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The Lost Tribes of Tierra del Fuego

Selk’nam, Yamana, Kawésqar

Martin Gusinde

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A dazzling photographic monument to the peoples of Tierra del Fuego and their now-vanished world


In 1919 Martin Gusinde was sent as a missionary to Tierra del Fuego by his German congregation. While his mission was to convert the native people among whom he lived, the opposite took place: Gusinde became one of the first Westerners ever to be initiated into various sacred rites of the inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego.

During the course of four trips made between 1919 and 1924, from the canals of Western Patagonia to the great island of Tierra del Fuego, Gusinde learned and wrote about the Kawesqar, Yamana and Selk'nam peoples. He also took more than one thousand photographs, all produced using a portable darkroom. He captured some truly extraordinary images: feather-clad bodies sporting high head-dresses made of bark, wrapped up in guanaco furs, or entirely covered with ritual paint, populating a landscape battered by wind, rain and snow, at the heart of a natural world that Darwin had noted for its wildness.

Martin Gusinde's photographs are a monument to the memory of Tierra del Fuego's people as well as an exceptional anthropological document.

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'A mind-blowing collection of photographs'
National Geographic Traveller

Outdoor Photography

'Gusinde's photography depicts a forgotten chapter of European colonialism, and one of exceptional cruelty'

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback with tipped on duotone plate to front board (no jacket)

Size: 31.0 x 24.5 cm

Extent: 300 pp

Publication date: 30 March 2015

ISBN: 9780500544464

About the Author

Martín Gusinde (1886 - 1969) was a German priest and ethnologist famous for his work in anthropology, particularly on the native groups of Tierra del Fuego. He was one of the most notable anthropologists in Chile in the first half of the 20th century.

Christine Barthe is Director of the Heritage Unit of the photographic collections of the Musée du Quai Branly.

List of Contributors

Christine Barthe, Xavier Barral, Marisol Palma Behnke, Anne Chapman, Dominique Legoupil