Panare - Settlements



Under traditional circumstances Panare settlements were usually sited close to a river's edge, at a point close to the conjunction of savanna and forest so that they could exploit the resources of both environments. Settlements were generally small, most consisting of between 20 and 40 residents, although under certain circumstances the population might reach as many as 90. In recent years, as the Panare have begun to congregate around missions and other non-Indian centers, settlement size has increased greatly. In April 1989, Colorado, an evangelical mission village, had 407 inhabitants.

Settlements traditionally consisted of one or sometimes two large collective longhouses, with possibly one or two smaller houses nearby. Houses were made of palm branches lashed to a wooden structure. The overall house form could be oblong or conical, depending on the species of palm available in the vicinity. Within a collective house, nuclear family hearths were arranged around the perimeter, and bachelors slept in the central area. The smaller houses nearby could be cooking sheds, or they might belong to a family unit in the process of breaking away from the main collective house. After about five years, the palm thatch would begin to let in too much rain and the settlement would be moved to a new site. Nowadays settlements tend to be more permanent, as traditional materials are replaced by zinc panels for roofs and mud or even concrete blocks for walls.


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