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Guarani people performing a dance in the 1800s

Guarani people performing a dance in the 1800s

The Tupi move south

When the first Tupi people expanded their territory from Central America to reach the coast of Brazil about 900 BC, some of them kept on moving south along the Atlantic coast.

Early history of Brazil
South American history
All our South America articles

From Tupi to Guarani

About a thousand years later, maybe about 1 AD, some of those Tupi people moved inland. They abandoned their traditional fish-based diet, conquered the local people, and became the Guarani. As the two groups became more separate, the Tupi language became two languages, and the two groups couldn’t understand each other easily anymore.

Farming yuca root

Guarani pottery from Paraguay

Guarani pottery from Paraguay. The marks on the outside are decoration, but they also make the pot less slippery so you don’t drop it.

These people brought farming with them to what is now Paraguay. They farmed yuca root and corn and peanuts. Farmers used irrigation along sandy beaches in the big Parana river basin. They sweetened their food with wild honey, and hunted for meat.

Where is honey from?
What is yuca root?
Who domesticated peanuts?

Did they use pottery?

Like their neighbors in Brazil, they made and used pottery, but not to pickle fish. Like the Assyrians and Mycenaeans and many other people all over the world, they especially liked to capture women in raids. Then they could enslave the woman and make them make pottery.

History of pottery
And the history of slavery

Guarani longhouses

About 1000 AD, Guarani people seem to have fought their way further up the Parana river valley, conquering their neighbors and seizing more land.

The Inca Empire
Who were the Mapuche?

After the Inca empire formed in the 1400s AD, there were wars between the Guarani and the Inca (and the Mapuche) over the border land between them. Some of the Guarani settled down on land they had conquered from the Inca. Others brought plunder and prisoners back home with them to Paraguay.

Go on to the history of Paraguay

Bibliography and further reading about the Guarani:

Initial Period
South America after 1500 AD home