or otherwise mediate relations with the outside world. and representing the community in external affairs. are often the most inventive. not surprisingly. particularly the major Houses. The chief provides certain services. a tractor.” because they are predicated on a hierarchical kinship structure.. north and south. it is well known who does or does not have the authority and that the spatial arrangement of the village is physically and symbolically a reflection of this hierarchy. including notably the sponsorship or orchestration of important ceremonies. the political heart of the village. expeditions or other supralocal enterprises far outstrips that of the average person in the community. some individuals receive highly preferential treatment in learning the ground rules and benefitting from inheritance. and grandsons that tend to. and in terms of indigenous social models. upholding and publicly promoting community social values (e.Houses. Redistribution is most visible with respect to ceremonial food payments made in relation to some stage of the ritual process. competition and rivalry are present at all levels. and History • 279 but ineffectual or effectual but irregular. The chief maintains a social contact with villagers. not everyone has equal access to political process and public ritual.

the pyramidal structure may come to a point. and personal example. Dole suggests alternate social controls to political power. through allusion to myth or traditional practice). special statuses and industry. Kalapalo. . the alternative pathways. Comaroff 1985). But gossip is not “the only socially permissible context for discussing particularly sensitive political issues. Recent splits largely in the 1990s have happened precisely along these lines. In the Kuikuru village. for instance. such as sorcery accusations” (Ireland 1986). one of the important chiefs from Uagïhïtï lived in the village. In the Kuikuru case. including shamanism. including gossip and complaining. since there is always a pool of legitimate chiefs and there are many rivals hungry for power in any village. through which individuals can gain prominence regardless of their hereditary status has made it increasing possible for non-anetï to assume positions of authority. notably persuasion. Political rivals attempt to undermine the mandate of chiefs by criticizing them as self-serving or bad managers. but it is a critical means by which almost any individual can question or undermine the position or authority of political leaders. were obviously thinly veiled attempts to undermine the political authority of the then hugogó (now eté òto). avoidance and lack of overt antagonism between the two factional groups is accentuated by the fact that the two leaders are brothers-in-law (a role that demands very formal respect). subterfuge and physical avoidance. The fact that numerous individuals have legitimate claim to hold office also limits the power of individual chiefs. but within the social body there are diverse alternatives.. There are numerous ways chiefs are criticized or otherwise have their power curtailed.g. as well as disagreement over the course of village affairs in public debate (Ireland 1987). opposition is manifest through subtle verbal attacks (e. as widely noted of chiefdoms. But. between rival lines (Kamayura. and later Kuikuru). as well as shamanistic divination (Dole 1966: 75–77). most notably by lack of support or mandate from the otomo. village amalgamation has resulted in having several powerful chiefly lines in the same village. Many rumors that were started with respect to my activities.280 • The Ecology of Power Since direct coercion and hostility are avoided at all costs and leaders must use other mechanisms. just as there are diverse ways that nonchiefs can attain prominence and achieve power within a “dialectic of control” (Giddens 1984). Despite a general decrease in legitimate and efficacious anetï in villages due to depopulation. thinly veiled innuendo. seldom appearing in the plaza. but remained distant from village political affairs. to control the actions of others. subtle prodding. Furthermore. my sponsor. a head. the next tier below the titled chiefs can be quite large (cf. and chiefs must justify that they are not.

Houses. other chiefs. mid-1800s to 1980s among the Waujá). were forced into exile. and this power. the power of the shaman was accentuated. Ireland (1996) reports that. given its widespread presence in southern Amazonia. the owners of charms (kugífe oto). Thus. because at the time he had multiple wives. Heroes. or were executed due to . The “sorcery complex” is almost certainly not a postcontact creation. The threat of witchcraft also curtails openly hostile or coercive behavior or stinginess. channeled or contained in humanform witches. their ability to divine sorcerers and malevolent spirits. Thus. The shaman Metsé. Metsé’s political influence was greater as the only shaman who could induce trance and divine the cause of illness or death—perhaps even greater than that of the chiefs. his decisions were less debated and his power more supreme than among shamans today. including itseke and kugife-oto. The Kuikuru had two shamans in 1993–1995 who could enter a trance state and thus identify malevolent spirits and sorcerers through divination. In 1953.. historically (c. as holders of unique supernatural power. The belief in sorcery as an invisible form of cosmic power. prominent in discussions of the Kuikuru of this time. including a very efficacious anetï ekugu (the eté òto). and his singular power was only weakly counterbalanced by the reigning anetï ekugu. shamans can wield substantial political power. where there are several powerful secular leaders. six other Kuikuru shamans could not induce trance and acted strictly as healers. like that of shamans. Metsé was the only shaman at the time who could enter a trance and divine witchcraft and misfortune and strongly anetï.e. and other prominent persons limits the power of the chiefs (Gregor 1990: 123). and traffic. The acute morbidity and mortality related to epidemics of contagious disease such as were common through the twentieth century resulted in an equally acute anxiety related to sorcery and an attendant increase in the influence of the shaman. but this is a singular case of overarching shamanic authority. together with eight shamans. or at least “see” other beings. the heirs of ranking chiefs either ascended to office. Depending upon their ability to persuade others. particularly in times of high mortality. Metsé had a large kingroup for support. and History • 281 Dole (1973) points to the obvious political power of the shamans. based in the esoteric knowledge and corporeal discipline that enables them to channel supernatural power. including witchcraft executions or other social sanctions. as chiefly power was on the decline in the mid-1900s. an increase in illness or death will result in an increase in local anxiety related to sorcery). was recognized as one of the most powerful individuals in the village in the 1950s. but a correspondence between actual morbidity and mortality (as discussed in Chapter 5) is expected as a consequence (i.

and in many cases most critical. Because anyone can “contract” a witch.12 Indeed. through hypergamy. unless champions. Ireland (1987) suggests that. and dissimulation are the means through which delicate intravillage political concerns are often resolved (see Franchetto 1996). if the resolution of the most politically charged. far more important than the convivial banter which goes on in the men’s house or even the formal public speeches made in the plaza. and generally no need to look outside their ranks for chiefs. chiefs firmly believe that they are under a virtually perpetual threat. issues is conducted through informal means. powerful hïati (shamans). why is the central plaza so conspicuous in political process. In other words. bowmasters. Dole 1984b. But. his mother died after a prolonged illness and he himself was suffering from debilitating health problems. all on account of sorcery carried out by his jealous political rivals. For instance. is unheard of. creates greater legitimacy for future generations with strategic marriages. subtle innuendo. even the weakest community members can directly attack the most powerful (see Heckenberger 2004a). women and young adults. that “gossip is by far the most important channel among the Waujá for transmitting information vital to the political process.” Informal political process provides a vehicle through which persons underrepresented in public forums. Numerous families and entire households move as a result of threats of sorcery and/or accusations. In fact. can directly influence decision making. in part. the contemporary relations between House A and B reflect a type of structural relation that was typically between strongly anetï kindred that dominated north and south tied to more subordinate Houses in secondary and tertiary plaza villages. always significantly reorganizing the balance of power between prominent families and factions (Basso 1984. The Duality of Control: Balancing Legitimacy and Efficacy The anetï bloodlines (lines of “substance”) are always contested. and informal mechanisms such as gossip.282 • The Ecology of Power sorcery accusations. even in villager’s eyes? The answer lies. In pre-Columbian villages I surmise that there were many more anetï individuals in the large prehistoric villages who could take office. the two sons of the hugogó òto died suddenly. politically sensitive issues are generally not publically contested. and other prominent people can elevate their status and that of their offspring through marriage. politically sensitive topics relating to affairs beyond the confines of the village are a . Gregor 1977). among Waujá people. Chiefs who could not claim some significant lineal anetï connections. Ireland adds (1987: 4). In the early 1990s. in the distinctions made between internal and external politics. Upward social mobility.

for instance. because of the same oppositional partitioning of village space. in general. we can expect that those individuals who most directly mediate outside contacts (chiefs) will have more authoritative power in the community (Spencer 1993). particularly in situations of high risk and uncertainty (i. a more forceful and authoritative posture emerges or is preferred.Houses.” and it is these individuals who dominate the external dimension of the political process to become “men of renown. has demonstrated how changing external conditions. Warfare is a particularly dramatic aspect of external affairs. the village’s “weighty actors. Spencer (1993). Heroes. and generation-to-generation. Because of the variable impact of external affairs on the community. year-to-year.g. Kracke (1979). such as hosting or participating in intervillage ceremonies. in his aptly titled book. lead to variations in the expression of chiefly power. the increasing intensity or importance of external relations. rebuilding the men’s house. then the concentration of political power in the hands of those individuals most suited or best situated to deal with the outside world also increases. war and peace. In a situation where the well-being of the community depends on quick and effective response to external forces (e. see also Gregor 1985). or accepting visitors (such as myself ) into the village. discrete neighborhoods created by the village plazas and roads.” Factional disputes usually involve the proper course of action for the village in external matters and success in external relations distinguishes a factional leader. stimulates stronger patterns of centralized leadership. In times of war. about the Tupi Kagwahiv. like today. constructing the tajïfe (chief ’s house). preparing for large expeditions. while in the absence of external conflict leaders are more apt to rely on persuasion and consensus (cf. to some degree. warfare). crises. points to the difference between internal (intrafactional) and external (extrafactional) dimensions of chiefly power as critical to understanding the . like war). Plaza meetings are the typical forum to deal directly with external affairs of relevance to the village. Force and Persuasion. Debate is dominated by household heads and moderated. and History • 283 common topic in men’s house discussions and chiefly oratories (Ireland 1987: 4. During the demographic nadir. following Sahlins (1963).e. In prehistoric times. when both village populations and supralocal interaction were at a low point.. and the physical barriers they represent. such centralized political process was less pronounced. factionalism undoubtedly characterized village politics. by factional leaders. As external factors come to impinge more directly on the lives of villagers. Carneiro 1995). the importance of centralized decision making and differential “weights” of social actors fluctuates considerably from day-to-day..

Hierarchical conceptions of social relations. but the relative importance of one dimension vis à vis the other varies dynamically over time.e. since they are the strategies deployed by politicos. However. that is. knowledge of the past. are inevitably tied to issues of history—the inheritance of the past—as locally construed. chiefs are privileged above others to represent the community to outsiders and particularly to other Xinguano chiefs. at least anecdotal. Werner 1982: 370–371). in a synchronic sense. it is the chiefs who mediate external contacts and control supra-village information and alliance networks and thus. As a chief becomes widely accepted by the community as a legitimate holder of authority.. they not only galvanize support within the community.” He suggests that the “lack of articulation” between external and internal dimensions of power inhibits the perpetuation of central leadership (Spencer 1993: 43).284 • The Ecology of Power emergence of “permanently institutionalized chiefly authority. As chiefs become increasingly knowledgeable and skillful in their conduct in external arenas. linguistically mark time relative to . however. the plaza forum of household heads. Xinguano historicity does not. contexts where the entire village operates as a House. their rivals or potential rivals can parlay precisely the same external relations toward capturing prestige and power through efficacy and innate capacities. as well as historical contingencies. hereditary bias) (cf. but knowing the details of history is the business of the chiefs. principally the major chiefly rituals. The emphasis shifts from actors interacting with other actors in the context of an egalitarian and consensual forum. In the supra-village arena. and initiate action. to ritualized engagements between the weighty social actors in highly restricted social situations. he becomes the vehicle through which the community engages the outside world. and whatever achievements are made in the regional arena must be transformed into tangible results for the community. Not only do internal and external dimensions of power exist as somewhat exclusive domains. Leaders must maintain their community mandate. however. dependent as they are on legitimate ties with ancestral chiefly lines.” Village as “House” Histories are good to hear and everyone has some. a “Great House. Even in times of relative calm or predictable external relations. are poised to respond most directly to changing external conditions. interactions between in individuals and Houses. but are in a more advantageous position to pass these skills and knowledge (as well as material benefits) directly to their offspring (i. dominate village politics.

This does not mean it is not linear. when stories of all varieties are recounted and lead from one to the next. we must also ask: “Who is history about?” “Who is interested in it and why?” and “Who controls history and how?” As in other hierarchical societies. such as the story of the first proto-human. The central concern of Xinguano history is the identity of individuals: it is a history of chiefly persons and lines. spatial organization. see Basso 1995). and events: it is inscribed in bodies. rather than seeking only to understand how society at large conceives of history as a collective pool of memory and experience. History is made isomorphic with the hierarchy of chiefly persons. however. tied to living memories of specific names and places. individuals . and landscape.” Social rank. and History • 285 precise divisions or periods. (3) the origin (circa mid-1800s) of the Lahatua otomo. “rarely could [researchers] record reasonably full genealogies back more than three generations due to a lack of written records [and] those that went back further were invariably of the descendants of a tribal hero or demigod. people. grandparents and parents. and the events and commemorations that took place there. and (4) the founders of the Ipatse otomo over the past few decades. the initiations and funerals of chiefs. and the founders of the local groups. Thus. actual genealogy (descent) becomes a primary dimension in the definition of social identities and boundaries. The links are lost. The major narratives (akiña) of Kuikuru heritage legitimize the positions of rank in the contemporary village by linking living chiefs to (1) the origin of kuge (“the people”) and the transmission of the egitse chiefly mortuary feast from Tuangi to the original Xinguanos (chiefs). Adams and Kasakoff (1986: 61) note. requires little depth of actual genealogical knowledge: legitimacy is tied to specific recent ancestors. Xinguano time is keenly divided into the dawn times. pruned of any links that were not necessary to tie the living into a web of nameable relationships. where rank distinctions (elite status) are recognized as legitimate and formally defined. according to the life histories of specific places. although framed in an idiom of descent. of chiefly plazas. however. Indeed. generally. but one need only to reconstruct their relationships with immediate predecessors to establish linkages with deeper genealogies that over time are “pruned” down to a few critical individuals. punctuated. Heroes. History is marked. the first human. In fact. Very clearly. It is only these certain heroic individuals who are selectively remembered or ignored to legitimate living social actors in public and formal (highly visible) arenas. the first Xinguano. starting with the sitting chiefs (Sahlins 1985. among preliterate societies.Houses. (2) the great ancestral Kuikuru chiefs at Óti in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

special places and ancient villages. In other words. or “naturalizes. chiefs make it their business to know their chiefly history and genealogy.286 • The Ecology of Power reckon descent differently based on their position in the existing chiefly hierarchies: high-ranking individuals place far greater emphasis on issues of blood. and. such as the anetï itaríñu. The Waujá genealogies likewise remember eight chiefs. This interplay creates historical links between current and ancient chiefs.” the hierarchical social relations. is guarded by chiefs and passed from elder to younger anetï (preferrably parent to child). and only the one or two highest ranking chiefs have full command of it. and ultimately the origin of Xinguano society itself. transformed again. which not only mythologically legitimizes. is the exclusive property of the anetão. according to a relational sequencing of events. and to recount their names and deeds. and personages. but is also prismatic: tightly linked to the personal genealogies of actual chiefs in one context. the ability to speak of them in public. including those that ascended to office and those who did not and were typically killed or fled. including orations regarding the mundane activities of the community or affairs of the day. and nine generations worth of esoteric knowledge. In contrast. but also places the historical process under direct scrutiny. through the prism of ritualized chiefly discourses into a discrete chain of specified ancestral chiefs in another. the great ancestral chiefs and culture heroes. and sometimes are able to recount genealogical relations to specific chiefly figures back over one hundred years. But what “stories” (akiña) do they learn? They describe the first kuarup. Ireland (1996) describes the primary chiefly genealogy of the Waujá from the mid-1800s to the 1980s. particularly the history of the local group. Beyond the chief ’s language. and the singular events that make up their history. In this sense. to link it with the foundational mythic events and people also created Xinguano society: chiefly rites of passage. The eight great chiefs. These legendary tales and sacred lore punctuate and authorize their public discourses. in others. They are both authorized and encouraged to learn the chiefly discourse style (anetï itaríñu) and give regular public orations using the customary language. chiefs represent earthly manifestations of lines of power linking contemporary individuals with the past. . birth-order and genealogy. transformed. The Xinguano past is peopled with such heroic figures and signal events: it is heroic history. places. the symbolic rebirth of Xinguano society. history is not only chronologically marked. lower-rank individuals often place so little emphasis on genealogy as to be described by a “genealogical amnesia” (Gregor 1977). through the prism of ritualized chiefly performances.

cultural heroes and the dawn time. 1987. Thus. pyramidal. at the center of a concentric circle and the tip of a pyramid. respectively. seems fairly crystalline. Carsten and Hugh-Jones 1995). Hierarchical relations are based on the bilateral (cognatic) transmission of genealogical substance and the unilateral (lineal) transmission of names. At one level.” a conical clan with apical ancestors (founders). the ones who are their direct descendants and the recipients of these lines of power extending back to more remote ancestors. and that point is embodied in the hugogó òto. Heroes. there is likewise an internal hierarchy. we must remember the highly factionalized and multicentric nature of the political structure: what at one level (historical or practical) or one perspective. among chiefly “Houses. the first chiefly family. titles. within which secondary hierarchies are manifest. including chiefs and commoners. represent both “unity and various kinds of hierarchy and division. as manifest in chiefly redistribution . even the region. and centric. depending on who actually holds power and authority at any time. linked through genealogical substance. and at one level.Houses. The operative economic principles are generalized reciprocity and exchange. the entire village.” which operate (are visible) at multiple scales (Carsten and Hugh-Jones 1995). Kingroups are organized around the core groups of high-ranking men and women. common descent.” Houses. evaporates into a more amorphous. commemorated in mortuary feasts administered by their children. where the chief is symbolically situated at the apex of the pyramid. multicentric. between social pairs of all kinds. and ritual prerogatives. isomorphic with the chief. titles and prerogatives are not controlled by individual families but instead pass between high-ranking families. in general. following Lévi-Strauss (1982. the chief is primus inter pares. Such hierarchical structures. In the Xinguano case. Among the highest-ranking chiefly individuals. and History • 287 or who otherwise retreated from the tumultuous and dangerous games of the powerful. is a “House. including totemlike nonhuman or semihuman beings in the dawn time. although ordered and conceptualized in terms of kinship. following a pattern commonly referred to as a House society. however. But while the local group may be equivalent to the chief ’s “house” and society. are increasingly determined and motivated by economic and political interests (Carsten and Hugh-Jones 1995). and “flat” arena of competing interests and interest groups as scale and perspective change. topped by the hugogó òto: space and society both come to a point. The clan ancestors are local founders. At the highest level. there is no singular dominant lineage but instead competing Houses that at any moment in time represent the kindreds of the primary chiefs. represent a moment when social relations.

” or that of self-and-other. hypergamy and hypogamy. or. One might say. 1961. keeping its scale. 1963. and Great House. which usually allow anthropologists to distinguish the various known types of societies. The houses of major factional leaders. in fact. At a still higher level. and other “sites of memory. narratives. 1987): Patrilineal descent and matrilineal descent.” the nature of the house. material culture. or at least most prominent. a Great House. filiation and residence. the arrangement of furniture and the distribution of its inhabitants make of the house a veritable microcosm reflecting in its smallest details an image of the universe and the whole system of social relations. the plaza village. The houses are also spaced along the domestic ring. public and domestic. are reunited in the house. theoretically incompatible principles (1982: 185). in general. the schema it engenders and the divisions it displays are critical elements of cultural memory. This “dialectic of filiation and residence. heredity and election.288 • The Ecology of Power and mobilization. We might again note. qualities of plazas and the “Houses” making up plaza (local) groups. houses are to be found at the cardinal points of the village circle. the dialectical and holographic. as Lévi-Strauss (1987: 156) notes with respect to Indonesia: the wealth of decoration. Returning to the question of how the past is inscribed in bodies. Before moving on to the house of the Great House. monuments. in the case of the house. as if. close marriage and distant marriage. the symbolism attaching to each element in the total construction. strictly according to the hierarchical structure of village social relations. the self-same schemas and divisions that partition villages and regions: right and left. only the size of the house changes. in purely sociological terms. the fractal person. pointed out by Lévi-Strauss on numerous occasions (e. The highest ranking. in all spheres of collective life. House. reproduces only versions of itself (Wagner 1991: 159). The powerful “used exogamous . all these notions. and householding. or self-same. the complicated architecture. family and world. that village political economics are built upon the premises of householding at the level of house. the spirit (in the eighteenth century sense) of this institution expressed an effort to transcend. in the last analysis..g. this reminds us that “however diminished or magnified. typically chiefs who sit atop large hierarchically organized kindreds. the village operates as a single house.

and: … received tokens of homage from all the clans. names and ancestors. flexible. either social or religious. 2001) and northwest Amazon (Hugh-Jones 1995. in the form of food and manufactures. But as each entailed a subsequent obligation.): Wealth and status. or feather mosaics. but he would never call it his own. perhaps were seen not to apply. and History • 289 marriage to capture titles and endogamous marriage ‘to prevent their leaving the house once they have been acquired’. or colours of feathers. Oceania. The myths are. Hugh-Jones 1979). he was in the situation of a banker: wealth passed through his hands. Of several examples compellingly discussed as “House societies. (1961: 208) The chief was always chosen from a particular Cera clan. in their full-blown galactic form were fairly great indeed vis-à-vis contemporary social forms in the twelfth. which in 1492. Lévi-Strauss really never mentions the Amazonian and central Brazilian peoples that he knew so well. the Xinguano Great Houses. 1996. and Africa. ancestors. etc.” for instance. for instance. It is interesting to note that in all his discussions on the “House society” in Northwest Coast societies.Houses. at the bottom of technical privileges which are one of the most curious features of Bororo culture. In this sense. in Indonesia.13 All that is lacking here is . in the execution of certain decorative work. Hill 1993. My collections of religious objects were built up in return for presents which the chief would at once redistribute among the clans. as between one clan and another. in the disposition of feathers differing in colour. the Xinguanos among southern Amazonian and central Brazilian ethnographic cases. as well as feudal Europe and Japan. dances. in the way in which an object is carved or cut. C. thus conserving his ‘balance of payments’ intact (Ibid: 208). The critical issues of hierarchy and genealogy. 1996. in the use of particular patterns.” (Boon 1990: 97). Almost all Bororo objects are emblazoned in such a way that the one’s clan and subclan may be identified. each with its own totems.through fifteenth-century worlds. cognatic. political economy. among the Northern Kayapó (Lea 1993. In his earlier writings. in their turn. 1995. Each clan has a capital of myths. Heroes. traditions. and so on. fibre-plaiting. and functions. we can see the nascent qualities of the “société à maison” among the Bororo (replacing clan with House. is quite another matter. see also Chernela 1993. The privilege lies in the use of certain feathers. of species. perhaps best fit the model of House society: hierarchical.

