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    Land of winds > Traditions > Clothing | Issue 20 (Jul.-Aug. 2014)
    By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza

Cauca's traditional attire


Cauca's traditional attire

The department of Cauca, located in the south-western portion of the Colombian Andes, is the homeland of the Nasa (Paez) and Misak (Guambiano) peoples, which are mostly settled around the municipality of Silvia. It is also the birthplace of the culture of the inhabitants of Popayán (payanesa culture), the department's capital.

Generally speaking, both the Misak and the Nasa use the wool from their sheep to produce clothes (which not being dyed are of the natural colour of the wool, black, white, or grey-brown). Fine clothes are made of cotton while pita or cabuya fibre is used to make footwear and accessories. Living in the highlands makes it necessary for them to wear warm clothes.

Misak women's traditional costume consists of an anaco (type of skirt) made of black sheep wool, plain blouse (usually blue or red), shawl or reboso (usually blue with white borders), many white necklaces, bright coloured stockings, boots and a dark bowler-like hat made of wool or cloth. Male attire includes linen calf-length trousers, a wide blue wool belt tightened with a narrower wool or leather belt, cotton shirt, a pair of ruanas (a type of poncho), and a short brimmed felt hat. They complete their attire with small bags or jigritas containing coca leaves and a small gourd container for the mambí (powdered lime to chew the leaf).

Nasa women wear an embroidered blouse, a black anaco with a blue and red stripe round the bottom border, fastened with a chumbe (wool wide belt, from Quechua chumpi), a dark blue or black shawl, an iraca palm hat, necklaces and earrings; they usually walk barefooted. Men, for their part, dress in cotton shirt, drill trousers, ruana, long poncho and iraca hat, and carry braided bags or cuetanderas.

The traditional costume in the temperate regions of the Cauca –especially in the region of Popayán– includes, for women, a colourful wide skirt with ribbons and, sometimes, fastened with a chumbe, a linen blouse with tulle details, silk ribbons and embroidered patterns, cotton or linen underskirt, a thin fabric shawl and espadrilles. Men wear pale calf-length trousers, light coloured shirt, and wide-brimmed hat.

In the cold highland regions, women wear dark heavy fabric skirt, long sleeve high neck blouse, wool ruana and shawl, black hat and sandals, while men dress in heavy fabric trousers, dark ruana and black hat.


Article. "Vestuario Cauca", in Sistema Nacional de Información Cultural [es].
Article. "Hacia una antropología de la indumentaria: el caso de los Guambianos", by Ronald A. Schwarz [es].
Article. "Trajes regionales del departamento del Cauca – Paeces y GUambianos", by Ana M. Bejarano de Gamboa [es].


Picture 01. Nasa family.
Picture 02. Nasa women.
Picture 03. Nasa woman.
Picture 04. Nasa men.
Picture 05. Nasa children.
Picture 06. Misak men 01.
Picture 07. Misak men 02.
Picture 08. Misak women in the market.
Picture 09. Misak girls.
Picture 10. Misak women.


Picture A.


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