The term tupi-guarani is designed to define one of the ten language families of the tupi trunk.
The other linguistic trunks identified in Brazil are the trunk Jê and Arauak, from which derive the set of languages of the indigenous peoples that inhabited Brazil upon the arrival of the Portuguese colonizers.
Tupi originated from the Tupinambá language, which was incorporated by the colonizers and missionaries and adopted as the General Language of Brazil.
Guarani is still spoken today by the Guarani, Guarani-Kaiowá, Guarani-ñhandeva and Guarani-M’byá peoples.
Today, the Brazilian Indians still share 150 languages and dialects and part of the repertoire that has already been incorporated by Portuguese, such as cassava, Curitiba, Aquidauana, Iguaçu, tapioca, among others. Before the arrival of Pedro Álvares Cabral’s squad there were at least a thousand.
Maintaining their language, customs and social organization, the indigenous peoples of Brazil are called nations rather than tribes, a popular and incorrect denomination. There are similarities between the many peoples, but the differences stand out.
Indian Kaiapó.Photos: Funai
Indigenous culture encompasses language, social and political organization, its rituals, its myths, art, housing, cosmology and the way it relates to the environment.
Brazilian Indians are polytheistic , but their way of relating to religion has changed dramatically with the influence of colonization, Catholic and monotheistic orientation.
They believed in the forces of nature, in the divinity of animals, plants, and man himself interacting with all elements.
By oral tradition they passed on customs and orientations for the rituals of life and death.Among the remarkable rituals of life are the passing celebrations, which marked the transition to adulthood.
The common characteristic of Brazilian indigenous peoples regarding religion is shamanism. It is the shaman who is responsible for conducting the rituals.
Among the Tupi-Guarani peoples, the shaman is called pajé, the person who deals with the connections between living beings, nature, living and dead humans.
Brazilian indigenous art is plural and the production is not open to all. From the social hierarchy, gender and age differences are respected for manipulating materials that will result in decorative objects or ritual adornments.
Characteristics in indigenous art are feathers, braided plant fibers, clay, stones and pigments prepared by hand.
Vegetable fiber (straw) braided
Most of Brazil’s Indians maintained the tradition of collecting and hunting food. Agriculture was only rudimentaryly applied and some small animals were domesticated, such as capybara.
In their social organization they were mostly polygamous . The situation changed with colonization on account of Catholic religious thinking. They lived and many still live in community.
The dwellings can be collective or individual, depending on the people. The best known arrangement is the circular, with central space for the development of rituals and parties.
Rooms are arranged in a circle and the center hosts rituals and parties.
The Guarani Indians are among the first who had contact with the colonizers. They are divided into three groups: kaiowá, ñandeva and m’byá.
The name Guarani means person. Today, these people live in nine Brazilian states, besides Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay. In Brazil alone there are at least 51 thousand.
Although they are all Guarani, they have differences in speech, religious behavior, and social organization. Today, the largest group to live in Brazil is the kaiowá, which means “forest people”.
Hunters and gatherers, believe that the land is an extension of their own souls and this is one of the points of the existing land stalemate in Mato Grosso do Sul .
In the state, located on the border of Bolivia and Paraguay, indigenous people claim ancestral lands that the Brazilian government handed over before the 1988 Constitution to the landowners.