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A feast of the Tupinamba (1552)

Hans Staden was a German gunner at a fort in southeast Brazil who was captured in 1552 by Tupinamba warriors. From the outset, Staden had to exercise all his wits to avoid the fate of others perceived to be enemies of the Tupinamba, which sometimes included being killed and disposed of at cannibalistic feasts. Those cooked and eaten seemed to include both an occasional European (especially Portuguese), and members of rival tribal groups.

Staden somehow managed to survive for several months among the Tupinamba before finally escaping and returning to Germany. His book Hans Staden: The True History of his Captivity, published in 1557, included a number of woodcut illustrations of Tupinamba culture, including this view of a cannibalistic feast, and another of a palisaded village with human skulls on the main gate.

[Fig.1: Tupinamba feast, observed by Hans Staden (orig.1557). ]

[For more details on Staden's experiences, press here.]


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