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

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

Bolívar Department

The Department of Bolívar, located in the north of Colombia, and especially its capital, Cartagena de Indias, have a long history at a socio-cultural level behind them. That is why it is this area where the greatest variety of typical costumes, as well as traditional dances can be found. The «palenquera» outfit stands out above all, about 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 steeped in history that was founded by those enslaved who had the opportunity to escape and take refuge in a safe place during the XNUMXth century. The inhabitants of this area are called "palenqueros”, A term that in turn refers to enslaved Africans (also called maroons) who escaped from the slave regime during the colonial period.

Specifically, this place is known basically for its symbol: the palenqueras. These are dark-skinned women who wear a very special outfit consisting of multicolor dresses, with satin fabric. They are characterized by their way of walking, moving their hips and balancing on their heads the basins that 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.

In this area, where a creole language called "Palenquera language" is spoken, whose base is Spanish although many words african influence, the main festivities are: the Patronal Festival of San Basilio de Palenque, the Festival of Drums and Cultural Expressions of Palenque, the Festivities 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.

In addition, the typical costumes of San Basilio de Palenque are usually accompanied by traditional music, which results from a mix between Latin and African music, together with typical instruments of their own manufacture, such as drums. Among the typical instruments of this palenque, we highlight: the bongo, the timba, the bass drum, the pechiche, the joyous, the llamador, the maracas and the marimbula. Talking about typical costumes from 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 'sentao', he are black, the chulapa and he are palenquero. The following video shows an example of what the bullerengue dance 'sentao' is and you can see the costumes that accompany it for both men and women:

Cartagena de Indias

On the other hand, one of the most important dances on the Colombian Caribbean coast is called mapalé, which is characterized by having musical characteristics typical of the traditional rhythms of Africa. Mapalé is not just a dance, but rather a musical genre. The story 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.

In reality, the mapalé is a dance that is intended to represent the eroticism of the union between a woman and a man. According to various historians, the original mapalé was introduced by fishermen who worked on the banks of the Magdalena River centuries ago. At the beginning, they enlivened their evenings to the rhythm of this dance. The typical instruments that accompany this dance are drums yamaró and rapambre, in addition to the vocal song and the palms of the hands. The following video shows an example of what this dance consists of:

Of course, the mapalé includes a traditional wardrobe for both men and women. Above all, it is about simple garments as we will see below. As for the typical male suit, it consists of long trousers that reach more or less to the height of the heels. In addition, the most elaborate ones are usually adorned with washers or fringes at the mouth of the leg.

With regard to women's dresses, they usually wear a short skirt also adorned with fringes or not very large ruffles, which intensifies the movement of their hips. They can go barefoot or wear flat shoes. In addition, the fact that they wear a turban or scarf is striking.

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 1948th and 1850th centuries. Between XNUMX and XNUMX, millions of yards of a wide range of fabrics of different shapes and colors arrived at the so-called New Granada, which gradually invaded the markets of the area and from which the most popular costumes were made. traditional.


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

It should be noted that the pants are normally white and are worn rolled up or collected. Of course, an accessory that cannot be missing in the men's outfit is the vueltiao hat, so popular both in Barranquilla and in the entire Caribbean Region in general. It is also quite common for them to wear a scarf tied around their neck.

Thus, the famous vueltiao hat is an original Colombian accessory, although above all it is typical of Córdoba, Bolívar and Sucre, where, as we have already said, it is a common 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 by Law 908. Since its origin dates back to the culture of the indigenous community zenu, settled in the Sinú River region, is also known by the name of zenú vueltiao hat o Sinuano hat.

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

Also, women's makeup plays a very important role in 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 Carnival of Barranquilla, a whole sample of the traditional costumes of this city:

Cesar Department

The Department of Cesar has a great variety of typical costumes, from those considered for daily use to those worn by men, women and children on special occasions or festivities. However, the quintessential suit for women from the Cesar region is called piloneras suit, a 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-waisted blouse with patterned 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 footwear is usually comfortable, usually a ballet flats, flat-soled ballerinas or flats and canvas fabric. On their heads they wear a scarf printed with flowers.

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

The typical Cesarean suit for men, meanwhile, is very simple: white pants and white shirt. It is also common to wear a red scarf tied around the neck of the shirt and, on the head, a kind of headdress known as skullcap, which includes flowers made from kite paper. Likewise, men's shoes are also called baletas. The men's suit for daily use is also similar, since soft and fresh fabrics prevail.

Indigenous communities

The Department of Cesar also coexists South American indigenous community of the arhuacas indians, the Yukpa or Motilon Indians, the Kogui and the Wiva, among others. The Kogui and Arhuaca communities use a kind of blanket made of cotton and usually carry on their back a backpack called all Or simply, arhuaca backpack.

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

The yukpa indigenous or motilones inhabit the Sierra de Perijá and they used to wear a small blanket made with cotton some time ago; However, today his clothing is no different from that of any other Cesarean. To protect themselves from the heat, they wear a hat on their head which they call toczuma. In addition, the kogui wear rubber-soled sandals, although the woman usually goes barefoot.

Cordoba Department

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

As for the skirts, there are countless types, namely: curled to the waist, ruffles, blades, in yoke cut, with mesh, multicolored, with flower prints, embroidered, with ribbons ... There are no shortage of necklaces as accessories, floral ornaments and jewelry. The footwear is black denim slippers.

For its part, men's clothing is similar to what their ancestors wore during the early XNUMXth century. At this time, men wore the typical Cuban hat, black shoes, and a jacket. However, there was a marked difference between the attire of the lords and that of the peasants, since the latter used to wear a bib shirt, a vueltiao hat and three-pointed sandals.

Currently, the men's suit in short consists of a white pants or khaki, you cover three puntá, vueltiao hat, handkerchief and wide belt.

La Guajira Department

In the Department of La Guajira the wayú people, also called guajiros, which are indigenous natives of the Guajira peninsula. This community also inhabits the region closest to Venezuela to the Colombian Caribbean coast. In fact, the Wayú are the indigenous people with the largest number of inhabitants in 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 guajira blanket. It is an oval-shaped camisole at the waist that reaches to 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 adjusts, the result is a fitted shape in the front and totally loose and wide at the back.

Under the guajira blanket, the woman carries 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, to maintain good posture and, on the other hand, to promote the correct development of the breasts and back. However, many women today have replaced the use of the sirapa with other simpler garments such as the usual underwear or the waireñas. As accessories, they usually carry backpacks and necklaces in various colors.

Department of San Andrés and Providencia

Although San Andrés and Providencia do not belong to the Caribbean Region but to the Insular Region, they are also in the Caribbean Sea. The costumes here are largely reminiscent of the native attire of the first decades of the XNUMXth century, especially the one used in contexts of social gatherings and festive events. The typical costumes of this department can be viewed in the Island House Museum, located on the island of San Andrés, which you can get an idea of ​​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 to the height of the ankles and is covered by a large number of silk ribbons around it that are generally pastel or soft colors. Under the skirt, they wear wide petticoats that also include ribbons and lace, as well as breeches. The shoes are closed and high-heeled black, although not too high (approximately half height).

With regard to men's suits, it is common to wear a bow tie, known in the area as bowtie, a jacket, suspenders, white shirt, pants (it can be black, gray or you see) and always black shoes.

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