but that descent (ambilineal) is important mainly with respect to things having to do with chiefs. following Kuikuru logic: the Great House. in which we focus on plazas as major historical personages. chiefly lines equate to chiefly individuals) and the orator. which is not only present but omnipresent. anetï ekugu remember these chiefs through a specialized chief ’s language (anetï itaríñu) (Franchetto 1993). Ancient plazas were cemeteries. The position of each person is a reflection of distance from common chiefly ancestors. as is further explored in Chapter 9. which constitute a kind of founder’s property or capital. In the most sacred.290 • The Ecology of Power not a descent reckoning system or lineal inheritance. metaphorically linking them with the powerful human and divine ancestors (chiefs). the first-in-lines of ancestral estate. and the likely descendant of the great galactic clusters. the places of ancestors. what I might call the otomo kuenga. The powerful are therefore highly preoccupied with issues of genealogy and history. Powerful past chiefs are invoked legitimizing both the chiefly lines (recognizing that through name transmission. and others much less so. relating to chiefly “lines” that extend back to the middle 1800s. . whereas nonchiefs generally are not. secret lore.

in spite of all their rich and complex existential temporality and eternity. considered limited in space by its four sides. as we shall see) were so complex that they could not exist without the schema made visible in their ground-plans and reaffirmed to them in the daily rhythm of their lives. … In contrast. is the most exquisite expression of social life ever achieved by Man’s city planning and architectural genius. dis-oriented. as if their social and religious systems (these were inseparable. managed to convey a limited aspect of human life. the palaces of Babylon. the plaza affirms and resolves all things that are 291 . … They are closed circuits.CHAPTER 9 The Symbolic Economy of Power: Plazas as Persons So vital to the social and religious life of the tribes is this circular lay-out that the Salesian missionaries soon realized that the surest way of converting the Bororo was to make them abandon their villages and move to one in which the huts were laid out in parallel rows. frozen and gruesome perfections. because man was never able to fully inhabit them. Claude Lévi-Strauss 1961: 204 The plaza in itself. but in so doing they sacrificed the wholeness of life. the temples of Greece. in every sense. They would then be. The pyramids of Egypt. All feelings for their traditions would desert them.

the Mississipian centers. the Caribbean. which all define a central precinct enclosed originally by an imposing palisade wall (not at the edge of the settlement but in the middle). other disciplines. but also a political discourse that molds human bodies and their movements. the almost ubiquitous plazas of Mesoamerican and those of most Andean cities and towns. the great houses of the Northwest Coast. the Great Lakes. In any case. but if one is going to indulge in it for the Middle East or North Africa. the sacred inner sanctum that seems small. In terms of political economy. the sacred inner chambers of early Peruvian temple centers. Big or small. shape and elaboration. the most rudimentary architecture of power in Native America was the central plaza. and bodily discipline. The appearance of plazas heralds not only the emergence of an architectural feature but also reformulated notions of social difference. spatial exclusivity. The inconspicuous square in the center of Cuzco seems not nearly up to the task of containing the divine force of one of the largest empires of the ancient world. the Amazon. Considering the central plazas of Poverty Point. one is reminded of the great plaza at Cahokia. concentrating power in the hands of those individuals that can dominate public action and ceremony. For instance. the ancient architecture varies immensely in size. the palaces of the Chimor kings. like a sunken courtyard. kivas.” Throughout much of the Americas. the critical feature of central plazas is the exclusivity that they create. There are other grammars of space. that create an equally potent exclusivity. but. amidst the towering pyramids and acropoli. for example. no doubt. in general terms. with mountainous Monk’s Mound at one end. a cosmogram. round or square. it is clear that the plaza is a very common element of Native American sociopolitical landscapes. The actual size of these structures often belies the immense power embodied in them. the bazaar is surely a prime candidate. it preserves them. The techniques of power that it embodies lay at the root of many of the major political regimes of Native American civilizations: the plaza is not only a social metaphor. Southwestern U. there is little doubt that the armature of . as Lévi-Strauss (1963) hinted at fifty years ago. particularly in those areas where political economy is a critical dimension of social life. and gives them a voice and a future Fernando Guillén Martínez 1958 (cited in Low 2000: 30) Clifford Geertz (1979: 123) wrote that “characterizing whole civilizations in terms of one or another of their leading institutions is a dubious procedure. the plaza would be the spatiosocial master symbol or institution.S. and stubbed all around with smaller platform mounds. Or we might recall the square central plaza at Tikal.292 • The Ecology of Power incompatible to pure reason.

The Xinguano Plaza Living in a plaza village. are what interest us. ritual performance . there is a unique sense of “being there. and.The Symbolic Economy of Power • 293 state power was tied closely to the rituals of state. . the “political economy of grandeur” (Sahlins 1991). but it is commonly the cornerstone of a genuinely American language of political power. how it is inscribed in “domesticated” space (Lefebvre 1991). it is a gateway that mediates between categories of social opposites—men:women. Here the plaza itself. as Guillén Martínez suggests (1958. The idea of the “theater state” and related ideas. How does corporeal. as a point of discussion to explore how persons are made by plazas and how plazas are “persons. yesterday persons. succession. 1975. or what Southall (1999) calls simply “the ritual phase of political economy. and how exactly does it inflect preexisting. the “theater state. manipulation of the body through partitioned space reproduce the basic cultural schema. and through the landscape. these questions must await resolution. “affirms and resolves all things that are incompatible to pure reason. notably. regional. tangible. and vice versa? Spatial design and ritual form are primary forms of remembering that enable persons to decipher and translate certain things about other persons and. more fully “egalitarian” patterns of social and spatial organization? For now..D. 1998.” Where does such a structure ultimately come from. divine ordination.” are discussed in Chapter 10. when does it appear. cited in Low 2000).” The central plaza may not be the Rosetta Stone for deciphering ancient Amerindian systems of disciplinary or structural power. The questions here are how history is written on the human body in domestic activities. 1985. Hornborg 1990. like those of the Upper Xingu. has received considerable attention (e. The Xinguanos appear to have arrived in the area already culturally predisposed to a settled. chiefs:commoners—but also acts like a prism and inflects the persons and powers of one world into another: men become animals and animals become men.” of being everywhere at once. If the house opens out on to the community. The plaza. chiefs become ancestors and ancestors become heroes. how it is read through diverse types of individual and collective memory. and already based on the complicated plaza and road systems that we see across the southern Arawak. and an exclusive control over these public symbols and rituals. and hierarchical way of life prior to A. Lathrap et al.g. 800–900.” Following the seminal descriptions by Lévi-Strauss (1961. the “galactic polity” (Tambiah 1985). it preserves them. and gives them a voice and a future. although often subtle. its contours and meanings. the plaza opens out on the world. Fabian 1992. the configuration of circular plaza or “ring” villages in lowland South America. 1963).

clearly saw what Lévi-Strauss (1961: 204) noted. Pareci. Turner 1996. soil samples collected from an abandoned Kuikuru village .” elements that Lévi-Strauss called “dialectic. 1985. Artifact distributions conform predictably to these areas. circular plaza villages were transformed into great rectangular plazas or embellished with other central. and (3) the undulating and discontinuous peripheral “ring” of trash middens (“trash yard”). among others (Heckenberger et al. In some areas. but few have specifically taken up the question of this structural inflection of power: the birth. and domestic activity areas (Gregor 1977). equally weighted. such as the ballcourts that came to dominate in some parts of the Greater Antilles. such as the central Amazon. Less attention has been paid to the “concentric” (hierarchical) relations. The “model” village consists of several components. Gavan and Yarinacocha. western Orinoco and Greater Antilles. Spencer and Redmond 1992. Indeed. Likewise. and Xinguano). house ring and peripheral trash midden areas clearly recognizable in abandoned villages.294 • The Ecology of Power Roe 1987. Bauré. These patterns leave a marked signature on the archaeological landscape and plaza. zealous to dismantle the idolatry of these heathen peoples. In the southern Amazon. (2) the more or less continuous ring of domestic sections (houses or house clusters) situated around the plaza. Zeidler 1984. among others). range of activities conducted there. Many scholars have pondered the unifying. house gardens. Açutuba. The largest Amazonian polities that we currently know also had impressive plazas: Santarem. exclusive structures. (1) the circular plaza. Seeger 1976.” easily divided into halves or quarters. circular plaza villages were part and parcel of the architecture of power throughout the cultural sequence (here I refer to the large Arawak regional social formations. The plaza is a topic of considerable scholarship in the ethnology and archaeology of South America. albeit overlapping. or how these are inflected through or by the equally weighted (dialectic) parts. “everybody has a front row seat. development or collapse of this commanding and affective disciplinary force. 1998. egalitarian elements of circular plazas. Roosevelt 1999). 1999. In the Upper Xingu and across the southern Amazon. the traditional circular pattern seems to have been maintained and involved no transformation of the basic pattern. These enduring features of village layout are each characterized by the distinctive. just a remarkable amplification and elaboration. Lathrap et al. the surest way of converting them was “to make them abandon their villages and move to one in which the huts were laid out in parallel rows” (see Betendorf [1695] 1910). the missionaries along the Amazon. The domestic areas that ring the plaza are bisected by primary roads at several points. into the galactic clusters of prehistory.

1 Hereditary chiefs (anetão) are marked in public ritual through body ornamentation (e. other plazas. Likewise. This concentric village plan is widespread in the lowlands. or other areas outside of the range of Xinguano plazas (which historically have ended more or less at the edge of the Upper Xingu basin itself). whether for social or spatial reasons. dependably and fairly comprehensively: this structure provides an archaeological entre into all the different domains of the ancient world. and the galactic cluster is itself a mapping.The Symbolic Economy of Power • 295 (occupied between 1973 and 1983). such as jaguar skin headdresses) and spatial arrangements (i. where people sit or stand). but ethnographic villages of this type are concentrated in Central Brazil and surrounding areas. Basso 1973: 65–70. form. and content. Through the differential treatment of the body in public ritual.e. is essential to the exercise of political power. chiefly bodies are treated differently in death. in hierarchical terms) the rest of society (see Agostinho 1974a. other parts of settlements. economy. usually linear or irregular in plan view. The circular pattern of the village also allows the spatial expression of separation and opposition. and. and texture clearly reflect these activity zones.g. an obvious observation in contemporary villages. it is the fundamental representation of “otherness”—plaza people and “others. patio groups. 140–147. naturalization. emphasizing their privileged social position and . see how they connect and correspond to other things. Through plazas we can consider yesterday persons.. access to public areas. special body painting designs and ritual regalia. set above.. ancestors. the bodies of history (in this case that body that corresponds with plazas as persons) and through them the history of the social body: the plaza encodes and is steeped in all of the primary cultural schemas.”—which here means having plazas that are sacred ritualized centers. Within the village. in ritualized acts. compare them in size. demonstrate that alterations in soil chemistry. as the primary font of cosmological authentication. neighborhoods. More common are the acentric single or multiple family hamlet or the multicentric many-family agglutinated villages. causeways/roads. and legitimization. society. Archaeologists can see them for what they are. Carneiro 1993). cosmology. the job of reading these landscapes is greatly improved: the partitioning of space into plazas. color. What is most important from an archaeological point of view is that we can find plazas. politics.e. chiefs are constructed and symbolically separated from (i. The plaza is the stage for public political activity and ritual performance. Because the landscape is so precisely mapped by the Xinguanos.. houses. and so on: it is a particularly clear symbolic window. and the political man is a frequent actor on this stage.

to be a chief is not: chiefs are not born but made. author’s emphasis). constructed through a series of lifecrisis rituals that distinguish individuals as chiefs and. each one of you is like the others” (Ibid.” those without writing. it is marked at birth: all people. although chiefliness (to be anetï) is a matter of heredity.: 186. when Tuangi and Aulukuma brought their mother back to life in the form of a kuarup trunk. further legitimize their lines. as it is here that persons and Houses are publicly legitimized. Turner 1992). “Societies of the mark. Each one of you is like us. The . you will not have the desire for submission” (Ibid: 188). of the written word. past and present. (Ibid. Making Chiefs In his classic text Society Against the State. passes a different message to its youth through initiation rituals: the message inscribed on the body is inequality. Pierre Clastres suggests that “the purpose of the initiation. The entire ritual cycle of Xinguano social life is tied to these rites-of-passage. are born either high ranking (anetï) or not. reproducing the basic schematic divisions and spatial partitions of social bodies. but also legitimize it by linking them to the sacred (J. she was released afterward to go to the sky village. that is. the secret imparted is: “You are one of us. as in the first egitse. Upon the initiate. on all bodies alike. is to mark the body: in the initiatory rite. declares: You will not have the desire for power. the “mark on the body. social hierarchy. These distinctions not only express social hierarchy. As is true today. not sameness. Unlike the violent coercive power of the State. social and symbolic reproduction. despotic law of the State … [and] it is precisely in order to exorcise the possibility of that kind of law—the law that establishes and guarantees inequality—that primitive law functions as it does. in its torturing phase. at a time when the dead were not buried but hung in the rafters of the house. where all Kuikuru who have a proper burial also go after death (Carneiro 1989). There can be no doubt of the essence of this hierarchy. society imprints its mark on the body of the young people” (Clastres 1987: 184).296 • The Ecology of Power their legitimate claim to chiefly status. men and women. The law written on the body is precisely that law that establishes and guarantees difference. in turn. are therefore societies without the State.) Xinguano society. the law inscribed on the body. when deceased anetï are invoked to occupy uengïfi trunks in the egitse ritual and participate with the living one last time. But. distant. Chiefly rites of passage recreate the world. because: writing points to the existence of a separate.

the master of all Fig. like wooden grater boards. who inherited the kuarup festival.1 Oilape and other ornaments draped over painted kuarup (egitse) trunks. As previously discussed. the anetão. topped with sun diadem headdresses (1994). ball-games. bows. one last time. Some specialize in certain utensils. and adornments. worn only by champions and primary chiefly initiates (future anetï ekugu. specialist bowmasters were not only exceptional bow hunters but warriors in time of need (Basso 1995). In the past.The Symbolic Economy of Power • 297 Xinguanos remained on. by all rights) (Figure 9. the first chiefs. combs (a special gift for mothers-in-law). in particular. and foot races. including traditionally wrestling. A pathway to becoming a “great-man” is to be alogi. 9. to animate the living. there are other specialists that make certain baskets. . and still others make flutes. and athletics.1). which come to stand for the ancestors and the chieftaincy. The recently deceased chiefs that have returned the finale of the kuarup cycle to occupy the wooden idols. arrows. Champion wrestlers. masks. These lines of power are actualized and the spirits of deceased chiefs are called back. are critical arenas of status rivalry. the egitse designs. sun diadems. decked out as they are with oilape. not only reenacting the primary elements of Xinguano cosmogeny but resedimenting in place the linkage with the ancestors. all of whom are laid to rest side by side in the heart of the village. are the only other men (aside from legitimate chiefs) permitted to wear jaguar skin (as belts) and the oilape (necklace). Chiefs must also be strong. Specialists of various kinds are present in Xinguano society. wooden benches. and their children.

and. through his mother’s younger sister. since not a year goes by without one or several across the villages. likewise. divinely ordained lines of power. prominent men lend needed items to other adult men (those who are past puberty seclusion) who are participating in ritual commemorations. and objects. and on the regional stage it is ongoing. The central cemetery is not the exclusive burial ground of anetï. that make up collective histories—and the hugogo is the singular monument to this collective past. their jaguar father being a chief. are alogi. since through the veneration of past chiefs. They too were the sons of chiefs. It simultaneously recreates the birth of ancestral chiefs through metaphorical allusion in words.” the dead. and those who control it also directly control the history of those ancestors. some adult men do not own or know how to make all the necessary paraphernalia to participate. hugombo. the Xinguanos. and the plaza core. metaphorically. but of gods—of the divine twins Sun (the older) and Moon. In these cases. and their mother carved from the wood of the uengïfi tree (the chief of the forest). the first kuarup given for the earthly (uengïfi) mother of the twins who passed it on to her children. created at the dawn of (human) time—of Xinguano society—when the initial kuarup was held between the fish and animals to commemorate the divine mother. which is broken into two parts. It can take well over a year for one village to prepare for this ritual. . The kuarup cycle is the core ritual in Xinguano society. and wrestlers.298 • The Ecology of Power the arts. Nobody recites formal discourse from their house. the plaza generically. the most sacred and public of all places on earth. Commonly. the egitse not only expresses but affirms existing hierarchical social relations. more commonly known as kuarup). all community members are buried there. Through performances. body disciplines. but to the specific heroes that have defined Xinguano life—the ancient chiefs. through the proxy of the kuarup trunk and idol made of uengïfi. but the anetï for whom the egitse is called is buried exactly in the village center—the ancestral core—of the community. but when deceased chiefs are commemorated in the elaborate funeral ceremony (egitse. and shamans. the axis mundi to a world not only of spirit “others. the mother not just of chiefs. and archers. rather. with divine culture heroes. they do so from the plaza. The anetï are thus the worldly heirs of these sacred. three brothers and their brother-in-law. the chief “guards” the sacred objects—the black bow and egitse maracas. The most profound expression of difference is not when boys are initiated as men and future chiefs. and several chiefly helpers (anetï insoño) are as well. living chiefly persons are positioned within sociohistorical trajectories that concretely link them with ancestral chiefs and. and the four principal active chiefs.

in theory. graphically representing the hierarchy of living family members. Formal messengers (tinhü) are sent out just prior to the invocation ceremony. First-fruits (piquí) and manioc flour are collected for storage by the chief (Figure 9. to mark the initiation of the kuarup (Figure 9.2).3).The Symbolic Economy of Power • 299 When they die. be they men or women.2 Kuarup elders singing facing the tafite of the recently deceased anetï heir. All anetï are given special burial treatment and. atanga flute dances are held regularly. For months leading up to the final phase of the ceremony. anetï ekugu and tango are buried with special ceremonies and the general lament of community. Perhaps the most blatant representation of hierarchy is that moment when the principal anetï call out their champions into the plaza (those who will wrestle the strongest of the other Fig. merit commemoration in a kuarup ceremony. later to be augmented by jaguar skin and claw ornaments by the principal male anetï. prompts a community to request a kuarup from their next-of-kin. A tafite (“house of the dead”) is built over the anetï grave. . but only the death of “great chiefs” or their principal heirs. when the spirits of the dead ancestors are invoked to occupy the large uengïfi trunks sunken over the uprooted tafite. The kuarup cycle begins with the principals of the ceremony (the next-of-kin) lined up in a row of benches in the village plaza—again with higher-ranking individuals in the center. 9. On the day of the ceremony. and men of all ages perform on the “dancing ground” (1993). anetï family members are painted in the village plaza with special body designs marking their chiefly status. using short uengïfi trunks.

participant villages). 9. These oratories describe the appropriate conduct of Kuikuru. since only the highest ranking chief can so express himself in the community without ridicule. the principal eté òto. Gregor 1977. Chiefly nocturnal speeches are unique from other speeches. the then eté òto left. In the Kuikuru village in 1993. the eté òto and the hugogó òto (now eté òto) were fully conversant in the “chiefly” discourse.3 Chiefly redistributive payment for services rendered by the community at large (1993). Today there is only one chief. and are justified through allusion to myth or the personal experiences of the chief (Basso 1973.300 • The Ecology of Power Fig. leaving only one person fully fluent in the anetï intagiñu today. During my residence in the village. Basso 1973. After a village split in 1997. These young men come and kneel before the anetï sponsors with head to ground. Other prominent men would make brief speeches to muster support for communal projects they sponsored. as perceived by the chief in the context of recent situations. Using the chiefly discourse style. the primary village chief often gives oratories in the village plaza late at night or in the early morning. which affirms his position as chief and is seen as a basic duty of the highest office. Ireland 1987). although his . in a graphic gesture of supplication (see Agostinho 1974a. who speaks the anetï intaginu properly. and he did so frequently prior to the death of his oldest and youngest son. only the hugogó òto gave such speeches. and Carneiro 1993 for more detailed discussions). no other individual filled this role in the intervening period of mourning (lasting nearly a year and a half ).

