Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Cultures > Southern > Southern Maritime Hunters or Canoe Hunters

Culto y Funebria

These groups employed a number of different techniques to bury their dead, and frequently used middens or rocky outcrops as burial sites. Bodies were sometimes laid out straight and sometimes buried in a very flexed position, and were accompanied by some artifacts or necklaces or with no grave goods at all. Some burials are associated with camp fires, evidence of burning, and the presence of red pigment. In later periods in the northern part of their range, the canoe hunters began to leave their dead in caves, with branches and tree bark as the only accompaniment. Further south, bodies were placed in canoes which were filled with rocks and launched into the sea to sink. The first Europeans to make contact with these groups wrote that they believed in a creator deity, intermediate spirits, and mythical ancestors. Their most important ceremonies included complex ‘rites of passage’ relating to different stages of life. Over time, they adopted certain ritualistic elements from similar ceremonies practiced by neighboring land-based groups.