Tourist Activities in Honduras

The ethnic group of the Pesh in Honduras

At the time of contact with the Spanish, the Pesh had a level of socio-economic and political organization almost equal to that of their neighboring tribes (TawahkasTolupanes, etc.). During the Colony they spread from the Aguán River to the Patuca River in the northeastern part of Honduras.

The Pesh known pejoratively as payas, have as yet unknown origin; its evolution is lost between history and myth. They are likely descendants of the Chibchas, as the speakers of this language left South America probably 3,000 years ago and settled along the road between Colombia and Central America.

Although the Pesh have historically been subjected to the acculturation process, they still retain their language and part of their customs that are manifested in food, drinks and musical instruments such as the Tempuca (a kind of long drum), the Arwa, a kind of quena and the Camachá similar to the maraca.

See Ethnicities of Honduras

The ethnic group of the Pesh in Honduras

Geographic location

They are an ethnic group made up of 11 communities that are: Vallecito, Pueblo Nuevo, Subirana, Agua Zarca, Culuco, Jocomico, Zopilote and Brisas de Pisijire, all in the municipality of Dulce Nombre de Culmí, department of Olancho; Santa María del Carbón, in the municipality of San Esteban; Silín, in the municipality of Trujillo, department of Colón; and Las Marías, in the Río Plátano Biosphere, in the department of Gracias a Dios.

In the Río Plátano Biosphere, a section corresponding to the department of Gracias a Dios, there are small pesh communities and settlements scattered along the middle of the river, between La Marías and Waiknatara. In the community of Las Marías, where they are a minority, they have mixed with the Misquitos and Garífunas, but the oldest still retain part of their customs, speak their language; although the most recent contacts with the coastal economy, dominated by the Miskito, has resulted in the majority of them speaking Miskito and losing their mother tongue.

The Pesh of the Río Plátano still live in the thickest mountains and preserve many of their ancient customs.


The real word is PESH not PECH

The origin of the Pesh people is still unknown and their language derives from the Macro-Chibcha family of languages, of South American origin.

They call themselves «Pech» which means «People», a term that is used to refer only to them; for the rest of the population they use the terms pesh-akuá (the other people) or bulá, which means ladino. Lehmann and Greenberg consider that the Pesh language comes from the Chibcha, although some other linguists consider it as an isolated language.

Pesh is a language of great antiquity, which has been estimated at 4,000 years, and it is the only true Chibcha that is still spoken in Honduras; the most closely related languages are found in Costa Rica.

They are linguistically descendants of Chibcha subcultural groups, since the speakers of this language left South America, probably 3,000 years ago, and settled along the road between Colombia and Central America.

Today the majority of the Pesh population have mixed to some degree with the Miskito and as a result, they are facing the loss of their language and significant changes in their social organization.



The Pesh depend on agriculture, hunting and fishing for their subsistence. Their main crops are cassava, beans and corn, from which they make food, food and intoxicating drinks. These foods and drinks are mostly Pesh sustenance, accompanied by beans and rice. They also practice raising domestic animals.

They are engaged on a smaller scale in the extraction of the resin from the sweetgum tree, in artisanal production and in the washing of gold and the manufacture of ties, matates and furniture. The demand for labor occurs in the coffee plantation. Pesh women participate in the economic life of their villages; being artisans, farmers, fisherwomen, healers and shamans.

Musical instruments

  • Aerophones : Deer Caller, is a small bamboo reed to which a piece of nylon is tied at one of its open ends. When you put it in your mouth and blow it, it produces the imitative sound of deer. It is used in hunting activities.
  • Chordophones : Tempuca (drum), consists of a bow whose only string is attached to its ends; It is imprisoned in the center by a small gourd tied with wire, in it the performer modulates the sounds with his left hand and with his right hand he strikes the string using a wand. Its resonance box is a large guacal or pumpkin.
  • Membranophones: Tempuca (drum), elongated, approximately one meter long, with a single patch of boa skin and palo de negrito (tree with a thin trunk). It is struck with the tips of the fingers.
  • Idiophones: Camacha (maraca), made with a small and elongated gourd, to which a hole is made in one of the ends where the platanillo seeds are introduced; placing a piece of stick as a handle.

The organization

In the First Pesh Congress, promoted by the Francisco Morazán Higher School of Teachers and held between November 29 and 30 and December 1, 1885 in the community of Subirana, the FETRIPH Federation of Indigenous Pesh Tribes of Honduras emerged. .

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