The history of Venezuela, like the other Latin American countries, can be divided into a time before the Spanish conquest and the time afterwards. Before the Spaniards and other Europeans came, the area was home to various indigenous peoples such as the Auaké, Caquetio, Kalina (Caribs), Mariche and Timoto-cuicas. In 1498, Christopher Columbus visited the region and it was then colonised by Spain in the 16th century. The Spanish later brought slaves from Africa. Venezuela got its independence from Spain in 1830 but has been subjected to European and North American influences since then.
Today’s Venezuelans are decided from all three groups — Spanish, Amerindian and African — with the majority of the population being of mestizo (mixed) ethnic heritage. In a 2011 census, 2.8% identified themselves as “black”, 0.7% as being Afro-descendant (afrodescendiente) and 1.2% answered “other races”. In addition, 2.6% claimed to belong to the 20 different indigenous tribes living in Venezuela such as the Añu, Chaima, Cumanágoto, Jivi, Kariña, Pemón, Piaroa, Warao, Wayúu, Yanomami, Yukpa, etc.
Today’s traditional non-tribal Venezuelan folklore costume has both Spanish and French influences from the 19th century. The various indigenous tribes each have their own traditional dress and hairstyles.
Non-tribal Venezuelan women wear either a dress or blouse and skirt combination that is worn off both shoulders or off just one shoulder. The blouse or top of the dress has a large ruffle along the neckline. The wide skirts are cut on the bias and often also have ruffles. The length varies from knee-length to long. The material is often printed with colourful floral patterns. The women usually put flowers in their hair.
Non-tribal Venezuelan men traditionally wear a white, beige, cream or ecru-coloured suit called a liqui liqui (pronounced lee-kee lee-kee). The suit consists of a pair of trousers and a jacket with a high Nehru-style collar which is fastened and decorated by a chain link (junta) similar to a cufflink, which joins the two ends of the collar. The jacket is also fastened by 5 to 6 buttons, and may or may not have pockets (if so, no more than four). It is made of linen or cotton, although gabardine and wool can also be used. It is also the national dress for men in Colombia.
Due to the style of the collar, there are two theories about the origins of the liqui liqui. In the first, it is thought that it originated in the Philippines. The second and more accepted version, says that the liqui liqui is a derivative of the colonial-era soldier uniform, whose jacket called a liquette had a similar shape – and liquette and liqui liqui are closely related words.
Traditionally, the liqui liqui is worn with an open-toed sandal (alpargata) and a llanero hat originally worn by Venezuelan and Columbian herdsmen.
Another male costume comes from the peasant farmer or campesino culture and consists of white trousers and a white shirt with a red scarf tied around the neck in a triangle (see top picture). Nowadays, jeans are often worn instead of the white trousers. Again, alpargatas are worn on the feet.
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