Toba - Orientation

Identification. "Toba" is probably the Guaraní translation of the name "Frentones" (Large-browed people), which is found in colonial sources. It refers to the Toba custom of shaving their foreheads. The Toba call themselves "Qom," indicating a special meaning of the ethnic "we." In general, it refers to native villages linked together in opposition to the Whites, who are called "Doqshi."

Location. In precontact times the Toba lived between the Pilcomayo and Bermejo rivers in an eastern and a western area. Nowadays these two groups continue to exist, but there are additional important contingents of Toba in the east-central areas of Chaco Province in El Cerrito (Paraguay), in several enclaves of southeastern Bolivia, and in migrant settlements in Argentina, in the cities of Santa Fe, Rosario (province of Santa Fe), and Buenos Aires. The Chaco, the area where the main Toba settlements are located, is a level and depressed plain with a decrease in relief from northwest to southeast. The climate is dry, especially in the west, and very hot. Annual average precipitation is 60 centimeters in the west and 120 centimeters in the east. Summer temperatures fluctuate between 35° C and 40° C. In winter, freezing weather is common.

Demography. In 1987 around 20,000 Toba lived in Chaco Province, whereas in Formosa Province, Argentina, the Toba population numbered around 6,000. Contingents that migrated to Rosario and Buenos Aires totaled around 3,000 individuals.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Toba language belongs to the Guaycurú Family. Existing dialectical variants have not been described as yet.

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