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Lengua Pitek, Emily


The Lengua are native to the Paraguayan Chaco of South America. In 1889 the Church of England South American Missionary Society began to work in the Lengua’s native territory as missionary Barbrooke Grubb began a 20 year residence among the Lengua living by the Chaco bank of the Paraguay River. Although Grubb was not an anthropologist, his detailed field notes from this time have become the principal ethnographic authority on the Lengua. This entry focuses on the Lengua band in contact with the mission around the time of 1889. At this time, the Lengua were living in autonomous bands and villages with little social distinctions; chiefs only held rule when needed for the common good (such as in times of war). Magical-practitioners were present, with their main task to protect the village from supernatural evils. These practitioners could also affect the weather and foretell future events. The Lengua supernatural beings included a vague and otiose creator deity (symbolized by a beetle), kilyikhama (malignant spirits), aphangak (departed souls of men, who would stay around for about a month after death, then traveling to the afterlife), and departed souls of lower creations. Various feasts and religious celebrations were held throughout the year. Religion does not exist within a distinct sphere but rather permeates all aspects of life; this entry considers the religious group to be coterminous with Lengua society.

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Attribution 4.0 International