The Machiguenga (also Matsigenka, Matsigenga[A 1]) are an indigenous people who live in the Amazon Basin jungle regions of southeastern Peru, east of Machu Picchu and close to the borders of Bolivia and Brazil. Their population is about 7700. Theirs is a hunter-gatherer culture for the most part, although they also practice slash and burn agriculture. The main crop grown is cassava, and their main source of protein is the paca, a large 6–12 kg (13–26 lb) rodent. During the dry season, the Machiguenga also use fishing to supplement the protein in their diet.
The Machiguenga are classified as animists in religion. Their traditional nomadic lifestyle, that they are a "walking" people, is integral to and justified by their cosmogony.
The average tribal woman marries around age 16, and often kin marry each other. Women have an average of eight to ten pregnancies. As with many indigenous tribes, the mortality rate for infants is high.
It is a patriarchal and sometimes polygamous society; men may have multiple wives. During meals, men are always served and eat first, while the women and children divide what remains. While quite accomplished in using plants and herbs as medicine, the Machiguenga are susceptible to new infectious diseases brought in from the outside world. The tribespeople wear a handwoven and homemade cotton tunic made by women, called a cushmas, designed with a V neck for men, and straight neck for women. They fashion huts using palm tree poles as a frame, with palm leaves thatched for the roof. Literacy rates for settled groups range from 30% to 60%. Each extended family group is governed by a self-appointed "headman".
The Machiguenga language belongs to the Campa group of Machi puceran Maipurean (Arawakan) language family, which is spoken by approximately 12,000 people in Peru. There are two dialects of Machiguenga: Machiguenga proper and Nomatsiguenga. Caquinte is also spoken, but is considered a distinctly different language.
- The incorrect spelling form "Machigenga" was created as a neologism by the BBC show Living with the Machigenga aired in 2009 and 2010 which is strongly criticized in Anthropology News, May 2011, see also TV series about Amazonian tribe accused of faking scenes.
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