Peru: Andes Region

Background information

Even in the 21st century, people in the Peruvian Andes still wear the clothes worn by these three dolls. The majority of the Andean Amerindians in Peru belong to Quechua–speaking ethnic groups, though there are other ethnic groups living there, too. The names given to the clothes described below are in Quechua or Spanish.

The standard clothes for an Andean Peruvian peasant woman consist of a lliclla, a jobona, a k’eperina, many polleras and a montera. The lliclla is a small rectangular handwoven shoulder cloth fastened at the front using a decorated pin(tupu) or a large safety pin. It can also be tied in a knot, which looks to be the case in this doll. Although one of these two womaen is just wearing a blouse, normally a jobona or woollen jacket is worn under the lliclla as seen in the mother with baby..This type of jacket is decorated in colourful patterns of buttons. Andean women also wear a second larger shawl-like cloth over their backs and knotted in front. This is called a k’eperin and is used forcarrying both children and goods. Another method of transporting goods used by women is with a small rectangular cloth (unkuña) which is used for carrying snacks such as corn or coca. Coca is important in this region as it is used as a stimulant to overcome fatigue, hunger, and thirst. It is also effective against altitude sickness (useful as the Andes have an average height of 4,000 m).

Peruvian women also wear colourful skirts (polleras) made from a handwoven woollen cloth called bayeta. They may wear 3 or 4 skirts in a graduated layer effect. On special occasions, such as festivals, women may wear up to 15 polleras tied around the waist. Often the trim of each skirt is lined with a colourful puyto which is usually handmade. These puyto can vary from a narrow band with one or two colours, to a wide, multi-coloured band which covers most of the skirt. The style of the polleras is often an indicator of where a woman is from.

In addition, Peruvian women wear hats (monteras), the form of which can vary greatly throughout the Andean communities. As with the polleras, it is often possible to identify the village from which a woman comes from just by the type of hat she wears. The hats are secured with delicately woven sanq’apa straps adorned with white beads. These two dolls have no such adornment, unless these are what are being indicated by the hanging strand on the hat of the larger female.

Peruvian men wear dark wool knee-length handwoven bayeta pants. A woven belt called a chumpi is also worn which provides protection to the lower back when working in the fields. This doll does not have one on. The most distinctive part of Peruvian men’s clothing is the handwoven poncho. Nearly every Quechua man and boy has a poncho, generally red in colour. They are decorated with intricate designs with each district having a distinctive pattern. Ponchos are worn as daily attire in some communities (such as Huilloc, Patacancha, and many villages in the Lares Valley), however, most men use their ponchos only on special occasions (e.g. festivals, village meetings, weddings, etc.). The mens’ fine dress includes a woollen waistcoat (chaleco), which is similar to the sleeveless juyuna worn by the women. The chalecos can be richly decorated. Again this doll, like the woman, does not have a jacket but a shirt on.

Chullos are frequently worn by Peruvian men. These are knitted hats with earflaps and are often sold in third world shops in Europe. The first chullo that a child receives is traditionally knitted by his father (see baby). In the Ausangate region, chullos are often ornately adorned with white beads and large tassels called t’ikas. This means that the larger pair of dolls possibly come from the Ausangate region as the man’s chullo has such tassels. Men sometimes wear a felt hat called a sombrero over the top of the chullo that is decorated with finely decorated hat bandsor centillo.

Since ancient times, men have worn small woven pouches called chuspas (equivalent to the women’s unkuña). These are used to carry their coca leaves with a small separate pouch used for llipta, the lime ash catalyst that activates the alkaloids in coca. The chuspa even pre-dates Inca times.

Nowadays, both men and women wear ajotas on their feet: the cheap and durable sandals made from recycled tyres. My dolls are bare foot.

The quena carried by the male doll is the traditional flute of the Andes. It is usually made of bamboo or wood. It has 6 finger holes and one thumb hole and is open at both ends, though there are no indications of this on the doll’s flute. To produce sound, the player closes the top end of the pipe with the flesh between his chin and lower lip, and blows a stream of air downward, along the axis of the pipe, over an elliptical notch cut into the end (very different from blowing into a European flute). The quena is normally in the key of G, with G being the lowest note (all holes covered). It produces a very breathy or airy tone.


Source(s) of information,, and and (all accessed 21 February, 2012)


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