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Costume and History in Highland Ecuador

Edited by Ann Pollard Rowe

Publication Year: 2011

The traditional costumes worn by people in the Andes—women’s woolen skirts, men’s ponchos, woven belts, and white felt hats—instantly identify them as natives of the region and serve as revealing markers of ethnicity, social class, gender, age, and so on. Because costume expresses so much, scholars study it to learn how the indigenous people of the Andes have identified themselves over time, as well as how others have identified and influenced them. Costume and History in Highland Ecuador assembles for the first time for any Andean country the evidence for indigenous costume from the entire chronological range of prehistory and history. The contributors glean a remarkable amount of information from pre-Hispanic ceramics and textile tools, archaeological textiles from the Inca empire in Peru, written accounts from the colonial period, nineteenth-century European-style pictorial representations, and twentieth-century textiles in museum collections. Their findings reveal that several garments introduced by the Incas, including men’s tunics and women’s wrapped dresses, shawls, and belts, had a remarkable longevity. They also demonstrate that the hybrid poncho from Chile and the rebozo from Mexico diffused in South America during the colonial period, and that the development of the rebozo in particular was more interesting and complex than has previously been suggested. The adoption of Spanish garments such as the pollera (skirt) and man’s shirt were also less straightforward and of more recent vintage than might be expected.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Series: Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-ix

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pp. xi-xiv

This book is a surprise. I originally assembled the information presented here as background for a study of the contemporary indigenous costume of highland Ecuador, done in collaboration with Lynn A. Meisch and Laura M. Miller and based primarily...

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pp. xv-xvii

As editor, my first acknowledgment is to those authors who were asked to write chapters for the original book manuscript and then had to wait so many more years for...

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Introduction (Ann Pollard Rowe)

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pp. 1-10

Although Ecuador is only about the size of Oregon, it has wide variations in ecological zones, since it is bisected north to south by the Andes Mountains (see Map 1). It is, as...

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Chapter 1. Ecuador before the Incas

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pp. 11-69

The northern Andes are very different from the high, dry mountain and oasis valleys of Peru in that they are both lower and wetter than their neighbors to the south and the climatic...

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Chapter 2. Ecuador under the Inca Empire

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pp. 70-95

The Incas conquered the highland part of what is now Ecuador and incorporated it into their empire. We are not informed in detail by our Spanish sources about the political...

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Chapter 3. Ecuador under the Spanish Empire

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pp. 96-110

Following the capture of Atau Huallpa at Cajamarca in 1532, Francisco Pizarro dispatched his lieutenant, Sebastián de Benalcázar, to explore and conquer the northern area of the Inca Empire. The Spanish received a mixed reception in the region...

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Chapter 4. Historical Developments in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Ecuador (Margaret Young-Sánchez)

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pp. 111-118

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, great political, economic, and social changes occurred in the territories that are now Ecuador. The colonial Audiencia experienced revolution, confederation, and finally independence as a republic. Political...

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Chapter 5. Carchi Province (Ecuador) and the Department of Nariño (Colombia) (Joanne Rappaport)

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pp. 119-129

The high plateau straddling the international boundary that separates Ecuador from Colombia is dotted by numerous small towns and dispersed farmsteads, and blanketed...

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Chapter 6. Costume in Imbabura Province

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pp. 130-168

The green, fertile Otavalo Valley nestles in the Andes at 9,200 feet above sea level, 105 kilometers (65 miles) north of Quito (see Map 2). The town of Otavalo is the market...

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Chapter 7. Costume in Southern Pichincha Province (Ann Pollard Rowe)

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pp. 169-223

Indigenous people living in Quito and its environs (see Map 3) wore a distinctive costume well into the twentieth century. Because the city was the political and cultural...

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Chapter 8. Costume in Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, and Bolívar Provinces (Ann Pollard Rowe)

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pp. 224-242

Comparatively little information on the historical development of indigenous costume exists for Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, or Bolívar Provinces in central Ecuador, but what...

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Chapter 9. Costume in Chimborazo and Cañar Provinces

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pp. 243-269

Chimborazo Province is large and ethnically diverse (see Map 5). In terms of costume, it can be divided into at least three broad areas (A. Rowe ed. 1998: chaps. 9–11). Central Chimborazo is defined as the area of the western foothills of the central valley...

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Chapter 10. Azuay Province

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pp. 270-296

Azuay Province (see Map 6) is famous for a mild, temperate climate that permits cultivation of palm trees, sugarcane, peaches, and other fruits, in addition to subsistence crops...

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Chapter 11. Saraguro Costume in Loja Province (Lynn A. Meisch)

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pp. 297-308

The Saraguros are an ethnic group numbering between 22,000 and 30,000 people in 1996 (Belote and Belote 1999), located in small settlements within a 12-mile radius...

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pp. 309-314

Perhaps our most notable finding is the longevity of Inca-style costume, which in women’s dress and even in men’s tunics continued until the midtwentieth century...


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pp. 315-330

Glossary (Ann Pollard Rowe)

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pp. 331-336

References Cited

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pp. 337-366


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pp. 367-368


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pp. 369-382

E-ISBN-13: 9780292734739
E-ISBN-10: 0292734735
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292725911
Print-ISBN-10: 0292725914

Page Count: 416
Illustrations: 9 color and 194 b&w photos, 7 line drawings, 8 maps, 1 table
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Clothing and dress -- Ecuador -- History.
  • Ethnicity -- Ecuador -- History.
  • Ecuador -- Social life and customs.
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