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Traditional Costumes
Traditional costumes in Cayambe
Otavalo woman in traditional costume.
Busy market scene including Otavaleños in traditional highland costume
Textile weaving showing traditional dress
Woman in traditional costume next to people in jeans
Traditional woven belts

Ecuador's traditional costumes are still found in some highland communities, though regional dress in the costa or coastal region has mostly died out.





Traditional Costumes of Ecuador

Traditional costumes are still much in evidence in some of Ecuador's ethnic groups and are a common sight in rural highland markets.  Other cultures, for example the "colorados" of Santo Domingo, have almost completely lost their traditional dress and the regional costume is seen only as a tourist attraction in staged events.  Ecuador is made up of around twenty ethnic groups, with very different cultures and traditions, so there is no one national costume for Ecuador.
The traditional dress of the Otavalo region is probably the most famous and most frequently seen in Ecuador and as such has a page to itself - see Otavalo Traditional Costume.  
Various other highland communities maintain many of their traditions, and distinctive hats, ponchos and embroidered blouses are normal daily wear for many people.  Women from various villages in the Sierra (highlands) traditionally wear very full pleated skirts in bright colours, often with embroidery around the hem.  Different communities or ethnic groups often have their own subtle variation in the style of hat they wear.  A woollen shawl doubles as a means of carrying shopping or babies on the women's backs.  The Sierra region in general has maintained many aspects of traditional culture including the style of dress.  In Cayambe and Zuleta, easily visited from Quito or Ibarra, you will see local costumes in evidence at the market and in the fields.
Several of the rainforest tribes in the Amazon still wear traditional feathered headdresses and other accessories with ethnic or tribal significance, though many younger members combine or replace these with western style dress.
The people of the costa, the part of Ecuador between the mountains and the sea, have perhaps lost most of their cultural traditions.  Their traditional dress in most cases was not as distinctive or clearly defined as the costumes of the Sierra.  The black community in Esmeraldas on the north coast has its own distinctive culture, especially in terms of music, dance and cuisine, but costume is not a big part of this.
The Montubio people are noted for their sombreros (cowboy-style hats) and are often to be seen carrying machetes and wearing wellington boots, but do not really have a traditional costume as such.  "Montubio" is a vague definition but generally covers the provinces of Manabi, Los Ríos, Guayas, Santa Elena (only recently made a province, previously part of Guayas) and El Oro, extending slightly into the subtropical parts of Bolívar and Cotopaxi.  The Montubios have a strong regional accent and mostly work in agriculture.
Santo Domingo de los Colorados ("of the coloured ones") was named for the Tsáchila people, who used to wear their hair covered in red achiote paste.  Their traditional costume of a short wrap-around skirt is now virtually never seen.  The city of Santo Domingo was recently made the capital of a new province, Santo Domingo de los Tsáchila, thanks to its status as the fastest growing city in the country.  Sadly, its economic progress seems to have been at the cost of its cultural heritage.
The best way to get an overview of Ecuador's different ethnic groups and their traditional dress is probably to see the costumes at the Ethnographic Museum at the Mitad del Mundo, which also showcases typical dwellings, musical instruments, etc.  
Traditional Costumes of Ecuador
Ecuador´s ethnic groups and their traditional dress  - design and symbolism of regional costumes.