“Grandmothers say that there used to be a girl whose mother was an expert ceramist, but she and her husband died, and the girl grew up with her uncle…this girl grew up and when she was young she went to the river and saw some ladies collecting clay to make pottery, the young woman approached to be shown what they were doing, but these ladies made fun of her and smeared mud on her face and body, leaving the young woman on the shore crying and heartbroken…then from the bottom of the river a woman emerged and told the young woman: do not cry, I am your mother who has come to give you the best clay, the ladies took only the excrement of the oko-yai (water jaguar), take this clay, run to the wewe tree (Jacaranda copaia) and under its shade I will teach you how to make pots, flower pots, ornaments…after teaching the daughter the lady returned to the river and became oko-yai.”

Legend of the siekopaai culture. Interpretation and compilation: Yadira Ocoguaje, 2022

This legend is part of the Siekopai worldview as related by our culture and gender technician, Yadira Ocoguaje.

At Fundación Raíz Ecuador we promote the conservation of the cultural identity of the Siekopai people.

Our objective is to rescue and maintain the tradition of Siekopai women as ancestral ceramists of their indigenous nationality.

According to Yadira Ocoguaje, “our ancestors taught us to live with the forest and to use everything that our beloved jungle offers us: food, shelter, medicine; from there we obtain all the necessary materials to guarantee our good life (De’oye Paiye). Of all the materials that allow us to make utensils, our Seikopia ceramics (Soto Tëowëose’e) played an important role in our cultural development. Although our ancestors had a lot of food available, it could not be processed or cooked. It was from the development of our own ceramics that food began to be processed. But it would take a little time to realize the enormous importance of clay utensils for the development of our people and their culture. At this point we begin to decorate and paint these simple utensils, capturing our symbology and worldview. The first Siekopaai healers cooked our master plant, yajé, in clay pots.

“Current life in our communities has caused us to put aside the making of our own ceramics. Luckily our wise grandmothers are still with us. Siekopaai ceramics are still alive in their hearts and hands. As young people proud of our roots and our present, we are not going to allow that flame of wisdom to be extinguished,” says Yadira proudly.

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