THE ACHUAR HOUSE la versíon española la version française


The presence of house, in the center of the orchards, symbolizes the human occupation; it forms the logical starting point from which its inhabitants occupy the space. The house, jea, is surrounded by a greater area, aa (the exterior surroundings), carefully weeded and adorned here and there with small gardens of medicinal and narcotic plants, fruit-bearing trees and chonta palms. This same area is surrounded by the orchards, skirted by rows of bananas, advanced positions of the culture that seem to hardly contain the progression of the forest, ikiam.

The house this always erected on a flat ground patch, lightly in prominence, and in the immediate proximity of a river or a lake. When the inclination of the slope that leads to the river it is very abrupt, the trail is consolidated with a series of reinforced stairway that allows the access to the water without running into a dangerous slides. For defensive reasons, the Achuar avoids to build their house directly in the bank of a great navigable river; when they settle down near a river, they still choose places beside the secondary channel, of the small creek flowing into it that is at certain distance of the main channel. In this case, the canoes will be tied on the edge of the main river channel and a road will be traced between the harbor and the house that won't be possible to see from the river.

Although the Achuar is in general very expert swimmers and that they prefer; when it is possible, a canoe if it exists to a foot itinerary, they like much more to use daily the small not very deep streams, of white water and moderate current. Indeed, the grown ones know that the big rivers may be very dangerous when taking a bath, mainly for the children that pass a great part of the hot hours playing in the water. The big rivers that carry alluviums in suspension are often totally opaque, hiding this way their more noxious inhabitants: the very dangerous stingray kaashap (Potamotrygon hystrix), the electric eel gimnoto tsunkiru and the ananconda panki (Eunectes murinus). Thee stingray is considered by the Achuar, above all for supernatural reasons, as the main and omnipresent danger of the big rivers. In short, a slight estrangement of the big currents of water of the riverside allows to make a little more bearable the insistent presence of the mosquitoes manchu and tete that infest its banks.

The Achuar house is very vast and harmonious construction of elliptic form, generally lacking external walls and headed by a high roof of four sides with two round gables that lower until the man's height. When the head of the family estimates that a conflicting situation generating insecurity has been developed in the region in which he inhabits, he prefers in spite of everything to close the house with a wall, tanish, formed of vertical slats, made with wood of the palm tuntuam (Iriartea sp.) or uwi (Guiliejma gasipaes), and united by means of longitudinal ties to the posts that sustain the eaves. When the insecurity becomes a threat of attacks, it is erected around the whole house a barrier, wenuk, of at least 3 meters high, supported by posts sunk very deeply in the earth. The slats used for the wenuk are, however, much thicker that those of the walls of the house and completely united with the purpose of not leaving any interstice for which an attacker could shoot toward the interior of the house. Sometimes, the barrier is entirely lined inwardly with another array of slats, with the purpose of reinforcing the solidity of the fortification.

The access to a house fenced by walls or a barrier it is made through plane and rectangular doors, waiti, generally elaborated of a tree wampu (Ficus insipidi Wuld.) and that revolve on two spikes carved in the ends of the lateral axis. These spikes are inserted into two wooden pieces that form a lintel. From the interior the doors become blocked during the night, either by mobile beams or stake planted into the earth floor.

The dimensions of the house, and the degree of its finish, depend on the social status and the number of the owner's wives that lives there and the quantity of manpower that the owner has been able to mobilize for its construction. The ambition of all mature man is to have numerous wives, numerous son-in-laws, a roomy house and big orchards that will offer in abundance the indispensable manioc beer, nijiamanch, for everyone. The size of the house is the indication that allows recognizing a juunt (great man). Its habitation is always something wider than the necessary for the daily use of his simple family and it allows accommodating with munificence multiple visitors.

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