The Yumbo civilization (present in Tulipe from 800 AD until the Spanish Conquest around 1660) predates the civilization of Incas. The Yumbo were a peace-loving, autonomous, independent, mature people, open to external relations.
The Yumbo were conversant with astronomy, geometry and architecture. Yumbo beliefs were centered round 3 worlds:
• that of the celestial deities
• the earthly world
• the world below
During solstices and equinoxes Tulipe became a ceremonial, ritualistic and religious centre for the local people to perform rituals of initiation, purification, fertility and thanks to Mother Earth. The Yumbo celebrated nature in the form of waterfalls, rivers and valleys, considering them sacred.
The Yumbo were primarily an agricultural and trading people, who also hunted animals and made handicrafts. TheYumbo cultivated bananas, avocados, pineapples, eggfruit, honey, palm hearts, citrus fruits, guavas, and raised animals such as peccary, turkeys, agouti and fish. Ornamental, ritual or medicinal plants, such as orchids and coca, were cultivated on terraces.
The Yumbo dealt in maize, yucca, chilly, coca, sweet potato, fruit, groundnuts, coconuts, salt, rubber, cotton, incense and curative plants, in exchange for obsidian, animal skins, sacred shells and mother of pearl. Studies mention both salt and gold as Yumbo resources, though it’s uncertain whether the latter was extracted from local sources or a result of trading.
The Yumbo trading network stretched from the Sierra to the coast. Their trade routes consisted of paths (‘culuncos’) hidden in the dense vegetation of the mountain sides. Many later became Inca trails and used subsequently by the Spanish conquistadors, republicans, loggers, dealers in contraband liquor and today’s agricultural workers.