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The Mayna

The Mayna (also Maina, or Rimachu) are a relatively little known group living on an obscure tributary of the Corrientes River in the Ecuadorian Amazon regional.They were extremely territorial, aggressively pushing neighboring groups out of their area. The Spaniard Juan de Salinas recorded the first European contact with the Mayna in the mid-16th century. In the early 17th century, the Mayna were subjugated by the Spanish, and epidemics reduced their numbers by half. By the twentieth century, harsh treatment and epidemics reduced their number to less than a thousand and even fewer exist today.  

The Mayna employed slash and burn agriculture, as did most of the forest-dwelling groups. Like the Shuar, they hunted birds and monkeys with blowguns. Spears were used to kill larger game, such as peccaries and deer. On ceremonial occasions, the Mayna and their neighbors, the Zaparo, wore tunics of bark cloth, decorated with colorful geometric designs. They also stained their teeth with a black substance every other day, as did a number of other tribes. The Mayna made pottery decorated with red, black and white patterns, which was traded with the Zaparo. Many scholars consider the Mayna culture extinct.

Mayna: Tunic. Photo © Houston Museum of Natural Science.