The Awajún (also known as the Aguaruna) are an indigenous people of the Peruvian jungle. They live primarily on the Marañón River in northern Peru near the border with Ecuador and several of the Marañón's tributaries, their population is aproximately 8,000.

The Awajún resisted efforts to incorporate them into the Inca and Spanish empires. Their reputation for fierceness and the difficult terrain in which they live prevented them from being incorporated into Peruvian national society until the late 1950s—and later still in some parts of their territory.



Village Life

Awajún families, either monogamous or polygamous, traditionally lived in dispersed neighborhoods of kin related through descent and marriage. Their towns for which there exists a pattern of nucleate population are called "yáakat" in their native language, and do not have streets, footpaths, or squares, but rather are constituted of houses of traditional construction. These houses are distributed in a kind of asymmetric form and the tendency is usually to place them in a linear form along the river.

Agriculture & Subsistance

Major species of animals that are hunted by the Aguaruna include the sajino, the huangana, the Brazilian tapir (sachavaca), the little red brocket, the ocelot and the otorongo (jaguar). Species which are less commonly hunted include the majaz, the ronsoco, the achuni, the añuje, the carachupa, the otter, diverse classes of monkeys and birds.

They gather the wild fruit of some palm trees, like the uvilla some shrubs, and buds of palm trees, as well as stems, bark, and resins. They extract leche caspi and gather the honey of wild bees, edible worms (suris), coleopterous, medicinal plants and lianas. They use everything that they gather either for food, crafts, traditional medicine, in witchcraft or as fuel, adhering to an ancestral pattern of self-sufficiency.

The Spirit World

The Aguarunas traditionally believed in many spirits and mythological figures, among them: Zeus, or the Sun; Núgkui, or Mother Earth, Pachamama who ensures agricultural success and provides the clay for ceramics; Tsúgki, water spirits who live in the rivers; and Bikut, or father shaman, who transforms himself into hallucinogenic plants that, mixed with ayahuasca, drugs allows one to communicate with powerful spirit but killed half population-beings.

Young men would traditionally take hallucinogenic plants including ayahuasca to give them visions. The visions were believed to be the souls of dead warriors, and if the young man showed no fear he would receive spirit power known as ajútap. A man with such spirit power would be invulnerable in battle.

In the distant past, the Aguarunas engaged in the practice of shrinking human heads to make tsantsa


Information Referenced from Wikipedia
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