Because the Shuar has been an eminently warlike people and also because they used to do after their wars, the rite of reducing the head of their enemies, known as Tsantsa in order to be able to preserve it as a trophy of war; Have generally been known in contemptuous form as Jíbaros or savages; Denomination that they reject by their ethnocentric and racist content; For that reason they claim their right to self-designate as Shuar which means, people, person.
Until recently the Shuar Nationality was only integrated and organized into two large groups: the Inter-provincial Federation of the Shuar People of Ecuador, FIPSE, based in Macuma, and the Indigenous Federation of Shuar Centers, Ficsh, based in Sucúa, both in Morona Santiago, which represented the largest number of Shuar Indians, with 65% of its population in the province of Morona Santiago and the other 35% in the provinces of Zamora Chinchipe and Pastaza.
There are approximately 45,000 people in total living in the Santiago, Morona and Pastaza river basins. They occupy the East of the Province of Zamora and Morona Santiago and the South of the Province of Pastaza.
“The Shuar Nationality was initially settled in the territories that today corresponds to the province of Morona Santiago, and then extended to the rest of the Amazonian territory. Currently they are also in the provinces of Napo, Pastaza and Zamora Chinchipe, reaching a population of 110,000 inhabitants. (PRODEPINE 1999).
Its traditional language is the shuar-chicham, pertaining to the language jivaroano. Subsistence is mainly based on itinerant tubers horticulture, complemented by man-made hunting, fishing and gathering; The care of the plot and also of the collection, corresponds to the woman. She is in charge of children and housework, particularly the preparation of chicha and cooking
The Housing is of elliptical form, with a very ample interior space, in which are two restrictive zones; The “ekent”, family area of women and young children and the “Tankamash”. Social area of the male children and visits; The shuar house has earth floor, walls with slats of chonta and roof of palm leaves.
Traditionally the man wore a skirt called “Itip” woven in cotton and dyed with natural dyes: the woman, a kind of tunic tied in a shoulder and tightened to the waist by a cord. At the present time it is very common the use of garments of western model. It complements the dress with body paint made with achiote.
Shuar mythology is closely linked to the nature and laws of the universe, and manifests itself in a wide range of higher beings related to phenomena such as the creation of the world, life, death, and disease. The main ones are Etsa, Nunkui, Tsunki, Shakaim’s strength and ability to work male. Tsunki, to be primordial of the water, brings the health. Nunkui fertilizes the chakra, Arútam is source of all good and makes the shuar invincible in the war. Traditionally the Shuar people made the war like mechanism of justice to restore the natural balance
Shuar being the general self-denomination, however within the nationality, different self-denominations are adopted, which do not mean cultural differences, but rather refer to the geographical location on which they are based; Thus we find: The Muraya Shuar (people of the mountain) that are settled in the Valley of the Upano river; The Untsuri Shuar (numerous people) located between the Cordilleras del Cóndor and Kutukú; The Pakanmaya Shuar who live in the area of the Transkutukú.
The mother tongue is the Shuar belonging to the Jivaroana Linguistic Family according to the classification studied by Karsten. For their interaction with the national society, they use Castilian as a second language.
Among the festivals that they adopted of their ancestors and that still practice in the majority of their communities shuar, we can point out the Festival of the Chonta, that usually is celebrated in August with autochthonous dances and the harvest of the fruit that is transformed into drink ; The Feast of Ayahuasca which usually celebrate in January with the walk to the waterfalls and sacred mountains