The Yine people belong to the Arawak linguistic family, shared with the Matsigenka, Ashaninka and Nanty. Historically, the Yine were known as "Piros", however, they self-identify as Yines, a word that comes from Yineru, and means "true men", "people" or "human". The Yine are found in Brazil, Bolivia and Peru. In their Peruvian territory they are mainly found in Atalaya and Purús in the Ucayali, La Convención in Cusco and Tambopata, Manu and Tahuamanu in Madre de Dios. They are distributed in 22 communities.
The Yine have occupied the upper Ucayali and lower Urubamba basins since pre-Hispanic times. They were known for their trading skills and traded with other groups such as the Matsigenka (RER, 2011). According to several studies, it is mentioned that, since Pre-Inka times, the Yine moved long distances to exchange feathers, ceramics, skins and live animals for stone axes and metals with the different populations (Smith, 2003).
The Yine people had their first contact with the Spaniards in the XVII century, when the Franciscan and Jesuit missionaries arrived in the Tambo and upper Ucayali rivers, and at the end of the XVIII century, they extended their territory towards the Tambo, Ucayali, Cajur and possibly the Las Piedras rivers. However, after violent encounters with rubber tappers in mid-1893, the Yine people sought refuge in Boca Manu. Later, under the guidance of the Dominican missions, they established a series of settlements, which in 1975 became part of the Native Communities Law (RER, 2003).
According to data from the Ministry of Culture, the current population of Yine is 8,871 inhabitants, although this figure may vary, as it is difficult to determine the exact number of people who speak the Yine language in Peru. Considering the three geographical varieties such as the: Yine Manu Haxene, Mantxineri and Maschos Piros, the latter an Indigenous people in isolation.
The main activities of the Yine people include slash-and-burn horticulture, as well as the cultivation of plantain, corn, rice, sweet potato and beans, among others. Hunting and fishing constitute the fundamental foods in their diet. In recent years, they have diversified their economic activities due to the presence of private hydrocarbon companies. In addition, women have ventured into the production of handicrafts, including ceramics and textiles with the Yonga design, considered cultural heritage of the nation since May the 28th, 2019.
The Xapiri Ground team are working with the Indigenous Women's Association "Mashko Yine" of the Monte Salvado community. The community's vision is to "protect the life of the flora and fauna of their territory". Monte Salvado was founded in 1990 by a group of Yine from Urubamba (Torres,2023). It is located in the Tambopata province, in the Las Piedras river basin and borders the Madre de Dios Territorial Reserve for Isolated Indigenous People. The community covers a territory of 36,310.289 hectares and is made up of approximately 70 families that are dedicated to various activities, such as agriculture, brazil nut harvesting, hunting, fishing and handicrafts. To get to Monte Salvado, a three-day boat trip down the Las Piedras River from the city of Puerto Maldonado is required.
Monte Salvado is one of the communities with the most evidence and contingency situations with the presence of Indigenous Peoples in Isolation and Initial Contact (PIACI) in the last 20 years. As a result, seven community members work as protection agents for the Native Federation of the Madre de Dios River and Affluents (FENAMAD) that has a control post in the area (Fenamad, 2021).
Since 2017, we have been building collaborative relationships with the Association of Artisans of Monte Salvado with the goal of establishing fair trade through traditional arts. In early March 2021, Emily Urquia, president of the association, presented an exhibition of her solo work in our gallery. Emily, like her fellow indigenous artists, has a vision to support the art of the Yine women and pass on their legacy of design techniques to new generations of their people.
The artistic expressions of the Yine people are closely related to design and weaving, as well as the creation of ceramics, jewelry, crowns and musical instruments. The Yine have 31 different designs, each with a particular meaning that is transmitted orally from generation to generation by the elders.