Araucanians - Settlements

Prior to the arrival of the Spanish, the Araucanians lived in small clusters of semipermanent to permanent settlements arranged in a dispersed pattern. Three to eight patrilocal families or households inhabited each settlement, each living in its own dwelling. The settlements were located mostly in valleys or plains along rivers and streams. The Araucanians never lived in towns. Their dwellings consisted of huts ( rukas ) situated in prominent places so approaching visitors could be seen and the animals could be observed. The typical ruka had a timber or cane framework; an oval, polygonal, or rectangular ground plan; and a thatch roof extending nearly to ground level. Dimensions ranged from 3 to 6.5 meters in length and from 3 to 4 meters in breadth. There were one or two smoke holes at one or both ends of the roof. Although this type of ruka can still be found, modifications involving the use of shingles, cement, brick, or wood instead of thatch are becoming common. The number of rukas determines wealth: poor Mapuche live in one ruka, whereas wealthy ones have separate rukas for sleeping, eating, and storage.

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