The chiefly discourse also lays out major dimensions of the interregional exchange: … I have brought my true sons. what is important to keep in mind is not only that history runs very deep. the constituent language and local groups. the decision to instruct a younger man in the “chief ’s language” requires a mandate from the community. still as always…. The great Angahuku chiefs. Amatuagu was also the principle of Tafununu (X25). Although it is the province of the anetï ekugu to instruct younger chiefs in this discourse. still as always….The Symbolic Economy of Power • 301 daughter and one or two other lower-ranking chiefs have gleaned some small amount. Tuhaí. you look for the chiefs still as always…. of chiefs. I affirm. graded according to chronological order (linked to eight great chiefs systematically recounted in Kuikuru chiefly discourses): the chief is entailed . Ongosugu. after I conducted my people as always. The chief represents on the ground symbolic lines of power and substance. Xinguano society. as always…. the metal knives of Kudjaitsi. his place in it. grandson of chiefs [addressing invited chiefly messengers]…. I affirm. and social and ritual life (Franchetto 1993. communities of the ipa otomo. also using the special discourse that affirms elements of local genealogy. tinhï (commonly called pariat). including what are considered “real” (akiña ekugu) histories of historical figures and “dawn time” myths and legends—ancient histories—of the emergence of the humans. 2001). to avoid disgruntlement. Hikutaha. Hikutaha). I affirm. or outright criticism by other community members. the “chief list” of hereditary chiefly heroes: Kujaitsi. It is not an individual but a community decision. Tihangakú. but that control of it is a critical element of social power among the living. I brought my things here. which also requires formal chiefly discourse. (Franchetto 2003. A village chief receives formal visitors from closely related (sister) communities. ill-will. is seen as a critical mark of chiefly action. Akusá. The reception of formal visitors. Amatuagu. as always…. but no one has been formally trained by the eté òto. along with Marika of Kuguhi (X14). the necklaces of Aikakú. and the relations among the groups—for instance. as always…. I sat beside to receive the true messengers. I affirm. Nïtsïmï. nonhumans.” as Clastres (1987) calls the unique ability to speak. translation author’s) The “word. But. it is still as always…. 2001. and specific features of landscape. the necklaces of Inasá. I affirm…. the black bow. These discourses reflect different conceptions of time. you that receive messengers [chiefly person]. publicly. see Basso 1995. three of whom founded Kuhikugu (Amatuagu. Nïtsïmï. as always….

which is situated in a landscape that is gridded out according to a complex mapping of ecological. the now deceased matriarch of House A (Auna. can assume authority as a true chief. anetï ekugu or tango. It is primarily men who parade the power and wealth of the House and compete with other men for prestige. the elder) is the apical ancestor to the three primary chiefly lines. Chiefs are chiefs precisely because they are ancestors or affines to all community members. The House can perpetuate its names through both genders and. at which time . it is decorated with paintings on the interior. The chiefly rituals and histories reenact origin events in the emergence of Xinguano society. and in so doing. A tajïfe was being constructed for the then hugogó òto in 1993 just prior to the death of his son.2 The chief ’s house is generally larger and better built than other houses. or an affine. son or daughter. However. cosmological. in the sense they refer to others as “children” and they are afforded the respect that is due for a father.” Socio-Ethnophysics The Kuikuru reigning chiefly line has oscillated from father (Afukaká) to daughter (Auna) to grandson (Afukaká) to great-granddaughter (Auna). the social and political continuity of the House is nongender specific: a powerful anetï mugu or anetï indiso. House A shows clearly the interrelation between continuity of places and personages—in this case. a point of contestation and unity. the continuity of status also depends on continuity of place through “presence” and “properities” that are “owned” by primary (typically male) chiefs. whose adolescent son—Afukaká—has yet to develop as a chief. It is constructed from special woods (notably uengïfi) and unlike other houses. The chief ’s house (tajïfe). and political factors. and pass names and status to offspring. That chiefs are like fathers. Burying the dead of closely related villages often involves sharing of ancestors. through the enduring relation of the south and north houses. which are organized in villages according to very precise spatial and social calculus. They legitimize the genealogy of the chiefly families.302 • The Ecology of Power in this historical group of “great chiefs.” as the heir to these lines of power. It is in a like manner that these legitimate lines are the heirs of original chiefly power and substance through the exclusive use of ritual knowledge and objects. handed down to Xinguanos from the creators Sun and Moon. an ancestor. pave the way for their future generations. in fact. the only residential structure in the village constructed communally. However. their influence extends across dimensions and “traffic. House A (through her son the eté òto) and the other two through her daughter (wife of House B leader) and son through another chiefly husband. is another emblem of chiefly office.

particularly common as we look backward in time. and ethnophysics. a tafite. or community works such as a primary bridge. the chiefs who will “own” the works and their sons. about parts and how they get put together). hydrology. there has been much less available research on basic astronomy. plant.The Symbolic Economy of Power • 303 the chief cancelled the project. This body of knowledge can only artificially be distinguished from indigenous knowledge and theories about natural (animal. Ethnophysics here refers to indigenous systems of knowledge that incorporate elements of what. ethnoecology. climate) and social (other living persons) distributions in the present and recent past: the holism of nonWestern societies (Descola 1996). brothers. the house stands as a tangible symbol of—a monument to—the office. a kuakutu. .. astronomy. the visitors are led first to the hugogo or the house of the chief. and other close kin and affines must would go fishing each day while other men worked on the project. the formal path. and the kuakutu. kuakutu. tafite. The way people count. measure. including the tajïfe.e. all of which contain ancestral spirit force. The community builds a chief ’s house because they support the claim of that individual as anetï ekugu and. Ownership of monuments. the question is one of relative rank. engineering. are “owned” by anetï. and the plaza ritual. but instead to point to the radical transformations of space. once built. but which seem extraordinary given what is typically portrayed as typical for Amazonia. and sacred flutes. No major public ritual is not “owned” by a chief and “asked-for” by a commoner. In addition to the tajife. genealogy. hugogo. fish weir. are separable enough to make it worth discussing in these terms (i. other village structures such as the formal path for visitors. and calendrics. These areas of knowledge—kinship. A man learns the chief ’s language because the community supports his claims as a chief. This is not meant to emphasize a difference between the human and the nonhuman world. in Western societies. although interrelated. soils. are called mathematics. During formal visits. design. The then eté òto had never “owned” a tajïfe. In payment for the construction of a tajïfe. particularly chiefly rites-of-passage and exchange rituals. communication arteries (roads and intravillage causeways) and major public works (weirs and bridges). whether an official tajife or not. and subsistence. but once he has learned it he is one of a few (two in the Kuikuru) individuals privileged to formally receive visitors from other villages. or community fish weirs. and build the world around them is knowable and of great interest. bridges. but while there is a burgeoning body of material on indigenous ecological knowledge. and history. land use. a distinction blurred in most Amazonian settings (Descola 1996. Slater 2002).

hand measurements. a pyramid laid on its side. and the spatial layouts are sedimented in place and also are imbued with a temporality (Bourdieu 1990). Xinguanos share our passion for quantification. 3 The Xinguanos have never explained to me all the actions that go into making a settlement just so. although not as codified systems but in terms of human bodies (arm length and span. These are maps of chiefly hierarchy and social rank: three “heads. or only when they are animated. but instead draw ancestral forces upon themselves. These wedges appear like the residential precincts of the individual houses. body height. the movements of bodies. activating their individual perceptions to enter an altered state of perception. left/right) and the reproduction of angles and lengths (measured by reeds. These include one anetï ekugu and several lesser anetï of his choosing.” with the community fans out behind them. Measurement. changing conceptual landscapes. angle. as evident in a perception of the world that is readily mapped out according to a precise system of arcs. architecture. of course. for instance. and so on. three village anetï sit on stools at the front of their village group. distance.” usually men but also women and youths. nodes and circles (Ascher 1991. This is. The pie shaped segments created by the visiting communities that encircle the hugogo from one side of the kuakutu to the other (about 180°). shamans engage in psychic travel. The rhythmic orientations of the feast.304 • The Ecology of Power mathematics. except the village . one higher ranking and the other two “assisting. because of the privileged relationship between nature. the thoughts of ancestors mixed with those of future descendants is activated. domestic and public architecture. induce an ecstatic sensation. In some respects. or instantiated. glowing in the full light of ancestral power. The air is alive with social energy. Chiefs. culture. As living ancestors. and time are familiar concepts to the Kuikuru. cane. 1981). and anthropology and particularly the view that Amazonians are more “natural” and science and physics are more part of “civilized” society. Seeger 1976. with the head always pointing toward the hugogo in the center. but they themselves do not travel out of body. they have no sundials either. they activate an “otherworldly” experience attained through communitas and the ritualized and corporeal disciplines (well described in Agostinho 1974). For instance. some things simply cannot be “seen” except in a certain light. and linked with other things in dynamic. and they reproduce these in art. or any number of natural “measuring sticks”). and spatial organization. engineering. in part because these “sciences” were not present in any developed form. creating an altered social state. While space and time are thus divided. When villagers attend the egitse ritual in other villages. too.

sometimes three or more. and timuho (ten or two hands). House B. The system could conceivably go onward to at least four hundred. run out across the landscape by straight. is based on a system of fives according to one hand. takeko heine hugape (seventeen). and aetsi inkugetoho (six. across the plaza. they have adapted surprisingly well to the concept of money. tatakegeni (four). and then the side posts are laid. Distancing . first “toe”). and then. The line from House A and. and then the side curves are laid in. At the western edge of the hugogo is the kuakutu. and then heine hugape (fifteen). the twenty digits of twenty persons (since they count over 20 by simply moving on to another person. the central posts are installed. and nhatui (five or one hand). finally. etc. takeko (two). that is. and then aetsi heine hugape (sixteen). equidistant from the center posts. and village spatial patterns. its neighbors. and then there are height and floor area concerns of the household. is tied to concepts of the body.. Although surely we must avoid imposing any Euclidean rigidity upon this system. takeko hugape. “finger”). A house must be oriented in a particular place in accordance with the plaza.The Symbolic Economy of Power • 305 itself. the alignment of human bodies in graves. or in other words. uniform road networks. Next. the front and rear walls are laid out. tilako inkugetoho (eight). come to stand for “persons. two hands. Although I never heard Kuikuru speak of numbers in these terms. there is something almost like a Cartesian coordinate grid inscribed in each village and. First. another body). represented by katute hugape. carved sticks used in the manioc festival that mark participation in rituals. or “one on other hand”). and it is not too vast an overstep of logic that one person could come to stand for four hundred instead of twenty. like spatial measurements. one whole person. one angle dominated all others in native mathematics: the more or less east–west passage from sun entrance and sun exit in villages. takeko inkugetoho (seven). two hands and a foot. Just as Xinguanos carefully measure house parts. tlilako (three). Kuikuru counting. houses. parallel and equal in length to the center posts. not with some abstract units—as the units are the pieces themselves—the ability to reproduce distance and multiply or subtract from it using a fixed measure is well established in crafts. usually two. and then aetsi hugape (eleven. inverted outward into landscapes that are gridded off by the primary roads. The Kuikuru also use a rudimentary system of tokens. road ways. is more or less north–south and the midpoint is the hugogo at center. tatakegeni inkugetoho (nine). its southern and northern doors likewise facing due south and north. and two feet: aetsi (one. and the alignment of the primary chiefly residences in the Kuikuru village.”4 Building a house also involves many such measurements. In the galactic clusters. for instance.

and universe (Figures 9. They are also monuments to chiefs. the northern and southern houses. and universe (Ascher 1994: 124–125.8). and above your head. and the plaza that make the Xinguanos who they are. which in the cold. but does not employ autonomous. geometry. including the human body. “disciplines. classifiable dimensions according to which mutually exclusive units are defined and measured.4–9. It is not only a settlement pattern or spatial organization but also an observatory. hidden in the Xinguano perspectives on spatial partitions that corresponded to my compass! Plazas as Persons There are many vantage points in a Xinguano plaza. men’s house. and the plaza. world. on the roads. It is the kuarup.7). 2002). across the plaza. across the skys. and ethno-theories on the body. astronomy. ancestors. and through it they control history and eventually become ancestors themselves (Figure 9. . relationships. The skill with which Kuikuru determine angles through astronomical observations and an intimacy with their “lands” is perhaps most clearly expressed in how they lay out the village. of the office he represents. and cemetery are institutions. the chiefs. the east-west roads. can be seen as an incarnation of that individual—the hugogó òto—and more importantly. or organizations of society. They are kuge because they have chiefs. which is the place of the chiefs. insofar as they represent central and established practices. There are many viewpoints entailed in it. social calculus. in the center. providing a panoramic overview of town. in front of the houses. As noted above. The village is highly differentiated. ethnomathematics is part and parcel of a holistic worldview. no artificial light occludes the star filled plaza dark at night. and such change signals critical personnel changes. increased or decreased in size. before it is rebuilt and repositioned on the plaza. the kuarup. person. Ethnomathematics is space. cloudless skies of the deep winter. here just beyond the illumination of our mechanized civilization. at virtually every point along the way. the most sacred of all village space is the plaza core (hugogo) and insofar as it is “owned” by a single chief. and the crystalline or gridlike patterns of the pre-Columbian galactic polity. but there is no getting lost in the plaza. the plaza. both to the living chiefs who own them and to the chiefly rank itself. The traditional house (ngüne) lasts about ten years. who “own” the plaza.” Rather. and segmentation.306 • The Ecology of Power is always facilitated by using arrow cane and other measuring devices. the persons it entails are sitting before your eyes. Imagine my surprise to find a Cartesian coordinate grid. In other words.

meaning. whether for social or spatial reasons. is essential for the exercise of political power. the circular plaza (concentric) spatial organization invariably represents concepts of hierarchy. This topic has been widely discussed in relation to concentric village patterns and social opposition (e. Zeidler 1984). 1995). Influential families (or individuals) are positioned in specific places or in opposition to other powerful factional leaders or families (Gregor 1977. The plaza is the primary arena for public ritual and political action in these villages and is invariably male dominated space. they are “encompassing” in Dumontian terms.g. 1975. Although the Upper Xingu lacks moieties. Franchetto’s 1986 map included in inset). Ireland.The Symbolic Economy of Power • 307 Fig. personal communication. plazas always have concentric. The plaza is a spatial metaphor for human society. The plaza is the stage for all public political activity and ritual performance and the political man is a frequent actor on this stage. 9. 1985.4 Map of first Ipatse village (1972–1982. hierarchical. a key symbol of . Lévi-Strauss (1963) noted that. Lathrap et al. Although it sometimes has dialectic connotations.. Lévi-Strauss 1963. the opposition of social groups is still quite clear (such as the placement of House A and B). Within the village access to public areas. The circular pattern of the village also allows the spatial expression of separation and opposition.

but the hugogó òto is clearly the ritual and political leader of the village. and chiefs and others (ancestors.” not surprisingly by the principal village chief. it is important to recognize the symbolic “weight” of the central plaza: virtually all public ritual and political action is focused in the plaza. It is a “container of power. sociality among Xinguano peoples.5 Map of second Ipatse village (1982–present) in 1993.” For our purposes here. To paraphrase what one chief once told me. young and old. He is one of two primary sitting (named) chiefs: the “owner of the village” (eté òto) and the “owner of the center” (hugogó òto). Nowhere in an Amazonian context is this more clear than in Xinguano villages. He is accordingly afforded considerable .” Like all public structures it is symbolically “owned.308 • The Ecology of Power Fig. Both are anetï ekugu and can speak in the chiefly discourse style and both can formally receive visitors from other villages. 9. where prominent chiefs live in houses positioned at cardinal points of the house ring and control major roadways and the central plaza. First and foremost. non-chiefs). my work is there. other chiefs. plazas are metaphors of distinctions between women and men. when I asked about the time he spends (or not) in his gardens: “the plaza is my garden.

. Fig. the two primary radial roads lead off to the Culuene River and Angahuku River (exiting to left). Note another primary road leading off to Lake Ipatse in the east (to right) and another to the south (bottom).The Symbolic Economy of Power • 309 Fig.7 Flyover of Kuikuru village (2002) showing plaza village at edge of anthropogenic forest and relict low-lying floodplains of Culuene River (seen in top center).6 Map of Ipatse village in 2002. 9. 9.

while simultaneously restricting access to select social actors. essentially everyone has a front-row seat (Gregor 1977). in practice the ubiquitous “male-centricity” represents a transformation of this egalitarian ethos based on gender and .310 • The Ecology of Power Fig.8 Flutists with sunlike diadems playing atanga flutes commemorating deceased anetï (1993). male/female) be placed in the context of other social factors (related to. the learning and use of esoteric ritual knowledge. respect by the vast majority of villagers. in chiefly initiation rites. 9. and will not sit too close to him—an extension of the basic ihuse deferences one pays a social superior. for instance. the plaza depicts unity and egalitarianism. and in the trappings of office bestowed upon chiefs the body of the chief is not only symbolically transformed but amplified as the chief accumulates a surplus of symbolic resources and which are often truly inalienable—written on the body. public ritual performance and village politics). Of particular interest in the present case is the centralization and exclusivity of public ritual and decision making embodied in the central plaza. will not speak or only speak softly in his presence. “Equal” access to public activities and ritual performance is spatially represented by the distribution of houses equidistant to the central area. However. Thus. In ring villages. to the degree that many people. To address the processes of maintenance or transformation of village patterns over time requires that the expression of basic cultural categories (public/domestic. particularly younger adults.

Xinguano village patterns were not always like they are today. but more restricted access to ritualized public space tended to embed or institutionalize the nascent social inequality embodied in the plaza and the “chiefly” status. since there was a necessary segmentation of the village into distinct precincts (or neighborhoods). at least in part. Such village segmentation would break the pattern of equal access provided by a ring of houses equidistant from the plaza. but. Given the scale of these villages. This pattern effectively truncated the egalitarian principle of equal access creating more enduring patterns of social inequality based on more institutionalized ranking of different kingroups in the community. they also have an inherently external dimension. like today. The Upper Xingu case provides insight into the process by which incipient patterns of hierarchy. hereditary Xinguano leaders (anetï) dominate factional politics and public intervillage interaction. The village presents itself to the outside world from the plaza. as evidenced by the formal paths leading outward from the plaza. Upper Xingu plaza villages not only concentrate and restrict public ritual and political action in the context of the community. these “chiefly” lineages dominated public ritual and political activity. This was based. The positioning of neighborhoods was somewhat immutable due to the placement of the earthworks (ditches and linear mounds). the configuration of domestic space around the plaza was radically different than today. as well. The plaza not only symbolizes community unity but also represents this community unity to outsiders. prehistoric plaza villages were much larger in size. based on principles of gender and seniority and embodied in the plaza. on increasingly restricted access or privatization of central public space. Even today. Village fortification and population nucleation had a profound effect on village spatial organization. since domestic precincts (neighborhoods) closer to the plaza had privileged access to the plaza. Thus. it is not an unranked. However. could be transformed into actual control of public ritual and political action/process by certain segments of society. hence. and leads to increasingly restricted access (“privatization”) of the central plaza and. as commonly suggested. we can assume that patterns of village leadership were stronger in the past. but at the same time create the conditions for inequality and opposition within communities. Prehistorically. and chiefs directly receive their mandate to represent and do represent the community in the village plaza. public ritual and political action. however. but a deeply hierarchical one that contextually .The Symbolic Economy of Power • 311 age. Plazas spatially represent community unity. goods brought for the community from the outside are redistributed there. symmetrical unity.

sacred precincts of ritual and public affairs were physically enclosed by great earthen barriers. If we wish to perpetuate the Western connotations. formulas.” and the “symbolic economy of alterity” (predation). where plazas and ancestors were ranked in supralocal galactic clusters. This alternative reading situates front and center the issues of exclusivity and political power inherent in plaza ritual and “ownership. itself ranked from top to bottom.” one particularly well suited to describing Xinguano peoples over time. the domain of panopticism is. calls kingly power. the power immanent in the kingly body. with the force that he himself deploys or transmits to some few others. with its strange material and physical presence. the living group. described by Viveiros de Castro (1996): the “moral economy of intimacy. We might also note. Kingly power was contained in “[t]he body of the king. or impulses of Xinguano culture. past personages.312 • The Ecology of Power represents and to a degree mediates between the egalitarian and the hierarchical tendencies. with few if any people actually living inside. first and foremost. 1980). This refers to a form or modality of power not based on political coercion or economic exploitation. and container of power (and powerholders).” the “political economy of control. but instead in what could be called structural or disciplinary power. In addition to the three moods of regional ethnology.” This is particularly true if one looks back to the polities of pre-Columbian times. that region of irregular . founders. and mediates among them. It is also a container of power. the plaza is imbued with precisely that personified power that Foucault (1977. on the contrary. and within settlements often more like towns than villages. must be added a fourth “economy. from the newest or most marginal citizens to the most ancient. as sociological model or cosmogram. The plaza thus lends itself to a different reading than has been customary to describe. The Symbolic Economy of Power The plaza is a monument. following a long list of others. It is a monument to the otomo. the panoptic qualities of the plaza as panoramic observatory.” This is “the opposite extreme of this new physics of power represented by panopticism. the central. the control over the construction and operation of human bodies. the primary site of a symbolic economy of power: the theater state or political economy in its ritual phase. that whole lower region. enclosure. which brings together all the social identities in the world. in a fixed and enduring way. potent and central ancestors. The plaza is more than a bounded physical space. only rather than the faceless gaze of State power. it is also a social mnemonic. and chiefs (living ancestors). insofar as it represents persons.

it is a radical departure from what came before or exists alongside: the undifferentiated (nonplaza) space of the typical tropical forest village. asylums. It is also an inversion back to spectacle in contextually (ritually) “illuminated” spaces from Foucault’s concrete hyper-secularism of the Benthamite panopticon and other techniques of power in the new physics of panopticism. through its exclusivity.: 141). economic. and symbolic (with ontological “others”). What changes is the fact that it is a dynamic.” For Foucault. and hospitals. but to emphasize the degree to which the plaza. as discipline. a “swarming of institutions. as the privileged locales of public mediations. It is also an inversion of how history is written (from masses back to heroes and great persons). situationally defined enclosure. always hierarchical and tied to divisions of age and gender: its social identity is pluralistic. social labor and symbolic capital.” that is. hospitals. who discusses the birth of discipline in Discipline and Punish (1977) and locates it in the “swarming of institutions. politicized sense. and the like. an observatory. This panoptic effect is thus an inversion. and the control of the human body inherent in the panopticon and related structures of power in prisons. a container of power. from what interested Foucault. about the body as understood in its collective. through it. This is. all the more so in the great plaza villages of the Xinguano galactic clusters. which “proceeds from the distribution of individuals in space” and “requires enclosure. the exercise of social control. of course. in a sense.The Symbolic Economy of Power • 313 bodies. it is a playground.” the partitioning of space. It represents and reproduces social hierarchy and. Nonetheless. The point is not to import Foucault into the realm of Amazonian anthropology taken far out of its original context. represents an equally dramatic variation or transformation of spatiality. At other times. the production of (full-time) docile bodies in the cold institutional space of prisons. At times it is a political apparatus. not in the despotic law of the States of which Clastres (1987: 186) spoke. if perceived at all. What is placed for all to see in circular plazas is itself an exclusionary tactic. barracks. “the specification of a place heterogeneous to all others and closed in upon itself ” (Ibid. political. from marginal back to exemplary bodies. in terms of the distribution or deployment of persons and things. The plaza is a socially hot center of public life. factories. which orients the movements of social bodies through structured space in a very precise way. It does represent. of specific persons. written in an idiom of ancestrality. factories. and a common theater. the place of spectacle which hosts the making and unmaking of chiefs.” It does not compare in scale with what comes after kingly power. . Since as a naturalized power (from within) it is not easily resisted.

