Games, povos indígenas no brasil mirim

Everyone likes to play. Children can spend whole days playing and having fun. And many adults like it too. Whenever they can, they come together for sports and games. There are many different ways to play, but the focus is always the same – making the most of a special moment with friends. Playing can help develop skills that can be important for the rest of life. Playing is actually a method of learning!

Indigenous people enjoy all kinds of games and objects. Some are widespread among very different indigenous peoples. Some games are also in the non-Indian population, such as. B. the ball game Peteca, which children all over Brazil know, or the stilt. Others are unusual and not so well known. There are games that only children play, and there are games that adults also like to join and show their children, how one best wins.

There are games for boys and there are girls games. Certain games require certain equipment. If you don’t have them, you can’t start playing. First you have to go into the forest and find the necessary material there to make the necessary equipment. But it all makes sense, because the production of the game elements is already part of the game!

Here you will learn something about the toys and games of different indigenous groups!

The Kalapalo live in the south of the Parque Indígena Xingu in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso. They have many games and ways to have fun. You play alone and in groups. Some of their games are serious competitions, others are role-playing games. Some are played in the main square of the village, others in the water or outside in the forest. There are games in which adults also play, games exclusively for children, and common games for children and adults.

Children go out almost every morning and start playing very early in the day. They play until about 8 a.m. Then they run home to help with the daily chores. Girls help their mothers and older sisters prepare cassava. They also help supervise their younger siblings. Boys help make items and accompany their fathers fishing.

The boys usually play football in the late afternoon. They build their own goals and balls and play mostly in the middle of the village. But if the Kwarup ritual is performed (which various indigenous groups in Parque Indígena Xingu adhere to), they have to find another playground. While the Kwarup ritual is taking place, the village square is used for a fight called "Ikindene".

Here you can learn a lot about Ikindene and other Kalapalo games!


Ikindene is a traditional game in the sense of martial arts, which is practiced by the Kalapalo. It is played during the Kwarup ceremony, which brings together people from different villages. Participants are only men. (There is another ritual, "Jamugikumalu", in which only women participate). Two Ikindene participants each fight in the central meeting place of the village. Their bodies are painted and adorned with belts, ankle bracelets, shell necklaces and bundles of wool that are wrapped around their arms and knees. The game is taken very seriously. Previous winners fear being defeated by beginners, and beginners fear injuries. Ikindene requires strength, courage, endurance and concentration.

Throughout the year, the men train for the battles that take place during the ritual. At Ikindene everyone tries to knock down their opponent. A fight can also be ended by touching the opponent’s leg with his hand. The winner is the one who either touches his opponent’s leg or who manages to knock him down completely.

Watch the film!

Before Ta can be played, you have to make the equipment for it. That means you have to build a kind of wheel out of dried leaves. This wheel is covered with embira cork (from the bark of a tree that grows mainly in steppe areas). The cork must be green. This cork is called "ta" – hence the name of the game.

The aim of the game is to hit the Ta with a bow and arrow. It will be played in two teams. Each team is in a row, far enough apart. A player is the thrower. He throws the Ta in the air at the opposing team. The Ta flies behind the opponents. As soon as the Ta touches the ground, one after the other tries to hit him with the arrows.

If nobody hits the target, the teams change positions. But if you manage to hit the Ta, your team has another shot free and the thrower has to leave the game temporarily and is replaced by another player. Ta requires experience in bow and arrow, strength and concentration.

Watch the film!

Heiné Kuputisü

This game requires great endurance and a good sense of balance. Each participant must hop on one leg and must not change legs. A start line scratched into the ground and the finish line 100 meters away mark the path that is to be hopped.

Whoever hops all the way is considered the winner. If you can’t do it, you have to train even more. Even if speed is not important, everyone tries to be as fast as possible. But the best winner is the one who goes the longest way. Boys and men play the game in the middle of the village.

Watch the movie where people train the game Heiné Kuputisü. Two people are always at the start of the training. Each of the two competes for his team.

Toloi Kunhügü

This game takes place on the bank of a lake or river. Anyone who comes up with the idea of ​​playing this game has to pretend to be a hawk. This leads the game. The "falcon" draws a large tree in the sand. It has many branches. The other children play "little birds". Every little bird chooses a branch, builds a nest on it and stays there. The falcon has to catch the little birds, so they leave their nests and gather at a short distance from the tree. They stamp their feet and annoy the falcon by singing a song.

