Growing Up Sexually


MATACO (Gran Chaco, Argentina)


IndexAmericasSouth AmericaArgentinaMataco (Northern and Central Gran Chaco, Bolivia to Argentina)

Also featured: Pilagá, Araucanians, Ona, Teheulche






Fock (1963)[1]:


“The Mataco regard the initiation of girls as an introduction to marriage. This initiation consists in the girl's seclusion—or better—segregation from everyone apart from her mother. It comes as a prolongation of her first menstruation, and the long isolation is spent in continual work making caraguatá cord. It is considered very important that this work should be performed rapidly and well in order that an impression can be formed of the girl's ability as regards her main occupation in the future. As a rule the end of seclusion is marked by an aloja festival during which the girl looks around for a man. That same night she is able to take him with her to her home and allow him to sleep with her”.


Karsten (1932)[2]: “As soon as a girl has passed her first menstruation she is considered free to choose for herself occasional lovers, and generally she does not delay in making use of this right”. Equally: “Among the Tobas, as among most Chaco tribes, pre-nuptial chastity is almost unknown, great sexual liberty being allowed both boys and girls before marriage. As soon as a girl is marriageable, that is, has passed her first menstruation, she may choose casual lovers, and generally she does not fail to make use of her freedom”.


Métraux (1939)[3]: “It is the moon who sleeps first with the girls and that is why they menstruate. She [girls] may not marry or have sexual intercourse until after her first menstruation”.










Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. VolumeI. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology

Last revised: Sept 2004


[1] Fock, N. (1963) Mataco marriage, Folk 5:91-101

[2] Karsten, R. (1932) Indian Tribes of the Argentine and Bolivian Chaco: Ethnological Studies. Helsingfors: Akademische Buchhandlung

[3] Métraux, A. (1939) Myths and Tales of the Matako Indians (the Gran Chaco, Argentina). Gothenburg, Sweden: Walter Kaudern