and larger plazas. in degrees of chiefliness. their power emerged from) because they could activate or engage the ancestors at a higher level (cf. but the most exclusive thing of value is the symbolic capital accumulated. Thus the lords of Nokugu were more powerful (i. social actors were linked from their house into the pool of local ancestors whose names they carried forward. because it marks a division between those kin groups that are responsible for the production of chiefly individuals (i. The great . entrepreneurs..314 • The Ecology of Power polyvalent. it contextually translates and mediates (i. This distinction is fundamental.e. not material goods.” However. notes that “Amazonian societies are primarily oriented toward the production of persons. through the social ranks. that is. with larger and weightier ancestors.e. all the divisions that make up Xinguano ontologies. The economic and the symbolic are inextricably linked in most political transactions. and some individuals act as “big” or “great” men. This brings us back to the problem of bodies and persons.. It is possible to move.e. but of persons through ritual and symbolic work.. sometimes quickly. logically with “smaller” ancestors. summarizing a consensus among many regional specialists. the reproduction of the social body) and those who are not. and polysemic. particularly those of the powerful. amassing labor or wealth by whatever means does capture symbolic capital. Fausto (1999: 934). it is impossible to have access to the full range of symbolic or economic resources. is the degree to which the primary ritual and everyday mechanisms of social and symbolic reproduction are tied specifically to the production and operation of chiefly bodies. but chiefliness is a matter of birth and without the legitimate claim to acknowledged bloodlines. The reverse is also true. and capture prestige through competitive localized exchange. which directly impinges on their ability to control labor and economic valuables. creates a dialogue) between opposites. there were small plaza centers. Chiefly persons are constructed in a way that privileges their access to symbolic capital through a distinction between the owners of these principal chiefly rituals and symbols. Leach 1954). what is different in the Upper Xingu than most Amazonian cases described ethnographically. is that bodies are publicly produced in such a way as to rank and separate individuals into chiefly and commoner rank and according to an internal ranking in the chiefly lines. In other words. in the person of the chief. what is particularly notable about the Upper Xingu. In pre-Columbian clusters. their focus is not on the fabrication of objects through labor. in an inalienable way. transforming their houses and Houses into entrepôts. and they could link into a kinship structure that connected all the communities of the region and defined people as affines and consanguines. Like contemporary villages.

must be “householding. and substance is passed from fathers and mothers. to offspring.” and not reciprocity or redistribution (see Halperin 1994). not as fetish items that embody (i. and salt are traded as commodities. even paradoxical according to some anthropological schemata. In the “trading game” wealth is exchanged. They also have chiefly redistribution. and immediate payoff. It reveals many things about Kuikuro social dynamics: a look at where people sit. however. the householding “pattern is the closed group. wealth. contextually operative relative to bodies of different scale. As noted above. how they act. but the primary element of the political economy is not transportable wealth—which is amassed through “householding”—but symbolic and social capital. objectify) persons. As noted earlier. the Kuikuru speak of taking the place of their fathers and grandfathers. and mortuary feasts are collective and they instantiate ancestors as well as chiefs in plaza ritual.” which is conducted in “centers” of houses and villages.” Whether such items are (or ever were) commonly given as prestations is unclear. is the coexistence of different modalities of exchange. Chief-making is an excellent example of what Foster (1995). if we can speak of it in such terms.e. how much. such as benches and special body ornaments. given its basis in village specialization. prestige goods—objects that mark social position. The social tendency inverts the biological. According to Polanyi’s (1944: 53) original definition. among far-off Austronesians. Uluki is a centralized form of economic exchange insofar as chiefs control the “gaming. when the channeling is no longer obvious. marriages.” they ritually operate—become visible—only as extensions of persons (fetishes) that are “inalienable. Shell belts and necklaces. the overarching economic principle in Xinguano society. and with whom they bid tells much about sociality. of course. Another interesting aspect of Xinguano cultural life. calls “replacing the ancestors”: a process of making chiefs. whether the very different entities of the family or the . or loses power. between trading partners. and his person is a reflection of this channeling of ancestral power. Although these are portable and are traded as “goods. specifically. what.. systems of equivalencies. and in some respects. and power. Xinguanos maintain extensive reciprocity between men and women. the body of the chief withers. who have reciprocal relations with other chiefs and with community members. the body of the chief is the embodiment of that power. through grandparents. through deeds as well as genealogy. and.The Symbolic Economy of Power • 315 regional initiations. ceramics. Likewise. and between chiefs. the Xinguano “trading game” (uluki) has certain features that seem almost market like. between families and friends.

arranged and directed by village chiefs. that of producing and storing for the satisfaction of the wants of the members of the group. labor. fishing traps). There are no full-time craft specializations. oïke. barter and trade between individuals within villages and with . namely. with the equivalence between the two objects discussed. iñu. of which unique items produced by one village are widely sought by the other villages. and many other products are specialities of one or another village but do not relate to resource distributions nor to specialized technology. Anetï ekugu preside over the intercommunity uluki and any anetï can call and mediate in intravillage ceremonies.g.” And what more fitting economic principle for a society so well described as a “House Society” (“société à maison”). and shell belts are made from land snails. most notable among which are ceramics and glass bead and shell ornaments (belts and necklaces). are in part based in village specializations. As noted above. Village chiefs sponsor intervillage trading ceremonies (uluki). Virtually anything of value is traded.316 • The Ecology of Power settlement or the manor formed the self-sufficient unit. but there are part-time specialists in the village who are considered “owners” of certain craft items (e. Ceramics.” Kuikuru ritualized exchange thus follows a principle essentially opposite to that which Malinowski (1922: 95) suggested was the basis for primitive economy (based on his work in the Trobriads). which they arrange informally beforehand with the principal chiefs from another village. a cure. made almost exclusively by the Waujá.. displayable. bargained about and computed”. the latter having a somewhat unique exchange value as they are highly storable. like speciality black wood bows or stone axes. the principle was invariably the same. and transportable wealth items: shell money. Village specializations were tied in part to the natural distributions. a favor. wherein gifts (or countergifts) “can never be exchanged hand to hand. and prestige markers. a song. The intervillage uluki between two villages takes place in the village plaza and involves more or less the same process of laying an object on the ground that someone from the invited village can choose to trade for. These trade rituals. We might note that glass-bead and shell necklaces/belts are not only qualitatively and quantitatively measured. but also as serve “money in the bank”: they can be used to purchase virtually anything. in the past. as participants pass from house to house and individuals from the house produce items they wish or feel obligated to trade. and even food and constitute a rudimentary “currency. as fine adornments. Shell necklaces are made with water snails. and one or another participant usually takes up the offer and pays the price asked by the owner. but there are recognized mediums of payment.

so does chiefly power. and while opportunities for gaining prominence through nontraditional means has also increased. Thus. who was not required to produce for his family but instead was maintained by tributes from other community members (E.” In recent times. and otherwise maintaining the well being of communities. Chiefs also have an inordinate ability to acquire and amass wealth for ceremonial payments. see also Neto. However. because of their numerous external contacts. formalized exchange is under the direct influence of the village chiefs. Villagers recognize the importance of having well-known chiefs who can influence outsiders. either spatially or genealogically. powerful chiefs command the respect necessary to truly manipulate the external world for the benefit of the community (e. the control of external relations. interaction with the Western world has been essential in terms of insuring medical assistance. as well as Western goods. in fact. As the chief said. obtaining Western goods. There has been a marked increase in the influence of individual chiefs’ depending on their abilities to operate in the supraregional networks linked to Western market society. n. 1995. notably involving the flow of goods and information. personal communication. the complicated pattern of regional exchange suggests that such forces are not strictly restricted to the introduction of European goods. but because in light of the impact of that contact—massive depopulation and foreign opportunity—it was hard to consolidate chiefly power. there is still a tendency for goods to circulate . There is some indication of a tribute economy in the recent past (c. not because they naturally declined in the face of Western contact.The Symbolic Economy of Power • 317 outsiders is common and based on direct and delayed reciprocal payments. living not in the too distant past. we can assume that the external dimension of political process was quite pronounced given the obvious importance of regional interaction. Prehistorically. such as red macaw feathers (from the Kayapó) and quality bamboo for flutes (from the Juruna). As external relations become more important. Although in recent decades it has been the control of Western goods which has strengthened the influence of chiefs.g. late 1800s to early 1900s).). particularly warfare (marked by defensive works) and intervillage interaction (marked by roads). in part as a result of far greater access to long-distance trade items. This is provided by a Waujá historical reference to a chief.d. gaining audience with high-ranking government or nongovernmental organization [NGO] officials).. It appears that the economy has changed significantly and there has been significant deterioration of traditional patterns. In contemporary villages. Ireland. We also can assume that chiefs were considerably more exalted in prehistoric times. “the laws have changed. has a strong influence on chiefly power. in both regional and local contexts.

as discussed above. It also relates to the ability to amass economic goods and labor. Ceremonial payments are also made to chiefs by the community in support of the primary anetï ceremonies. Chiefs are often assisted by other kin-members to enable them to attend to chiefly activities. both individual and community owned. This symbolic capital. Chiefly redistribution is tied to sponsorship of primary chiefly rituals.318 • The Ecology of Power through the hands of village chiefs. Surplus is maintained through ritual sponsorship. is a direct reflection of a person’s ability to legitimately appropriate the power or influences of ancestors. and mobilization is the critical feature. or the piquí tubes. such as in public redistributions in the plaza or in private in the chief ’s house. . notably ceremonial sponsorship and today excursions to government agencies. but there are no chiefs whose families are not responsible for self-maintenance. collected in first-fruit rituals by the sponsors of the rituals. for instance the large silos of manioc flour. highlighting the critical interplay of legitimacy and efficacy in Xinguano political economies. through social obligation.

great Native American empires like the Inka and 319 . a bird’s eye view of classical Bali’s political organization … [reveals] an extended field of highly dissimilar political ties. and chiefdoms so prominent in the archaeological and early historical records. fell short of what Western society considered civil society (civitas) in the early 1900s. had already fully come to expect that Amazonia was one of those world areas. Julian Steward and Louis Faron 1959: 2 In short. in fact.” as Max Schmidt (1917) called the ancient Arawak peoples. kingdoms.” The greater and lesser American civilizations. like the Pacific Islands or the sub-Saharan Africa. a men’s ceremonial house. what Karl von den Steinen (1894) called “naturvölkern. the states. virtually everything with everything else. Clifford Geertz 1980: 24 Amazonian “high culture.CHAPTER 10 Conclusion: The Pedigree of a Contradiction … in eastern Bolivia [southern Amazon]. “the cannibal instincts of the historical process. based upon the Amazonian pattern. in a marvelously convolute way. thickening into nodes of varying size and strength at strategic points on the landscape and then thinning out again to connect. as Lévi-Strauss (1961: 42) put it.” Even the giants of pre-Columbian world systems. dominated wholly by primitive peoples. was magnified to state significance. had been reduced to obscurity through. Most ethnologists.

that had no relation to the architects of them. turned them into the “tropical forest chiefdoms” or “theocratic chiefdoms of eastern Bolivia. the Greater Antilles. casualties of a nineteenth-century evolutionary rhetoric bent on measuring the progress and major limens of human history according to the yardstick of Western historical experience (Chang 1989). Colonel Percy Fawcett was among those who sought lost cities. in the first synthetic volume of the South American continent. the idea was championed not only by Max Schmidt. ancient polities are truly hidden from view. whose seminal book on the southern Amazonian peoples described in detail the structures of chieftainship so widely distributed in the region. He died searching for the lost civilizations of ancient European legends. however.” tales of ancient ruins among peoples. draft animals. but also by Alfred Métraux (1942). the hallmarks of the state—pyramids. and the southeastern United States were only discovered between the mid-1800s and early 1900s. was a subtext in regional anthropology throughout the twentieth century. 1993. Steward and Faron noted that the “chiefdoms of Venezuela. Nonetheless. he thought. Many of the great temple centers of Mesoamerica. There is more to it. which might provide clues of their presence. In the southern Amazon. and Europeans did not venture far into the forests. than just scholarly ignorance. civilizations. of course.” In Amazonia. and eastern Bolivia consisted of a number . since the Western intellectual tradition has tended to neglect. or places like it. 1994). has also lagged behind most other world areas (Roosevelt 1991).” based on Métraux’s work. There are few early chronicles that describe the native peoples of the sixteenth century and rarely have these been studied in detail (see Porro 1996. if not degenerate. who coined the term “chiefdom” to refer to these peoples. ancient Amerindian societies that cannot be described as “primitive. based on “the truth of Indian stories. Julian Steward and Louis Faron (1959). as well as that of Kalervo Oberg (1949: 52. there have always been writers promoting the idea that “lost civilizations” exist in the Amazon.320 • The Ecology of Power Azteca seen firsthand by the interlopers. Atlantis in the Amazon. were forgotten. which by most estimations were the largest and most complicated political formations. writing. Peru. Archaeology. just as there have always been those who see in the Amazon.” “simple. glimpses of our own primitive past.” as Kroeber (1947) called them in North America. and cities—are so conspicusouly absent here. The idea of at least “minor civilizations. Whitehead 1988. were largely destroyed by the time eyewitnesses arrived. 1955). that remain “hidden in plain sight.” or “uncivilized” by any stretch of the imagination. Most of the major riverine societies. And. as Alice Kehoe (1998) so aptly puts it.

“How do we write histories of the vanquished?” In the Upper Xingu. so amenable to “direct historical” and “contextual” analysis. become more fragmented as one moves back though time (Basso 1995). Discussions revolve around assumptions that are derived from other places according to the expectations of a general stepwise evolutionary typology or. the paucity of well studied regions prohibits detailed internal comparisons and cross-cultural comparison. In a place like the Upper Xingu. Amazonia must be understood on its own terms. a century of ethnography among the demonstrably depopulated and often radically transformed remnants of ancient Amazonian cultural variation. we need a special kind of archaeology. to give them voice. with an alternative historiography.Conclusion: The Pedigree of a Contradiction • 321 of villages bound together through common religious worship” (Steward and Faron (1959: 2). is therefore critical at this stage anyway.” is .” to the degree possible. the lack of written materials prior to 1884 requires that archaeology be our guide. As Menget (1999) puts it. Clastres (1987: 28) likewise notes: the authority of the chieftaincy is explicitly documented only in the case of a few groups … almost all of whom are Arawak. but concrete examples of what a genuinely Amazonian complex society might actually look like. particularly those that can bridge the quincentennial divide of 1492. It is one of those rare and precious examples of cultural continuity. because the indigenous narratives. are located in the northern-western part of South America and that their social organization presents a marked social stratification into castes: this latter feature is found again only among the Guaycuru and Arawak (Guana) tribes of the Chaco. What exactly is it about some Amazonian societies that might lead us to invoke images of chiefdoms and states? The Amazon shows us different pathways to complexity. but unique and requiring inquiry into local sequences of change. for instance? Unfortunately. one that links living human bodies to their ancestors.” are few and far between. Should we expect surplus. “in the flesh. conversely. It provides the only pathway to probe the deep past. and must be aligned or “rewritten. not dissimilar to other areas. Students of Amazonian culture history are faced with the recalcitrant question of how to breathe some life back into yesterday persons. and urbanism. Ingold’s (1993) “dwelling perspective” to address “the temporality of landcape. Decades of ethnohistoric and archaeological research show that the distribution of chiefly societies is far greater than various authors had imagined. although providing critical insights. after being mute for centuries if not millennia. literacy. In the end. the personae of the past.

creating and recreating sites of memory. the Upper Paraguay. their practices and disciplines. Persons Large and Small The largest “historical personage. distinguished from those of other such Amazonian personages. or the lowland savannas of Bolivia. social enchainments of a self-similar nature. with its own subgroups. Within the Arawak diaspora. in the south. and the social bodies of individual human actors. the Xinguano tradition is also a type of historical personage in this nested. There are many perspectives on landscape.” a step down. and Gê. and the multivocality of landscape. Carib. Carib. and they are objectified by objects. that is. persons.” the movements and techniques of the body. that is. Within this regional stage. place. is the history we need to write. multi-dimensional quality of human bodies and cultural systems. where “dwelling. and (2) and as a geography and identity. Arawak. the other linguistic diasporas.” social bodies. which is activated through lived space.” is the Arawak diaspora. how the descendants reflect these histories and local circumstances in dynamic regional systems.” of lived experience. smaller historical personages. concentric imagery of personhood. The question is. . and the memory of the human body as it moves through in structured space. It is persons that are made and remade through social and political ties and that “thicken” into nodes of varying size and strength and at strategic points on the landscape. what persons do we see. TupiGuarani. The Southern Amazon Periphery. This looks to a deeper cultural memory. persons resolve themselves as houses. we must learn about actual human bodies. dispositions. “Houses” (the kindreds of chiefs). At local levels. and how? If memory and landscape are. questions of “being there. ritual. and the ways they are cojoined into “communities of practice. and a resonance between diverse researchers and varied indigenous voices immersed in the same context of study. are omnipresent in the archaeological experience. anthropological and local. are others.322 • The Ecology of Power particularly appropriate to the archaeology of a place like the Upper Xingu. highlights the scalar. the lower Negro. often of hybrid parentage. or the Greater Antilles. from “Amazonia” or Amerindians. It can be viewed in two ways: (1) as a history. a deep temporality. and “Great Houses” (otomo). in large part. the fractal person (Wagner 1991). In other words. and various stretches of the Amazon and other major rivers to the north are a few examples. working together in place. as are each of the individual villages. are apparent. Tupi. in a world historical sense. monuments. then watching human bodies moving through time and space.

500. Marajoara. the northern lowlands. one that is primarily symbolic and social. as diaspora encroached and transformed local systems.1 These groups became situated in regions along the routes of expansion. The Upper Xingu provides a particularly clear example. including.Conclusion: The Pedigree of a Contradiction • 323 In a nutshell. hierarchical social formations. By A . or demographic mode of production. each region entered into a process of ethnogenesis and settling-in. more than three thousand years ago. The initial inflection was subtle. This “symbolic Rubicon” was crossed in Amazonia.” began to move out of their homeland (which I would situate on the Negro-Orinoco rivers). a minor change in: (a) social structure that made the division between older and younger siblings into marked categories of superiority and inferiority (this is the very initial stage of a conical clan type organization. D. By A. and the techno-economic conditions of the settled.” were increasingly common. a fairly small group of related peoples. and over time showed a tendency to absorb or amalgamate with other cultural groups. spatial calculi. Santarem. During this period. Social hierarchy marks a transition. root-crop agriculturalists propelled Arawak speaking peoples quickly across tropical America. up the full length of the Negro. These include plazas. and by A . among many other things were “traded around. many other large settled societies all up and down the Amazon. the “proto-Arawak. some three thousand to four thousand years ago. In other words. it is implausible that change in many of these regional systems was guided by purely endogenous process of internal differentiation. down the full length of the Orinoco. and the body of chiefs and the spaces they . From colonized areas they continued to move out across the South American continent and the Caribbean. perhaps. chiefly initiations and mortuary feasts. ceremonial structures. it reflects changes in relations of production and the way difference and value are created in society. technological. 500–1500. and even the Caribbean. Instead. the emergence of central plazas and the exclusion they embody. as is true throughout much of the Americas. many of these regional centers had developed into complex. The Xingu is one of those regions. riverine. The institutional separation of senior and junior siblings. and throughout the Antilles. sometimes through interaction between the members of the different primary diasporas. processes of interaction and hybridization. rather than changes in the economic. where languages.D. status rivalry. slightly later circa three thousand to two thousand years ago. D. but there are obvious correlates throughout the lowlands among primarily Arawak peoples in the southern and northwest Amazon. 500 had virtually attained their maximal geographic extent. and (b) a transformation of space. material cultures. as discussed later).

when not only was the system at its largest.” Such long-term histories do not appear to be uncommon in the region. and regional distributions.D. in terms of economy. peripheral groups. 1650. 500–1000. but also concentric with an undulating social landscape composed of core groups. Suya. Tupian (ancestors of Aueti and. The people were created by divine conception. by circa A.D. 1750. The presence of Carib peoples is firmly dated to A. if not before. These Carib and Arawak ancestors engaged in social relations to the point that the former largely adopted the ways of the later. spatial organization. In a way they personify or “embody” place and history. circa A.D. most elaborated. and integrated. they are living ancestors. 1650–1750 was characterized by the three primary groups: the western Xinguano (Arawak Western Complex). The Arawak diaspora extended into the Upper Xingu by A. although they may have been present throughout parts of the Upper Xingu basin long before. and the northern Xinguano (a Western Complex variant or a distinctive third cultural complex). In the Upper Xingu. It establishes the basic Xinguano cultural pattern. Tuangi. but it was already a hybrid social formation. at the latest. the Xinguano cultural tradition. The height of this was the “galactic. Other groups. and other Tupi and Carib groups more recently have been partially integrated into the system over time. collective ontogeny does recapitulate cultural phylogeny.D. domestication. which in turn is objectified or “materialized” by them. Perhaps.D. It was also defined by the plazacentric ritual complex.” from circa A. although none fully adopted the plaza ritual complex of the Xinguanos. as many of the authors of Comparative Arawakan Histories suggest for the Arawaks more generally (Hill and Santos-Granero 2002). the eastern Xinguano (Eastern Complex or Carib). and see it as an extension and development of a process that occurred in many parts of Amazonia. technology. The period from circa A. but at the hand of Kuantunga’s grandson. and inscription of/in the land in the Xingu. Trumai.D. if not slightly before. 1400–1600 in eastern parts of the basin. . Kamayura among others) people became incorporated into the system. such as the Eastern Bakairi.” Kuantunga. who impregnated his mother’s sister. which was largely western Xinguano territory prior to A. the home of the maternal grandfather of “the people. these places are plaza villages. in this sense. unique to each case but nonetheless comparable in terms of certain conditions and transformations within cultural structures. leading back to the origin place of the human line. 1750–1800. About 1750. becoming compressed into nuclear portions of the basin.324 • The Ecology of Power occupy. 1250 to 1600. and complete “others. Particularly important is the continuity central places (Zucchi 2002).D. At least we can historically map out this process of colonization.

