Yanomami, also spelled Yanomamö or Yanoamö, South American Indians, speakers of a Xirianá language, who live in the remote forest of the Orinoco River basin in southern Venezuela and the northernmost reaches of the Amazon River basin in northern Brazil.
Yanomamö (Yąnomamɨ) is the most populous of several closely related languages spoken by the Yanomami people. Most speakers are monolingual. It has no natively-used writing system.
Today their total population stands at around 38,000. At over 9.6 million hectares, the Yanomami territory in Brazil is twice the size of Switzerland. In Venezuela, the Yanomami live in the 8.2 million hectare Alto Orinoco – Casiquiare Biosphere Reserve.
Many of the factors that seem to stimulate violent conflict among the Yanomami revolve around cultural traditions that have been incredibly common the world over, and pre-date Western contact, such as wife capture raids, sorcery accusations and revenge attacks.
The Yanomami practice slash-and-burn agriculture and live in small, scattered, semipermanent villages. They supplement their crop of plantains, cassava, tubers, corn (maize), and other vegetables with gathered fruits, nuts, seeds, grubs, and honey. They hunt monkeys, deer, tapirs, fowl, and armadillos.
The Yanomami tribe in South America are also known as Yanam or Senema are found in Venezuela and parts of Brazil. This tribe has a weird burial ritual akin to cannibalism called Endocannibalism. Endocannibalism is the practice of eating the flesh of a dead person from the same community, tribe or society.
Marriage is a social dynamic within villages, and they are usually driven by political opportunity by men who are seeking alliances with other men from different villages. Polygamous marriages are common, meaning husbands can have many wives. Polygamy is commonly practiced in Yanomami culture.
The Yanomami practice endocannibalism, eating the flesh of a deceased tribe member. They believe that consuming the deceased’s ashes keeps the deceased’s spirit alive for the next generations. The deceased’s spirit can’t reach peace in the spirit world until they eat the soup.
When someone in the village falls sick, medicines collected from the forest are used in conjunction with the action of the shaman. Knowledge of these remedies was traditionally held and transmitted by older women who would apply them in conjunction with the healing work of shamans.
Yanomamö – Religion and Expressive Culture. Religious Beliefs. The Yanomamö believe that the cosmos consists of four parallel planes or layers. The upper-most layer is empty but was once occupied by ancient beings who descended to lower layers.
Under Yanomamö rules, a man’s ideal marriage partner is a maternal first cousin, who would be the offspring of your mother’s brother.
The Yanomami tribe hunts by using bow and arrow and blowguns to kill their prey. They also have access to plants that produce curare, which is a deadly poison, which they place on the tips of arrows to poison the prey.