Puberty and Adolescence

Prior to contact, the Yuqui believed that a girl must engage in sexual intercourse if she were to yecuaquiu, or menstruate and come into adulthood. Thus, girls became sexually active at an early age, and the man or boy with whom she had sex at the time of her first menses was credited with causing this to happen. When a girl first menstruated, she was painted black with Genipa (Genipa americana), and if she had already paired with a young man, he would be painted as well. The Yuquibelieved that this would encourage the growth of pubic hair. Her forehead would also be newly plucked and she would be placed at some distance from the camp, "behind leaves." All menstruating and postpartum women were segregated from the group by requiring them to remain "behind leaves" for the duration of the menstrual period. This involved remaining behind a few palm fronds that had been broken off at the base and then planted in the ground to form a screen.

Other than playing a role in the sexual maturity achieved by women and possibly undergoing the Genipa painting ritual, young Yuqui men did not have a rite of passage into adulthood. As soon as they were sexually active and, more importantly, able to hunt as an adult and provide meat on a consistent basis, young men were considered marriageable. Even so, most males did not marry until they were in their late teens, somewhat later than girls who sought mates at 14 or 15 or perhaps even earlier if sexually mature.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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