and objects uengïfi wood. one way to improve the situation is to make history better and deeper. most directly. The transition from institutional equality (in which differences are based on gender. fixed.” wherein even newcomer groups. with fairly intensive agriculture and focused exploitation of the rich aquatic resources in areas of major rivers. This is often seen as anomalous by many commentators. what Flannery (1994) calls the “rank revolution. and it is the organization and flow of power in such chiefly societies that interests us here. through the chiefly lines whose greatness or weight is a result of their perceived genealogical “height” (depth). be tied to birth) is continuous . economically. or What? The southern Amazonian chiefdoms were stratified. even when populations are quite small. What happens if we expand our perspectives on native Amazonian points of view to include the majority of these Arawak peoples in 1492. with distinctive histories. generally since it spells out a radical moment in human history. they are regionally integrated. and they are settled. and based upon a settled and highly productive agricultural economy. But if Arawak peoples were predisposed. closed and “traditionbound. or probably to include the majority of Amazonians at this time? In Amazonia. in large part. It is difficult perhaps for many anthropologists to entirely embrace such a history that appears so hermetically sealed. This consanguinity. regionally integrated. This creates a blind spot in regional ethnology.” Chiefdoms are about power.Conclusion: The Pedigree of a Contradiction • 325 and was/is both brother (parallel cousin) and father to “the people. In many places where Arawak peoples still survive. supplemented by rich aquatic resources. they have social hierarchy. the “divinity” of the chiefs. It poses a big problem for political theorists. Chiefdoms. and regionally integrated villages.” without attention to the specific histories that would make it so. the problem of the “chiefdom” has become central to ethnology. and personal characteristics) to inequality (that class-like form of difference that must. Obviously. seem to “bud-off ” relatively unproblematically from a common group of ancestors.” Gow (1995) notes this tendency to make what we know of the present into what is traditional for “others. age. certain painted designs.” He is a consanguine. technologically. ecologically. although not conceived exactly in these terms by Kuikuru is paraded for all to see in the exclusive use (ownership) of jaguar ornaments. socially. as it is so focused on the past 100–150 years. and symbolically to reside in large. This is harder still to believe considering that the Xinguanos are one of Amazonia’s most celebrated cases of “hybridity. it only makes sense that these peoples were particularly hard hit by contact.

based in large part on genealogical “substance.” but all are founded upon the same cultural principle. that such a cultural solution is inevitable given certain conditions. but it refers to two related but separate things. but are characterized by their form of organization. most notably the emergence and nature of the political institution of the chieftaincy (cf. that is. Hierarchy is about how people define the status and role (identity) of other people within their social formations. . in social and political organization and the practices and ideologies that produce and reproduce them. and ultimately. wherever such a hierarchy that divides society into higher and lower ranks exists. when society transforms its material base. nor is it meant to deny the multidimensional nature of power relations within and across genders and ages in all societies. in terms of rights and access to certain material and symbolic things. And. the concept of chiefdoms draws our attention to certain things. Descola (1996a: 330) notes that “counter to the over-hasty technical determinism with which evolutionist theories are often imbued. that may be purely symbolic. Within this loosely defined group there is significant variation in the nature of property and ownership. more closely related to older culture heroes. As a heuristic device. as well as forming a primary dimension of power struggles.” This is not to suggest that there is anything natural or given about it.” In a similar vein. and a structure of power. according to Service (1962: 143). the divine figures.326 • The Ecology of Power as well as discontinuous. Hierarchy refers specifically to an ideology that divides society into lower and upper social strata. “are not always demarked by a particular technological innovation which would set them off from tribes and states. it plays a singular role in the definitions of cultural identity and categories. one might postulate that. this is conditioned by a prior mutation of the forms of social organization that serve as the conceptual framework of the material mode of producing. Kopytoff 1999). who brought greatest currency to the term as an evolutionary category. Divine chiefdoms and kingdoms are at two ends of a continuum of disciplinary power aimed at the “construction” of chiefly or kingly persons as living ancestors or “mortal gods” (Sahlins 1985). an ordered segmentation of society. economic inequality and “tribute. wherein elite are more directly descended from local ancestors (grandparents and dead chiefs). Chiefdoms. that is.” In other words. what is at issue is political organization and it is therefore critical to consider not only the techno-economic changes—the changes in mode or forces of production—but the changes that occurred in the structure of relations of production.

a political ideology.” which is “a system in which the elements are unranked relative to one another or ranked in a variety of ways depending on conditions. that distinguishes between chiefly and nonchiefly individuals based on an idiom of social hierarchy and organized into ranked social groups.Conclusion: The Pedigree of a Contradiction • 327 “It is the presence of the office of chief that makes a chiefdom.” The Xinguano system certainly had plazas as their centers. Such polities are structured by “overlapping. This does. or as Crumley (1987. tango. and how do persons. what techniques of the body. most notably “paramountcy” (Carneiro 1981. address the emergence and nature of the sociopolitical structures and . notable among which is warfare. and lands get activated and participate in the making of persons. most discussions of chiefdoms emphasize regional organization. refers to a structure. etc. objects. spaces. into overt “coercive” power: the ability to forcefully control the actions of others. as he notes. and landscape? We might ask what contexts promote the transformation of symbolic representations of power. hugogó òto.e.” Service (1962: 150) goes on to say. but the ability or power of one village to consistently demand or coerce support or action on the part of another is unknown. and the ability of paramount chiefs and villages (“centers”) to extract resources from secondary villages in the form of political coercion and economic exploitation. objects. It is equally plausible that villages engaged in situational alliances and confederated into a larger cohesive political body only under certain conditions. 1987.” but not. in Amazonian trajectories (Roosevelt 1999). however.. if at all. and properties and reified by title and office (anetï ekugu. as they move through time. layered and linked authority patterns with different factions and institutions competing for power” (Earle 1991: 9. Feinman (1991: 230) also suggests that: “chiefly formations should be associated with a suprahousehold decision-making structure or relatively permanent positions of leadership [office of the chief]. and landscapes) that promote such a discipline? In Amazonia.” The chieftaincy. spaces. 1991. embodied in chiefly persons. The pertinent question is thus not whether an institutional hierarchy exists wherein persons are ranked according to chiefly genealogies that “collapse” living persons with ancestors of greater and more ancient portent—it does—but how and under what circumstances are existing (embedded/embodied) hierarchical structures put into action? How do names. 1995) defines this in terms of the increasingly popular idea of “heterarchy. as used here. What are the structural conditions (i. “with the marked internal differentiation of such structures. features of regional polities that seem to emerge relatively late. 1997).) or rank (anetï). what institutions. spaces. and they were hierarchically oriented. 1998). remake names.

Lathrap and his students understood the circular plaza (i. He concluded that plazas represent a source of power that concentrates cosmic force and diverts it into human hands. Work in the source area of central Brazil has also expanded upon Lévi-Strauss’s observations in various ways. this transition is marked by a remarkable technological invention: the plaza village. Turner 1979. a discipline rooted in chiefly power.. as specialists in techniques of the supernatural are able to contain cosmic power and position themselves above the rest of society in social and political terms. which was then elaborated upon and transformed in Mexico. However. and chiefly leadership are different. But whether a shaman. in ancient Amazonia. in turn. at this crossroads of political destiny. the Bororo plaza village of Lévi-Strauss) as the primitive form that represented more or less pure egalitarianism. is rather dimly conceived in Lathrap’s discussions. for instance about the power over social labor through public ritual and its basis in genealogy. 1996).e. bent and otherwise deformed to concentrate symbolic or cosmic power. we will likely never know. is forged and reproduced in ritual and public affairs. the plaza itself. or a warrior stood at this turning point.e. Thomas 1994). although overlapping domains. i. which. but what regional ethnology shows clearly is that shamanism.328 • The Ecology of Power ideologies that. are also seen as the root (Carneiro 1995). The plaza signifies a remarkable break. the construction of the body. and the partitioning of space: a “swarming” of new institutions tied to the creation of a new corporeal a discipline. In other words... Chiefly structures are often seen to emerge directly from shamanism. the regulation of the human body that is embodied in the plaza and the general use of space. Warriors. as is commonly pointed out among Pacific island peoples (e. control of founding ancestors and ancestor places (tombs). who are able to expand their situational power beyond the period of conflict. must precede such a pronounced consolidation of regional power. It radically reoriented bodily discipline. . Peru. but it largely focuses on the internal dialectical divisions that the plaza creates (Da Matta 1982. as Descola (1996: 330) notes. whereby the riverine peoples somewhere in the areas of the central Amazon. or Orinoco rivers diverged from the archaic pattern. A notable shared characteristic of all these groups is the existence of a hereditary elite status and the passage of chiefly office from father to son. Kirch 1991. a bifurcation. What particularly interests us here is the structure of the institution. Negro. war leadership. Lathrap (1985) was the only author to directly address this question of plazas and political power in his seminal paper “Jaws” (1985). and elsewhere as it was stretched.g. to put it in bold Foucauldian terms. and this was the political driving force in early American civilizations.

it is not protein or calories. who can accumulate of surplus of symbolic and social resources. including special burial. as reproducers of genes and alliances and as producers of surplus kin. but it also involves social and symbolic capital. including the right to sanction sorcery executions. In Amazonia. weighty actors. They are consulted in all aspects related to external affairs and preside over. Turner 1979. but wield considerable authority in community affairs. or “own. Chiefs are treated with deference by other community members. As noted above. according to some authors. They control external communication and commercial relations and have considerable control over the flow of information into the village. However. in fact some people are “embarrassed” to even come near major chiefs. but focusing narrowly on the recent past makes it a more generally important thing in terms of ritual and public works—social labor—beyond the domestic sphere. They are also the conduit for older men to control younger men directly (as sons-in-law) and as producers of local surplus to finance the politically-minded activities of powerful men—the “politics of persons” (see Rival and Whitehead 2001. chiefs represent the village in all external actions and orchestrate (control) all communal endeavors within their villages.Conclusion: The Pedigree of a Contradiction • 329 Members of the chiefly elite are marked in ritual by special symbols of office and their exalted status affirmed in chiefly rites of passage.” major community rituals. but women that are the scarce commodity. 1984). as well as other communal activities and political actions. as demonstrated by the control over two-way radios in recent years (see Roscoe 1993). The chiefly elite are not only marked by special symbols of rank. including exclusive rights to receive visitors and send messengers to other villages. Political economy always involves control of some kind of labor. What is clear is that the Xinguanos represent exactly one of those societies that Steward and Faron called “theocratic chiefdoms” of the lowland tropics. polygyny. which depending on the social and political size of the person executed could conceivably escalate into aggression between otomo. and control over human labor in the context of a regional network of elite ritual exchange and ceremonial interdependence. Rivière 1984. Xinguano chiefs not only have greater privilege. there is evidence of an embryonic tributary system (first fruits and large stores of manioc flour to sponsor chiefly rituals) in historic times insofar as chiefs are able to amass significantly more than others through obligation enabling them to dominate village ceremonial and political life centered on the plaza. and freedom from some labor tasks. In the Upper Xingu. power is not limited to ritual contexts. Labor is rarely not a scarce commodity. In short. but have special privilege within the village. Like the chieftaincy in other southern . wealth. community built houses. can transform these into economic capital.

“[a]s an agency for providing initiative and direction … [. but as Carneiro (1957: 272) suggests that. chiefs are at the heart of all major decisions in the community.” Nonetheless.) points out: important dispute cases are rarely even mentioned in public by the village leader and legal authority. Sometimes this entails taking a very hard stand on issues. Coercion involves more than simply physical or economic force.” While it is true that aggressive or “pushy” behavior of any kind is considered distasteful of every adult and particularly chiefs. even chiefs with limited actual power in day-to-day affairs have “a substantial expressive role in rituals. and in organizing trade sessions” (Basso 1973: 153). every sorcery execution occurring during the tenure of the past village chief (now deceased) was carried out at his express command. does extend well beyond symbolic functions even when populations are at their lowest. Xinguano leaders. economic. and even his silence of critical moments. village leadership was hereditary (Block 1980: 78–80.330 • The Ecology of Power Arawak groups. through allusion to myths. powerful chiefs very definitely influence and control the actions of others. Carneiro (1957) notes that. The authority of chiefs. In fact. 1969: 53). or ceremonial behavior” and as a result. whose status was that of serfs. 128–129. although in so doing chiefs exemplify a “rigid protocol of public restraint in handling disputes” (Ireland 1987: 1). Although chiefs express their opinions and wishes subtly. including the emotionally charged and politically weighty issue of sorcery executions. Dole suggests that a chief “exerts no control whatever in political. as Ireland (ibid. For the Kuikuru. although enshrined in an elaborate ritual system that marks social difference. see also 1956/58: 131. As Carneiro (1957) and Dole (1973) recognized. specifically. “the role of the chief is … that of conciliator and advisor rather than aggressive leader or law enforcer.] chieftainship is very weakly developed. “formal leadership and authority are so weak among the Kuikuru as scarcely to exist” (Dole 1966: 73. however. in making public speeches. would seem to be actually quite powerless. In the Waujá. Métraux 1942: 69. and the heads of families formed a “kind of aristocracy” who “controlled a class of dependents. the power of Kuikuru chiefs in the mid-1900s was . 165). The overt affability and reserve of leaders in public situations also masks their actual influence. for instance. even though he vehemently protested against them publicly (Ireland 1986: 1). His decision is made known indirectly. in gossip coming from his household.” Following most ethnographic descriptions of village leadership. in fact.

influencing the expression and balance of power. external crises) and depopulation..” We can assume that the “practice of the structure” became less hierarchical over time as nested hierarchies of settlements. Carneiro (1994: 208) recounts that “the Kuikuru tell of past chiefs. in the context of the demographic nadir of 1940–1970 (see also Gregor 1990) and the appearance of innumerable nontraditional avenues for prestige and wealth. As external influences within a national political economy have become increasingly important. Oberg 1949: 53. the idea of the “chiefdom” was originally coined to describe the southern Amazon (Carneiro 1981. like Afukaká [the grandfather of the present eté òto]. and an occasional lack of appropriate persons. given their height” (Drennan 1995). including the large scale of past settlements and the remarkable rebound in numbers in recent decades. (3) a greater convergence of the anetão and nonanetï houses. They have little privilege accorded them in public arenas solely on account . there is no doubt that. notably that between chiefs and shaman. Similarly. Big-men in New Guinea achieve their status during the course of their lives through exemplary achievement in the renowned incremental exchange ceremonies of the region: moka. (2) an attendant reduction in the political power of anetï Houses and individual anetï ekugu. reduced by centuries of epidemic disease. the question is not if chiefdoms existed here. integrated by smaller and larger nodes across the region. Steward and Faron 1959). and (4) a perceived increase in sorcery. in anthropological terms. and others.e. Today. In one sense. Carneiro (1957.” a term applied to specific kind of political leader found in the central highlands of Papua New Guinea. Depopulation was critical to change. Great-Men. but do we find them (societies of similar form) anywhere else. Chiefs. we are in a better position to bracket this artificially low population. village leaders have greatly enhanced their influence in recent decades. Big-Men. as it assumes we already know. exercised considerably more control of village life than did later chiefs. who. 1955. because of the strength of his personality. for instance: (1) a reduction in overall population size and organizational scale. because of threats and accusations of witchcraft. became single villages. 1993) and Dole (1966) note the diminished role of political leaders related to the reduced warfare (i. and Others The question of whether Xinguano society is a chiefdom or state is the wrong question to ask. as power changed hands across generations. tee. the galactic clusters.Conclusion: The Pedigree of a Contradiction • 331 probably artificially low due to depopulation. a priori. big-men are “historical facts. exactly what it is that we need to find out: why “some people weigh a great deal more or less than we would expect.

is often glossed as “divine” authority. and a stratification of society into chiefs and nonchiefs. simply “bigger-men?” Big-men achieve their status through “a series of acts which elevate a person above the common herd and attract about him a coterie of loyal.” who achieve status through their personal skill and charisma.” but these networks are not “hardened into hereditary chiefship. the likes of which are unknown in Amazonia. kingly or chiefly power.” In other words. and assume greater cultural continuity not with the southern Amazonian chiefdoms to the west (Pareci. or any rigid social stratification” (Strathern 1987: 259).” Xinguanos have hereditary chiefs (anetï) and a whole social strata of chiefly individuals orbiting around them (anetão).332 • The Ecology of Power of birth and their system is virtually devoid of ranked “bloodlines. aristocratic lineages. since. the question is. were preColumbian leaders. The Baruya great-man societies and the Xinguano peoples share certain features that make the comparison interesting. Terena/Guana) but to the Gê (Menget 1993). as they are “aggrandizers. following Godelier (1986: x) that: . are there big-men anywhere else? The Baruya of the eastern highlands of Papua New Guinea and their characteristic political form (presided over by great-men) provide an interesting counterpoint to that of the big-men (Godelier 1986. both men and women achieve power. Some authors have suggested that a Xinguano leader is somewhat similar to a big-man. considered over the long run. in other words the political institution of the chieftaincy is visible. with the caveat. before that concept found its widest currency in Polynesia (Sahlins 1963). It is what prompted Oberg (1955). Second. and others (see Oliveira 1968) to label this form of governmentality “theocratic chiefdoms” in the southern Amazon. there is hereditary hierarchy. we see the presence of diverse institutionalized sources of prestige and political power. And. Steward and Faron (1959). Bauré. herein lies the difference. given that big-men and great-men are so “Melanesian. lesser men” (Sahlins 1963: 289) and they do this in the context of major competitive exchange ceremonies. Big-men create and participate in an “elite network of exchanges. like the Austronesian world of eastern Melanesia and Polynesia.” and the Xinguanos. at least vis-à-vis big-man models in Oceania and head-man models in Amazonia. Strathern and Godelier 1991). But. First. The comparison may seem odd. seem so “Polynesian. as seen in the aristocratic kin groups. But. if this is so. and is elemental to the Austronesians that dominate the Pacific islands. this system is the quintessential meritocracy. an episteme that. as I’ve portrayed them here.

In the Xingu. But. The ear-piercing ceremony. is enacted when the son of a “true” chief (anetï ekugu) reaches the appropriate age. and hunters that is “there for the taking. the anetï initiate is publicly exalted before all.: 81). the “kwaimatnie-owners. It fits most descriptions of the inchoate state where cosmology and genealogy (and not control over means of production or economic administration) create the basic divisions (Flannery 1994).” In speaking of “hereditary status and interlineage hierarchies. The “owners” of exclusive valuables control structures and places and names. shaman. greater even than many of themselves. Godelier (1986: 81–99). the “coronations” and funerals of state. and the ritual apparatus of their transmission.g. and he is painted with special facial markings and wears special adornments (e. At this moment. The adolescent anetï is positioned in the center of a line of stools in front of the men’s house (kuakutu). that. esoteric knowledge.Conclusion: The Pedigree of a Contradiction • 333 women who are widely regarded as “greater” than others. unlike his cohorts (pierced with wooden spikes). it is this exclusive control over “sacred” things and ancestors. names. or other valuables that are controlled. in my opinion. Like his fellow initiates (mostly younger and graded in rank from center outward). he is marked by society to rise above it. which was already taken for granted. for only the men belonging to certain lineages owning a kwaimatnie. what I find most fascinating and what I think resonates most strongly with the Xinguano case (and. places. including those guest chiefs and their sons invited from other villages. describes just such exclusivity: “although celebrated by all. have the right to celebrate these rites” (lbid. the unmistakable emblem of chiefs. the puberty initiations and mortuary feasts of chiefly persons are the most obvious institutional context for activating this authority. In the Xinguano case the ritual expression of this transmission is dramatic and monumental. and.. but as a potential anetï ekugu. the men confidently admit. he is subjected to the same piercing that marks him as a member of society. the sun diadem feather headdress and oilape): he stands out very obviously from his peers. the Austronesian world) is the degree to which there is exclusive control over critical elements of social and symbolic reproduction held by a hereditary “elite” group. his ears are pierced with jaguar bone. although public works and affairs and even the daily disciplines of social bodies that are tied to . I should add. lies at the root of Xinguano political power. he is recognized not only as anetï. a sacred object. tiponhï.” opposed to the status of warriors. the initiate ceremony is not performed by all. Whether it is objects. What is unthinkable is the idea that any woman could be as great as the great men … However. In other words.

