Ponchos in Argentina; each region has its own colors

Ponchos in Argentina; each region has its own colors

Longer before the Spanish conquest, the South American aboriginal people made refined clothing called ponchos.

Gauchos on their horses, in Bamba de Areco

Longer before the Spanish conquest, the South American aboriginal people made refined clothing for apparel or as gifts made with wool from tamed llamas. To protect themselves from the cold weather, they covered the upper part of their bodies with a poncho : a square or rectangular piece of clothing with a hole for the head that falls both sides of the body, sometimes up to the ankles.

The colors come from the vegetable or mineral dyes. The poncho was quickly adopted by the Spaniards in the countryside, especially in the Andean and the Pampa regions. It would also become one of the essential apparel attributes of the gaucho: it is a piece of warm clothing, a blanket or an accessory when it is folded or carried on the shoulder.

Elegance of gauchitas in the pampa

Nowadays in Argentina, ponchos are woven with wool from llamas, alpacas and even vicuñas for the most luxurious models, and from sheep, in silk or cotton for the cheapest ones. Each region has its own colors, patterns and traditions for weaving ponchos. Some pieces of clothing are so fine that they may be used as an ornament. The most famous ponchos are from Catamarca, the Northeastern region. Making a poncho with several patterns and colors may take several months of work.

Argentina: some ponchos are made with the national colors: white and light blue, and worn for certain festivities and demonstrations.

Salta: the poncho from Salta is dark red with black bands and stripes. During the wars for independence, General Güemes made his soldiers wear ponchos. More recently, this poncho inspired the flag of the province.

Jujuy: brown, ocher and beige vertical bands.

Girl on a horse

Tucumán: brown with bordeaux trims according to the tradition of the Valles Calchaquíes. This poncho was even made official by a provincial law in 2004.

Catamarca: the ponchos in Belén are particularly famous for their fine weaving of wool from vicuña. Women that make these ponchos are heirs to the Inca tradition. A national and international Argentine Poncho Festival has been held for forty years with an exhibition of craftsmen and a folk music festival.

Ponchos Shop, Buenos Aires

Mapuche: Mapuches have had a long tradition of weaving ponchos and making a great work with their colors: dark red and blue. Many geometric and/or symbolic patterns. In the Mapuche culture, the poncho is much more than a piece of clothing, it is a true identity card for the person who is wearing it. Thus, the caciques had a band with a particular geometric pattern, with right angles and cross-shaped. Nowadays such pattern is widely made and known as guarda pampa (pampa pattern) and has inspired the ponchos from many regions. You can even find dishes and objects from Business in Aerolíneas Argentinas.

Argentina Excepción suggests several circuits to discover the culture of the gauchos:
Estancias and gauchos from the Pampa and the Northwestern region
Estancias in Córdoba, rural and cultural circuit
Estancia and gauchos from the Southern Patagonia