Introduction / History The Shuar are one of several indigenous tribal groups which reside in the SouthEastern portion of Ecuador, a jungle/rainforest area. The Shuar gained notoriety for their custom of shrinking heads of victims. Eventually Ecuador had to outlaw the practice because the popularity of buying shrunken heads as souvenirs was driving the practice to continue. The group has been fiercely agressive and independent enough to fend off colonization by the Spanish. On one occasion the group retaliated violently to an attempt to tax them. They raided settlements and killed thousands of people. They allegedly poured melted gold down the throat of the governor who tried to impose the tax.
Where are they located? SE portion of Ecuador in South America....East of the city of Macas.
What are their lives like? Previously the Shuar were nomadic, but have since established themselves in permanent dwellings.
A rite of passage for a young man involves the drinking of water containing the extract of a bark that induces hallucinations.
What are their beliefs? There is now Christian work. The northern area of the Shuar have had Christian work for more than 10 years; but work in the Southern portion has mostly begun during the last 10 years (Baptist work). The larger Shuar community retain animistic beliefs. A belief of theirs has been that if someone dies from disease, the death was actually killed by invisible darts.