Instead.g. where rank and achievement are critical to political power (Chernela 1993. Jaguar skin tiaras and claw necklaces. Over time. and the kuarup designs come to stand for or are substituted for chiefliness and ancestors—these are the exclusive things of chiefly persons. the attainment of leadership positions and political power is conditioned by hereditary chieftaincy (anetï ekugu) and membership in socially exclusive (aristocratic or elite) chiefly lines.. ascension to positions of anetï ekugu or tango is dependent on direct lineal relatedness (son/daughter or grandson/daughter) to previous anetï ekugu or tango. In the Upper Xingu.” persons who make themselves and are simultaneously made. including shamanism and entrepreneurialism among non-anetï individuals. oilape necklaces. the anetão. Furthermore. defended. however. Are Xinguano leaders then “great-persons. as does the hereditary rank of chiefs (anetï). they afford social alternatives that are inherent in many social formations. such as the one bearing the image of a two-headed vulture) are also activated activated in specific contexts to stand for chiefs. Chiefly stools (e. The mere presence of a powerful anetï ekugu. as local support is galvanized chiefs increasingly command elite networks of communication.334 • The Ecology of Power these persons are political. The point is that these structures of power need not be treated categorically. while named chiefs such as the eté òto and the hugogó òto are typically distributed between two or more strong anetï lineages. What varies is the degree to which anetï can (a) control the actions of other individuals and (b) pass their eminence or influence on to their anetï offspring and establish an anetï lineage that dominates others (as classic hereditary power). in fact. shells. Xinguano chiefs must maintain a public following. sun diadems. wherein persons are crystallized. In contemporary villages. Hugh-Jones 1979). The Xinguano system like that of the Baruya is the paradigmatic opposite of the “big-man” model of production and accumulation of wealth (pigs. and . tied directly to demographic history or techno-economic conditions. and interaction with other chiefs and outsiders in general. represent one of the smallest of a series of “rank conscious” societies in Oceania like those of Amazonia. exchange. uengïfi wood. there are other means of achieving prestige and political power. Chiefly office exists regardless of situational context (in the named positions eté òto and hugogó òto). C. and perpetuated in the major competitive exchanges. but these individuals rarely emerge as true village chiefs (anetï ekugu). and other things) as the basis of primary political power. the person of the chief—commonly makes a social setting take on a ritualized character. which they do through progressively singular acts of efficacy and legitimacy. within a complex hierarchical system of roles? The Baruya. Hill 1993.

e. patrimonialism and populism. particularly among the nobility as a means of enhancing personal status. (6) a tendency for close endogamy among the aristoi. depending on external conditions. for instance.” insofar as he relates cycling to the situationally variable enactment of political structures as seen. and divine monarchies spread widely across the globe in 1492 (Mann 1986). It relates to a type of social structure considered typical of “middle-range” societies. if not all. The political structures that employ both centralized decision-making (central plazas) and a formal ranking of kin groups (anetï chiefly lines vs. In terms of basic structure. (2) elaborated genealogies [vis. The Baruya case. galactic polities. However. (5) absence of exogamy. of the known Upper Xingu cultural sequence. and (7) a tendency for ambilineal descent reckoning. The characteristics of the conical clan. the conical clan in canonical form. in Leach’s (1954) now classic recognition of the cyclical movement between states of relative equality (gumlao) and hierarchy (gumsa) among the highland Burmese Kachin. the aristoi. there is every reason to assume continuity in the basic form or structure of power and in the techniques . the heroic mode of lineage formation. In many respects. as a nonexogamous corporate cognatic descent group. following Knight (1990: 4. the expression of this formal hierarchy in terms of the actual ability of certain individuals to control the actions or efforts of others (i. This flexible and dynamic pattern is reminiscent of what Anderson (1994) calls “cycling. (4) the principle of genealogical nearness to the common ancestor of the group [founder] as the basis for the different standing of every member of the society.. (3) an overall “cone shape” linking the entire society to a single legendary ancestor. as opposed to big-men.. or even much larger in the theater states. commoners] as the means of validating rank within the structure. however. for example.e. and monarchy and meritocracy. greater centralization of political power) has fluctuated considerably from time to time. paraphrasing Kirchhoff 1959). unranked or situationally reordered categories). which is virtually as small and “simple” as any in the world today. well defines the Xinguano otomo. are: (1) orientation of the clan to a core group of noble lineage. kamaga nonchiefly lines) have existed throughout much.Conclusion: The Pedigree of a Contradiction • 335 separate not only great-men and chiefs. particularly with respect to the galactic cluster of the pre-Columbian past. but hereditary hierarchy as opposed to more purely “heterarchical” forms of power (i. is important as an example of a structure that is common in societies slightly larger in the Austronesian world.

where the major Houses are located at the north and south and the two or three minor Houses at other prominent points (at east. Thus. adjacent to road entries). Carneiro 1961.336 • The Ecology of Power and disciplines of the body. tied to the human body. as with other southern Amazon Arawaks. and settled farmer-fisher economies were established by initial Arawak populations. the basic political organization of contemporary Xinguano villages.” the classlike division of society. are linked to more ancient ancestors. and. What archaeologists and other culture historians might . regionality. the founders of the local group. The lines of ancestral power of departed chiefs and culture heroes. alliance) of nonchiefly houses. but fluctuated dramatically in response to specific external forces. but it is also the birth of a discipline of power. The Xinguano galactic sociopolitical organization was tied together by a unifying hierarchical concept of centricity. Centers became interscalar or interdimensional “others” in this cascading sequence familiar in many “heroic societies:” god:ancestor : ancestor:chief : head:house : man:woman : father:child : and chief:children. in the past the community was but a part of the larger polity. space corresponds to these divisions. The Structural Contradiction and the Theater State Thinking about Xinguano history from the perspective of the past brings certain aspects of culture into greater relief. the Upper Xingu is one of those cases where hierarchical social ranking is the dominant dimension in the structural distribution of power and authority. Sun and Moon. Galvão 1953. with fairly fixed economies.g. based on an institutional hierarchy of elite lines of chiefly rank (“Houses”) and factional rivalry between them over the support (labor.. social hierarchy. In other words. that they are rather settled. The variable expression of an underlying hierarchical political structure in the Upper Xingu has been related not only to societal scale. the galactic cluster and regional Xinguano nation. was similar to that of prehistoric villages. tribute. and ultimately to the creator beings. Throughout Xinguano culture history. and landscape. In the village. LéviStrauss 1948). and that they have a rather hierarchical social organization—a “chiefly” status (e. space. It is the birth of difference. Ethnographers have long recognized that Xinguano groups are better viewed as a regional social formation rather than as discrete communities. west. while equality and hierarchy exist in all social formations. ultimately leading up to the development of the fullblown “theater state” and broad regional “prestige-goods” economies. Today we might say that the house is the little otomo in the otomo. the type of internal differentiation that Giddens (1984) alludes to with his idea of a “structural contradiction. or community.

and heterarchical groups. literacy. . but a critical transition. It is not only a moment in world historical and regional development. Settled. and the longue durée. 1994). This suggests that this alterity is not only the outcome of regional social dynamics. regionality. In other words. often more mobile. the alterity breaks into a tripartite schema Tupi-Gê-Arawak in a theater of second millennium regional social interaction (cf. or the birth of disciplinary power. but the structural problem of presences and correspondences: why are some of the many features considered typical of the state—economic surplus. autonomous. hierarchical. as Viveiros de Castro (1992) describes. such as the Tupi-Guarani. which as described over the past one hundred years or so (the demographic nadir) is characterized by small-scale. This threshold. and regional populations are juxtaposed against predatory. Inequality and techniques of power exist in all social formations. but of deep cultural dispositions. following Giddens’s (1984) terms (see below): the Tupians. Parenthetically. or sedentism be sustained.” better at least than authorities whose point of view is too narrowly focused on the present (“sociological photography. Actually. Only through serious violence to Xinguano history can models suggesting strong internal (structural or ideological) or external (ecological) mechanisms against social hierarchy. egalitarian.” is widely recognized (Flannery 1972: 409. the “rank revolution. but also a condition of local systems of knowledge creating an alterity played out within the context of regional political economies: the long noted upland/riverine dichotomy. Considered historically. region. we might describe this as a continuum from a condition of existential to structural contradiction. which is marked by the emergence of institutional inequality. it is clear that Xinguano society as we see it today is an egalitarian “twist” of a fundamentally hierarchical model.” as Braudel (1980: 36) called this tendency). Petesch 1993). Xinguano social hierarchy and its objectification in symbolic and economic capital do not merely represent a slightly complex variation on a generalized (“traditional”) “tropical forest” model. the historical low (in demographic and political economic terms) of a genuinely Amazonian complex society. particular cultural histories.” or “leap to a stage where lineages are ‘ranked’ with regard to each other. diaspora. and men from birth are of ‘chiefly’ or ‘commoner’ descent regardless of their own individual capabilities. and autonomous villages. The problem in Amazonia is not the evolutionary problem of origins. are these large historical personages. and cities—absent from Amazonia? The alter-egos of such a large historical personage as the Arawak diaspora would be other major diaspora.Conclusion: The Pedigree of a Contradiction • 337 therefore “see.

(2) between clusters or otomo of Xinguano peoples (kuge. In this context. but it is important to remember the remarkable condition of internal self-organization. the confluence of a cultural aesthetic of accommodation and the historical realities (specific geopolitical contingencies) of colonialism. and Llanos de Mojos. Interestingly. which Viveiros de Castro (1998. . scales within Native American world systems: (1) relations within galactic clusters or communities (otomo). Kamayura. Bakairi). among other things. ritual. in general. caraiba) after about the 1750s. have another critical facet. and the Gê fall between the two. Pantanal. kagaiha in Kuikuru. never being drawn into its primary social orbit. although interpenetrating. from which the word originates. diverse groups were drawn into the orbit of Xinguano pluralism. the highlands of central Brazil and southeastern Bolivia. In this sense.338 • The Ecology of Power and “predatory” societies. 2001) calls “potential affinity” or more generally described by the non-Cartesian “animistic” views of nature described by Descola (1996a. and Aueti. and non-Greek interaction. established by Arawak peoples but adopted and transformed by Carib.” Interaction occured in terms of the broad theater of power of the southern Amazonian peripheries. “wild indians” (ngikogo.” The tendency is for these groups to either (a) adopt the Xinguano ways. and shamanic action. center-periphery. To further complicate this history. the Upper Xingu basin (Suya). (b) “glance” off the Xinguano regional society. Since circa 1400. bounded by the crossroads of Amazonia. In more the more local terms of the Upper Xingu. we might say that Xinguano society has always been in a state-of-becoming. the inner-fixity of Xinguano culture even in the face of radical changes in the social composition and scale of the system. at least. represent the former. “others. there have always been groups living on the margins of the Xingu who are both enemies and affines and trade partners of Xinguanos. social dynamics must be understood with regard to distinctive. Yale Ferguson (1991) recognizes similar domains of ancient Greek “peer-polity. the Arawaks represent the latter (strongly influenced by the structural division of society). an Amerindian perspectivism: the presence in the world/universe of diverse biologically nonhuman others that are conceived as persons and enter into social relations with humans through myth. 1996b). and (3) between Xinguano peoples and outsiders. in Tupi. in the regional context of the Upper Xingu. it is important to note that issues of alterity and mimesis. or putaka in Arawak). which has happened in most cases in recent years as populations and general cultural well-being rebounds (Trumai. in Amazonia at least. dreaming. or (3) enter and exit. or in Arawak meteitsi) and whitemen (kajaipa. and the seasonally inundated plains of the Gran Chaco. the Waujá say. or.

” all directed according to the form of the chieftaincy: what is often crudely glossed as chiefly redistribution.” things that stand for persons. but the fact that there are similar complexes. the Arawak/Tucano system of the northwest Amazon)(Chernela 1993.” This is not to say that consanguinity necessary must precede affinity. social hierarchy. and through marriage. as well as big. political. and persons can stand for other persons. housing.g. like the general model of Amazonian cosmo-vision. ceremonial elaboration.” “They grant less centrality. consanguines. social labor.Hugh-Jones 1979). even if the divine grandmother was a gift: through the mother’s line there is consanguinity to the forest. cartographic. potential others come in three forms: affines. bride-price (alongside bride-service). Chiefs do accumulate objects and substances. to humans. and symbolic “trappings. “to the ritual and political reproduction of the human social order—including the domination of men over women than to the continuous efficiency of their relations with the multiple actors of the universe. All these relations are mediated in one way or another by the plaza. which represents all the social. dense settled regions without them (Fausto 1992). A pattern of equivalence in purely economic transactions and reciprocity and of conversion or fungibility between distinctive valuables. which largely underpins the holographic quality of the Xinguano chieftaincy and chiefs as persons. The Xinguanos represent an important . cosmological principles that go into making of the social person of the “community. into moieties and age-grades but also vertically into two basic worlds: chiefs and nonchiefs. humans live in parity with nature. that stand for relationships with other humans. spatial orientations. Ecology is important. but what is important is the recognition that both cosmos and world are divided into side-to-side into male centers and female peripheries. In the Xinguano example. economic. C. ambivalent or malevolent spirits). as well as half-brother (parallel cousin). the forest chiefs. but that both are characteristic of dawn time peoples. body painting. This suggests that other factors. and ritual. and regional integration. Ornaments. found in societies of small scale (e.Conclusion: The Pedigree of a Contradiction • 339 Like actual social alterity. to the uengïfi and yucucu lines. and “representationalism.” he goes on.” Here we see that Xinguano peoples also differ from the average Amazonian society in having characteristics that are seen as uncommon if not implausible in Amazonia: settled. which include social hierarchy.. conveniently glossed as cultural. arboreal ancestors were wedded with animal affines to produce the divine twins. and other nonsocial others (witches. are at work. who through a logic of consanguinity of Xinguanos is the creator (father). regional social formations. as well as knowledge. economic support. Descola (2001: 108) notes that “Amazonian cultures are cosmocentric rather than sociocentric. social.

when these lines of power are actualized and the ancestors. symbolically. just as many aspects of the conviviality. the jaguar body. and small and “simple-ness” of Amazonian “minimalist” societies. men formally defined as already deceased by having undergone their mortuary feasts while still alive. objectification. one last time. in 1492 and has become increasingly rarer. and “living ancestors” were amplified to the level of gods (more ancient ancestors) (Sahlins 1985). divinitas and societas.e. Here we might extend our Oceanian analogy one step further. It is precisely one of those types of social formations. “Replacing the ancestors. in the kuarup idols. and the collapsing of heaven and earth. who stand for all of earth and the cosmos. who stands for the people.340 • The Ecology of Power variant of sociality and “potentiality” within an Amerindian perspectivism in the degree to which sociological factors color cultural life. Following Wagner’s (1991: 173) description of the Usen Barok (New Ireland): Arutam feasts. held in the space defined by the convergence of feasting and burial functions. They are already ancestors. to expand upon the idea that genealogy. who stands for the otomo. recognized over the past fifty to one hundred years. are restricted to salup. for something else and are thus the basis of the cosmological justification or “authentication” of sociopolitical relations. and thus Polynesia (i. The variant was widespread.. The Xinguano chiefly rites of passage recreate the world. predatory ontology. spatiality (partitioning). and fungibility operate differently in Xinguano political economies than in those of many other parts of Amazonia. the chiefs of old. rather than Melanesia. painted on the . the wood of the divine mother. where things and persons come to stand. erodes way to the inexorable draw of “globalization”: it is both social condition and anthropological mood (Strathern 1999). the ceremonial structures. objects that stand for the chief. Such a complex is uniquely Arawak in Amazonia. In “remote” Oceania this ritual took on a larger historical capacity. the spirits of recently deceased chiefs are called back.” is how Foster (1995) describes a similar case in New Ireland of this uniquely Austronesian feature of “Near Oceania” (“Melanesia”). the oilape and sun diadems. the myriad symbols of chiefliness. the sacred flute ceremonies. largely shared by Arawaks and those who have been strongly influenced or “acculturated” by them: plaza-centric rituals and other initiations. the first egitse or kuarup. the Austronesian diaspora) or the humid tropics of Africa might be more apropos comparators. I believe.

” The city. which in turn is associated above all with the formation of cities” (Ibid. lacked writing.: 195).: 195–196). exclusion. which only ever develops in conjunction with the elaboration of new forms of information storage. the structural contradiction is “signaled by the rise of the state. above all writing. and objectified or embodied—depending upon the scale of the persons at issue—in houses.” In a similar way. In this sense. the evolution of symbolic simplicity that is part and parcel of statehood (Yoffee 2001). manioc. the city (urban-folk distinction) becomes centrally important: “The city. but this too is couched in idioms of kinship with diverse “others” in this “ritual phase of political economy. is the container or ‘crucible of power’ upon which the formation of class-divided societies depends. they have some affinity to Geertz’s imagery of the theater state. first fruits. For Giddens. encoded in onamastics and chiefly diglossia and discourse. Otherwise.” Within the context of existential contradiction. Historically one does seem to often lead to the other. in other words. usually in homage to ancestors or in sociocosmic communitas with diverse mirror world spirits and other varieties of ancestors.Conclusion: The Pedigree of a Contradiction • 341 body. In the Upper Xingu a good to great portion of the resources being trafficked are surely symbolic or. centralization. in all social systems. fish. . Ritual action provides the foundation of political power and from it stems what little exploitation. segregration. Existential contradiction traces out the contours of the natural world. but did not lack the literary effect. space. This pattern in Amazonia and Oceania can be framed in relation to Giddens’s (1984: 193) general distinction of what he calls the existential and structural contradictions. prestige building. but the two can also be viewed as two elements. as container of power. the former refers to “an elemental aspect of human existence in relation to nature or the material world” and the latter to “the constitutive features of human societies. Xinguanos.” or in the terminology of Amazonian ethnology. power is concentrated only to the degree that it is seen as congruent with public opinion. although there is great variation in what is being partitioned. almost always collected for ritual or at least ritualized actions. and community property. or strategies. for works projects. taking most notably feudal Europe as his model. like most native American civilizations. there is: “antagonism of opposites at the very heart of the human condition … in such decentered systems structural contradiction is nonexistent. and controlled. centralized. as well as two distinctive logics. geography (a topic that screams for comparative ethnology in Amazonia). refers to the creation and maintenance of difference through partitioning. the alterity of ontological “others” (Ibid.

and Social Reproduction. legitimized. First and foremost this represents a fundamental transition in the nature of structural power. in so doing.342 • The Ecology of Power They. considers as harbingers of the State: classdivided societies.” chapter four in The Constitution of Society (1984). Giddens’s (1984) weak spot. had the means for complicated information storage. which defines bodies of diverse size. The Upper Xingu provides a particularly clear example of how human bodies domesticate the landscape and space in an Amazonian complex society and. He has. Chang’s (1986) of early China. while more diffuse than a feudal “central place” model might suggest. missing the mark of this transformation. writing. in how it is constructed. is no less centralized. or what Giddens calls the “city-countryside” dichotomy. and late. but also in terms of the sociosymbolic alternatives in and between interacting collectivities within regional political economies: it is a fractal person. set his sights rather high. a partitioning of knowledge that was critical in the type of time-space distanciation needed to order large. in terms of economic centralization and outright political coercion. that is. following Western philosophical orthodoxy. economic surplus. The theater state need not be. there still are centers. both in terms of society and history. and expressed. among other things that he. although couched in ritual. Roscoe 1993).” Parenthetically. Class-divided society is marked by some “disembedding” of traditions of kinship. too. Nonetheless. while “traditional practices and kinship relations. Among contemporary social theorists. particularly in terms of the relevance of cities. like that of Marx. couched in evolutionary terms. how space is transformed into a technology of power. even tribal identifications. as in the case of the Inka . networked communities (cf. is that the idea of what constitutes “class-like” changes is based on the European feudal model of political coercion and economic exploitation. Leaving aside. and economics. and its transformations—within core and marginal areas—during the past five hundred years. or recent treatments of the Maya (Gillespie 2000) are revealing here. pace (Wolf 1999). all being subsumed in the discourse of the state. This is why the viewpoint of historical anthropology is critical to understand the political theory of classical human civilization. Anthony Giddens has had much to say about this transition. or not only be. When we expand our discussions to non-Western peoples. centralization. politics. notably his discussion of “Structure. even. Ferguson’s [1991] discussion of ancient Greece. remain very prominent. as noted earlier. Political power. the issues of cities. and exclusion. for now. He has provided us with a useful terminology that pinpoints important elements of the transition. Foucault and many others. System.

and politico-economic features. or the spectacle. to us.” made up of “both simple and complex satellites arranged around a center. but rather the state. this “political economy of grandeur. the ‘domestic’ politics of . as the primary site through which social difference is publically created and reproduced. even in its final gasp. the “theocratic chiefdom. and scalar differences. as the Xinguano symbolic economy of power. we may call the doctrine of the exemplary center. perhaps slightly more elaborated. The theater state is based upon these same basic principles. was a device for the enactment of mass ritual. wherein the design of polity codes “in a composite way cosmological. Geertz (1980: 24) notes that the theater state is an extended field of highly dissimilar political ties. “political power inhered less in property than in people.” This imagery resonates strongly with Tambiah’s (1985: 252) notion of the galactic polity. or simply. merely for simplicity. cultural predispositions. and mass ritual was not a device to shore up the state. strangely reversed relationship between the substance and the trappings of rule lies a general conception of the nature and basis of sovereignty that. following Steward and others (Ford 1969).” that is. virtually everything with everything else. according to a cascading series of relationships generally composed by two elements: a “core” and a “container. … Behind this. ones virtually as large as whole continents. in a marvelously convolute way. thickening into nodes of varying size and strength at strategic points on the landscape and then thinning out again to connect. in the accumulation of symbolic valuables (including objects like gold. In sum. topographical. This is the theory that the court-and-capital is at once a microcosm of the supernatural order—“an image of … the universe on a smaller scale”—and the material embodiment of the state. because of historical circumstances.” particularly.” Geertz (1980: 21) continues: The “international” politics of between region combat were directly superimposed upon even fused with. not on subsistence surplus. is an Amazonian variant of a very general variety of historical transformations that we might call the “symbolic economy of power.” within the midst of other cultural “economies” in the region (Viveiros de Castro 1996).Conclusion: The Pedigree of a Contradiction • 343 or Romans. which focuses also on ritual. Like the theater state. The critical imagery Geertz (1980: 13) develops for the theater state suggests that: Court ceremonialism was the driving force of court politics. or shell). cloth.” as described above for the Xingu.

There is a social logic that underlies Upper Xingu polity that in many respects conforms to what Sahlins (1985) calls the “heroic mode of lineage production. these heroes are ancestors. Southeast Asia. historical kinship or genealogy extends through them to the rest of society: “commoners” trace their ancestry through the living chiefs.” The genealogy of the group becomes isomorphic with that of the chiefs. in a very crude sense. at least. to “Asian societies. the descendants of “heroes. specifically the immediate ancestors of living chiefs. the ritual phase of political economy.” based on genealogical “pruning. it attempts to describe the history of a discourse object. Politics differed in scale from the base of the system to its apex. almost effaced light of the origin” (1972: 140).” In other words. discipline—the bodily expression of a discourse—is created through “partitioning.” generally only further turns Marx and others on their heads. . or not primarily. If these large.” Instead. political economies of grandeur. in this case what caused the origin of a structure that might be called the “structural contradiction. an early form of panopticism. Discipline “proceeds from the distribution of individuals in space.” a cultural pattern that “carries so much of its past forward.” so that “each individual has his own place. What I have attempted to do here is trace out the major dimensions of a very early form of discipline. or galactic polities. who also serve as “living ancestors. the nature of a certain type of discipline. chiefdoms or kingdoms. they were acted out … through a broken network of alliance and opposition spreading out irregularly over the entire landscape. but not in nature. or the Pacific. centralized polities seem strikingly familiar to what we might expect to find in Bali.” In Xinguano society. theater states. although historical. insofar as the “Asiatic mode of production.” is no longer the anomalous but typical: continuity as much as rupture defines the transition from societas to statehood (Chang 1989). perhaps back four thousand years or more and shares many of the same problems and features that we might gloss as minor civilizations. like most chiefly societies. The living chiefs are thus a pivot or prism between the living world of the people and the mirror world of all the human ancestors. Foucauldian.” the construction and maintenance of enclosures.” who in turn are connected to chiefly histories extending back to the dawn time. is. that goes deep into the roots of lowland history. precarious. The objective or archaeological methodology. to illuminate the “distant. In other words.344 • The Ecology of Power within region rivalry [or between otomo and within otomo].” once seen as an aberrant social form because of its often massive size juxtaposed against an apparent “traditionalism. in that it does not aim.

