Ethnography of the Yagua

Ethnography of the Yagua

Ethnography of the Yagua

Ethnography of the Yagua


The data on which this study was based were obtained in the course of an expedition sponsored by the Viking Foundation. The research, carried out in northeastern Peru between the Putumayo and Amazon Rivers, was primarily ethnographical and dealt mainly with the life of the Yagua Indians, although Bora and Witoto tribes were also studied. The results of the latter investigations, however, are not presented in this volume, but it is hoped that they may be published at a later date.

The writer takes this opportunity to express his deepest gratitude to Dr. Axel Leonard Wenner-Gren, founder of the Viking Foundation, for the generous grant which made the expedition possible.

The expedition was under the direction of the writer and the fieldwork took place between December, 1940, and August, 1941. Dr. G. Kenneth Lowther, a geologist, carried out the topographic survey and Norman Mathews was responsible for the photography. H. R. Besserman executed the electrical sound recordings, and Albert Giesecke, Jr., had charge of the difficult problem of transport and supply.

The expedition is indebted to the Peruvian Government for numerous favors, particularly for the use of a Diesel launch belonging to the Forestry Department which enabled us to navigate the shallow waters of the many small tributaries of the Amazon. To the many Peruvian government officials and scholars as well as to the Geographic Society of Lima, the writer wishes to express appreciation. He also wishes to thank Dr. Albert Giesecke, Sr., for assistance in connection with the progress of the expedition in Peru.

Two complete collections of ethnographic specimens were made in the field. One collection was presented to the National Museum of Lima and the other was given to the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, in New York City. A smaller collection of artifacts was given to the Peabody Museum of Natural History of Yale University. The Museum of the American Indian and the Peabody Museum of Yale were, in addition, each presented with several hundred black and white as well as colored photographs of the Yagua tribe.

The writer is under obligation to the Board of Directors of The Viking Fund for a special grant in aid of publication of this book, and in particular to its president, Mr. Richard C. Hunt, for his most encouraging support and valuable suggestions.

The figures in the text are the work of Jean Day Zallinger. The writer also wishes to express grateful thanks to Mrs. G. W. O'Brian, for secretarial assistance and technical criticisms.

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