Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Cultures > Southern > Terrestrial hunters of the far south of Chile

Culto y Funebria

These southern inland hunters buried their dead in a variety of ways. The most common type of burial is that of the steppe peoples of historic times, who placed stones over the body to form cairns (or chenques) that tended to be located at important geographical points such as hilltops or at the foot of rock walls. Less common practices included cremation and cave burials. In terms of religious beliefs, at the time of first contact with Europeans the inland hunters worshipped a pantheon that included a founding god, intermediate spirits, and mythical ancestors. Their most important ceremonies at that time included complex rites of passage, such as adult initiation in which symbolic body painting played a central role.