They are in a constant oscillation between domesticating “nature” and being domesticated by it. Historical anthropology in the tropical lowlands over the past several decades suggests that diverse Amazonian peoples were linked across the entire region into vast social networks. Not only are the people tied to a very long history of plant domestication. The point is that Xinguanos are uniquely situated in and adapted to their landscapes. This is also an ecology of power. as they reproduce and refit themselves. These multicentric regional systems can be. to conceive of a Xinguano landscape without forest mixed with the highly “domesticated” fields. for instance. Oceania. Africa. as they press and contort themselves against the world. It is empires or chiefs all the way down. These centers. areas that are “owned” as gardens and orchards. however. as “peaks” in these broad social landscapes. They do not chip away at the high forest for the short-term satisfaction of a new garden. In the specific local context. banking over 80 percent of their subsistence output in it (Carneiro 983). They are continuously and actively at work managing their lands and rebuilding their houses and settlements. the descendants of very ancient persons. at least before European colonialism truncated native world systems and strictly indigenous histories. paths. as well as carriers of deep Amazonian histories. gardens. in general. with a remarkably similar history. or up as the case may be. as is true of Amazonians. and even villages if not carefully tended. . and across the non-Western world. in turn. guided by bodily disciplines that are part and parcel of a fully agricultural economy. orchards and the diverse constructions associated with roads. with Cahokia. Xinguanos are people committed to settled village life. ancestors. or consolidated Hawai’i or the “empire” of Tonga. It is an impossibility. and this entirely symbolic or cultural dimension of persons. and how could it be otherwise in a tropical forest environment that creeps back into gardens. as is now well known in North America. the North American city.Conclusion: The Pedigree of a Contradiction • 345 as well as as kingly bodies. but instead to open areas for long-term management. settlements and wetlands: “the people” could not survive socially. “ranked” according to overall size and politico-economic scale. articulated with other contemporary theaters of power in the northern borderlands of an Early Postclassic Mesoamerica world system. in this case bitter manioc. particularly Cahokia. which also involves a complicated process of domination and resistance of different types of persons. was on its northwestern border. symbolically or economically without forest. but as manioc people. or simply recorporated in the extraordinarily complex mosaic of the Xinguano countryside. Chaco. is what I mean by the ecology of power.

in northern South America and the Caribbean. wooden benches. but perhaps most importantly were the knowledge and identities represented in the exchanges.346 • The Ecology of Power The ancient capital of the Tapajós. may have been equally as large as Cahokia (in the tens of thousands). representing existing relations. the language through which potentates of neighboring polities communicated in rivalrous exchanges. as did substance. Amazonia was not insulated from Fig. spreading wealth goods and symbolic language.g. as we await more detailed studies of the early colonial history and archaeology of indigenous groups across this area. 10. and in the southern Amazon and adjacent areas are fruitfully seen in this manner. and creating others. Moundville. which included. are ample evidence of a broad “prestige goods” economy in late prehistoric lowland South America.1 Afukaká Kuikuru on stool with author (1994). people also circulated.. Most of the river between circa 1540 and 1650. . as theater states and galactic polities. or at least large enough to qualify as an American city. At present we can only speculate on the larger theaters of power and world systems that linked societies in the southern Amazon in late prehistoric times. Etowah). For instance. feathers. at Santarem. the dense populations along the Amazon. ornaments. which following Flannery (1994) would be five thousand or more (see Roosevelt 1999). reproducing them. undoubtedly food stuffs. “medicinal” plants. The mound complexes on Marajó certainly rival those of many Mississippian centers (e. and the vast extent of the Polychrome horizon.

equally symbolic. to incite dialogue about the deep history of a place history that has for too long gone little noticed: Amazonia. I reiterate that my aim is as much to provoke questions as provide conclusive answers. The (overly) anthropological view presented here of a very complicated indigenous history is merely a start. . only visible through situated historical analysis. these macroscopic theaters of power neither before or after 1492. as well as techno-economic and demographic. and globalization: it is the confluence of these diverse factors. operation of power in local contexts of chiefly rivalry. and always has. in-depth engagement with indigenous Xinguano people. and the archaeology of their ancestors. In the Upper Xingu. the Kuikuru (Figure 10.1). a perspective on an ecology of power over the past one thousand years emerging from long-term. In closing. nationalism. The central concern of a properly human ecology is therefore historical. and political.Conclusion: The Pedigree of a Contradiction • 347 the ebb and flow of these regimes of power. that constitutes the subject matter of an ecology of power. in regional contexts of social alterity and warfare. social. and supraregional contexts of imperialiam. this involves.


the people (kuge) or Xinguanos. I refer to the region as the Upper Xingu or Xingu (following convention in Brazil and among Xinguanos to refer to the area as Alto Xingu or Xingu) to describe the geological basin formed by the Xingu River headwaters (a basin of erosion and sedimentation along the northern flanks of the central Brazil plateau as it descends northward into the Amazon basin). which corresponds to the southern half. Goldman (1963. Bakairi. 2000. 2001. and Mundurucu peoples. as well as other peoples. Although the term “chiefdom” achieved its greatest popularity and generality vis-à-vis its application to Polynesia by Service (1962) and Sahlins (1958). 3. The people who have always traditionally occupied it are called Xinguanos here. but also the unique chiefly rites of passage. the home of their father. before he and his brother transformed themselves into their present-day form of the sun and moon. equality and hierarchy exist in all social formations. Along the Xingu River proper. Manitsaua.” In the NW Amazon. including diverse Tupi-Guarani (Kajabi. 5. of the present-day indigenous reserve. and proto-historic 2. Parque Indígena do Xingu (PIX). 349 . after sending him to the sky world. Clastres 1987. Oberg had introduced the term in his translation of Sanchez Labrador (1910–1917: 255) regarding the Mbayá/Guaná (Oberg 1949: 52). The Sun gave not only his substance to his children. where he calls this organization the “status lineage. Denevan 1966. Meggers 1996. the jaguar chief.Notes Chapter 1 1. Xinguano occupations extended at least as far north as Diauarum (50 km north of the confluence). who had in turn taken it from Oberg (1955) to refer to minimal to moderately hierarchical societies in lowland South America. Lathrap 1970. Erickson 1999. although this area has been dominated by other peoples from the late twentieth century forward. including Trumai. formerly Txicão). 1979. 1976. the term chiefdom is a specific characterization of the hierarchical societies of the southern Amazon and adjacent areas. 1970) defines a gradient of “rank consciousness” in minimally to moderately hierarchical societies based on his analysis of Eastern Tukano (Cubeo) and Arawak groups in the northwest Amazon as well as the hierarchical societies of Polynesia and the Northwest Coast of North America. the site was the home of the protohuman grandfather of the creator twins. Kamayura). Lathrap et al. and Gê (Suyá) peoples. Carib (Ikpeng. Here we might note Dumont’s (1970) recognition that in India and elsewhere. hierarchy is most developed (and likely original) in Arawak group (see Chernela 1993). 1963) recognition of dialectic and hierarchical features in plaza villages. 1985. 7. Historically diverse Carib (Yaruma. a regional axis mundi for Xinguano peoples. more or less. 4. Carneiro 1970. who returned there from their natal village. As discussed in Chapter 7. including Tupian peoples. The Upper Xingu is the common name for the region. 6. for example. This point is also made by Lévi-Strauss’s (1961. Ikpeng. Morená is a cosmological center. Thus. Juruna. below Morená. Sun and Moon. the terms was borrowed from their teacher Julian Steward (Steward and Faron 1959). See. Roosevelt 1980.

but instead a historical process that involves the transmission of cultural memory. and Hintermann (1925). but more generally with proto-Arawak. including a variety of discrete but linked domains. given Lathrap’s widely recognized command of South American prehistory and ethnology. including other languages. 2. Giddens (1984). For example. that the vast majority of Amazonian languages do not pertain the principal diasporas: Arawak.g. After the German ethnologists. as in the case of the Upper Xingu. some groups gave up their language but seem to have retained much of their basic cultural pattern (e. Chiriguano. Likewise in other areas. Becquelin 1993. rhyolite). where groups of diverse languages have been incorporated into the regional cultural system adopting basic Xinguano ways. 1974) and Viveiros de Castro (1977). the idea of “diaspora” was hotly debated—whether the distribution should simply be called movements. .2. Geertz (1980). and Gê (Suyá and Kayapó) groups have lived at the margins of the Upper Xingu basin to the east. Basso (1973). and Quain (Murphy and Quain 1955) appeared. Heusch (1979). Carneiro 1957.g. 10. Foucault (1977). that is. 8. Other examples include: Mbya-Guana. and magmatic rocks (e. The latter included fieldwork by Carneiro. At a recent conference on Arawak peoples (Hill and Santos-Granero 2001). however. This differs somewhat from some definitions of diaspora. that he made no mention of Schmidt’s doctoral thesis “The Arawak” and his depiction of the diaspora and its cultural specificity. The northern margins of the Brazilian highlands (see Figure 1. 9. culturally founded by the Arawak immigrants. Carib. To be part of the Arawak diaspora does not simply mean to be an Arawak speaker. although even the most “isolated” languages were socially entangled. 1894) but also Meyer (1897). for example. as well as numerous articles. Gregor (1977). in that there is no necessary attachment to a conscious or recognized identity. Hastorf 2002. and Poggi (2001). By diaspora I refer not to an essence or “spirit” carried across the lowlands. Chapter 2 1.. Indeed. among others. that is. spoken language. and Hocart (1936). in part influenced by discussions of Austronesian peoples (Bellwood 1995. It is important to emphasize here. graduate theses. thus including the Guajiro and others (now considered correlated). Tupi-Guarani. and Lima. Schmidt (190–204). Sahlins (1985). Here we might note that many. from a more general point of view. the Greek. Petrullo (1932). 5. and west. various ethnographic monographs on the Xingu have appeared. dispersal. among others. Agostinho (1972. sporadic ethnographic reports by Naronha (1924). the Kuikuru. south. Early discussions include Frazer (1922). or something else. but my reason for coining the term.. Two recent edited volumes Karl von den Steinen: Um Século de Antropologia no Alto Xingu (Coelho 1993) and Os Povos Indígenas do Alto Xingu: História e Cultura (Franchetto and Heckenberger 2001) provide a more complete history of research in the area. 4. Pareci-Kabischi.350 • Notes Xinguano Caribs). argillite. culminating in a major ethnographic initiative under the auspices of the Museu Nacional. and Gê. and placer deposits of gold. such as material culture. Jewish or African diaspora. or even recognition of it is necessary). including quarzite/silicified sandstone. if not most. radiation. Agostinho 1993. various metamorphic rocks (associated with the Paraguai fold). and landscape (but direct and sustained interaction throughout the diaspora. and Earle (1997) provide important recent discussions and. the Xinguano community with whom I worked are Carib speakers but virtually identical to the Arawaks. 6. is that diaspora has a uniquely cultural and historical connotation. Lathrap did not emphasize the connection between plazas and Arawaks. Bastos (1979). at least for non-Amazonianist readers. Arawak regional social formations included other “ethnic” groups. bodily dispositions. spatial patterns. and unpublished papers and reports. Kirch and Green 2001). they were pluralistic. nor self-identification with. Kokama/Omagua). Since the 1960s. Galvao. crystal deposits (quartz and precious gems). lower right) are generally composed of sandstone. The idea of divine kingly power is quite old and widely discussed in anthropology. Mojos. including major works not only by Steinen (1886. it is surprising. The system was. 3. Dole 1961/62. Dole.

Schmidt’s (1917) suggestion of a link between Tiwanaku and Arawaks. Many of those that do not live in such villages. Wüst 1990. personal communication). In terms of basic settlement pattern. 7. The critical influence on Lathrap’s thinking was Lévi-Strauss. such as in parts of western Amazonia (Gow. August 1994. elaborated upon in Chapter 9. Chapter 3 1. Simóes (1967) defined two phases. 4. See Prous 1992 and Kipnis 1998 for an overview of central Brazil. represents the southern limits of Xinguano territory. as well as open air and rockshelter sites associated with the Una and Uru ceramic traditions. but this is erroneous. the author has spent some twenty months in residence in the Kuikuru community. At the site of Diauarum (MT-AX-01). in latitude. a southern and northern branch of the Western Complex. and.Notes • 351 and emphasized a link to the northern South American coast (the shell middens of the “formative”). The two “phases” are apparently points within a geographic and temporal continuum and not two distinctive “phases. FX-07. both above and below the confluence (note FX-08. Lathrap 1970. in areas to the south of to the Upper Xingu. Recently there was debate about whether a chief should be buried in a river bank village on the culuene. June through August of 2003. such as temperate Europe. 2. personal communication). . that is the tendency for village sites to be situated within terra firme forest adjacent to large permanent watersources. Wüst and Barreto 1999) have recognized numerous rockshelter sites loosely affiliated with the Itaparica tradition. Wüst and colleagues (Prous 1992. Notably. there is also similarity between the two areas. This pattern relates to local geography. with Kamukuaka). 3. An alternative model sees the western or southwestern Amazon as the point of origin. notably. 5. North America. October 1995. FX-17. respectively. whereas those upstream from the confluence are generally located some distance from the major river channels. July 1999. Where the terra firme lies adjacent to the locations of the major stream courses. a ditch similar to ones encountered at sites in the Upper Xingu basin (south of the confluence) was reported. 8. They may correspond to prehistoric ancestors of the Waujá/Mehinaku/ Kustena and those of the Yawalapiti. This assertion must be made with the caveat that nowhere in Amazonia is the archaeology particularly well known. or Mesoamerica. together with sacred sites located on the middle Culuene (more or less parallel. 6. August 2000. Arawak in origin. This also has been related to the “Incised-Punctate Tradition. and the contemporary Tanguro. particularly with respect to a tropical forest cosmology and the orientation and meaning of central plaza villages. 7.” as defined by Meggers and Evans (see Prous 1992). while below the confluence high ground (terra firme) are directly adjacent to the main river. July through September 2002. Fieldwork in the Upper Xingu was conducted between January and December 1993. and June through August of 2004.” but may represent slightly divergent complexes of the same basic cultural pattern. A full archaeological monograph on these investigations is in progress. upland terra firme is separated from the river channel by wide relict floodplains throughout much of the Upper Xingu basin. village sites are common. see Noble 1965. as defined by contemporary communities. August 1996. The size and configuration of this ditch is not known. Sites downstream from the confluence tend to be situated adjacent to the actual floodplain of the Xingu River. still have an idea of them (in myth). As of this writing. It is probable that this ditch also represents a humanmade earthwork like those investigated in the present study and not a natural feature as Simões (1967) suggested for all such features in the broad region. Morená and Afukuri villages). or tell of a time when they did live in plaza villages. the Ipavu phase for sites in the Upper Xingu (headwater) basin and the Diauarum Phase for sites on the Xingu River proper. vis-à-vis many world areas. and thus overlooked the “Arawak” specificity in important junctures of his argument. such as parts of the northwest Amazon (Hugh-Jones. Kamukuaka is an important sacred site in Xinguano oral history and.

settlement patterns. whirlwinds. 13. stratum II: intact occupation layers.D. 14. Mundurucu. while sharing certain cultural traits with adjacent groups. Excavated sediments were screened through 6. are always medium to high forest. with discrete charcoal rich lenses and one or more thin layers of soil distinctive in color and texture and recognized in horizontal excavation. 1400 ± 50. 14001–450 ± 50. perpendicular lines were also cleared. AD 900—A. but the Kuikuru and other groups (Carib and Tupian speakers) retain their distinctive languages. with clear micro-stratigraphic layers within two macro-stratigraphic units recognized in the profile. Eighty-three ceramics and 4 metal artifacts were recovered in association with the three Kuikuru villages that lie outside of the ditches (Lahatua I and II and Lamakuka). excavations extended into sterile sediments (non-terra preta/natural reddish soil) representing the base of the cultural deposits. Significantly more in-depth excavations and GPS mapping in 2002. At Nokugu and Kuhikugu this involved clearing five-meterswide parallel transect lines every fifty meters. instead. Nokugu (called “Kuikuru Village” by Simões 1972 and “Lahatua” by Becquelin 1993) is designated MT-FX-06 in the Brazilian site recording system. 1590. except in the case of two deep units (units 9 and 10) where the lower eight levels (levels 21–29) were not screened (because of time constraints and a lack of assistants during the final stages when the excavation levels were too deep to permit easy soil removal or exit from the excavation trench). 11. 16. technology. In seven of these. as are spirits that only appear in their true forms in shamanistic and masking rituals (see Viveiros de Castro 1996. “Tradition” as used here refers to a temporal and spatial entity—a discrete continuity—that can be broken into separate periods. All indigenous Xinguano terms are italicized. Phase. the middle of stratum IVA is dated to A. largely confirm these earlier results (Heckenberger et al.D. from which all surface remains were collected according to four 1.0m control units abutting the trench wall in one or more places. 12. and surface collection at the two sites. Kuikuru terms are used throughout the text.0 m² surface collection units were established. These complexes more closely approximate “archaeological cultures. a total of 3. the Xinguano pattern overall correlates most clearly with other Arawak groups in the southern peripheries of Amazonia. 9. Soil/vegetation data was collected on most units. 900 or before.D. Excavation of the eleven meter trench yielded 2. As discussed in text the root of the system is Arawak. circular plaza villages and “men’s houses. 15. Meggers 1992a: 198) but. and discrete historical (oral and written) events.” such as those of the northern Gê.0 m² subunits. the top of stratum IVB is dated to AD 1770. Along each transect. as used here. stratum IV: postditch construction cultural fill of variable color and texture. The basic procedure used at Nokugu and Kuhikugu was to establish a coordinate (X/Y) grid encompassing the entire site. Excavation of trenches 2–10 in 2002-2003. excavation. 2.” as sometimes used in an ethnographic context (cf. . five units were left unfinished. 19. and Tapirapé.4 mm mesh screens from all levels of each unit. Strata descriptions are as follows: stratum I: preoccupation (sterile) deposit tentatively dated to pre-A. after the rough size and configuration of the site was assessed through extensive walkover. Whales. A. stratum V: upper humic layer intermixed with cultural remains likely attributable to stratum IVB. Itseke means a monstrous and magical spirit—a dawn time being. at Kuhikugu. involved unscreened excavations of 1x10m trench and controlled and screened excavation of 0.” sharing essentially identical features of material culture. 1998. stratum III: reddish overburden sediment from ditch construction c.139 ceramics and 34 lithics were recovered. is not meant to imply a community or “tribe. Ethnological evidence clearly indicates that. c. All eleven units were excavated in 10 cm artificial levels within discernable natural or cultural stratigraphy.352 • Notes 8. These transects were the basis of most mapping. 2003). From these. consisting of dark earth. for example.D. 17.548 ceramic fragments and the fragments of 43 lithic artifacts. 10. and giant anacondas are itseke. 18. implies a generalized spatiotemporal entity corresponding more or less to a regional archaeological culture. for a general discussion). using a Trimble XRS with Omnistar satellite real-time service. Terra firme refers to non-inundated areas that. aside from anthropogenic impacts. “phases” based on changes in the “ethnic” composition. Bororo.5x1.

to those of the modern village. is the largest historical known village. also Franchetto 2001. from Healugihïtï to Séhu. at least 1. was estimated based on the distribution of domestic ceramic remains at Nokugu and Kuhikugu. Kuikuru (first written Guikutl). government records. Artifacts (931 ceramic fragments and 7 lithic fragments) were recovered from throughout the test unit. I use Basso’s apt term “dawn time. Within the intact portions of the profile. the Kuikuru term is kagaiha. whereas Hermann Meyer (1897) is the first to record the village. 2. The maximum size of the late prehistoric villages. is a gloss for all non-Indians. for 300 persons. and even Gê groups have more open or metamorphic settlement patterns. particularly when considered over the long term. generally) in its diversity of large bodies of water. and W.” The roads do not correspond to true N. but artifacts were concentrated in intact stratum II. Basso 1985.Notes • 353 20. 16. and inscribed itself in the collective memory of the Kuikuru themselves. Numerous Carib. as Tambiah notes. Domestic remains in these villages are 4. making the final plaza/road configuration. When a village or road is opened. 1993). are accretional deposits built up over centuries of continuous (or near-continuous) occupations. or “branco” in Portuguese. although the Tupian Kamayura and Aueti are considered “newcomers. which become little more than huge mud-flats in the height of the dry season. the Yawalapiti in the late 1940s had been reduced to about a dozen primary members (Lima 1951). for specific persons and places. There are five etepe at this locale: Atïka (c. I listen most attentively for historical “hints” in the lengthly narratives told to me in Portuguese. 13. and the shallow lakes. 1870–1880). in general. The one clear microstratigraphic unit. Intact site stratigraphy is capped in each case with disturbed deposits that represent the construction fill (“overburden”) deposited over intact stratigraphy. and varied “persons” defy simple topology: myth/history. I leave as more comprehensive analysis to listeners far more skilled than I (e. 7. Particularly. natural lakes. and dammed reservoirs adjacent to the Ipatse stream sites. 12. . S. 14. even though linguistic pluralism is a hallmark of contemporary Xinguano society (Aihkenvald 1999. was used to sub-divide the intact terra preta macro-stratum into an upper (IIA) and lower (IIB) sections. about 2 ha. the Xinguanos do not distinguish between these two groups as original inhabitants. landscape. the burning season (late July to early October).. restricted to areas within but not outside the outermost ditches. 15. The cultural stratigraphy of the unit can be divided into two broad units: (1) the over burden from road/mound contruction (stratum III). Franchetto 2001). including: deep river pools. 3. Lamakuka (1950–1956) and Lahatua II (1956–1961). Comparing the clearly residential areas of a site like Nokugu.” which she uses to describe the Kalapalo. but the precise angles and cruciform pattern demonstrate that the patterns are based in conceptions of cardinality. 6. 1992. Franchetto 1986. debris is pushed and piled up at the margins forming low curbs. 11. 1995. Their name.500 persons (Nimuendajú 1967. Kuhikugu (1880–1920).g. some Gê villages are also quite large. and (2) underlying intact occupation surfaces (stratum II). ponds. began to appear in written documents. The complex correlations between narratives. 8. The internal consistency of the radiocarbon dates within each of these excavations demonstrate that dark earth. 10. The Kuikuru oral history and written accounts disagree on this point: the Kuikuru say Kalusi visited them. 1988. horizontally apparent across the unit. 9. the Upper Xingu is somewhat unique in the southern Amazon (in Amazonia. 5.000-1. Tupi. over 20-25 ha. several distinct layers were apparent corresponding to one or more thin layers of reddish-brown compact sediment within the otherwise homogenous brown-dark brown terra preta sediment. like Kuhikugu/Lamakuka. see particularly 1985. Wüst 1994). about 40 to 50 ha. Significantly. The Kuikuru village of Ipatse. Geertz’s (1980) idea of the “theater state. 21. E. Parenthetically.” Most ritual terms and songs are in Arawak still today. Lahatua (1920–1950). 1995. Chapter 4 1. with about 300–350 persons in between 1993–2002. Whites. such as Ahanitahagu.

