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Picture of nineteenth century rebel, and Puruhá, Fernando Daquilema

The Puruhá are an indigenous people of Ecuador. Their traditional area includes much of the Chimborazo Province and parts of the Bolívar Province.


In the early period they lived in a harsh land, but did manage to grow crops, raise guinea pigs, and be part of Inca trade. In the sixteenth century their population may have been as high as 155,000, but the population dwindled due to disease.[1] In the eighteenth century the Puruhá language had disappeared with the people switching to Quechua languages. Interestingly this switch solidified itself well after the end of Inca Empire rule as the local Catholic Church preferred Quechua. This caused some decline in any distinctiveness they had from Quechua peoples.[2]

That stated like the Quechua the Puruhá after the eighteenth century still expressed dissatisfaction with their rulers from time to time. In 1871 Chimborazo Province saw a rebellion of indigenous people, that included many Puruhá and was led by Fernando Daquilema, over taxation and labor drafts.[3] The Riobamba Canton being the main area of fighting. The rebellion caused whites and mestizos to be expelled from Punín. Despite initial successes though it ultimately failed. Many of the Puruhá received amnesty from Gabriel García Moreno government, but a few leaders, including Daquilema, were executed. The effects of the rebellion might have also been limited, but it gained legendary status in the province's history.[4]


The traditional religion included jambiri (medicine people) and gods linked to mountains. The gods were given offerings involving tobacco and rum, as in other Andean traditional religions in general.

On converting to Catholicism many of them transferred some of these ideas onto their new faith, while also sometimes mourning that the "whites" now had more power. In the 1960s Evangelicalism began increasing amongst their people and, in many Puruhá areas, became dominant. This is seen, at least in part, as being caused by the teetotalism of the missionaries. In the past that aspect of Evangelical missionaries had been unappealing, but a rise in expensive commercially bought alcohol, and in alcohol-related accidents, is argued to have made teetotalism appealing by the 1960s. The absolute rejection of alcohol was also linked to a sense of improvement for the Puruhá as a people. In addition Evangelical missionaries also may have gained popularity by having a general emphasis on healthy living.[5]