Culture and traditions

Typical costumes of Colombia by regions

Colombian folklore is a mix between the cultures of the South American indigenous communities, the Spanish culture and the African cultures imported during the colonial era. All this can be observed if we analyze the typical costumes of each of the regions of Colombia, which we list below.

Below you have an index with all the points that we are going to deal with in this article.

Amazon region

The Amazon Region or, simply, Amazonia is the area that is in the south of the country. In its entirety, it comprises 41% of the entire national territory, so it is the least populated region of all, although it has several departments: Amazonas, Caquetá, Guainía, Guaviare, Meta, Putumayo, Vaupés and Vichada.

Yagua town

Thus, for example, one of the ethnic groups with the greatest number of inhabitants is the and water or ñihamwo, which also has few people in the Peruvian Amazon. This group is strongly rooted in their shamanistic beliefs and, therefore, they value above all the harmony with nature, in addition to other aspects such as food and health.

They have numerous rituals for which a specific attire is essential, although despite their day-to-day clothing is handcrafted from palm fibers, different kinds of baskets and hammocks, both female and male attire.

Yagua natives

Yapurutu Festivities

On a historical level, the inhabitants of the Department of La Guainía did not start using clothes until about 1950; until then, they were naked or at most used loincloths made from tree bark, while the women exposed the entire torso.

Today, however, the customs of indigenous peoples have been modified. However, the ceremonial costumes of yesteryear are often used as a way to keep traditional memory alive. They are used especially in festive time, to practice the main dances, to play music or to carry out their own rituals, where mythology plays a fairly relevant role.

The traditional costume of these indigenous groups for their rituals is made of a fiber extracted from the bark of trees that grow in the Amazon. Once collected, the bark of the tree is molded and subsequently the resulting suit is used, above all, for the Yapurutú festivities, typical of the guarequena ethnic group, of which a demonstration can be seen in the following video:

In addition, these costumes have several elements of ancestral symbology, such as plant paintings made with ink extracted from wild shrubs. It is also common to use a feathered crown in the case of men, as well as to paint the face and sometimes the entire body, in the latter case drawing shapes that represent historical and cultural elements for their community.

Andean region

The Andes Mountains are a mountain range located in South America that crosses several countries, including Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela. It is a large territory where the legacy of the Quechua ethnic group stands out, an indigenous town that inhabited this area in the era of the Ancaic Empire.

However, there are still Quechua communities in this area. In Colombian territory, the highest concentration of inhabitants of this ethnic group inhabits the Andes of southern Colombia.

Typical fabrics of the Andes

Thus, the language and, in short, the culture of the Quechuas has reached our days, something that has greatly marked the dances, the music and, of course, the typical costumes of this Colombian region. The Andean region of Colombia is divided into a total of 13 departments: Antioquia, Caldas, Boyacá, Cauca, Cundinamarca, Nariño, Huila, Norte de Santander, Quindío, Risaralda, Tolima, Santander and Valle del Cauca.

Although the typical costumes of the Andean Region of Colombia vary depending on each department, since each of them has its own festivities, the truth is that there is a common garment: the call ruana. It is a garment similar to a layer that closely resembles the poncho typical of traditional Mexican clothing.

Silleteros parade, Medellín, Antioquia

The ruana It is made with wool and, to carry it correctly, it should be wrapped tightly around the shoulders. There is also the possibility of doing it around a single shoulder, while hanging slightly from the other. It is said that its origin dates back to the Muisca indigenous people, whose inhabitants used the so-called chibcha poncho, and also to the classic Spanish cape.

Huilense San Juan

The sanjuanero huilense or dance of the bambuco is a typical dance of the area that began to be practiced for the first time in 1961. Although its male version as well as its female version stand out, it is true that the feminine costume is the most striking and elaborate of all . This is basically composed of the following pieces: skirt with embroidered flowers, white blouse and gold slippers.

The blouse, which must be white, is tight to the body and has a zipper on the back. The collar of this shirt is tray-shaped, so that the shoulders and neck are exposed, and is usually adorned with white polyester lace. The following video shows an example of how the dance of the San Juan del Huilense is:

As regards the skirt, as you can see in the video, it is a very elaborate garment if we opt for the version in which the flowers, of different sizes, are die cut in satin.

However, there are simpler versions in which flowers (both leaves and buds) are simply painted on the fabric. There is no default color for this garment, so the colors of this garment can vary and range from pink tones to more orange tones.

It is important to note that the way in which the flowers of the skirt are distributed does not respond randomly, but that a specific pattern must be followed: there should be five branches in the front and another five in the rear. In each bouquet, there are up to three different types of sizes. Thus, the large bouquets include between 10 and 12 flowers, the medium 4-5 flowers and the smaller ones between 9 and 12.

