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The Bororo

The term Bororo means, in native language , “Village yard”. In this sense, the traditional circular arrangement of the houses arranged towards the center of the village that forms a patio and constitutes the ritual space of that town, characterized by a complex social organization and by the richness of its ceremonial life, is not accidental. Despite the fact that at present they only have the right to a discontinuous and uncharacteristic territory, the vigor of their culture and their political autonomy have acted as weapons against the predatory effects of contact with the “white man”, which has been going on for now. 300 years, at least.


The Bororo call themselves Boe. The term “Bororo” means “village courtyard” and currently constitutes its official name. Throughout history, other names were used to identify this town, such as: Coxiponé, Araripoconé, Araés, Cuiabá, Coroados, Porrudos, Bororos da Campanha (referring to those who inhabited the region near Cáceres), Bororos Cabaçais (those of the Guaporé river basin region), Eastern Bororos and Western Bororos (arbitrary division made by the government of Mato Grosso, during the mining boom period, which have the Cuiabá River as a reference point). Among their self-denominations, those linked to the territorial occupation: Bóku Mógorége (“inhabitants of the Cerrado”) they are the Bororo from the villages of Meruri, Sangradouro and Garças; Itúra Mogorége (“inhabitants of the matas”) correspond to the Bororo of the villages of Jarudori, Pobori and Tadarimana; Orari Mógodóge (“inhabitants of the plagues of the painted fish”) refer to the Bororo of the villages of Córrego Grande and Piebaga; Tóri ókua Mogorége (“inhabitants of the foothills of the São Jerônimo mountain range”) was the name given to a group currently without a remaining village; Útugo Kúridóge (“those who use long arrows”) or Kado Mogorége (“two tacuaral inhabitants”) are the Bororo from the village of Perigara, in the Pantanal.

( Nukini Tribe )

Ceremonial life

Rituals are a constant in the life of the Bororo. Major rites of passage (in which people move from one social category to another ) are those of nomination, initiation and funeral. According to Novaes, “In the nomination ritual the child is formally introduced into the Bororo society of his iedaga (the nominator is the mother’s brother) and of the women of his father’s clan, who adorn him for said ritual. These people clearly synthesize the attributes that they form the personality of the Bororo man and that consistently integrates legal aspects (transmitted by age and associated with matrilineality) as well as aspects of a more mystical character (associated with patrilineality) ”(1986: 230). Through his name, the child becomes associated with a social category – the lineage of a clan – linked to a cultural hero of Bororo society who, in mythical times, established the foundations of social life as it should be.

( Katukina Tribe )

Knowledge of nature

The Bororo recognize a wide series of “ecological zones and subzones” in their exploration environment, the main ones being: Bokú (savanna), Boe Éna Jaka (transition) and Itúra (jungle). Each ecological zone is associated with certain specific plants, soils and animals, representing an integrated system between these elements and man. Each zone also has minor subdivisions

Organization and politics

In the traditional political structure, three powers are identified: the Boe Eimejera, chief of the war, of the village and of the ceremonial; the Bári, shaman of the spirits of nature ; and the Aroe Etawarare, Shaman of the Souls of the Dead . Currently, there is also the figure of the Brae eimejera, chief of the whites, that is, the chief who negotiates with the whites. The Bororo villages maintain their autonomy and present political situations that are the consequence of the different solutions derived from the contact process. In the village Meruri, the election of the Boe Eimejera is made through the direct choice and does not follow the traditional ways, expressing a clear separation between the political leadership and the ceremonial leadership. In the other villages, the political organization of the village follows the traditional form. Relations between Bororo villages are guided by social, political and, mainly, religious relationships, in which the traditional funeral is the determining factor.

bororo indigenous tribe

Social organization and kinship

Among the Bororo, the political unit is the village (Boe Ewa), made up of a set of houses arranged in a circle, and whose center is the men’s house (Baito) . On the west side of Baito is the ceremonial plaza, called Bororo, place of the most important ceremonies in that society. Even in villages where houses are arranged linearly under the influence of missionaries or government agents, the circularity of the village is considered the ideal representation of the social space and the cosmological universe. In the complex social organization of the Bororo, the classification of individuals is made from their clan , the lineage and the residential group. The rule of descent is matrilineal, so that, at birth, the child will receive a name that will identify him with the maternal clan. Although there is such a standard of ideal conduct, in practice it can be manipulated to serve other interests (Novaes, 1986). In the spatial distribution of the houses around the village circle , each clan occupies a specific place. The village is divided into two exogamous moieties -Exerae and Tugarége-, each subdivided into four main clans, which are made up of various lineages. There is a hierarchy between the lineages that is manifested through the categories of the older / younger type, more important / less important, older brother / younger brother. People of the same clan, but of hierarchically different lineages, must not reside in the same house. Each house in the village usually houses two or three nuclear families. Residential groups are uxorilocal, a rule by which a man who marries must move into his wife’s abode even though he remains a member of the previous lineage. For this reason, people from social categories reside in the same house, different clans and lineages. Marriage between the Bororo is unstable and a high rate of separation between couples is usually manifested, thus causing a man to reside in several houses throughout his life.

( Ashaninka Tribe )

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