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    Land of winds > Traditions > Clothing | Issue 17 (Jan.-Feb. 2014)
    By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza

Ecuadorian Andean attire

Ecuadorian Andean attire

The traditional costume of the Ecuadorian Sierra is mostly based on ancient attire worn by Quechua-speaking indigenous peoples settled in the region: among others, the Cañari, the Otavalo, the Salasaca and the Saraguro. Some of the items that have been the basis of Ecuadorian Andean attire from as early as pre-Hispanic times have fallen in disuse in a slow but steady process of mestizaje (racial-cultural mixture), however, most of them continue to be used in festive and ceremonial contexts.

Spanish chroniclers (such as Pedro Cieza de León) pointed out that the Andean natives of Ecuador worn long cotton shirts and woollen mantles, and put leather ushutas (sandals) on their feet. These general trends have change little, although the materials used in making them have evolved over time and some items now integrate mestizo features.

Cañari (provinces of Cañar and Azuay) men and women both wear a sheep wool hat (white, round, narrow-brimmed and with a black edge). The women usually dress in black or dark blue polleras (skirts) and short-sleeved embroidered blouse, they are wrapped in a rebozo (shawl) pinned in front with a tupu, and wear several necklaces of beads and a pair of silver ear-rings. The men dress in black woollen trousers, embroidered shirt, a woollen cushma (short poncho) and a colourful chumbi (chumpi) sash.

Among the Otavalo, in the province of Imbabura, women clothing consists of a white blouse with multicoloured floral embroidery (and, sometimes, with lace in the sleeves and collar), two anacos (skirts made of a length of uncut fabric, the inner skirt white and the outer skirt dark blue/black) secured at the waist by two sashes (called chumbi and mama chumbi, the latter is red and wider than the former), a fachalina (a white or black mantle tied over the shoulders or fastened at the breast with a tupu), a rebozo (fabric shawl, usually fuchsia or turquoise) and dark blue/black espadrilles. The outfit is completed by gualcas (golden necklaces), manillas (red bracelets, made of coral or plastic), rings and ear-rings. Otavalo man wears a hat, ankle-long, white trousers, white shirt and white espadrilles on his feet, and covers himself with a dark blue long thick woollen poncho.

Salasaca men (province of Tungurahua) wear white trousers, two ponchos (one white, under one black), a purple rebozo used as a scarf, white wide-brimmed hat, and woollen sashes chumbi (the plain yanga chumbi, or the more elaborate mananay chumbi). The women wear a black anaco secured by the huarmi chumbi ("woman's sash"), two mantles (one white the other dark) pinned with a tupu, and cover with a white woollen or felt hat. The white hat is used on festive and ceremonial occasions, and the same applies to the ucupachallina or women's coloured mantles.

Finally, the Saraguro (province of Loja) wear a small black hat on a daily basis, which they change for a white with black patches, wide-brimmed woollen hat on festive occasions. The man dresses in a shirt, calf-long trousers, a black cushma as a vest, a black or dark blue poncho and shoes; while the woman wears a black woollen pollera secured with a sash chumbi, an embroidered blouse and a rebozo or chalina pinned with a tupu.

Article. "Vestimenta Cañari", in Turismo Cañar [es].
Article. "Vestimenta del pueblo Kichwa Otavalo", by Marisol Lema [es].
Article. "Vestimenta", in Salasaka-runakuna [es].
Article. "Saraguros", in Grupos étnicos de Ecuador [es].

Picture 01. Cañari women.
Picture 02. Cañari children dressed up for the Pawkar Raymi festival.
Picture 03. Cañari celebration.
Picture 04. Otavalo woman.
Picture 05. Otavalo old man.
Picture 06. Salasaca children.
Picture 07. Festive Salasaca women.
Picture 08. Festive Saraguro young girls.
Picture 09. Festive Saraguro old woman.
Picture 10. Saraguro couple.

Picture A.

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