Martes a Sabado y Feriados de 09:00 a 14:00 hs y de 17:00 a 22:00 hs –  Domingos de 17:00 a 22:00hs            

  • Español

    Approximately between 1.543 and 1.767 A.D.

    The cultural history of Santiago del Estero is very rich in events and manifestations that are transformed into archaeological relics.

    The Hispano-Indigenous period includes the period after the discovery of Santiago del Estero, when the aborigines had not yet been conquered and preserved their own cultures.

    There are two areas where the conquest radiated more intensely: the first one was the one that took as its centre the seat of the city of Santiago del Estero on the banks of the Dulce River and extended towards the current Río Hondo Department, Colonisation began in this area (1550) and they came into contact with indigenous settlements such as Tipiro, Manogasta, Soconcho, etc.

    The second zone is geographically located in the central sector of the Salado River, focusing on the old indigenous settlement of Matará and along both banks of the river to the north and south. This sector was densely populated by native groups, settled in villages.

    It is in the area of Matará and the surrounding area where remains of material culture were found, especially pottery from two traditions: one clearly indigenous, corresponding to “Averías”, and the other “Hispano-Indigenous”, the result of contact between the indigenous cultural tradition and the European-Spanish cultural tradition.

    The fusion of the two, their fusion, albeit along different lines, gave as a cultural product a pottery that had indigenous raw materials and workmanship and Spanish direction for the form and design.

    The classic forms were bottles, candlesticks, candlesticks, candlesticks, plates, jugs, casseroles and pot lids.

    Their decorative motifs belong to the aforementioned artistic period; in addition, Persian art can be seen in the painted style that appears on some of the pieces and fragments that have been found.

    This extraordinary phenomenon of cultural diffusion, made possible by the dynamics of transculturation, can be explained by indirect transmission. Expressions of Persian culture were taken over by the Arabs who introduced them into Spain. The Spanish conquistadors, in turn, carried these cultural expressions to the Americas, where they were then transferred to the indigenous milieu.

    With respect to the indigenous people of that time, it is worth noting that, according to ethno-historical testimonies, two groups coexisted; one were the bearers of the Averías culture already described, whom scholars called Tonocotés, after their language. The other were the indigenous groups that were penetrating the territory: Lules, who, from Jujuy to Santiago del Estero, invaded and destroyed the pre-existing sedentary tribes, settling later.

    It was to them, the Lules, that transculturation in terms of customs and languages was due, as in the case of the Tonocotés of Santiago del Estero. Scholars point out that the Lules probably formed a large linguistic unit with the Vilelas. They were very often confused with the Tonocotés, with whom they mixed after invading them. 

    The Lules and Vilelas

    Origin and Location

    Before the arrival of the Spaniards, groups of Chacoan Huarpid peoples began to move westwards and southwards, pushing and subduing the tribes settled there. The people found the community called Lule, south of Salta, north of Tucumán and northwest of Santiago del Estero. The Vilelas only appeared in the Spanish chronicles after the expedition to the Chaco by Governor Angel de Peredo in the mid 17th century. They probably belonged to the same family as the Lules who did not migrate to the southwest.

    Physical appearance:

    The Lules-Vilelas were tall and slender. The men walked naked or wore a kind of skirt made of ostrich feathers and the women covered themselves with a kind of apron woven with thick chaguar fibre.

    They wore their hair long and only cut it in case of mourning or illness. They pierced their ears and hung different coloured threads from them. At celebrations, men painted their bodies with tiger-like spots and women coloured their faces red and black.

    The language:

    The language of Los Lules and Vilelas (studied by Father Antonio Machoni), were similar, with simple phonetics and generally acute accentuation.

    In most cases the adjective was placed after the noun and had no grammatical number, although the suffix “il” was often used as plural. The numbering system was double-rooted. On the one hand, quaternary, i.e. only four independent numerals; five was expressed with the fingers of the hand, ten with the fingers of both hands and twenty with the fingers and toes. From then on, the system was vigesimal.

    The Sanavirons

    Origin and location:

    The Sanavirones were located south of the Tonoctés, in the lower area of the Dulce River up to the Mar Chiquita lagoon. To the north they reached the Salado River, in the region of the current Aguirre Department, to the west up to the Sumampa Mountains and to the south up to the Primero River, in Cordoba. Their origin was possibly Chacoan huarpido, mixed with Brazilian groups.


