Macuna - Settlements



The traditional Macuna settlement consisted of a single, large multifamily longhouse, usually referred to as a maloca in the ethnographic literature. The malocas were widely dispersed along streams and rivers in the forest. In the early 1970s this was still the dominant settlement pattern. There are basically two types of malocas: one round, common in the Apaporis area; the other rectangular and prevalent in the Pirá-Paraná area. The latter type could measure 30 meters in length, 20 in width, and 10 in height. Both types can still be seen among the Macuna, but now rather as ceremonial centers in village communities composed of a number of small single-family houses. Early accounts describe huge malocas containing some 100 inhabitants. At present, the size of the residence group inhabiting a maloca generally varies between 10 and 20. During important collective ceremonies, however, 70 or more people are easily accommodated in the maloca. In the 1970s the maloca commonly contained three to five agnatically related nuclear families—an aging father and his married sons or a group of young or middle-aged married brothers (who were later likely to split up and form independent settlements). The malocas, in turn, were vaguely grouped into extensive neighborhoods of agnatically and affinally related residence groups; elderly brothers and brothers-in-law lived in separate but adjacent malocas. Today these local groups of neighboring malocas have largely turned into village communities that are based on the same structural principles of agnation and marriage alliance but subdivided into small family units, each inhabiting a separate house.


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