The Napo culture settled on the banks of the Napo River and its tributaries. It occupied part of today’s provinces of Sucumbíos, Orellana, Napo and Pastaza. Since the Amazonian soil erodes rapidly, the Napo culture was characterized for its geographical mobility, rotating from zone to zone within a vast territory. Fishing, hunting and gathering were also a source of food, for which they used rudimentary stone tools.
Funeral rites were of great importance to the Napo people. They left corpses out in the open for insects and birds of prey to eat the flesh. Once the bones were clean, they were painted red and placed in funerary urns near or inside dwellings, since their forebears were an essential part of the Napo’s social and religious fabric. Painting bones red was a very important practice in the symbolic language of the people of ancient Ecuador, its purpose being to attract benevolent spirits for them to bring rain and fertility.
Although stone carving was not a common practice among the Napo, their pottery was highly elaborate. They are renowned for their vast production of funerary urns, which were generally four-cornered with concave sides. Their pottery was decorated with excised shapes and polychrome paint in red, white and black.