Paisa hat

An indispensable accessory is the famous paisa hat or antioqueño hat, a garment that is traditionally manufactured in the Andean region of Colombia and that has become a regional symbol, especially in the departments of the Coffee Axis and Antioch.

One of the most striking features of this garment since there is no standard model, so while the older models were of a very high cup, which today is very much appreciated by collectors, at present it is no longer manufactures this model, although some of the original features such as the very short or very wide wing are still preserved, and the base color is essentially white.

Example of paisa or antioqueño hat


The character of the chapolera is also very popular, very representative throughout the Colombian Andean Region. This female suit consists of a huge black skirt that reaches up to 20 cm above the ankle and that includes multicolored ribbons, accompanied by patterned fabrics of a variety of colors.

Traditionally, the chapolera character is associated with values ​​such as wealth and status, and is considered the best design of his time. The blouse that accompanies this skirt is always white with some ornaments (embroideries, lace, ruches, saddle …), cotton fabric, high neck and usually short sleeves. Under the skirt, the chapolera wears one or even two boleros and always wears petticoats (female undergarment). As footwear, the chapolera wears espadrilles.

Colombian Chopper Costume

The history of the chapolera character dates back to the early twentieth century. He is a typical character of the Coffee Axis that was formerly dedicated to the coffee picking. The chapoleras resided in the departments of Quindío, Caldas, Risaralda and some isolated municipalities in the North of Valle del Cauca. The name of chapolera comes from the term Chapora, which refers to a butterfly from the area that usually migrates to coffee farms at harvest time.

The Caribbean Region

The Caribbean Region of Colombia is the northernmost part of the country, whose name is due to the fact that it is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea to the north. Formed by nine departments, it is an area that has many customs, dances and musical styles.


The term palenquero It applies to both the inhabitants of San Basilio de Palenque (north coast of Colombia) and the famous palenqueras, women who have become one of the most representative symbols, not only of this community but also of Colombia in general.

In this area, inhabited mostly by descendants of slaves who arrived from Africa during the fifteenth century onwards, it is something of the day to day meeting women dressed in colored dresses or with the colors of the flag of Colombia, always carrying a basin full of fruits on the head.

Women of Palenqueras in Cartagena, Colombia

Typical dances

In Palenque also, as we said at the beginning of this section, music is very present in the lives of its inhabitants. In fact, there are numerous music and dance schools throughout this area. However, the dance of bullerengue Colombian is possibly the most widespread dance in Palenque and Cartagena.

Others that have wide popularity are the son of blacks, are palenquero and chulapa. These musical rhythms are characterized by being the result of a mixture between African and Latin music, as well as being used for its composition typical instruments such as drum, bongo, timba and bass drum, among others.

Dances and costumes of Cartagena de Indias

Another of the typical dances of Cartagena de Indias that, of course, is accompanied by a typical costume is the Colombian map, a dance that also reminds a lot of the traditional rhythms of the African ethnic groups. The traditional costumes for dancing the raccoon consists, first and foremost, of simple garments for both men and women.

Thus, the male suit includes a long pants (up to the heels) that is adorned with fringes or washers. The woman, meanwhile, wears a more or less short skirt also adorned with fringes or frills to enhance the movement of her hips.

The cumbia It is also one of the quintessential dances of Colombia. In fact, there is a song entitled "La Pollera Colorá", considered by many to be the country's second national anthem. To dance the cumbia, women wear wide skirts and two types of blouses: on the one hand, the closed ones, three-quarter sleeves with frills, and the low-cut ones, which are usually used in areas with warmer climates. For the man, the suit is totally white, with a round neck shirt and long sleeves with a closed cuff, as we will see in the following video:

He Colombian fandango It is another of the most striking dances regarding the costumes of the Caribbean region of Colombia. It is danced as a couple, so both men and women should wear a specific costume. The women's wardrobe consists of a camisole or short blouse, a wide and long skirt up to the ankle in a cut yoke or curly at the waist. In addition, it is decorated with braids, covers and other decorative elements. Footwear must be comfortable to facilitate dance movements.


The typical clothing of Barranquilla is soft and fresh, as in most areas of the Colombian Caribbean Region. For everyday life, men from Barraquilleros usually wear fine cloth shirts and linen pants, very suitable for the warm climate of the area. But there is a garment that, like the paisa hat, is a symbol of Barranquila: it is the Vueltiao hat, widely used by both men and women. It is also quite common to wear a scarf tied around the neck.

