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
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
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
doubles as a means of carrying shopping or babies on the
backs. The Sierra
general has maintained many aspects of traditional culture including
the style of dress. In Cayambe and Zuleta, easily visited from Quito or Ibarra,
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
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
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.
Costumes of Ecuador
Ecuador´s ethnic groups and their traditional dress
- design and symbolism of regional costumes.