Mehinaku - Settlements

Seen from the air, the Mehinaku village is a great circle with paths radiating out to gardens, to boat landings along the river and to other tribes. Around the perimeter of the circle are the villagers' houses. Each house is a haystack-shaped windowless building, with doors facing onto the central plaza and the backyard. The well-built house is constructed entirely of native materials, including a timber-and-pole framework and thatch. Undivided in the interior, the house is some 30 meters in length and 9 meters in width and height. Inside, the villagers live in family groups, suspending their hammocks from a common house pole and having their own water supply and hearth.

The center of the village is a broad plaza in which all of the public activities of the community take place. Here the men wrestle (the main Xingu sport), and the villagers dance, conduct rituals, and organize collective projects. Here, too, is the men's house (see "Social Organization").

Ideally, all Mehinaku communities follow a similar settlement plan. The trail to the major river, "the path of the sun," extends east and west of the village. The houses of the village chiefs, who are the nominal owners of the jointly maintained trails, are adjacent to these paths. The men's house faces the rising sun, which passes across and bisects the village each day.

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