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Ecuadorian Amazon: Cultures and traditions

The Amazon region of Ecuador is one of the regions with the greatest ethnographic and cultural diversity. Find here some of its traditions, and culture. Amazon Cultures

The Amazon region of Ecuador is one of the regions with the greatest ethnographic and cultural diversity. Here is where the famous Yasuní National Park is located and where presumably the uncontacted communities of the world, Tagaeri and Taromenani, live.

In this region Shuar, Quichua, Huaorani, Achuar, Shuar, Cofan, Siona-Secoya, Shiwiar, Zápara, and Andoas indigenous nationalities are settled.

Some of the traditions, culture, and legends, that the people of his region have kept are:

  1. Drinking Wuayusa, (Ilex guayusa) which is the name of an aromatic and medicinal plant, native of the Ecuadorian Amazon. The leaves have caffeine and it is considered medicinal because it is a nervous and muscular stimulant. Also, it is believed that it helps in reducing the glucose.
  2. The Shaman in the amazon culture has a very different role in their community. He is the older and wiser member who is not only the spiritual leader but considered a mediator with the supernatural world, is the most respected person. He is in charge of performing spiritual rituals and guiding his people.
  3. Making “chicha” of Yucca (Cassava), because tradition says that the men cannot go out into the forest or start their daily tasks without drinking it. It is known to be their main drink, therefore it is the first thing they will offer to visitors who arrive the communities. The custom states that you should drink slowly with short sips. If you drink it quickly, this will mean that you want more and they will give you more.

A legend of the Shuar is the Legend of Etsa (his name meaning Sun, the brave Sun, the generous Sun of his ancestors).   It tells the story about a terrible demon, Iwia, who has always had the habit of catching the Shuar, and putting them in his shigra (a bag that is knitted from vegetable fibers) and then eating them. That was how, once, he caught and then ate Etsa‘s parents. Then he kidnapped the powerful child to have him by his side and, for a long time, made him believe that he was his father.

When Etsa grew up, he would hunt for Iwia, who always ordered birds for dessert. The boy always returned with a gigantic shigra full of birds of all species. One morning, as soon as his hunt began, he discovered that the forest was silent. There were no colorful birds anywhere. Only the dove Yápankam, remained on the branches. Etsa and the dove looked at each other for a long time.

«Are you going to kill me too?» asked Yápankam. «No,» said Etsa. «Looks like I’ve left the jungle without birds» and felt all the strength of his body gone. Yápankam flew to where Etsa was, and shortly after, in the midst of that bustling silence, they became friends. Yápankam took the opportunity to tell the boy the way Iwia had killed his true parents. Then nothing and no one could comfort Etsa: he cried with a mixture of rage and sadness. When Yápankam realized that Etsa was beginning to calm down, she said: «Boy, there is nothing you can do to give your parents back their lives, but still, you can return it to the birds. «How?» Etsa said.

The pigeon explained: «Insert the feathers of the birds you have killed into the blowpipe, and blow”.  He did it and immediately began to leave thousands of birds of all the colors that raised the flight and with their joy populated the jungle again. Since then, the Arútam (the great spirit) say that –Etsa, the beloved Sun, and the demon Iwia are mortal enemies.

Start living in Ecuador and enjoy exploring these cultures!

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