Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Yuracaré Indians

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 15
Yuracaré Indians

by Andrew Alphonsus MacErlean


A Bolivian tribe living between Santa Cruz de la Sierra and Cochabamba in the wooded regions and plains adjoining the mountains, on the Eastern slopes of the Andes, close to the Río Beni and Rio Marmoré. They are tall, and the women are very handsome. They have oval countenances, aquiline noses, very dark eyes, while their skin is almost as white as that of the Spaniards. The Yuracaré are excellent hunters and make good warriors; they were of a roving disposition, but the Jesuits of the Paraguayan Reductions succeeded in establishing a mission among them, which flourished until the suppression of the Society. The standard of morality among the Yuracaré was very low. The marriage bond was readily dissolved, but polygamy was not practised. They were distributed in families, living without any form of government. Men and women were separated at meals, but there was no subordination between husband and wife or relatives, though the parents were generally treated as slaves by the children.

They were an extremely superstitious race, but they adored neither nature nor a superior being. They believed in the immortality of the soul but had no idea of future rewards or punishments. The dead, who were mourned for a long period, were buried with their bows and arrows, as they were supposed to have gone to a delightful region under the earth, where the woods abounded with peccaries and the hunting never failed. The Yuracaré live entirely by hunting; they consider it lawful to commit suicide, and practice duelling, which is carried out according to rules laid down by public authority. They make it a rule never to advise their children, leaving them to form their own standard of conduct.

RECLUS, Universal Geography ed. KEANE, XVIII (London, 378-9).

A. A. MacErlean.