Traditional Aymara attire
Aymara attire has been strongly influenced by western fashion in rural and urban areas alike (as it has happened with most of the indigenous clothing in Latin America). However, it retains some original features that turn it not only unique but also very popular thanks to Carnival parades and the Ekeko.
Aymara men usually wear flannel trousers and shirt, and a multicoloured wood wide belt or wak'a (similar to the chumpi worn by Quechua people). They cover with a poncho (a single large sheet of fabric with an opening in the center for the head; the most traditional being the black and red stripped one) and, sometimes, over this poncho they wear another called unku or unco, which is shorter and of brighter shades than the former. Another common piece of men’s clothing is the lluch'u, a wool hat with earflaps (the ch'ullu worn by Quechua people), on top of which they can also wear a felt hat usually with narrow brim. They put on leather sandals or wiskhu (the ushuta worn by Quechua people). They complete their attire with the ch'uspa, a small bag where they carry coca leaves. In addtion, Aymara chiefs wear a shawl, the staff and the chicote, a hide plaited whip used to apply justice.
Aymara women wear a long dark baize tunic known as aqsu (axo, acso, akso) or urkhu, which is fastened with brooches (t'iriña, the tupu used by Quechua people) on the shoulder and clung to the waist with a wide belt or yapisa. They cover their shoulders with the lliqlla, a woven kerchief, and can also wear a colourful aguayo or awayu, a colourful blanket knotted at the breast to swaddle their child, food or whatever. They comb their hair with two braids that gather together with a wool adorment called tullma, and sometimes they wear the classic bowler hat.
Nowadays, the aqsu is only used in rural areas: urban Aymara women wear a shirt, a beautifully embroidered shawl, and several embroidered skirts placed on top. This is the women’s fashion in La Paz to highlight their economic status without renouncing tradition.
Article. "Identidad aymara en San José de Kala, Bolivia", by Porfidio Tintaya, in Identidades étnicas [es].
Picture 01. Aymara indigenous man, archive picture.
Picture 02. Aymara cap and hat.
Picture 03. Detail of Aymara awayu.
Picture 04. Aymara women.
Picture 05. Young Aymara women and men.
Picture 06. A parade of Aymara women from La Paz.
Video 01. Meaning of the Aymara chiefs’ attire [es].