Cultural Tidbit: Traditional Peruvian Dress

CC-BY David StanleyPeru has a rich tradition of folk art, which often combines indigenous and colonial methods and themes. One great example of the artistic fusion of old and new can be found in the clothing commonly worn by Peruvian women of indigenous descent. Their colorful, petticoat-stuffed dresses are a fusion of the traditional Incan anacu and the colonial skirts that the conquistadors forced women to wear.

Besides the polleras (skirts), other elements of the traditional women’s outfit include a chumpi (woven belt), a jobona (wool jacket), a lliclla and tupu (shawl and pin), and a montera (hat). All of these items are brightly colored and lavishly decorated with embroidery. Monteras are particularly interesting because they come in so many different shapes and styles. In past decades, you could tell where a woman was from by what type of montera she had. Now, however, it is increasingly common for women to buy monteras at the market from residents of other regions. They wear whatever suits them, rather than what is traditional in their particular village. Monteras are a highly personal affair with plenty of opportunities for self-expression in the decoration.

When you visit Peru, you will no doubt enjoy seeing the colorful costumes that so perfectly embody the people’s cheerful spirit.