Collection Description

Culture Name

Canelos Quichua

Culture Description

The Canelos Quichua are a Quechua speaking population occupying the territory south and east of Puyo, capital of Pastaza Province, and the Rio Bobonaza, Conambo, Curaray and Villano river regions in Ecuador. From the early 1970s through 2008 the largest rural population concentrations were in small hamlets located in the Comuna San Jacinto del Pindo area, south of Puyo. The Canelos Quichua practice upper Amazonian swidden horticulture, focused primarily on manioc (their food staple), and supplemented by taro, sweet potatoes, maize, and plantains. The diet is further enhanced by some limited hunting, fishing, and gathering activities.


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 World Cultures collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

The Canelos Quichua collection consists of English language documents covering the period from about 1961 to 1976, focusing on the fieldwork of the Whittens. The major source of information on this group will be found in Whitten, 1985, no. 1. Although this monograph focuses primarily on the site of Nueva Esperanza (Nayapi Llacta) in Ecuador in order to explore the theme of the duality of power patterning in the community, it does contain a variety of information on various aspects of Canelos Quichua ethnography. Whitten (n.d.,no. 2) is a study of the large-scale Ayllu ceremony held once or twice each year involving a period of from two to three weeks in initial preparation, and then its actual enactment on a final Sunday feast day. Whitten and Whitten (n.d., no. 3), is a detailed study of kinship structure and marriage among the Canelos Quichua of East-Central Ecuador.

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

Overview by

John Beierle

Ayahuasca (soul-vine) – a hallucinogenic plant - use "RECREATIONAL AND NON - THERAPEUTIC DRUGS (276)"

Ayllu – a consanguineous, bilateral group within which marriage is forbidden; a stem kindred; sometimes used as a maximal clan - use "KINDREDS AND RAMAGES (612)", and/or "SIBS (614)"


Caserío – a hamlet - use "COMMUNITY STRUCTURE (621)"

Causai – life force - use "LIFE AND DEATH (761)"

Comuna – communal territory, includes many hamlets and subterritorial divisions - use "TERRITORIAL HIERARCHY (631)"

Gumbacompadre; fictive kinsmen  - use "ARTIFICIAL KIN RELATIONSHIPS (608)"

Huasi – the household or home - use "HOUSEHOLD (592)"; as a structure - use "DWELLINGS (342)"

Jauya – relationships established between parents of spouses - use "KIN RELATIONSHIPS (602)"

Jista – the ayllu ceremony - use "ORGANIZED CEREMONIAL (796)", with "KINDREDS AND RAMAGES (612)"

Lanceros – dancing warriors representing affinal attack power - use "DANCE (535)", with "ORGANIZED CEREMONIAL (796)"

Llacta – a specific, named subterritory containing swidden gardens and rain forest and occupied by intermarried  ayllu segments - use "TERRITORIAL HIERARCHY (631)", with "KINDREDS AND RAMAGES (612)"

Minga – goal-oriented collective action - use "MUTUAL AID (476)"

Priostes – festival cargo bearers - use "ORGANIZED CEREMONIAL (796)", with "STATUS, ROLE, AND PRESTIGE (554)"

Runa territories – major territorial divisions, six in number - use "TERRITORIAL HIERARCHY (631)"

Twelfth of May celebrations - use "REST DAYS AND HOLIDAYS (527)", and/or "SPECTACLES (541)"

Unai – mythic time space - use "COSMOLOGY (772)"

Yachaj – shaman  - use "SHAMANS AND PSYCHOTHERAPISTS (756)"

Indexing Notes by

John Beierle

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