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Deep in the Ecuador jungle, a local tribe works to protect its traditions.

  Amazon Awakening By ANDY ISAACSON   ILLUMINATED by a single candle, the shaman’s weathered face appeared kindly, like that of a sympathetic doctor, with painted red marks also suggesting a calm, fierce authority — both qualities that I would rely on during the dark and uncertain hours ahead. He sat on a wooden stool carved into a tortoise, and wore turquoise beads around his neck and a crown of crimson feathers. A table beside him displayed the modest tools of the ceremony: a fan of leaves, jungle tobacco, a gourd bowl and a clear plastic soda bottle containing an opaque, brown liquid. “You will start to feel a reaction in about half an hour,” the shaman, Tsumpa, said, as...

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The calendar was religious and each month had its own festival.

  The Inca worshipped the dead, ancestors, founding culture heroes, their king whom they regarded as divine, nature and its cycles. The worship of nature and its cycles suggest that for them time and space were sacred, and consequently the calendar was religious and each month had its own festival. The most important cult was directed to Inti the god sun who nourished the earth and man with his rays. The most important feast was the one dedicated to Inti, called IntipRaimi. This rich ceremony, with its splendid costumes, and gold and silver offerings and decoration, was opened by the Inca emperor, his family and the curaca. After the opening the emperor made a libation to the sun and drank chicha...

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One Remarkable Priest

Much of what we know about the Inca civilization is all due to the writing of one remarkable Spanish priest named Bernabé Cobo, who arrived in Peru in 1599. He visited the former Inca capital, Cuzco, in 1609 and spent the rest of his life writing a 47 volume "History of the New World," which he completed in 1653. The University of Texas and translator Roland Hamilton have preserved Father Cobo's writing on Inca religion and culture, and made it available to English speakers.

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