Culture and traditions

Typical costumes of the Caribbean Region (Colombia)

The Colombian Caribbean Region is an area of ​​the country full of typical customs, traditions, dances and music. Therefore, it is not surprising that traditional costumes respond to a wide range of designs, colors and shapes. Discover below what is the traditional dress of this area of ​​Colombia.

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

Bolivar Department

The Department of Bolívar, located in the north of Colombia, and especially its capital, Cartagena de Indias, has a long history at the socio-cultural level behind it. That is why this area is where a greater variety of traditional costumes, as well as traditional dances can be found. Stand out above all the "palenquera" outfit, on which you can find a detailed description below.

San Basilio de Palenque

San Basilio de Palenque, located on the north coast of Colombia, is a community full of history that was founded by those enslaved who had the opportunity to escape and take refuge in a safe place during the fifteenth century. The inhabitants of this area are called “Palenqueros”, A term that in turn refers to the enslaved Africans (also called Maroons) who escaped the slave regime during the colonial period.

Specifically, this place is basically known by its symbol: the palenqueras. These are dark-skinned women who wear a very special outfit consisting of multicolored dresses, with satin fabric. They are characterized by their way of walking, moving their hips and balancing on their heads the basins they carry daily loaded with fresh fruits. Dressed in these costumes, the palenqueras go out every morning to sell fresh fruits, traditional sweets and corn buns.

Traditional palenquera costume with fresh fruit basin

In this area, where a Creole language called "Palenquera language" is spoken, whose base is Spanish although many words have African influence, the main festivities are: the Patron Feast of San Basilio de Palenque, the Festival of Drums and Cultural Expressions of Palenque, the Feasts of San Juan. Also the Easter and New Year holidays are a very special occasion to dress in the best costumes and share the experience with friends and family.

Palenqueras turned into a souvenir

In addition, the typical costumes of San Basilio de Palenque are usually accompanied by traditional music, which results from a mixture between Latin and African music, along with typical instruments of their own, such as drums. Among the typical instruments of this palenque, we highlight: the bongó, the timba, the bass drum, the pechiche, the cheerful, the caller, the maracas and the marimbula. Talking about typical costumes in this area without mentioning the festivities, dances, music and typical instruments would lead to an incomplete definition.

Thus, in Palenque music and folklore is present in the lives of all its inhabitants, which is why there are numerous schools of music and dance. The most typical dances to accompany traditional costumes are: bullerengue ‘I sit down’, they’re black, the chulapa and the are Palenquero. The following video shows an example of what is the dance of the bullerengue ‘sentao’ and you can see the costumes that accompany both men and women:

Cartagena de Indias

On the other hand, one of the most important dances of the Colombian Caribbean coast is the so-called I mapped, which is characterized by having musical characteristics typical of the traditional rhythms of Africa. The Mapalé is not only a dance, but rather a musical genre. The history goes back to the colonial era, when the Spanish brought African slaves to these lands. It is especially popular in Cartagena de Indias, capital of the Department of Bolívar.

Actually, the Mapalé is a dance by which it is intended to represent the eroticism of the union between a woman and a man. According to several historians, the original map was introduced by fishermen who exercised their work on the banks of the Magdalena River centuries ago. In the beginning, they enlivened their evenings to the rhythm of this dance. The typical instruments that accompany this dance are the yamaró and quitambre drums, in addition to vocal singing and palms. The following video shows an example of what this dance consists of:

Of course, the map includes a traditional costume for both men and women. First of all, it's about simple garments as we will see next. As for the typical male suit, it is composed of long pants that reach more or less up to the heels. In addition, the most elaborate are usually adorned with washers or fringes in the mouth of the leg.

As for the woman's dress, this one usually wears a short skirt also adorned with fringes or not very large frills, which intensifies the movement of her hips. They can go either barefoot or wear flat shoes. In addition, it is striking that they wear a turban or handkerchief.

Atlantic Department

In the Atlantic region of the Caribbean coast of Colombia, traditional costumes are part of the historical legacy left by the inhabitants of this part of Colombia throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Between 1948 and 1850, millions of yards of a wide range of fabrics of different shapes and colors came to the so-called New Granada, which gradually invaded the markets of the area and from which they began to make the most costumes Traditional


Like most of the typical clothes of the Colombian Caribbean Region, the clothes used in Barranquilla are mostly soft and fresh, due to the tropical climate that predominates in the area. With regard to men, they usually make use of fine cloth shirts with varied colors, although usually bright, and linen pants.

It should be noted that the pants are normally white and are rolled up or picked up. Of course, an accessory that can not be missing in the male attire is the vueltiao hat, so popular both in Barranquilla and throughout the Caribbean Region in general. It is also quite common to wear a scarf tied around the neck.

The vueltiao hat: Cultural Symbol of the Nation

Thus, the famous Vueltiao hat is an original accessory from Colombia, although above all it is typical of Córdoba, Bolívar and Sucre, where, as we have said, it is a usual male garment. In addition, it is one of the most representative artisan pieces of Colombia, to the point that, in 2004, it was elevated to the category of Cultural Symbol of the Nation through Law 908. Since its origin dates back to the culture of the zenú indigenous community, settled in the Sinú river region, it is also known as vueltiao zenú hat or sinuous hat.

As for the typical women's costumes in Barranquilla, following the usual pattern of the Caribbean Region, the feminine costumes are characterized by their striking colors, where the floral patterns are often seen very frequently. Boleros in dresses or skirts are also very common.

