7 junio, 2024

Culture of the Amazon Region: dances, traditions, crafts

The culture of the Amazon region of Colombia It is constituted primarily by traditional activities and customs of autochthonous indigenous ethnic groups, such as rites, dances, songs, oral traditions, beliefs and crafts, among others.

The Amazon region is located in the southeast of Colombia. It is considered a great generator of oxygen and a refuge for thousands of species, but it is also a region that is home to great cultural wealth.

The diversity is given by its multicultural population, mostly indigenous or mestizo, although with high indigenous influence, which maintains its distinctive symbolic and affective features as a consequence of the relative isolation of the region.

The cultural traditions of the Amazon region of Colombia are linked to its history and ethnic origins as well as its natural environment, including its ways of life, ancestral knowledge and spirituality.

More than 60% of the territory of the Colombian Amazon region belongs to indigenous reserve and reservation systems, which function as protected areas where various nuclei of native settlements with a rich cultural identity are concentrated.

Despite the government’s idealistic effort to preserve indigenous cultural integrity, most communities have suffered alterations in their traditions due to the influence and advance of civilization.

Rituals, dances and songs

Traditional indigenous rites, dances and songs have a mythical-spiritual character and are performed at representative moments, such as: fertility, marriage, births, harvests, health rituals, funeral ceremonies, among others.

The songs and voices express emotions according to what they feel: joy, sadness, anger, among others. They accompany themselves by imitating the sounds of nature, such as the singing of birds, and with their own musical instruments made with local materials, such as manguaré.

Saint Peter Festival

Party that is celebrated in Florencia, Caquetá at the end of July of each year. It is one of the most popular festivities in the Amazon region, attracting thousands of native and foreign citizens who enjoy music, dance, and local gastronomy.

The purpose is to honor the indigenous ancestors who lived in that area, being the outbreak of their culture, folklore, traditions and customs.

Oral traditions and beliefs

In general, the indigenous peoples of the Colombian Amazon have rich oral traditions of legends and myths. Most of these describe a close relationship with the environment and the jungle, which they consider to be a great living being.

Most practice animism as a belief system, so they see the jungle and natural phenomena as their spiritual center, attributing particular spirits to all beings, whether they are animals, plants, or rivers.

This keeps them permanently in a harmonious relationship with nature, thus maintaining the balance between the use and integrity of the forest.

Shamans and traditional medicine

The shamans and savants, in addition to invoking the power of the spirits of nature to heal, also have extensive knowledge about the use of the region’s medicinal plants to deal with each disease.

They have a perfect command of botany and the composition of Amazonian vegetation, with knowledge of medical practices and knowledge inherited from their ancestors.

This knowledge allows them to choose the most suitable to provide curative and medical effects.

Chiefdoms

This is the system of social and political organization of the majority of the indigenous ethnic groups of the Colombian Amazon. It is a hierarchical system in which a cacique or leader establishes the rules, types of social relationships, and tasks for the entire town.

Handicrafts

The indigenous communities actively participate in the craftsmanship of wood carvings, woven baskets, woven backpacks, jewelry with seeds, utensils, blowguns, spears, bows and arrows, among other products.

They are experts who know their environment, from where they collect seeds, bark and plants as raw materials, such as fibers for weaving and wood to build tools, canoes or houses, among other products.

Musical instruments

It is estimated that there are up to 100 different musical instruments used regularly in the dances and rituals of the indigenous people of the Colombian Amazon.

Some of the best known are the Paxiuba palm flutes, the maguaré or the multiplier stick. All of them are made with the natural products that the region provides, such as different types of wood, cane or bones.

References

Colombian info. (undated) The Amazon region. folklore and traditions. Traditional dances and costumes. Digital portal Colombia.com. Interlatin Corporation.
Juan Jose Vieco. (2001). Development, environment and culture in the Colombian Amazon. Public Health Journal. Vol. 3, No. 1. National University of Colombia.
Various authors. (2011). Colombian Amazon: imaginaries and realities. Jorge Eliécer Gaitán Chair. Amazon Research Institute (IMANI). National university of Colombia.

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