Amahuaca

Amahuaca or Aminwaka : it has been translated as ‘children of the capybara’, an animal that is said to be able to “sing” in the original language of this town. An indigenous people whose language belongs to the Pano linguistic family, the Amahuaca recognize an inclusive category of people with whom they identify and whom they call yora.

Summary

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  • 1 History
  • 2 Location
  • 3 Social Organization
  • 4 Language
    • 1 Population
  • 5 Beliefs
  • 6 Customs
    • 1 Economy
    • 2 Clothing
  • 7 Education
  • 8 Sources

History

The Amahuaca say that their ancestors lived near a large lake . Some researchers have suggested that this great lake would be the Imiría, currently in the department of Ucayali , where archaeologists have found vestiges of the largest pre-Hispanic human concentration located in the central basin of the Ucayali. From this discovery it is estimated that this society would have been present in this area from 800 AD until the 14th century .
The Amahuaca were contacted for the first time in 1686 when the Franciscan missionaries found twelve huts in the area of the Conguari River.. They were the object of raids by the Piro, Shipibo and Conibo, who had them as domestic slaves. At the end of the 19th century , with the rubber “boom”, the Amahuaca saw the attacks against them intensify due to the demand for native labor by the rubber bosses.

By 1925 , the Amahuaca still rejected contact with the whites and the indicated indigenous groups. They only maintained peaceful relations with the Aashinahua and the Campa Ashaninka. Around 1962 , some families of this group decided to leave the headwaters of the tributaries with the Curiuja and settle on the banks of the Urubamba River .

Thus, 100 amahuaca joined the Sepahua mission and others were located in Jatitza near Atalaya, a regional exchange center. An important part of this group remains on the land to this day.

Location

The amahuaca live widely scattered in the departments of Ucayali and Madre de Dios on the Inuya, Sepahua, Purús, Curiuja, Curanja, Yuruá, Alto Ucayali and Piedras rivers. In Brazil, the majority have no contact with the majority society.

Social organization

Historically the Amahuaca distinguished various named regional and local subgroups: Inohuo (jaguar people), Ronohuo (anaconda people), Shauho (red macaw people), Isahuo (songbird people), etc. It was Inohuo who lived in the headwaters of the Purús. Today only a few remain and their members no longer form separate settlements but co-reside. Membership in these groups is inherited through the paternal line. Preferential marriage is with a bilateral cross-cousin and residence is virilocal, that is, a woman will live with or near her husband’s family. The Amahuaca de Laureano no longer used to have several wives, usually sisters among themselves, as they did until one or two generations ago. Today many of the social norms that regulated marriages, and ritual life, they cannot be observed by the members of this town because of the demographic decrease and the dispersion of the surviving population. The great festivities associated with the corn harvest that were described in the past are no longer practiced. Nor did they reside in large multi-family houses with roofs “from” the ground, which generally held 15 to 20 people. Although the head of the community is elected in a communal assembly, his election is still framed within the traditional scheme of hereditary leadership. Nor did they reside in large multi-family houses with roofs “from” the ground, which generally held 15 to 20 people. Although the head of the community is elected in a communal assembly, his election is still framed within the traditional scheme of hereditary leadership. Nor did they reside in large multi-family houses with roofs “from” the ground, which generally held 15 to 20 people. Although the head of the community is elected in a communal assembly, his election is still framed within the traditional scheme of hereditary leadership.

Language

Amahuaca, Linguistic Family: pano

Population

Approximately 250 inhabitants in Peru and 250 in Brazil in the state of Acre on the banks of the Yurúa rivers: They are known as amawaka.

Beliefs

The Amahuaca had an ancestral belief that the cosmos is formed by three spaces: water , earth and a sky supported by tree roots that prevent it from falling into the water. According to their myths, the ancestors of the Amahuaca lived in heaven, but because of a great cataclysm, the sky and all its inhabitants fell to earth, hiding the sun . Later, the toad (hïo) managed to lift the sky, allowing sunlight to reach the earth and it was possible to repopulate it.

Custom

The Amahuaca can be identified by the characteristic of their clothes and by the ornaments they wear on their bodies. Reports from the colonial era indicate that the Amahuaca wore a kind of pendant on their nose made of triangular pieces of shell . Also carried with “wooden hats” decorated with animal skins and four pens , necklaces toothed jaguar , bracelets of seeds and teeth monkey . These hats would be wide bamboo crowns that the Amahuaca would keep until today. Another ancient practice between men andAmahuaca women have painted a variety of red and black geometric patterns on their faces and bodies , using achiote and huito as natural dyes. The typical facial decoration consists of a wide black crescent painted with huito juice mixed with stick charcoal powder , which goes from ear to ear across the mouth .

Economy

Its economic activity focuses on slash-and-burn horticulture, hunting and fishing constitute the basis of subsistence although in recent years they have also been incorporated into the activity of logging, this is used for commercial purposes and is carried out in the collective under the sphere of an enabler or patron. The main crops in the orchards are cassava , corn , sweet potato , banana , beans , sachapapa , pineapple , rice , peanuts and cotton. Products such as peanuts, rice, and beans are occasionally traded.

Clothing

The women wore knee- length woven cotton tubular skirts . These skirts were colored with achiote and dyed dark brown by dipping them in a mahogany bark decoction , or black, by soaking them in water in which the clay has dissolved .

Education

According to the information provided by the 1993 census among the Amahuaca communities, people aged five years and over have an illiteracy rate of 54%, primary education constitutes the highest grade of school qualification for 50% of the same population . There are no people in this group who have accessed higher education. Only five teachers in 1993 were responsible for the Amahuaca school population, three of whom were indigenous. In the Amahuaca communities only primary instruction is given and all the schools are single-teacher – a single teacher teaches the students of the different years of study.

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