Traditional Dress

women’s dress

Quechua women’s dress today is rooted in traditions from pre-conquest Peru (a fusion of Inca and Huari cultures), and Spanish Colonial peasant dress (often with some modern items thrown in).

From London to New York, fashion is a personal choice. And increasingly in the high Andean villages where we work, we find a woman with a skirt bought from a traveling merchant that she “liked’ but does not pertain to her region. However, technically, each village and region has a unique style of clothing which identifies them as such.

Indigenous women in the Andes tend to wear synthetics because it is more convienient, and because they love to stand out wearing intense colour. Increasingly, young women choose to wear modern clothing if they live in Cusco, and traditional clothing in the community.

men’s dress

Men’s traditional dress has been more eroded by Western contact than women’s dress and younger Andean men now mostly wear Western-style clothing, such as sport clothing and baseball caps. Many of the elderly men wear knee-length, dark handwoven pants. In the Patacancha region, the bayeta pants a beige/white colour. Knee length pants are much more practical for working in the fields, and its common to see young men with their tracksuit pants rolled up to the knees.








Lliclla is a Quechua word, and this item is also known as a Manta. A lliclla is a square woven cloth that covers the back and shoulders. It is secured at the front using a tupu (straight pin), a sturdy safety pin, and/or is tied. When folded and pinned about the shoulders it acts as a small heavy shawl, which keeps the women warm in the chilly Andean air.




Llicilas are intricatly woven and colourfully decorated for festivals and other special occasions. At which time they may wear multiple Llicilas over top of each other.


Llicilas or mantas can also be used for carrying children on the woman’s back. Women and men use these in the same way for carrying cargo. Some call larger mantas a k’eperina when used for this purpose.


Traditionally, wool jackets decorated in colourful patterns of buttons are worn under the Lliclla, but nowadays it is common to see women wearing sweaters or cardigans.








A woman’s chumpiA Chumpi (a Quechua term for belt) is traditionally worn by women to fasten their skirts. Chumpis are also worn by men as a means of supporting the lower back when carrying heavy loads, and to tie their pants. On Tequile Island, Lake Titicaca, the women weave their soon to be husbands a belt as a wedding gift. Chumpis are also used to secure swaddled infants. Many weavers make these to sell at the market.






Jobona is a Quechua word for a traditional wool jacket, worn by women, that is adorned with patterns of colourful buttons, and worn under the Lliclla.





A weaver from Chinchero wearing her Jobona.



A weaver wearing the traditional Jobona of Chahuaytire.



Mercedes from Rumira Sondormayo wearing a Jobona,

decorated with patterns of colourful buttons.Nowadays it’s common to see women wearing sweaters or cardigans, which they buy at the market.



Polleras are wide skirts, traditionally made from handwoven wool bayeta cloth (but now often machine made and purchased). Women usually wear several of these over top of one another, and on special occasions women may wear up to 10 or more of them!


Skirts are usually trimmed with a colourful band, called a puyto, which is often applied by hand to a purchased skirt. These puyto can very from a subtle, narrow band with one or two colours, to wide, multi-coloured band which covers most of the skirt. The style of polleras are often an indicator of where a womenis from.



Women from Rumira Sondormayo wearing slightly different polleras, or skirts.