The falcon is slowly approaching. When he is very close, he jumps and tries to catch the birds. They run away in all directions and hook to confuse the falcon. If they need a break, they can flee back to the safety of their “nests”. If the falcon succeeds in catching a bird, the child is no longer allowed to play. They have to stop at a certain point, near the tree trunk. The last little bird will be the falcon of the next game. Toloi Kunhügü is a game that promotes many skills such as concentration, responsiveness and agility.

Watch the film!

Thanks to SESC São Paulo for using excerpts from "Jogos e Brincadeiras do Povo Kalapalo"

The Yudja speak a language from the Tupi language family. Some of the Yudja live in a group of six villages near the Xingu River in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso. Others live on the other side of the river near the city of Altamira in the Brazilian state of Pará.

The following text was written by children from the village of Tuba Tuba, along with people who work for the Xingu / ISA program.

We build bows and arrows from all sorts of materials just to play with and learn how to shoot with them. The most difficult thing is to fix the feather at the end of the arrow so that it flies straight. We go fishing with our fathers. We go fishing alone, down by the river. But when the older men go hunting, we can’t go because it’s too difficult to keep up with them.

We have a bow and arrow competition where we can see who is the best.

We like to make small planes. We take leaves from the trees to build rotors like helicopters.

We girls like to make pearl bracelets and chains.

At home we help our mothers and take care of our younger brothers and sisters, cook fish and make porridge. By helping, we learn to do these things ourselves.

We also help in the gardens and carry cassava, potatoes and other things home from the field.

We fetch water from the river to cook and wash. We already wash clothes and dishes when we are very small. We learn how to paint the body and how to make plates and pots from clay. We like to play catch in the river, slide down the river bank and paint animals or people in the earth. We also make spinning tops from the seeds of the Tucumã palm.

We play with threads.

We also have songs for gossip games and circle games. In the evening we like to play in the village meeting place and sing the songs to our games or songs that people sing at our parties.

We visit the school in our village. We learn in our language and in Portuguese. We hear stories. The elders in the village come and tell us stories during the lessons.

The Galibi live in Oiapoque, high up in the north of Brazil. They immigrated from French Guiana in the 1950s. They originally come from the Mana River area, but then settled on the right bank of the Oiapoque River, in the north of the Brazilian state of Amapá. Most of the Galibi now lives again in French Guyana. There they are known as the Kaliña people.

Two Galibi boys, Valdo and Donato, try to build spinning tops from the seeds of the Tucumã palm. These are special spinning tops because they "sing" when they spin. Valdo and Donato try to do as their father showed them. First, they look for the most suitable seeds. Then they drill small holes in it. Then the inside of the seeds are cleaned and scraped out until they are completely hollow. But unfortunately their gyros do not want to turn! Let alone that they make any sound. You did something wrong. So they put the spinning tops in their pockets and wait for their father to come back out of the forest after dark.

When her father Miguel finally comes, he takes a look at the tops of his sons. He tells them that he will show them how to do it right, but they have to be patient until the next day.

Valdo and Donato live in the village of São José. It consists of eight wooden houses surrounded by mango trees, cashew and guava trees, pumpkin plants and other trees known in Brazil, such as Jenipapo, Tucumã and Inajá. A handful of children live here. They like to play the games they saw with the children in the city of Oiapoque, for example they play with petecas (shuttlecocks that are hit with the palm of their hand) and with paper kites. But they also learned from the elders in the village how to make traditional toys. These include the singing spinning tops from the seeds of the Tucumã trees.

As promised, Miguel shows his sons what to do. He doesn’t explain everything. He just builds a Tucumã spinning top and they watch closely. They watch him and together with their father make a new top. They don’t speak, don’t ask questions, and don’t ask for help. And this time it works! All gyros rotate and sing at the same time.

The noise draws Seu Geraldo’s attention to the two. He cannot hide his joy when he sees his grandchildren playing – with the toys that he loved most as a child. He describes his grandchildren how they held spinning top competitions when he was young.

Many children came together, each with their own “Fane” (that’s the name of a Tucumã spinning top in the Kaliña language). Four children pulled on the four corners of a hammock so that it was very smooth and straight. The others spun their tops on the fabric. That’s how a fan competition started. The goal was to see whose gyro turned the longest without tipping over or falling off the hammock.