Also, the makeup of the woman plays a very important role when it comes to giving the final touch to the outfit, so it is an elaborate makeup in which the objective is to accentuate the expression of the face. In the following video you can see images of the Barranquilla Carnival, a whole sample of the traditional costumes of this city:

Cesar Department

The Department of Cesar has a wide variety of traditional costumes, from those considered for daily use to those worn by men, women and children on special occasions or holidays. However, the quintessential costume for women in the Cesar region is called pylon suit, name that applies to both the male and female versions.

Thus, the female version of the women's suit consists mainly of a chambra, which is divided into two pieces: on the one hand, a long-sleeved blouse with printed tones, usually flowers (they can be small or somewhat larger) and three quarter sleeve. As for the skirt, it usually includes three boleros that end in lace. The shoes are usually comfortable, usually ones drumsticks, dancers or flats of flat sole and canvas fabric. On the head they wear a scarf printed on flowers.

Typical costume of the Cesarean woman

For daily use the woman dresses according to the weather of the time of the year in which the region is located. Usually, a high temperature prevails given the tropical climate of the region, so that the comfort and lightness of the clothing prevail above all. This is the reason why almost all women's garments are made of yarn or cotton scent, fabrics that are very fresh and soft.

The typical Caesarean men's suit, meanwhile, is very simple: white pants and white shirt. It is also usual to wear a red scarf knotted on the collar of the shirt and, on the head, a kind of headdress known as skullcap, which includes flowers made of kite paper. Likewise, men's shoes are also called ballets. The male suit for daily use is also similar, since soft and fresh fabrics prevail in it.

Indigenous communities

In the Department of Cesar, the South American indigenous community of arhuacas indians, the Yukpa or Motilones Indians, the Kogui and the Wiva, among others. The kogui and arhuaca communities use a kind of blanket made of coton and usually carry a backpack called totu Or simply, arhuaca backpack.

Arhuacas backpacks

Like most of the indigenous communities of the planet, the craftsmanship and the making of their own garments is a practice deeply rooted among these human groups. The arhuacas themselves make their clothing based on sheep's wool. In addition, women use multicolored necklaces and at the waist they wear a thin sash.

The yukpa indigenous or motilones inhabit the Sierra de Perijá and used to dress a while ago with a small blanket made with coton; However, today its clothing is not different from that of any other Caesarean. To protect themselves from heat, they wear a hat on the head they call toczuma. In addition, the kogui fit with rubber sole covers, although the woman usually goes barefoot.

Yukpa Indians (Sierra de Perijá)

Cordoba Department

The typical costumes of the Department of Córdoba (Colombia) are those that accompany the three typical dances of this region: the joint, the puya and the fandango. In this way, the female dress is the one that accompanies the Sinuan dances of their origins. This is composed of a wide skirt in a cut yoke and, on top, a camisole. In the following video you can see a representation of the famous dance of puya vallenata:

As for the skirts, there are innumerable types, namely: curly waist, ruffles, blades, cut yoke, with grilles, multicolored, with floral patterns, embroidered, with ribbons … As accessories are not missing necklaces, Floral ornaments and jewelry. The shoes are black denim slippers.

On the other hand, the masculine attire is similar to the one worn by their ancestors during the early twentieth century. At this time, men wore the typical Cuban hat, black shoes and a sack. However, there was a marked difference between the attire of the gentlemen and that of the peasants, since the latter used to wear a shirt, a Vueltiao hat and cover three points.

Currently, the men's suit in brief is composed of a white pants or khaki, cover three puntá, vueltiao hat, scarf and wide belt.

Department of La Guajira

In the Department of La Guajira the Wayú people, also called guajiros, who are indigenous natives of the Guajira peninsula. This community also inhabits the closest region of Venezuela to the Colombian Caribbean coast. In fact, the Wayú are the indigenous people with the greatest number of inhabitants of Venezuela and Colombia, since they represent almost 11% of the total population of the Zulia state and more than 40% of the total inhabitants of the Department of La Guajira.

Thus, it is not surprising that the most popular typical costume is that of the Wayú woman, of which the famous is striking blanket guajira. It is an oval-shaped camisole at the waist that reaches the feet, whose neckline is characterized by its "V" shape. In addition, it has two laces on the inside to adjust the garment more or less to the woman's body, so that if it fits, the result is a tight fit in front and completely loose and wide at the back.

Wayu women with typical costume

Under the blanket guajira, the woman wears a wusi, which is an intimate garment that fits the body with a sirapa. In the past, sirapa was used by all women from an early age with two objectives: on the one hand, maintaining good posture and, on the other hand, promoting the correct development of the breasts and back. However, many women today have replaced the use of the syrapa with other simpler garments such as regular underwear or waireñas. As accessories, usually carry backpacks and necklaces in various colors.

Typical backpacks of La Guajira

Department of San Andres y Providencia

Although San Andres and Providencia do not belong to the Caribbean Region but to the Insular, they are also in the Caribbean Sea. The costumes here are largely reminiscent of the native attire of the first decades of the twentieth century, especially that used in social gatherings and festive events. The typical costumes of this department can be visualized in the Isleña House Museum, located on the Island of San Andrés, which you can get an idea with the following video:

Thus, the women's suit is characterized by being three-quarter sleeves with a high neck and numerous lace as an ornament.

In addition, they wear a skirt that reaches the height of the ankles and is covered by a large number of silk ribbons around which are usually pastel or soft colors. Under the skirt, they wear wide petticoats that also include ribbons and lace, as well as a brief. The shoes are black, closed and heel, although not too high (about half height).

As regards the men's suit, it is usual to wear a bow tie, known in the area as bowtie, a jacket, suspenders, white shirt, pants (can be black, gray or gray) and always black shoes.

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Finally, we have selected the previous and next article of the block "Prepare the trip"so you can continue reading:

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