Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Native peoples > Chango

Beliefs and funeral rites

There is little historical information about the Changos’ religious beliefs. It is thought that their ceremonial and ritual activities were linked to the sea, part of a tradition that can be traced back to the Chinchorro culture and the Huentelauquén complex.
Within this belief system, ancestor worship seems to hold a special place. In pre-Hispanic times the dead were buried with their tools and other precious objects, from bows and arrows and harpoons to miniature models of boats, implying a belief that they would continue their seagoing ways in the afterlife.
Many types of tombs have been found, varying according to the region, town, and tribe to which the individual belonged. Cemeteries are most commonly found on beaches and have shallow sandy graves and separate male-female burial sites. The dead were buried in an extended horizontal position, and sometimes parts of the body were covered in red paint. Others were buried in dwelling places, and still others were placed on beds of rocks and then covered with smaller stones, forming a cairn.