Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Jivaro are a horticultural people living in the heavily forested foothills of the Andes in Peru and Ecuador. A successful rebellion against the Spanish in 1599 preserved their autonomy until the late 19th century. Four main groups include the Shuar, Huambisa, Aguaruna, and Achuara.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


South America --Amazon and Orinoco




OWC Code


Number of Documents


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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

The Jivaro collection consists of 30 documents, 29 in English and one, a translation from the German (Reiss, 1880, no. 33). The major time span of the works in this collection ranges from about 1863 to 2003. Karsten (1935, no. 1), Stirling (1938, no. 2), Métraux (1948, no. 19), and Harner (1973, no. 34), provide the most comprehensive coverage of traditional Jivaro ethnography, supplemented to a much lesser extent by the brief summaries in Simson (1880, no. 3), Farabee (1922, no. 7), Reiss (1880, no. 33), and Hermessen (1917, no. 18). War, warfare related ceremonies, including data on head-hunting and the preparation of the shrunken heads, are prominent themes in Up de Graff (1923, no. 4), Dickey (1936, no. 8, Bollert (1863, no. 27), and Bennett Ross (1984, no. 38). Other ethnographic topics of interest in this collection are: the evaluation of missionaries, their activities and other reports in Rivet (1907, 1908, nos. 12 and 13), Salazar (1981, no. 36), and Harner (1984, no. 37). The influence of Western music on the traditional music of the Jivaro is discussed in Belzner (1981, no. 35). The formation and activities of the Shuar (Jivaro) Federation in lowland Ecuador are described in Salazar (1981, no. 36), and Harner (1984, no. 37). Two studies of Jivaro anthropometry will be found in Meyers (1937, no. 14), and Wright (1942, no. 24). The Shuar are the best known subgroup and a major focus of this collection.

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this collection, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

This culture summary is a greatly expanded version of what originally appeared in the article "Jivaro" in the Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Vol. 7, South America, edited by Johannes Wilbert. Boston, Mass.: G. K. Hall and Co., 1994. The synopsis, indexing notes and additional data were added to the summary by John Beierle in March 2006.

Overview by

John Beierle

ARUTAM - soul - use ANIMISM (774)

CENTRO - administrative unit - use TERRITORIAL HIERARCHY (631)

CREA (Centro de Reconversión Económica Del Azuay) - organization representing colonizers from highland Ecuador - use EXTERNAL MIGRATION (167)

HUISHINU - sorcerer - use SORCERY (754)

IERAC (Instituto Ecuatoriano de Reforma Agraria y Colonizacion) - government land conveyor agency - use REAL PROPERTY (423)

NATEMA - alcoholic beverage - use ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES (273)

TSANTSA - shrunken head - use AFTERMATH OF COMBAT (727)

Indexing Notes by

John Beierle

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