Yesterday I blogged about a people known as the Yanomamo and today I want to blog about a people who live in the deep Amazon Rainforest known as the Jivaro. The Yanomamo are a violent people who esteem war but the Jivaro are even more violent. It is estimated that among the Jivaro 60% of their men die in battles even though modern changes are leading to some other ways for them to settle their differences.
The Jivaro are most well known for their head shrinking abilities which they have apparently been doing since the dawn of time. In the time of the Inca Empire the Jivaro refused to submit to Inca rule and during the Spanish conquest they refused to submit as well as they finally revolted violently and fought every attempt thereafter preventing the Spanish from ever fully subjecting them. These are a fierce people and violence seems to be a norm among them.
Back in 1599 the Jivaro killed 25,000 white settlers in raids they waged against two settlements. The cause? The Spanish decided to tax the Jivaro on their gold trade! This inflamed the Jivaro who are a proud independent people who submit to no one. Warriorship is highly esteemed among the Jivaro as it is among the Yanomamo still today. A man is not simply a man but a warrior and males take great pride in their skills and conquests as warriors.
The Jivaro are fierce and during the time of their revolt against the Spanish tax on their gold trade they captured a visiting Spanish Governor whom they knew to have unscrupulous practices and a greed for gold that astounded the Jivaro. So they captured him and poured molten gold down his throat until his bowels broke open! They then killed the remaining Spanish settlers including women and children except for the younger women which they took as captives for use as mates. This is but one example of how fierce the Jivaro can be but there are many more tales along this line to be told.
The Jivaro live in several communities and each community is independent just like those of the Yanomamo. And like the Yanomamo also each village wars against the other at times, in fact, often. During times of peace in Jivaro culture there is no chieftain but when war erupts the people of the village choose a chieftain to lead them in war. They choose older men with experience in killing many other men. These “war chieftains” also must be men who have captured many heads of the enemy. Not only is war made upon neighboring tribes but the Jivaro also sometimes make war within their tribes along family lines. War seems to be their way of settling most differences even within families. Continue Reading