The indigenous community of Rio Blanco is applying a new twist to its ancient, ancestral traditions. In the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador, this indigenous Kichwa community is creating soaps utilizing the healing properties of the native medicinal plants of the forest.
Yakumama soaps are making their North American debut through Art of Spirit, of Plumsteadville. Patricia Walsh-Collins, founder and owner of Art of Spirit, has worked closely with the community, to bring these healing soaps to the U.S. Over the last five years, she has traveled to Ecuador many times and has been warmly welcomed into the Kichwa community of Rio Blanco.
Walsh-Collins has initiated and collaborated with the community on several different projects, including the soap-making business. Along with other organizations, Walsh-Collins has supplied the community with soap moulds, tools and instruction. Art of Spirit supports native cultures around the world by importing their traditional arts, with the hopes of re-instilling a living investment in the ancestral knowledge of these cultures.
It is the intention of Walsh-Collins to raise awareness and respect for the ancestral wisdom tucked away in these cultures, as well as contribute positively to the economic status of each community. “We all care about the survival of the rainforest, yet we don’t truly know how to care for it. Art of Spirit believes in supporting the primary caregivers of the forest—the indigenous cultures,” says Walsh-Collins. “By helping to create a sustainable income source for the native Kichwa, we contribute to the direct care and stewardship of the rainforest.”
Yakumama means mother of water and purity in Kichwa. Yakumama soap is a glycerin-based soap enhanced with medicinal plants such as ginger, cacao and wayusa, which are commonly used by the Kichwa to nurture and protect healthy skin. The soap is carried in Art of Spirit’s Ecuadorian collection—available through online sales and local sales events. Other collections include textiles and paper mache from Kashmir, India, textiles and jewelry from Peru and singing bowls from Nepal.
Art of Spirit is located at Serendipity Shops, 33 S. Main St., Doylestown. For more information and dates and locations of sales events, call 267-454-4491 or visit ArtOfSpiritWorld.com. December 2014.