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Tupinamba palisaded village in southeast Brazil


Hans Staden, a German soldier captured by Tupinamba warriors in 1552, knew the Tupi language and was able to observe many aspects of this now extinct culture, recorded after his escape his book Hans Staden: The True History of his Captivity, published in 1557.

Part 2 of the book contains Staden's descriptions of Tupinamba villages, including their layout of longhouse settlements grouped within palisaded clearings, as well as manioc preparation, pottery manufacture, marriage and political customs, and the practice of Tupinamba cannibalism. Related customs included placing enemy skulls on the village gateposts. Staden's written account with its illustrations remains a primary source on the 16th century Tupinamba culture, which dominated large portions of southeastern Brazil, and whose language was used for trading as far away as the Andes at the time of initial European contact.

[Fig.1: Tupinamba palisaded village with skulls on gate (Staden 1557)]

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

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