When the village elders tell stories like this, the children learn how to make the toy and how to use it. In this way, knowledge is passed on from one generation to the next.

Thanks to Projeto Bira for using excerpts from the book "Giramundo e outros brinquedos e brincadeiras dos meninos do Brasil" (Giramundo and other children’s toys and gadgets in Brazil).

In general, children love to show how big and strong they are. You can often see them exaggerating with gestures to describe their size and strength. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why children all over the world love to walk on stilts.

If the children from one of the Xavante villages in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso want to play with stilts, they first go to the forest. They take machetes and have to find their toys first. It is waiting for them there, but hidden on a special tree in the forest. It can take hours to find a branch that is long and straight enough and that has a Y-shaped fork at one end that is neither too narrow nor too wide (because you need it to put your foot on it) ). Your search would be much easier if your village were not in the middle of the Brazilian steppe, a region that is overgrown with low trees with curvy trunks.

When they finally find the right branch, they face the next challenge. You need to find a second branch that matches the first. This "stilt hunt" in the forest can last all morning. The foot part on the stilts fork is usually shaped so that the children’s feet cannot be parallel to the floor.

Your feet must turn inwards. This is a little uncomfortable when walking on stilts. But the Xavante kids like to show their strength and cunning. They challenge each other to see who is the farthest go can without falling over.

The whole day passes without the children starting a new game. One game a day is enough for them.

Thanks to Projeto Bira for using excerpts from the book "Giramundo e outros brinquedos e brincadeiras dos meninos do Brasil" (Giramundo and other children’s toys and gadgets in Brazil).

This game is one of the favorite entertainment in many indigenous communities, even if only a few non-Indians know it. It’s so popular because you have to be strong! In the Brazilian states of Espírito Santo and São Paulo they call guarani-Children play the game “Arranca Mandioca” (“Get the cassava out”). This is because the game is somewhat reminiscent of collecting cassava roots – an activity that indigenous children know well.

If they choose to play the game, they gather near a tree and line up closely, hands on shoulders in front of them. Then they go in a row to the tree and sit on the ground. The first in line reaches for the tree. The others clasp the arms and legs of the person in front. A child who has to be very strong has the task of “pulling out the cassava root” – namely the children. The first in line (the one that holds the tree) is the “owner of the cassava plantation”. They give permission to pull one "cassava root" out of the ground one after the other. In this way, the children are pulled out of line, with all the strength that is necessary for them to get together to free. With the Guarani, every conceivable strategy is allowed to pull the children out of line. You can trick, pull your legs or ask for help from one of the children who is already liberated.

Both xavante-It would be unthinkable for children to trick. In the Brazilian steppe, where these children live, the boys and girls call this game “Tatu” (the Portuguese word for “armadillo”). This is because it is very difficult to catch an armadillo when it has withdrawn into its hole. No matter how hard you try, nobody can pull out an armadillo with bare hands. You can pull it by the tail, but it will cling to the ground and no one will get it free!

The Xavante attach great importance to strength, cleverness, sophistication and courage. Even when Xavante kids are playing, these qualities are always important. In the Tatu game, for example, the children only let one teammate pull another out of line if they can pull out the armadillo on their own..

This game is a great success in any situation and it is laughed from start to finish.

Thanks to Projeto Bira for using excerpts from the book "Giramundo e outros brinquedos e brincadeiras dos meninos do Brasil" (Giramundo and other children’s toys and gadgets in Brazil).

A peteca is a kind of shuttlecock that is hit with the palm of the hand. The word “peteca” has its origins in the Tupi language. It means "clap or hit with your hand". Today, it is the most common name for this toy that is played by children across Brazil. As before, the children have to wait until it is harvest time to make the toy. Then they use dry maize leaves and braid various containers and knots from them and make petecas in different shapes and sizes.

Here you will find information on how petecas are made by various indigenous groups.

Senhor Toptiro is the boss of the xavante-Abelhinha village in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso. He says one game a day is enough to make children happy. For people living in the big cities, where time, exercise and all activities are accelerating, it may sound incredible that a group of four to thirteen year old children and teenagers is busy with a single game all day.

But going out to find dry leaves in one of the village gardens is a journey of adventure for the kids. Then they need to be attentive and skillful to turn their dry leaves into good petecas. You need time to look, experiment, make mistakes, correct them and learn.

