Selk'nam People, Tierra del Fuego
Selk'nam People, Tierra del Fuego
Roberto Mortágua

'The subjects of these striking images are the Selk’nam people, who lived in Tierra del Fuego for some 6,000 years, until their forced disintegration in relatively recent times. For the Selk’nam, hunting provided their main source of sustenance, clothing and shelter. This was an exclusively male occupation, as was tool-making, another essential task. This male dominance in the Selk’nam was expressed through an elaborate initiation ceremony known as the Hain. This ceremony, last recorded in 1923, was the most important event in the Selk’nam culture Apart from confirming the patriarchal nature of their society, and initiating young boys into full manhood, the ceremony also served as an occasion for periodic gatherings of the clan who otherwise might have little contact with each other.'

Article by Philip McCouat, Art and Survival in Patagonia (