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The magic of nature and its medicinal value can be felt in the center of the World. The Tsáchila community located in the Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas province opens a portal of options to meet, discover and enjoy it. Traveling to this destination leads us to a full contact with ancestral cultures and its expressions. Here we’ve gathered five facts of the Tsáchilas or Colorados as they are known, to better understand its symbols and meanings.
The official dress code in this community is simple. Men wear the palompoé, a type of skirt or loincloth that has white and blue colored lines that’s fastened around the waist with a sash made out of cotton. They also use a brightly colored scarf that covers usually placed on their shoulders. On the other hand, women wear a skirt with fine colored lines and a knotted fabric at the neck, which completes the outfit. A characteristic feature that stands out in men and women are the black lines painted on the bodies. They are fingerprinted signs with an ink extracted from the huito, a tree common in the area. Its seeds are cooked to obtain the ‘Mali’ or black ink.
It is the only party celebrated by the Tsáchila nationality and the most representative of its 7 communes: Otongo Mapali, Chiguilpe, El Congoma, Los Naranjos, Colorados del Búa, Peripa and El Poste. In the Tsafiqui language “Kasa” means new and “ma” day, this celebration marks the beginning of a new day or a new year. The celebration coincides with the Catholic celebration of Saturday of Glory. The party has been held for 500 years, however, it stopped for three decades. Currently coming back as a revamped celebration, its people highlight the party with traditional chants, dances and culture that invades every corner of the Tsáchila lands.
Local residents always prepare their meals with local products, including green plantain, fish and other goods from the native Andean forests. That’s why during the Kasama celebration the food served displays its traditional cultural and gastronomic heritage. The “Anoila” is a dish that is shared among the people and is prepared with ground bananas, meat and cheese, which is cooked in wood stoves wrapped in wijao leaves. Another traditional delight is the mayons (palm worms).
Cleansing and purification rituals:
The community has an inherent mysticism that combines with nature and the sounds that emerges from its natural surroundings to transmit peace and tranquility to those who visit it. The traditional cleansing rituals are performed in a dark cabin known as Pone Ya, in which the Poné (wise shaman of the community) performs the “Somba Pokarika” (ritual of good energies) to strengthen the aura. The act of purification and relaxation is performed with medicinal plants and ancestral drinks prepared according to the ancient knowledge. The medicinal plants heal the ailments through ancestral rituals with species, vegetables and energetic stones that surprise visitors for their healing power.
The men of the Tsáchila communes use a characteristic hairstyle that is done with ‘mumuka’, that is, with the achiote plant’s seeds (annatto’s seeds) mixed with some butter extracted from the tangaré tree. The mixture generates a red paste that is used a a gel in men’s hairstyles shaping it as a crown. According to the legend, the achiote seeds were found after a ritual where the shamans consulted the spirits of nature how to cure an epidemic of smallpox, and so the Gods advised its people to use the essence of this product and place it in the whole body to combat the colonial disease.