and mounded occupation sites. oriented lakes. perhaps not long after initial Arawakan occupation of the Upper Xingu. are similar to Eastern Complex circular mounds in the Upper Xingu insofar as they apparently lack associated ditches (Prous 1991:463). Small circular palisades surrounding two adjacent houses are known ethnographically from Rondônia/northwestern Mato Grosso. It is possible to make an educated guess. circa A. reservoirs. The northern limits of Xinguano territory. Based on cross-dated ceramics. perhaps dating to two thousand to fifteen hundred years ago. In the adjacent central Llanos de Mojos.D. however. Although distinctive. which extend from several hundred meters to over one kilometer and enclose occupation areas of less than five to over 20 ha. see Denevan 1966. there were pronounced buffer zones between distinctive Mojos groups. Brazil (Dias and Carvalho 1988. based on the presumed correlation between these peoples and material culture and spatial organization. 254–255). canals. Nordenskiöld (1919: 230–232) also mentions ditch/palisade defenses around villages on the middle Guaporé River at Matucare (Matequá). as known through Xinguano oral history. and 1. causeways. 193. Two radiocarbon dates suggest a late occupation of these sites. Dougherty and Callandra 1981). also diagnostic of late prehistoric (c. Denevan 1966). are reported for the upper Purus drainage in eastern Acré. The exact extent of the Xinguano ancient regime is not well known in terms of the number and distribution of contemporary villages of “the people. .) are not widely distributed in this area (Métraux 1942. roughly 10–12 meters in width and over a meter deep) enclosing an occupation area some 500 meters across and small mound. a complex of pre-Hispanic earthworks. 1350–1600 (Miller 1983: 189. 247). including “raised fields. preliminary investigations have revealed extensive circular earthworks in the northwestern Llanos de Mojos (C. The substantial body of archaeological and ethnohistoric evidence from the central Llanos de Mojos indicates that defensive features (e. There is. Although unreported. Circular “ring” mounds have also been reported from the upper Madeira River region. 2000a. in the northern peripheries of the Llanos de Mojos. A complex of earthworks. In the intervening area between the upper-middle Guaporé and lower Beni sites. late construction episode related to village expansion. Only recently has systematic archaeological study of these earthworks been undertaken. Diagnostic ceramics of the Xinguano tradition [Ipavu Phase] have been identified at Diauarum and other nearby sites. occupation of the site is roughly attributed to the period from circa AD 780–1500. etc. palisades. On the middle to upper Guaporé River. including one to three concentric semi-circular ditches.g. Erickson. the linquistic proximity of the two Upper Xingu Arawak languages. extensive ditches enclosing late prehistoric to early historic occupation sites have been identified archaeologically. Diagnostic ceramics of the Xinguano tradition [Ipavu Phase] have been identified at Diauarum and other nearby sites. Within 17. the outermost ditch.75 km long. Two radiocarbon dates from ditch 2 and 10 suggest the earthworks involved reworking older structures.354 • Notes interspersed with areas without anthropogenic soils or artifacts. These works may represent defended houses because. 1994). thus the actual extent of residential activities in larger sites is estimated at about 20-25 ha. relates to early Yawalapiti occupations (pre-1750) along the Xingu River between Diauarum and Morená.” the Eastern Complex. as have earthworks. 18.: 462). and the ditches extend from several hundred meters to over one kilometer (Miller 1983:127–128. two large circular earthworks were encountered side by side. in one instance. 1400) Western Complex villages in the basin itself. 2001b. as have earthworks.” minimally including the Western Complex and their distinctive cultural “cousins. also diagnostic of late prehistoric (c. vis à vis other Arawak languages (Medeiros 1993. ditch 1. were investigated at Tumi Chucua on the lower Beni River (Arnold and Pretoll 1988). ditch/mound constructions. although the ditches themselves remain undated (Ibid.0 meter wide. Prous 1991: 464). Circular earthworks. for instance. 19. Payne 1991). 1. surface alignments features. personal communication. is clearly a single.5 meters in height. suggests a fairly recent divergence. 1400) Western Complex villages in the basin itself. including ditch/mounds 80-100 meters in diameter and 8-10 meters wide. 2000b. including a circular ditch (2. Brazil (Lévi-Strauss 1948b: 301). village defensive works including moats and palisades are well known ethnohistorically.. Along the upper Mamoré River. which range up to 100 meters in diameter. these earthworks. considerable ethnohistoric evidence of warfare.” are known archaeologically (Erickson 1995: 71. 2001a.

Miller 1992b. describe the contemporary manufacturing process. An imagery borrowed from Schleiser 1976. Some of these voids preserve evidence of organic fibers and 2. and is used also for nuts (minga). tagiki. and possibly some grit (crushed rock and/or sand) were also used. 6.” of piquí processing (tuma). translucent brown/smokycolored and sickle-shaped variety and the other more clear and straight. agapiso. cagamukugu. used for fruit. The two varieties correspond roughly to caraipé A. rind. The prevalence of “Tupi-Guarani” ceramics and the domination of the area by Tupian groups in historic times (Brochado 1984.” apparent on the surface of some sherds. Parts of this original text are translated in Steinen 1966: 517 [1894: 425].d. or “butter. Warfare thoughout much of the area apparently did not take place between villages of the same language group (Block 1980: 83). 7. Two different species of sponge were observed by the author in the Upper Xingu.). Other “sweets” include the paste. different species and not within the range of variability of one.Notes • 355 a discrete linguistic group. 1994). ten. but can reproduce the group without them. Although the Kuikuru have never produced pottery in recent times and contemporary Waujá potters do not apparently use caraipé anymore. which are collected in fairly large quantities using the kundu trap in shallow (dry-season) ponds (a trap also shared by other southern Arawak peoples. anaja (acua) for thatch. personal communication. 5. Susnik 1975:83). such as huke (armored catfish) and other fish. which require formalized supralocal interaction to socially and symbolically reproduce the local group. in fact. namely the Konduri sub-tradition. 2. See Carneiro 1995 for a fuller discussion. This distinction was not incorporated into the analysis awaiting confirmation that they are. harvested in season. Piquí (imbe) also comes in several varieties (imbecay. inaba (nauga) for fruit. 20. including tucum (caiha). used for fruit and as perhaps the most important industrial plant. the chiefly rites-of-passages. Magalhães 1994. caju (cagutaha-hugahigu). Carneiro (1978) felt that they developed in situ from earlier hunting populations. palm fruits. represent the decomposition of an organic tempering material. haka). Hilbert 1958. like fish weirs and other apparatus). although also miniscule. Small voids or “pock-marks. and diverse fruits. five or six settlements were frequently clustered within a few kilometers (a league). 4. hugoi. including a variety of pieces with affinities to the “Incised-Punctate” tradition. as witnessed among the Waujá by the author in 1993 (see Figure 6. . or ten [sic] leagues [25–50 km]” (Block 1980: 57–58. as defined elsewhere in Central Brazil (Wüst 1990. also for fruit. Chapter 6 1. As noted above. I distinguish between regional societies. tati. including carbonized organic material. mangaba (catuba). and arrow points. like the Xingu with its core intercommunity rituals. ogupulu. one Kuikuru chief was able to show me two varieties of trees from which potters in his “grandfather’s” day produced temper (whether these correspond to the two varieties used prehistorically is not known). five. Heckenberger and Toney (n. Other delicacies include special fish. Miararrei is an underwater (lake) site where many ritual ceramics have been found. but only one is used by contemporary potters. 1973. a grey to whitish. such as goiaba (tahoti kuenga). 1592]). Peroto 1992. Simões et al. Chapter 5 1. in either of the two varieties. citing early Jesuit explorers [c. which are typically engaged in supralocal social relations. 3. Cauíxi.12). whereas “between one nation and another … there are six. rind. Two possible varieties of cauíxi were apparent: one a tiny. fibrous variety that is larger than caraipé A. a smaller tucum (asataha). and as blunt arrow point. suokogu. grog (crushed pottery). and caraipé B. as well as buriti (ekingi. tungui). cannot be seen with the naked eye and temper was analyzed with a 10–25 power binocular microscope. Other tempering materials. macauba (cuhugu) for fruit. and regional social systems. which is a tiny whitish sickleshaped variety.

or rounded. Viveiros de Castro (1998: 482) notes that “it is not so much that the body is clothing.e. Today the Kamayura at Lake Ipavu.356 • Notes may also represent tree bark. There is much variation in this and other stories: see Basso 1973: 10–12. Of this total artifact assemblage. then moved east (3 km) adjacent to an old splinter village at Lake Ipatse. houses in disrepair were reconstructed outside of the current house ring in anticipation of a larger plaza in the future. indicating that much or all of the grit inclusions are unintentional or natural inclusions in the clay or tempering material. the Kuikuru settled in the village of Kuhikugu (1870–1915). 3. Since at least A. and Lahatua II (1956–1961). indicators of method of manufacturing and/or firing were recorded. Based primarily on this analysis and a more cursory analysis of additional wall.935 ceramic sherds. either incompletely burned fragments of caraipé B. Quantunga uses “clothes” of humans and is i-oto. were recovered and processed (washed. north of Kuhikugu. yet uses the clothes of a jaguar. in Goiânia). in the dawn time when humans could still interact directly with itseke. and catalogued) in 1994 at the Museu Antropológico (Universidade Federal de Goiás. rock. including spirits. which in addition to tree people (i-oto) also include personages or “spirit people” of water. temper. adjacent to Nokugu and just slightly north of a nineteenth century Waujá village. as available). In the current Yawalapiti village. This story reflects the diversity of others. The form of Quantunga’s mother is uncertain. . mid-body and basal diameters. pertaining to all chronological periods. 8. the Kalapalo at Aiha. positioned directly over the plaza of the ancient village site Note: After 1910–1920. but I have heard that she may be a tree also. 4. the numerous fish and animals that are “activated” in ritual performances. 1. where they first occupied the village of Atïka (c. local populations have situated their villages in the same select areas across the landscape. but rather that the clothing is a body. the Kuikuru moved about 25 km north to Ipatse Lake.135 sherds (primarily rims and bases) securely attributable to the Ipavu Phase were brought to the Carnegie Museum (Pittsburgh) where the author conducted a more thorough attribute analysis from 1994 to 1995. when possible. 1000. Matipu at Angahïnga. whereas tunga-oto has the form of a person. 1860–1870). numbered. for example. look over large (5–10 km) lakes. Grog was rarely used in small quantities in some of the larger pot forms and pot supports. 7. Most grit fragments are heavily worn. Attribute analysis included analysis of rim and base form and thickness. the Kuikuru occupied three villages just north of the ancient village site. and Villas Boas 1973: 69–83 for more detailed versions. 6. After 1961 and the establishment of the PIX boundaries. several primary Ipavu Phase forms have been defined. and Nafuqua at Magiapei. 8. 1984.. or some other tree species. Here they first occupied the site of Ahanitahagu. one of the rarest physiographic features of the entire Amazon. of course.” to “activate the powers of another body. A total of 8. vessel diameter (including oral. base and appendage fragments. 5. Grit is also present in virtually all the sherds analyzed and varies in density from very little to about 20 percent or more of the paste. Lamakuka (1951–1955/56). Carneiro 1989. surface treatment and decoration and. the village was moved to expand the plaza and accommodate the larger population that had grown from about 140 in 1974 (Kuikuru I) to over 200 in 1983 (Kuikuru II). I know of absolutely no cases (out of over 25 village sites occupied between 1850–present observed on the ground) in which a modern village plaza is placed through the middle of another (older but still recent) village plaza. where they live today. 2. Chapter 7 1.” The close correspondence between the location of archaeological sites of the late prehistoric or early protohistoric periods and known historic Xinguano settlements attests to this fact. After moving to Kuhikugu. They occupied the place for roughly ten years (1962–1973). and. In the Kuikuru case. several houses on one side of the village move to the opposite side of their preexisting trash middens/house gardens).D. although it is common for the domestic areas of subsequent villages to overlap (i. actually abutting the northern ditches: Lahatua I (1915–1951).

Black earth formation across villages is quite variable. intiated by a young chief. although this project was cancelled due to the deaths of two of the chief ’s sons in 1993). perhaps related to demographic disruption. 12. for instance.D. 3. Differential distributions of egepe appear in late prehistoric sites. which after the early 1960s was mixed with remaining Nafuqua. that is an Iroquoian 2. if not the majority. Atï lies just south of Nokugu. produced a significant (p = 0. Heckenberger 1996). Over the past fifty years. 1600 or later. the mean number of house occupants ranges from twelve to sixteen (Carneiro 1957. we can say that about 20% of the variability in house floor size is explained by the number of occupants. but simply an amplification of the pattern. whereas plaza areas do not. Based on this analysis.032) but weak (r² = 0. 1969. A splinter chiefly group of Kamayura moved away from the mother village in the early 1990s. The loss also created a shortage of materials and labor for house construction in the following dry season. The mean house size is about twenty-two by eleven meters (242 m²). Such dark earth formation and distribution is not different in kind from that of the contemporary ring villages. 14.202) relationship between house floor size and number of occupants. which directly affect the types and sizes of houses that were built in 1996. from circa A. 10. moved back with the Kuikuru at Lahatua in 1948 when their population declined to 16 individuals living in one house (Lima 1950: 163). Editorial comment by Strathern and Godelier (1991) on Wagner’s (1991) article. even in the case of the immense long-term sites of Nokugu and Kuhikugu. generally characterized by concentric zones of increasingly less pronounced alteration as one moves from the plaza to the village margins. This group. and here they lived with several Matipu families. 13. The largest house I measured in the Upper Xingu was the nearly fifty-meter-long chief ’s house in the Kalapalo village of Aifa (the tajïfe initiated in the Kuikuru was to be exactly fifty meters in length. 4. Open plaza areas are the areas of least soil alteration and. While I was in the Kuikuru village in 1993. where plaza(s) were fixed over many generations. The possible sites considered and discussed were Lahatua and Tafununu. it would have amounted to a village split. 1984. The Matipu split from their village. This pattern contrasts with ancient villages. egeho). 1983/84. A “clean” (red earth) house and traffic areas are evident and a major black earth trash dump is adjacent to the house. which they relate to their more recently “becoming people” (Coelho 2001). several temporary houses were constructed and houses throughout the village became more cramped as a result. Egepe develop in association with domestic activities within villages and are. Fissions are common in all Xinguano groups. . invariably. Dole 1969: 110. A simple regression analysis of the floor-size of houses (m²) and the number of occupants. When six houses burned down in September 1995. most notably backyard trash middens. later living at Ipatse/Itsuva. Depopulation is an important factor (Basso 1973: 100–102. nikogo insono. 11. A splinter group of Kalapalo split from the mother village. Chapter 8 1. at least. a “bifurcate generational” system. the primary Kuikuru chief considered moving his “family” because of several deaths in his family (attributed to sorcery). 1984) and Carneiro (1994: 207) suggest that categories in egos and descending generations have been collapsed. because of a rivalry with the principal chief and his eldest son. see Dole 1964. conducted on the 23 “true” houses in the Kuikuru village in 1994. The pattern of village movement every 10–50 years in recent times within a restricted area (about 5–10 km²) creates a patchy distribution of black-earth insofar as only domestic areas and trash middens become black earth. associated with domestic archaeological remains (most notably ceramics. 1250–1300 until they were abandoned circa A. since at least six full households and likely half or more of the village population. also with a high absolute phosphate value (sum of phosphate fractions = 389 ppm). Had this happened. would have likely followed him.D. are the most obvious location of soil alteration (note). Gregor 1977: 316). 1984. Disposal areas. The circular house at Kuguhi also shows this pattern well.Notes • 357 9. plaza and road areas are more or less “clear” of both artifacts and egepe. Dole (1957. Two Tupian groups and other peripheral Xinguano groups are considered somewhat foreign.

over 50 individuals. The family of the woman asked the ifagaka oto to perform this ceremony in attenuated form because it is normally an intervillage ceremony. to all the men in the village plaza. In another example. During the period that I first lived with the Kuikuru. falling ill was believed to have been affected by a particular spirit. his brother-in-law. The ritual playing of sacred flutes was used to inaugurate a newly built or refurbished weir among the Enauene Naue (Saluma-Pareci). a mixture of thin beijú. A group of some 15 men helped him retrieve and install the beam. 7. 5. 10. are placed in a single shaft sitting on a stool with full sun-like diadem and ornamentation. the second younger brother of the present eté òto. This bespeaks a regional system that is “condensed” into a single village or social system. two of whom have returned. his younger full brother as secretary. the elder heads of households 21 and 22 are brothers (both are quite old and not actively involved in political activity. moved from the Kuikuru to the Yawalapiti due to sorcery accusations (Carneiro 1994). when the charter of the Associação Índigena Kuikuro do Alto Xingu (AIKAX) was made. the current eté òto. 8. his brother-in-law. are closely linked since the household heads are brothers. Primary chiefs are buried by linking two deep shafts with a tunnel and placing the body in a hammock hung from trunks placed in each. there was one such marriage—first cross-cousin marriage within chiefly families—and another planned in 1993. The kuarup. for example. 13. insofar as these individuals “assist” in external affairs (intertribal rituals and non-Indian relations). is a replication. Sao Paulo. however. a spirit associated with the spear-throwing ceremony. in an ethnogenetic event at Arigao Bororo. The following day one of her sons (the tijope) organized a large fishing trip to provide fish for payment. in the context of Luso-Brazilian expansion and the Brazilian “gold rush” (Wüst 1994). likewise. Yãkwa (1995). as honorary president.358 • Notes system with generational (Hawaiian) kin terms in egos and descending generations (see Gregor 1977: 277). heirs to primary chiefs. . the president of AIKAX). At a recent gathering. he nominated his brother in law (House B leader) as vice president. The village hierarchy is thus perfectly reproduced. The recognition of her eldest son in the tiponhï ear-piercing ritual was one of the first occasions that his father. The Bororo add other historical question (considering the eastern and western Bororo) the eastern Bororo only historically amalgamated into the clans described ethnographically. and his nephew. once again spread over two-dimensional space. 6. including that of a primary chief (tango) and that of the heir of the primary village chief. At least ten individuals were considered prominent anetï by the then hugogó òto in 1993. 12. was established as an “owner” of a chiefly ritual. his younger half-brother as president. and his nephew as treasurer (son of his next older half-brother. The following day he sponsored a ceremonial dance of the unduhe. Chapter 9 1. circa 1720. 9. the originators. Anetï mugu. the festival of a fish spirit of which he was oto (“owner”). but their sons. sons-in-law. and their affines. who inherits his chiefliness principally through his Mehinaku mother and his father’s weak claims to Kalapalo chiefly lines. seven burials took place. constituting several households. The Karajá also might be analyzed this way. and grandsons are). piquí fruit and water. As with all such intravillage ceremonies. Video nas Aldeias. of cosmogeny. Brazil. Several other families have moved out of the village since that time. Commoners are wrapped in a hammock and placed in a single bell-shaped shaft. In the Kuikuru village. In 1974. their mourners (consanguines). The Xinguano case is more clear. he was required to distribute ala (fish gruel) and imbene. both linking the family of the primary chief with his most powerful rival. including the two younger brothers of the hugogó òto. (the eldest son of the primary chiefly line of the old secondary Kuikuru village) nominated his oldest halfbrother. A young man who had recently built a large house needed help to place a support beam. Households 5 and 6. when the chiefs come to pay their respects to other deceased chiefs (affines). as we also see in the Xinguano case. 11. but here it is interesting to note that the Karajá and Bororo are among the most historically divergent of the macro-Gê (culturally intermediate between Arawak and Gê).

are inspired by diverse authors. is called atangetamingugu. Kuikuru constructions generally involve the reproduction of measurement.. divided). and it is used to refer to the human “owner” or “master” of things. 1992) and Gê (Maybury-Lewis). among Niger-Congo (Bantu) languages in sub-Saharan Africa (e. it is the right generally. adjuetupongu (adjuey = tortoise carapace. 3. Here we might note that oto is the first finger of the right hand. literally “design on pot”. ïneigu. include the extended roots of the center roof trunk. notably including the nonriverine diaspora in Amazonia. when a reed or buriti fiber is also bent or broken to create an expedient measuring device. general designs on the gable. The tajïfe include many special features and decorations. the clay sculptures (snake. and the robust discussions of precisely these same issues within other tropical diaspora. toad. Oceanic Austronesian in the Pacific (e. This is represented in the present case by the Southern Amazonian Tupi-Guarani (Viveiros de Castro 1984. most notably the ideas of Max Schmidt (1914.) Although there is no established system of measurement.g. as noted in Chapter 8.g. not divided). ingno. Kirch 1984). Painted hatched chevrons.. painted on the body. and 20. another symbolic iteration of the fractal person. Donald Lathrap (1970. Also. tajïfe-ingatïhïgi. called tuinha (orelho) or sehandangago. notably the fish-cooking pot atange.Notes • 359 2. and the designs painted on panels inside the front doors: hototoiatagu (divided). Bellwood 1995. . artwork and inscribed on the rims of ceramic pots. This is respresented in net-making. and particularly. 10. likewise show consistency. Vansina 1990). including numbers in repeated and systematic denominations of 5. My optimism that deep culture histories— temporalities—are present is buttressed by the ongoing dialogue emerging from FrancoBrazilian structuralism. These ideas. for example. ngnehutagu (ngne = animal. 1977) about the dynamics of settled riverine peoples in Amazonia. Chapter 10 1. I reiterate. 1917) about the Arawak. jaguar) are singular expressions of tajïfe distinctiveness.


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