The Kichwa nationality of the Amazon comprises of two peoples who share the same linguistic and cultural tradition: the Napo-Kichwa people and the Kichwa people of Pastaza, or Canelo-Kichwa. They originated in the Northern Highlands of Ecuador and arrived in these territories as a result of the Spanish conquest.
Canelos have multiple roots and involve all groups classified as Quijos and Záparos. The denomination of cinnamon is not so clear, since formerly this denomination was only given to the territories of the south of Quijos. However, later this name was given to all those territories where this plant grew (the cinnamon), that is to say that cinnamon is not only one place but several others.
Population and Language
The Kichwas of the Amazon are about 70,000 inhabitants. In the provinces of Sucumbíos and Orellana there are approximately 10,000 inhabitants.
The most widely spoken languages are Ruma Shimi and Spanish. Among the most important dialectal varieties are :
o The dialect of Bobonaza, spoken along the Bobonaza and Puyo rivers.
o The Tena dialect, spoken in Tena.
o The Ahuano, which has a greater relationship with the Kichwa of the Sierra.
o The Limoncocha dialect, spoken by those who settle down the rivers Napo, Suno, Putamayo, Aguarico and San Miguel.
According to some testimonies, the natives of the area, who lived dispersed in small family groups along the rivers, began to group on the initiative of the missionaries at the end of the nineteenth century. Concentration and community life also marked the beginning of their organization: the Varayos were established, with the Curaca at the head, appointed each year by the missionaries who at that time often acted as delegates of the National Government.
The communities of the Amazon are dedicated to the production of handicrafts made with wood, lianas, fibers, clay and seeds, which they obtain from the Ecuadorian jungle. With these materials they make beautiful decorative and utilitarian articles for home and office, as well as necklaces, handles, rings, wallets, key rings, earrings, etc.
The Kichwas are a nationality that has the agricultural activity as its axis of production , which is completed with hunting, carried out by means of lances and traps. Fishing is carried out with atarraya in large rivers and in small rivers with ishinga, barbasco, guami, which are made of lisan in the form of a tube. Another activity is the raising of cattle.
Their original clothing was made from local materials and animal hides. In the case of women, they were covered with a skirt made of lanchama, while men wore long trousers made of deerskin, with wide pants up to the ankle. They did not wear shoes.
Currently, this tradition has changed, as 90% of the Kichwas no longer use that clothing and only 10% keep the original clothing. This change is mainly exerted on young people by influence of nearby cities where they come to study, thus forgetting some customs of their people.
Traditional housing has several models as vestiges of ancient cultures, from which they evolved influenced by western versions. The house is oval, the floor is made of dirt, the roof with palm leaves. Platforms or beds are used to sleep, there isn't a specific space for their use.
In the areas near the cities of Tena and Puyo the house is rectangular in shape, and it is built on piles 1 to 2 meters high above ground level to avoid humidity and the presence of wild animals. The walls are made of wood, the house has two floors and the roof is made of zinc, with a clear influence of the colonists.
In some communities, today we can still find the JATUN HUASI (large house) which was the place where community meetings were held.
The main craft activity is the production of ceramics, which is under the absolute responsibility of the woman. The woman potter acquires this knowledge at an early age, as they are transmitted from generation to generation. The woman potter reaches the greatest capacity of artisan production when she is able to retain in her mind up to 2000 different designs in decoration, for which, only once in her life, she will ingest the Ayahuasca.
The main elaborated objects are the pottery, which depending on their size will have a specific function, for example:
o Large pots are used to store water, and also for the preparation of the traditional drink, that is the chicha.
o Medium pots are used in the kitchen to cook food.
o Small pots are used to serve liquids on a daily basis.