Xikrin - Settlements



Kayapó villages consist of a circle of houses around a central plaza. In the middle of the plaza stands the men's house. This spatial division is important on a symbolic level because it refers concretely to other divisions on the level of social structure: periphery/center, women/men, private/public life, domestic/ritual life.

The houses are large structures with two-sided straw roofs. The side of the dwelling facing the plaza is traditionally left open; the other three sides are closed with walls of thatch. The inside of the house consists of a continous space, but each nuclear family occupies a section that is defined by a spatial separation of 1 to 2 meters, with its own fireplace (hearth) and mats. Each family has its own belongings and a platform where the married couple and small children sleep. Baskets and gourds are hung from the rafters of the house or are placed on top of platforms at a certain height from the ground. Up to thirty or more people can live under the same roof.

Today there is a tendency to build houses with walls of wooden laths (Xingu) or wattle and daub (Cateté Xikrin) and to make partitions to separate the families, while at the same time maintaining a common area. Behind the houses there are stone ovens in which the greater part of the food is roasted.

In wandering through their territory the Indians build temporary camps, and at times also erect open houses in cleared fields.


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