Senhor Toptiro smiles mischievously when he finds himself in the midst of a group of boys and girls who imitate the movements of his strong, old hands to turn the dry leaves into a "tobdaé", the traditional peteca of the Xavante. Senhor Toptiro not only uses his eyes and fingers, but also his toes. He pulls a string of dried Buriti leaves through his toes. Then he pulls it through the tight spiral that holds the bottom of the toy together. This shape differs from other Peteca variants, which are described below.

When finished, the Xavante-Peteca is a light, agile toy. And it is used in a game that demands the same qualities from the player: lightness and agility.

The game is a variant of "catch" or "it". It is played with six Tobdaés. The area on which the children play is not limited. Two people are involved in each game. Each player starts with three Tobdaés. The aim is to use them to throw the enemy while avoiding the opponent’s throws. If you get hit by a Tobdaé, you fly out of the game. A new player takes the place and the game starts again.

Whenever the corn is harvested in the village, the Peteca competitions start with great fun. It is a game played in various forms in the indigenous villages from the steppes where the Xavante live to the Atlantic forest in the state of São Paulo, where the Guarani are at home.

The guarani The name for a peteca is "Mangá". This is the real ancestor of the petecas that children play with throughout the state of São Paulo. For their petecas, they use corn leaves for both the inside and the outside.

The peteca are also filled with corn leaves. They hold the round base together and they are used to attach springs in a tight loop. Nicolau is a very popular Guarani teacher. He plays manga with the children in his community. You have another Peteca model called "yó". It is not made from dried corn leaves. You take a cob of corn that is cut in half in the middle. Two identical chicken feathers are carefully attached to the corn cob. They let the toy spin like the rotor blades of a helicopter. The challenge is to see who throws his yó furthest.

These are some examples of the different ways that indigenous groups make petecas. They show that the Peteca is just as widespread among indigenous people as it is among non-Indians.

Thanks to Projeto Bira for using excerpts from the book "Giramundo e outros brinquedos e brincadeiras dos meninos do Brasil" (Giramundo and other children’s toys and gadgets in Brazil).

Children and adults all over the world know how to lay thread patterns with their hands. With their hands, they create images from everyday life: a broom, a star, a hammock, a house, a chicken foot, a fish, a diamond, a balloon, a bat … You also know surprising magic tricks, such as cutting off the neck or two threads that are tied together with the mouth, pass someone’s hand through a cord, untie knots with a single pull, conjure with the feet and much more.

Over 600 Wapishana-Indians with little more than 100 families live in the village of Canauanim in the Brazilian state of Roraima. Among them is Dona Júlia, the mother of “tuxaua”, the head of the village.

Dona Júlia knows many stories. She teaches the young people in the village how to spin cotton with a turtle shell tool. When she spins a number of good white cotton balls, she weaves hammocks out of it. And she likes to make figures and magic tricks with the wool scraps. Her relatives and grandchildren watch her tie a knot at the end of a thread and start performing magic tricks.

In this way, from hand to hand and often from grandparents to grandchildren, thread figures and thread games are passed on between cultures, spread among different peoples and develop surprising new patterns!

One of Dona Julia’s favorite games is the magic trick “Matar Carapanã”. That means something like "kill the mosquito".

They also know this trick Kalapalo, who live in the Parque Indígena Xingu in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso. They call him “Ketinho Mitselü”. The Kalapalo use a long piece of thread that is twisted from the dried leaves of the Buriti palm. This is braided together and knotted at the end. They quickly weave the thread with their fingers and create various patterns. They make animals, characters from indigenous sagas, and playful pictures of things from everyday life.

Adult men and women know how to make all kinds of intricate thread patterns. Children make simpler patterns. But everyone can lay the patterns at incredible speed. The children tie thread figures and pass them on to a friend. The friend changes the pattern and changes it back again. Thread patterns are fun and at the same time promote creativity, memory and attention to details.

Watch the film!

Thanks to SESC São Paulo for using excerpts from"Jogos e Brincadeiras do Povo Kalapalo"

Thanks to Projeto Bira for using excerpts from the book "Giramundo e outros brinquedos e brincadeiras dos meninos do Brasil" (Giramundo and other children’s toys and gadgets in Brazil).

  • Renata Meirelles

Giramundo e outros brinquedos e brincadeiras dos meninos do Brasil (2007).

Jogos e brincadeiras do povo Kalapalo (2006).


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Christina Cherry
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