Malocas and the Annual Cycle

POSTED IN All Projects, Amazon, Isthmo-Colombia

The malocas are both their ceremonial centre and their collective day-to-day meeting place, representing communities’ sociocultural strength. They are also the ritual centres for the manejo do mundo (“stewardship of the world”), a set of shamanic practices that focus on the management of the environment according to the ecological-economic calendar and the ceremonial cycle.

The heart of the longhouse is the feather box where the main ceremonial ornaments are held when not in use. That box is hanging next to the left front pillar of the house. Both the maloca and the feather box represent the social and ceremonial status of the owner and his co-resident group, as the most valuable richness of the groups. For this reason, the malocas were for a long time the target of the missionaries, who persistently tried to dismantle them in the Brazilian portion of the Vaupés River basin. This kind of colonial practice was left behind, and for the last twenty years, people from the upriver communities have resumed to rebuild the longhouses, mainly in this area.