Probably, where most of the typical Colombian costumes can be seen in the famous Barranquilla Carnival, an event that is held annually and that today constitutes the most important folk festival in Colombia. In it, the objective is to represent all the cultural varieties of the Colombian Caribbean coast, so that in it the dances, costumes and musical rhythms of the region can be seen and heard. It has several typical costumes, such as Marimonda or Garabato.

Accessories for the Barranquilla Carnival

He vueltiao hat It is especially popular in Córdoba, Bolívar and Sucre, and has become one of the main pieces of handicrafts from Colombia. In reality, this hat owes its origin to the indigenous Zen community, which inhabits the Sinú river region. Specifically, the municipality of Tuchín is considered as the cradle of the Vueltiao hat, which is made with arrow cane leaves, that is, a species of grass native to the region. Since 2004, the Vueltiao hat is the National Cultural Symbol. This hat consists of the following parts:

  • Template: The making of this hat begins with this horizontal part that crowns the hat.
  • Olma: also called first round or hat ring, is the central part of the template.
  • Cup or glue: It consists of five braids, the first four painted and the last white.
  • To: twelve laps on average, is the last step in the process of making the vueltiao hat. It begins with a black braid and is alternated from now on with other colors. The last lap is known as last lap.
Colombian girl with vueltiao hat

Island region

The Insular Region is the set of marine islands belonging to Colombia that are far from the continental coasts. It is formed by San Andrés and Providencia, Bolívar (Rosario Islands and San Bernardo Islands), Cauca (Gorgona Island) and the Cauca Valley (Malpelo Island).

Despite the small area covered by this region of Colombia, it is a very diverse part of the country at a cultural level in which the typical costumes are defined by its dry climate and with defined periods of rain.

The quintessential clothing of the Insular Region for women consists of a a white blouse Long sleeve and high neck, coupled with a long skirt that usually reaches the ankle. In addition, accessories such as a headscarf of some bright color are usually added to this suit.

As for the male suit, it is also composed mainly of an almost always white shirt. The pants are usually gray, although they can also be seen in cream, or even black, always combined with black shoes.

However, the traditional costumes of this area are those that are associated with their popular dances, such as the waltz, the hall, the mazurca, the polka, the vallenato dance, the calipzo, the chin, the yaya yaga, etc. In the following video we can see a representation of the famous hall dance:

Orinoquía Region

The Orinoquia Region, known as Orinoquia without more, is located in the eastern part of the country and is also known as Eastern plains, so that the inhabitants are called llaneros and llaneras. The region is formed by the following departments: Arauca, Casanare, Guaviare, Meta and Vichada. The meaning of their typical costumes lies in the culture of the llaneros, who define themselves as workers, dedicated to raising cattle.

Therefore, in this area, the typical costumes of both men and women are based on providing the maximum comfort possible when working. In this way, the man's suit, called liquiliqui, it is a simple, fresh and especially light suit, although at present it is only used in social events, festive periods and for the dance of the joropo, that is, the traditional llanera dance. It consists of pants, jacket and espadrilles that can be found either in white or in bright colors.

Joropo dance performance

The traditional feminine dress consists of a wide skirt of flats that reaches the ankle. For its preparation, you can spend up to seven rods of fabric with which they can be light or red or even printed with flowers.

As in other typical costumes, a petticoat and wide combination is used. The blouse is turtleneck, three-quarter sleeves and is usually adorned with ribbons and buttons on the back. This is the traditional dress, although today wide blouses with neckline and short sleeves are also used. In the hair, loose hair with a cayenne flower as decoration.

Pacific region

The Pacific Region of Colombia is formed by the cities of Tumaco, Quibdó, Chocó and Buenaventura. Various black communities coexist in this region that still preserve their original traditions from Africa, such as dress and traditional dances. Even in gastronomy, cultural characteristics typical of people of African descent can be observed.

The typical costumes of this area, where the inhabitants are mostly humble class, are therefore simple and, above all, soft and fine fabrics suitable to withstand high temperatures.

Typical costumes of the Fiestas de San Pacho, Quibdó

Typical dances

One of the quintessential dances of the Pacific Region of Colombia is the currulao. This indigenous musical rhythm of this Colombian region has crossed borders and several versions can be observed in different Ecuadorian regions.

Also know as old bamboo, the currulao is a dance traditionally oriented towards courtship and is closely related to the Afro-descendant culture of the region. It is a dance for which every detail must be taken care of to the smallest detail, both in the feminine and the masculine attire. Let's see in the following video what are the costumes for both sexes:

To dance another dance of Spanish origin known as the Colombian jota, a dance that the Spanish colonizers took to the area several centuries ago, the women's suit, meanwhile, is usually white, although it is also in varied colors such as pink or yellow. Although simplicity prevails, some women prefer to decorate it with colored ribbons, embroidery or frills.

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