Home >> Encyclopedia-britannica-volume-01-a-anno >> Abhidhamma to Acanthocephala >> Abipones



ABIPONES, a tribe of South American Indians belonging to the Guaycuruan (q.v.) linguistic stock. The Abipones were a war like, nomad hunting people, living in the Argentine Chaco, between the Vermejo and Salado rivers. Although once numerous, they are now believed to be quite extinct. Both men and women wore mantles of coarse textiles, belted at the waist ; the women were abundantly tattooed, the men but slightly. The latter wore long, pendant labrets. Their dwellings were tents of mats. Spears, bows, clubs, slings and bolas were their weapons. They had no shield, but used a poncho of heavy hide for protection. They made no use of canoes, having only "bull-boats" of hide stretched over a bowl-shaped frame, for crossing broad streams. Pottery was made. The people were divided into local social units, over which a semi-hereditary chief presided, although he had little power. The bodies of the dead were buried, unless death occurred far from home, when the flesh was stripped from the bones, and these placed in a leather sack. This was carried with the roving group, until they reached their home, where it was buried. The property and tent of the deceased were burned. Little is known of their religious beliefs and ceremonial. They possessed, how ever, some sort of secret societies, membership in which was at tained by valour, and which celebrated ceremonials of importance.

The Abipones became widely known from the account of them written by the missionary Dobrizhoffer, at the end of the 18th century, after they had become horse Indians.

See M. Dobrizhoffer, An Account of the Abipones, etc. (1822).

dobrizhoffer and people