Tupi-Gcaranis, a widely extended family of Indians in South America, embracing the Guaranis proper in Paraguay, among whom the Jesuits established their famous missions described by Muratori and Charlevoix; the eastern Guaranis or Tupis in Brazil, consisting of a vast number of tribes chiefly on the coast; the northern Guaranis, near the Orinoco; the central Guaranis or Chiriguanes, in the northern part of the Gran Chaco; and the Omaguas or western Guaranis, in the district of Quito. These last were numerous, warlike, and powerful, and were regarded by other tribes as a peculiarly noble race. They refused to receive missionaries, and at one time carried on a fierce war against the viceroy of Peru. The Tupis and Guaranis proper were mild and unwarlike, falling a prey to the cannibal Aymbores and to the Portuguese, who invaded their towns to reduce them to slavery. The Guaranis had not the conception of a Great Spirit common to the tribes in the northern part of the continent. They were never civilized except by the Jesuit system of reductions, in which they were kept in a kind of tutelage, or by their enrolment in the Brazilian army. In some respects they differed from other American tribes and resembled natives of the Pacific islands.
The Mandrucús, a Guaraní tribe who fled northward from the Portuguese, build houses like the Dyaks, and like them dry and preserve the heads of their enemies; the blowpipe of the Amazon and of Borneo are the same; the Purupurús of the Amazon have the throwing stick of the Australians; while bamboo baskets and boxes from the Amazon can scarcely be distinguished from those of Borneo and Papua. During the flourishing period of the Paraguay missions in 1732, the Christian Guaranís numbered 144,000, but in 1742 they had lost 50,000 by European diseases. The Portuguese in 1750 claimed and obtained seven missions, which were at once abandoned by the Indians. The suppression of the Jesuits was a deathblow to the missions, and the Indians soon dwindled away. The Portuguese had from the first enslaved them, exterminating whole villages and compelling others to emigrate. The most remarkable exodus was that of the Tupinambas and Tamoyas, who under Jappy Assu emigrated from their southern homes and settled 3,000 m. off on the Amazon, where they are known as the Mandrucus. In all Brazil there are only 19,000 Indians reported at the present time.
The Chiriguanes and Omaguas hold their own better, but have gradually disappeared from Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. - The original seat of the Guaranís is in doubt; some think, from the higher character of the Omaguas and Chiriguanes, that they were the original stock, but their language is evidently but a dialect, less perfect in its structure and vocabulary than that of the Guaranis on the southeast. The beauty of this language is extolled by many investigators of American linguistics. The standard grammar and vocabulary of the Guarani are the Tesoro de la lengua Guarani, by Padre Antonio Ruiz de Montoya (Madrid, 1639), and Arte y vocabulario, by the same (1640). The lingoa geral of Brazil is based on the Tupi, a Guarani dialect. As to it see Diccionario da lingoa Tupy, chamada lingoa geral, by Dias (Leipsic, 1858), and Chrestomathia Lingum Brazilicaz, by Dr. Franco (Leipsic, 1859).