The Iny people’s Big House festival

Btõiry village by the great Berohokỹ (Araguaia river). (2010-03-20) by Chang WhanMuseu do Índio

The Karajá

The Karajá are indigenous native peoples of Central Brazil, immemorial inhabitants of the Bananal island in the Araguaia river which runs as the borders of the states of Tocantins, Pará, Mato Grosso and Goiás.

Ijadokomã - young maidem girls (2010-03-19) by Chang WhanMuseu do Índio

Karajá girl (2011) by Chang Whan MaiaMuseu do Índio


Speakers of a language of the Macro Je stock, the Iny, as they call themselves, have admirably managed to preserve their language and culture throughout the generations in more than two centuries of interaction with the hegemonic Brazilian culture.

Black Ijareheni Ijasò (arowana fish spirit) . (2011-03-11) by Chang WhanMuseu do Índio

Such cultural vitality is mainly due to the Iny's belief in keeping a good cosmic order among the three realms of existence - the earthly, the heavenly, and the underwater - through the enactment of traditional cyclical rites.

Worsỹ wenona - beautiful Iny ghosts by the Big House at Btõiry village. (2011-03-12) by Mariana MaiaMuseu do Índio


The Hetohokỹ is the Great House festival that marks and celebrates the coming of age of the jyrè, the river otter boys, and their entry in the adult men's social circle. It is one of the main ritual celebrations of the Karajá tradition.

Jyrè in the Big House reclusion. (2010-03-22) by Chang WhanMuseu do Índio

The jyrè, the river otter boy

Myixà weaves straw mat. (2009-07-17) by Chang WhanMuseu do Índio

Proud mothers and aunts make new mats and beautiful adornments for the jyrè to wear on the special occasion. Fathers and uncles make them new korixy, the ceremonial stools. They also farm the land and fish to provide food for the guests who will be coming to the event.

Jyrè's ceremonial stool and mat. (2010-03-10) by Chang WhanMuseu do Índio

Korixy, ceremonial stool, and bykirè, the jyre's straw mat.

Mahuederu makes feather ear adornment. by Chang WhanMuseu do Índio

Grandmother crafting ear adornment Kuè.

Kuè - ear adornment. by Chang WhanMuseu do Índio

Kuè, made with capibara's tooth and macaw feathers.

Ijadòkoma - paired maiden girls at ritual dance with Ijasò (arowona fish spirit). (2010-02-27) by Chang WhanMuseu do Índio

During the months of preparation, the village is periodically visited by the ijasò, the spirits of the arowana fish who like to sing and dance with the Ijadokomã girls.

Dança de Aruanã (2010-03-19) by Chang WhanMuseu do Índio

Black Ijareheni Ijasò (arowana fish spirit) . (2011-03-11) by Chang WhanMuseu do Índio

The ijasò are loved and revered by the Iny. Keeping them happy and pleased is a way to ensure good order and balance between worlds.

Credits: Story

Museu do Índio - MI
Fundação Nacional dos Povos Indígenas - FUNAI
Ministério dos Povos Indígenas - MPI

Indigenous Languages and Cultures Documentation Project -  914BRZ4019 / UNESCO
Karajá / Iny Culture Documentation Subproject

Research, curation, photography, videos and texts
Chang Whan
Virtual exhibition assembly
Coordenação de Patrimônio Cultural - COPAC/Museu do Índio
Serviço de Gabinete - SEGAB/Museu do Índio

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