The approximately 3,200 Matsés people speak the Matsés language which belongs to the Panoan language family. In the last thirty years, they have become a largely settled people living mostly in permanent forest settlements. However, they still rely on hunting and gathering for most of their subsistence. Their main source of income comes from selling peccary hides and meat.
The word Matsés comes from the word for "people" in the Matsés language. They are also known as the Mayoruna. The name Mayoruna comes from the Quechua (Runa Simi) language and means "river people." In Brazil the Matsés people are generally referred to as Mayorunas, while in Peru they are usually called Matsés.
The Matsés have an elaborate knowledge of the plant and animal life of the surrounding rainforest. Little is imported into the Matsés communities and most of what they need for survival comes from the rainforest. Traditionally, they hunted with bows and arrows.
Their cuisine includes the sweet plaintain beverage chapo.
In the animist Matsés worldview, there is no distinction between the physical and spiritual worlds and spirits are present throughout the world. The Matsés believe that animal spirits determine health and success in hunting. They are careful not to offend animal spirits and have many taboos for hunting different animal species.