Comechingones, an ethnic group that, until the middle of the sixteenth century, occupied the mountainous region in what are now the central Argentine provinces of Córdoba and San Luis. The economy of the Comechingones was based on agriculture using irrigation. Their chief crops were corn, squash, beans, and chili peppers. The Algarrobo (genus Prosopis), whose fruit they collected, served as another important resource. They also tended auchenidos (llama, alpaca, vicuña, and guamoco). The two most common linguistic variants of the Comechingones were Camiare and Henia, although different dialects existed. They lived in settlements consisting of as many as forty pit-dwellings, the bottom half of which were constructed underground. As protection, the settlement was surrounded by an enclosure made of thorny plants. The group's rich pictorial legacy continues to intrigue scholars; a thousand Comechingón cave-paintings are scattered throughout present-day Argentina. Each settlement was home to a kinship group (probably similar to the Andean ayllu) and under the authority of a chief (curaca). There is almost no information available on the religious life of the Comechingones, except that during ceremonies they consumed cebil (genus Anadenanthera). Ceremonial dances took place inside branch enclosures that contained animal figures carved in wood. Documents testify that by the end of the sixteenth century the population, spread among some six hundred settlements, was perhaps 30,000. One hundred years later, due either to demographic shift, cultural homogenization, or interbreeding, Comechingón culture was thought to be nonexistent. However, in 1998 the first annual "Encuentro de Descendientes de Indígenas Comechingones" was held, demonstrating a renewal of ethnic pride that hints at a recovery and revitalization of Comechingón culture in the twenty-first century.
Michieli, Catalina Teresa. Los Comechingones según la crónica de Gerónimo de Bibar y su conformación con otras fuentes (1985).
Signorile, Analía, and Griselda Benso. Comechingones y los primeros españoles en Calamuchita. Córdoba, Argentina: Ediciones del Boulevard, 2005.
JosÉ Antonio PÉrez GollÁn