The Kaiapó People (Mebengokré)

enc05_kaiapo_danca_jp_LgPhoto/ Foto: Julio Pantoja


The Kaiapós natives live in an area that is almost the size of Austria, with villages along the Xingu River, in Mato Grosso. Their territory is formed mostly by tropical forests. They call themselves "Mebengokré," but the name kaiapó was given by the neighboring native tribes. The word kaiapó means "resembling apes" and it was probably given because the men used to dance with monkey masks. "The Circles" is the name of one of this tribe's main symbols, probably given because of the circular courses of the sun and the moon. Some distinctive aspects of the Kaiapó culture are the slingshots that are still used by some men, although the new generation doesn't continue the practise. Another aspect is body painting, which is very symbolic in their culture and is done with geometric and intricate lines. It means status and social behavior. Red and black are the main colors. The wonderful parties represent another very interesting aspect of their culturet. The climax of these parties comes after a period of months, during which each ritual meticulously adheres to the group with their songs, dances and special rites appropriate for that party. The language has 17 vowels and 16 consonants, and a distinct pattern of intonation and lasting vowel used to give emphasis. 

Background Information
  • Country: Brazil
  • Date: Friday, March 11, 2005
  • Encuentro Location: Campus da UFMG
Image Gallery
back to top