The Chiquitano people, also known as the Monkox, are an indigenous group primarily residing in the Santa Cruz Department of eastern Bolivia. Though historically underrepresented in the broader narrative of Bolivia's indigenous peoples, the Chiquitano have a rich cultural history encompassing unique beliefs, mythology, and rituals. This article aims to provide an educational and precise overview of the Chiquitano's religious and mythological practices, focusing on deities, heroes, and mythological creatures.


The Chiquitano pantheon consists of several deities, each with distinct personalities and stories. While some deities are unique to the Chiquitano, others share similarities with deities from neighboring cultures.

  • Pabichu: Pabichu is the supreme creator god of the Chiquitano people. He is responsible for the creation of the world, humans, animals, and plants. Pabichu is often depicted as a wise and benevolent figure, intervening in human affairs to ensure harmony and balance.

  • Napi: Napi is the god of agriculture, particularly responsible for the cultivation of maize. He is revered for his knowledge of farming techniques and is often sought for guidance in ensuring a successful harvest.

  • Talachuki: Talachuki is the god of rain and water, responsible for providing life-sustaining moisture to the Chiquitano's arid homeland. He is depicted as a generous but unpredictable figure, with a dual nature that can either bless or curse the people with floods or droughts.

  • Chachapuma: Chachapuma is a guardian deity who protects the Chiquitano people from external threats. Often portrayed as a fierce jaguar, he represents the strength and resilience of the Chiquitano culture.

Mythological Heroes

In Chiquitano mythology, several heroes have achieved legendary status for their deeds and valor. These heroes, often depicted as possessing supernatural abilities, embody the virtues and values of the Chiquitano people.

  • Iriabo: Iriabo is a legendary figure who is said to have taught the Chiquitano people how to live in harmony with nature. His wisdom and knowledge of the natural world enabled the Chiquitano to thrive in their challenging environment.

  • Tuma: Tuma is a great warrior who is believed to have defended the Chiquitano people from invasion by hostile neighbors. His bravery and skill in battle continue to inspire the Chiquitano to this day.

  • Mochi: Mochi is a supernatural being believed to reside in the forest. This creature is characterized by its elusive nature and is considered a protector of the wilderness. The Chiquitano respect Mochi for its connection to the natural world and its role in maintaining the balance between humans and nature.

  • Jichuri: Jichuri is a small, mischievous creature known for playing tricks on humans. It is often described as a trickster figure that tests the Chiquitano people's patience and wisdom. Encounters with Jichuri are seen as opportunities for learning and personal growth.

  • Kunchi: Kunchi is a spirit that embodies the forces of nature, such as wind, thunder, and lightning. This powerful and awe-inspiring creature is both revered and feared by the Chiquitano for its capacity to both sustain and destroy life.

  • Yasi Yatere: Yasi Yatere is a magical being known for its ability to communicate with animals and plants. The Chiquitano believe that Yasi Yatere can teach them valuable lessons about the interconnectedness of all living things and the importance of maintaining a harmonious relationship with the natural world.

Mythological Creatures

The Chiquitano also have a rich tradition of mythological creatures, many of which are deeply rooted in the natural world.

  • Chuyum: Chuyum is a shape-shifting creature known for causing mischief and chaos. He often takes on the appearance of various animals, such as birds or reptiles, to deceive and manipulate others.

  • Sirimuk: Sirimuk is a giant serpent that is believed to reside in the depths of rivers and lakes. It is a feared creature due to its immense size and ferocious nature, yet it is also respected for its role in maintaining the balance of the aquatic ecosystem.

Unique Beliefs

One of the most distinctive beliefs of the Chiquitano people is their concept of "dualism," which manifests itself in various aspects of their culture. This dualism is characterized by a belief in the interconnectedness of opposites, such as life and death, good and evil, or light and darkness. This belief system emphasizes the importance of balance and harmony, with the Chiquitano seeking to maintain equilibrium between these opposing forces.

The Chiquititano people also possess a unique cosmological understanding of the universe, in which the world is divided into distinct layers or realms. These realms include:

  • The Upper World: This is the realm of the gods, celestial bodies, and ancestral spirits. It is a place of purity, light, and wisdom, where the Chiquitano deities reside and exert their influence over the world.

  • The Middle World: This realm represents the Earth, where humans, animals, and plants coexist. The Chiquitano believe that their actions in the Middle World have a direct impact on the balance of the entire cosmos.

  • The Lower World: The Lower World is the realm of darkness, chaos, and suffering. It is the abode of malevolent spirits and supernatural beings that may cause harm to the living.


Rituals play an integral role in Chiquitano culture, serving as a means of communication with deities, ancestral spirits, and the natural world. Some of the most significant rituals include:

  • Agricultural rituals: These rituals are conducted to ensure a successful harvest and to appease the gods of agriculture, such as Napi. They often involve offerings of maize, dances, and prayers.

  • Rainmaking rituals: To petition Talachuki for rain, the Chiquitano perform rituals that may include singing, dancing, and the use of sacred objects. These rituals are particularly important during times of drought.

  • Healing rituals: In times of illness, the Chiquitano may perform rituals to invoke the healing powers of their deities or ancestral spirits. These ceremonies typically involve the use of medicinal plants, chants, and symbolic gestures.

  • Initiation rituals: Initiation rites mark important life transitions, such as the passage from childhood to adulthood. These rituals often involve physical and spiritual tests, as well as instruction in the customs, values, and traditions of the Chiquitano culture.