Bulletin · Sept. 2011 · Shuar (Ecuador)

The Word of God for the Shuar

The Shuar, the best-known indigenous tribe of the Upper Amazon region,  were formerly known as the Jivaros, meaning “bloody savages.”  But this insulting name was legally rejected in 1964 and the Shuar are now known by the name they call themselves. Holding on to their independence, the Jivaros were fierce warriors who blocked the invasion of the Incas in the 14th century. The Spanish, drawn by rumors of gold in the 16th century and by rubber in the 19th century, were stopped by the violence of the Jivaros in this hostile, impenetrable region of the Upper Amazon. The Jivaros would cut off their enemies’ heads, empty and shrink them and sew their mouths and eyes shut to keep the spirits of their enemies from escaping and seeking revenge. This is one of their shamanic traditions called the “Tsantzas.”

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