The Shuar indigenous people of Ecuador were an eminently warlike people.
They were known as the feared Jíbaros, the wilds or ferals, and headhunters of the Amazon.
Formerly, after their wars, they performed a rite of reducing the head of his enemies.
This ritual is known as Tsantsa.
It was performed in order to preserve the enemy’s head as a trophy of war.
Today they claim the right to call themselves as Shuar, meaning, people, a person.
History of Shuar People
These dreaded “feral” people dominated the Amazon jungle to the late nineteenth century.
They lived mainly in the provinces of Morona Santiago and Zamora Chinchipe of Ecuador.
Shuar nation was never submitted by the colonizers.
The arrival of the Salesian mission, which gained momentum after 1930, led to the nuclearization of settlements and new forms of organization.
This culminated in the establishment of the Shuar Federation in 1964.
The Salesian missionaries began the process of Christianizing the Shuar.
The first missionaries were seized by the feared warriors and found their end in the hands of the Shuar warriors.
Although Western history does not indicate how many missionaries were killed and legendary transformed into tsantsas.
Nowadays the Shuar have left their warrior side and submitted to the pacification imposed by missionaries.
In this process, several Shuar fled to the south, and this way expanded the communities to different areas of Amazonian Ecuador.
Such as the provinces of Pastaza, Morona Santiago, Zamora Chinchipe, and to the territory that now corresponds to Peru.
Culture of the Shuar Nation
The traditional language of Shuar people is Shuar-chicham.
They are nomads and subsist mainly on the horticulture of tubers, tending the farms until the harvest and then moving on.
This is supplemented by hunting, fishing and gathering which are the work of the men.
The agriculture and harvesting are for women.
Women are also in charge of children and housework, particularly of the preparation of chicha and kitchen.
The Shuar people traditionally use the system of slash and burn cultivation.
Hunting is their main source of protein, and they supplement their diet with fishing and gathering fruits, insects and plants.
However, currently most of the traditional hunting ground is being replaced by cattle pastures, which has resulted in the progressive depletion of the soil and reduced availability of land.
This has led to the introduction of a sedentary settlement pattern, the same that is producing changes in the socioeconomic system.
Traditionally the settlement was sparse, usually zoned according to kinship.