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Brazilian Tribe Where The Concept Of Numbers And History Don’t Exist

The Pirahã are an indigenous people of the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil. They are the sole surviving subgroup of the Mura people and are predominantly hunter-gatherers.
They live mainly on the banks of the Maici River in Humaitá and Manicoré in the state of Amazonas. As of 2018, their population totaled 800 people.


Pirahã culture is concerned solely with matters that fall within direct personal experience, and thus there is no history beyond living memory. The Pirahã have a simple kinship system that includes baíxi (parent, grandparent, or elder), xahaigí (sibling, male or female), hoagí or hoísai (son), kai (daughter), and piihí (stepchild, favorite child, child with at least one deceased parent, and more).

The Pirahãs appear to have no need for numbers as they entirely don’t get the concept of numbers. They also don’t use words like “all,” “every,” and “more” because they do not exist in their language. Psycholinguist Peter Gordon tries to explain their inability to comprehend numbers stating that “a people without terms for numbers doesn’t develop the ability to determine exact numbers.”

One of the strongest Pirahã values is “no coercion” as you simply don’t tell other people what to do. Their social system can thus be labeled as primitive communism as there appears to be no social hierarchy and the Pirahã have no formal leaders.

The Pirahã are quite a unique group of people as not only do they not have provision for numbers in their terminology or have any solid documentation of history but they also don’t have unique words for colour in their language nor do they have any popular myth or belief regarding creation. They simply believe in living in the present and focusing on “the now”.

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