The Machiguenga (also Matsigenka, Matsigenga[A 1]) are an indigenous people of the Amazon Basin jungle regions of southeastern Peru, east of Machu Picchu and close to the borders of Bolivia and Brazil. Theirs is a hunter-gatherer culture for the most part, though 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 average tribal woman marries around age 16, and women have an average of eight to ten pregnancies. As with many indigenous tribes, the mortality rate for infants is high. During meals, men always 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 infectious diseases brought in from the outside world. Literacy rates range from 30% to 60%. The tribespeople wear a homemade tunic, called a cushmas, with a V neck for men, and straight neck for women. Their huts are fashioned from palm tree poles as a frame, with palm leaves thatched for the roof. Each extended family group is governed by a self-appointed "headman". The Machiguenga are classified as animists in religion and believe in a variety of evil spirits.
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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