    Their language was little studied. However, some original place names remain in the language, such as Sumampa (“mampa” in the Sanavirona language means “running water” and “su” is an abbreviation of the Quichua word “súmaj”, which means “beautiful”), Cantamampa, etc.

    The meaning of other words such as sacat: “village” and chavara: “cacique” is also known.

    The Guaycurúes

    The name Guaycurúes is given to an extensive linguistic family made up of a series of peoples that inhabited the immensity of the Chaco with penetration in the northwest of Santiago de Compostela.

    Physical appearance:

    In early Hispanic times the Guaycurúes were known as the frentones, given the custom they had of shaving the front of their heads, thus giving the false impression of having a larger forehead. The Guaycurúes were tall and strongly built, with rather small, black eyes, straight hair and a long, aquiline nose.

    The Abipones:

    In the area of the Guaycurúes and the Sanavirones, there were also the Abipones, originally from the coast of the Bermejo River. In the territory of the Chaco, the first reduction of the Abipones was founded in the XVII century, which later in the following century was moved to the banks of the Dulce River, near the present city of Sumampa, with the name of Purísima Concepción de la Nueva Reducción de los Abipones. They were tall and well-built. Their name comes from “avapone”, which means “stinking man”, a nickname given by the Chiriguanos, the people who subdued the Matacos (Chaco Indians). The allies of the Abipones were the Mocovíes who originally lived in the borders of Tucumán, but when they adopted the horse they attacked the cities permanently. Santiago del Estero suffered from their rampaging raids. The Indian villages that the Spaniards encountered in their first incursions into Santiago del Estero territory were: Conso, Maquijata, Collagasta, Tuama, Manogasta, Soconcho and Salavina. However, there were many more groups and the Spaniards discovered them over the years.

    The Cacanos or Diaguitas

    The historical area of the Diaguitas was geographically framed by the southwest of Salta, Catamarca, west of Tucumán, La Rioja, north of San Juan and in Santiago del Estero, the Sierras de Guasayán. This homogeneous area was made up of geographic systems that were independent of each other, which made possible the settlement of numerous communities that occupied ravines and oases.

    The Diaguitas culture (by nature) was the most developed and complex in Argentina. It had a high level of socio-economic organisation, an aspect that led to an intense dynamic in this sedentary, agricultural and gathering people who also hunted. A positive attitude allowed them to establish relations and contacts with other peoples; trade or barter became very important. The common element was their language, caca or cacán; their beliefs led them to worship the sun, thunder and lightning.


    The pieces on display are part of the Gancedo collection and, by their nature, are constituent elements of the culture of the indigenous groups of Chaco: Vilelas, Abipones, Matacos, Tobas, Mocovíes, who penetrated the territory of Santiago in the XVII and XVIII centuries, passing through and settling along the banks of the Salado River and also in a sector of the Dulce.

    They adopted from the Spaniards the horse and the iron in their weapons, which they used to prey on the populations and ranches of the Campaign.

    Most of the pieces are of a utilitarian nature, weapons and ready-made clothing.

    Their documentary value is outstanding for what they contribute to the knowledge of the historical natives of the Chaco-Santiagueña region.


    Originally, the part of the territory where the city of Santiago del Estero was founded, was known as the region of “Los Juríes”. Later, and by extension, this was also the name given to the indigenous people living in the region.

    When the Spanish conquistadors arrived to these lands, they found them densely populated by aboriginal groups of different origins, lifestyles and languages. However, they confused them with each other and referred to them generically as “Juríes”.

    The term “Juríes” was always used in a geographical rather than ethnic sense, applying indiscriminately to all the indigenous people that the first settlers found in the plains region, where the first foundations were made.

    This name comes from xuri, a Quichua word meaning rhea, a name given to the natives who wore a kind of ostrich-feather loincloth and moved in true “flocks”.

    . Around 1575, the term “Juríes” began to fall into disuse and soon only the corresponding ethnonyms were used in its place.

    Regarding the number of aborigines that inhabited the soil of Santiago, it was considered that in 1583 there were around 12,000 aborigines and 270,000 natives for the entire region of Tucumán.

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