Traditional knowledge of the jaguar shamans of Yuruparí
Inscribed in 2011 (6.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- Traditional knowledge of the jaguar shamans of Yuruparí
- © 2006 Sergio Bartelsman, ACAIPI, Fundación Gaia Amazonas
The mythical and cosmological structures that make up the traditional knowledge of the jaguar shamans of Yuruparí represent the cultural heritage of the many ethnic groups that live along the Pirá Paraná River in south-eastern Colombia, in the department of Vaupés. According to ancestral wisdom, the Pirá Paraná forms the heart of a large area called the territory of the jaguars of Yuruparí, whose sacred sites contain vital spiritual energy that nurtures all living beings in the world. The jaguar shamans follow a calendar of ceremonial rituals, based upon their sacred traditional knowledge, to draw the community together, heal, prevent sickness and revitalize nature. The rituals feature songs and dances that embellish the healing process. The vital energy and traditional knowledge of the shamans are believed to be inherited from an all-powerful, mythical Yuruparí, an anaconda that lived as a person, and is embodied in treasured sacred trumpets fashioned from a palm tree. Each ethnic group conserves its own Yuruparí trumpets, which form the centre of the strict Hee Biki ritual. During this ritual, traditional guidelines for maintaining the health of the people and the territory are transmitted to male children as a part of their passage into adulthood. The traditional knowledge concerning care of children, pregnant women and food preparation is transmitted among women.
Decision 6.COM 13.9
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:
- R.1: Embedded in the mythology and cosmology of the communities of the Pirá Paraná River basin, the traditional knowledge of the jaguar shamans is transmitted from generation to generation and takes the form of rituals, songs and dances and other cultural practices;
- R.2: Its inscription on the Representative List could promote respect for cultural diversity and encourage dialogue concerning indigenous traditional knowledge and practices;
- R.3: Current and proposed measures constitute a comprehensive safeguarding framework that reflects the commitment of the communities and the State to safeguard the element, including legislative and institutional as well as practical measures;
- R.4: The nomination was initiated by the communities concerned and the State endeavoured to ensure their wide and active participation; their free, prior and informed consent is demonstrated;
- R.5: With the active participation of the communities concerned, the element was included in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Columbia administered by the Ministry of Culture.
Inscribes Traditional knowledge of the jaguar shamans of Yuruparí on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
© 2010 ACAIPI, Fundación Gaia Amazonas. 4 Direcciones Audiovisual. National Geographic T.V.
These videos (and many more) can also be consulted through the UNESCO Archives Multimedia website