The communities of the Tsáchila nationality have a great cultural richness, which is evident in their daily practices. The Tsáchila ethnic group is the most representative culture of the Santo Domingo canton and is settled in seven communities: Poste, Peripa, Chiguilpe, Otongo Mapalí, Los Naranjos, Colorados del Búa and Cóngoma. The name Tsáchila, which means “true people”, defines these aboriginal groups settled in the area.
Their language is Tsafiqui (true word) and is considered a special piece of the Linguistic Heritage of our country. Their houses are built with wood and pambil.
As for their clothing, the inhabitants of these communities use garments with particular characteristics and with broad cultural significance, so men and women use them in different ways:
Women: They use a skirt called tunan, it is multicolored to refer to the rainbow; in their hair they use colored ribbons, they also wear colorful necklaces made with seeds from the area.
Men: They use a skirt called mampé tsampá of black and white colors, held by a red cloth. They also wear red paint on their hair.
For this culture it is very important the conservation of the territorial space, which they consider the basis of the family and community nucleus, where they also live with hundreds of animal and plant species. They live from fishing, agriculture and tourism. They have their own food and also use the power of plants in their shamanic rites.
The festivities and celebrations in Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas have a wide agenda with cultural and gastronomic exhibitions, extreme sports competitions and concerts. One of the most recognized cultural festivals in the province is the celebration of Kasama, a traditional festival of the Tsáchila ethnic group, which marks the beginning of a new year and always coincides with the Saturday of Glory, where you can enjoy the display of culture, tradition and customs.
The Tsáchila nationality offers representative handcrafted elements for decoration and some of them are made with the seed of San Pedro, which in their worldview is a spiritual protector for the wearer of the garment.
The Tsachilas are an indigenous nationality of the coast of Ecuador. A nationality is a group of millenary peoples, previous and constitutive of the Ecuadorian State, that have a common historical identity, language, and culture, that live in a determined territory through their institutions and traditional forms of economic, juridical, political social organization and exercise of authority.
There is a Cultural Group dedicated to exhibiting their ancestral customs, rituals, food, dances, music; they make short tours through the vegetation showing the benefits of the plants in terms of medicine.
In all the communes there are Shamans, people who are dedicated to heal people with their herbs. The aspiring Shaman can be a son, grandson, or close relative of the great Pone.
Kasama is the only festival celebrated by members of the Tsáchila ethnic group. In the Tsafiqui language “Kasa” means new and “ma” means day, so Kasama is the beginning of a new day or new year.
The feast of Kasama, which marks the beginning of a new year, which always coincides with the Saturday of Glory (for Catholics), represents much more than for Westerners the celebration of the new year.
Formerly this celebration was used to make the request for the hand of a girl, while the marimberos delighted those present with their music, special drinks were drunk and fights were organized. Today, there are dance, theater, music and indigenous nationality contests, as well as demonstrations of hunting and fishing skills.
The Tsáchila are fishermen and slash-and-burn farmers. Their staple crop is plantains, but they also grow cassava, yams, cacao, peppers, corn, rice and other crops. They also hunt and keep some domestic animals. Fishing is often carried out with the use of poisons extracted from forest plants.
The Tsáchila, who are primarily an agricultural community, continue to make every effort to preserve their unique culture and heritage in an ever-changing world.
To delight the palates tourists can enjoy typical food of the sector as the mayon -ayampaco of fish (guaña, tilapia) and the ball of green.
Regarding the houses of the Tsáchilas, it should be noted that in the first place that within this society there is a tendency of gabled construction, this means that the houses were carried out mostly in a rectangular environment, usually the measures correspond to 13 meters long by 7 meters wide and also 5 meters high.
Another characteristic of the houses is that the frame is supported by round pillars, also known as tuctangas, these pillars are made of a palm tree of hard and unbreakable consistency which is called bisolá.
Within the ethnic group, one of the most common dwellings is the cumbrero or yaburé, this space is covered with leaves and is supported by the sills. Among the other main characteristics of the Tsáchilas’ houses is that this type of house does not have windows, and it is also divided into two compartments of the same size.
Their diet depends on agriculture, hunting and fishing. The pandado is a daily dish which consists of one or two small fish and a piece of banana, placed in a bijao leaf.
The chontaduro is a wild fruit, it has abundant floury food. When the men return from hunting, they bring the smoked meats back to the house and wrap them in banana leaves and keep them next to the smoke for two weeks.
A visit to the communes is a fascinating experience that allows tourists to get to know unique experiences and the diversity of traditions, culture, handicrafts, and gastronomy that this sector of the country has to offer.