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Peruvian Hat | Alpaca Hats | The Chullo

In the classic tourist photos of Machu Picchu, Titicaca, and the high Andes Mountains, what is the favored headgear? The "chullo," of course!

The Chullo - Symbol of the Peru Andes

Probably one of the most recognizable items of Peru Andean wear is the "chullo," or hat of the Peruvian Andes.

Although you may be able to describe one of these alpaca hats to a friend, "You know those cone-shaped woven wool hats with the ear flaps and ties?" - it is much easier just to point to a photo.

Alpaca Hat
Peruvian hat, Alpaca hat of the Andes, Chullo
"El Chullo"
Lined Alpaca Hat of Peru

Once they see a picture of a "chullo," the Peruvian stocking cap of the Andes, most people realize they have seen them being worn as fashion statements by movie stars and other public figures in the USA and Europe, even being featured by fashion designers as part of the haut couture over the past few years.

Background of the Chullo, Peruvian Style Hat

In the mountains of Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia, the chullo was used to protect against the harsh cold wind and weather of the high Andes mountains.

Peruvian Hat
Peruvian hat, Alpaca hat of the Andes, Chullo
The word "chullo," from the Aymara and Quechua languages, has several meanings, but in terms of wear it applies to the symbol of the Andes, the woven wool headgear with the ear flaps.

Not that long ago, it was looked down upon as the mark of the Andean Indian, the low class or caste of Peruvian society, and was never thought of as anything but crude.

Among the isolated groups of the high mountains, though, it formed part of the distinctive cultural wear and the home town of the wearer could be determined by the colors, patterns, and weaves typical of his cultural community.

Although this alpaca Peruvian hat, the chullo, identifies the Peruvian mountain person, some researchers believe that these Peruvian hats actually originated in the old country, Spain.

Similarities between the chullo and headgear of the Basque country of Spain indicate a possible common origin. They note that headwear found in earlier cultures of Peru in archaeological sites were significantly different, generally having a four-pointed shape.

Current Popularity of the Alpaca Hats from Peru

Peruvian Hat
Peruvian hat, Alpaca hat of the Andes, Chullo
Although it wasn't that long ago that the "chullo" bore the stigma of poor lower classes of the Andes, now you see "chullo" or Peruvian hats adorning some of the most famous heads of our time - it has been made popular by the likes of Tom Cruise, Hugo Chavez, Manu Chao, and is a great favorite with tourists tripping to Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca.

And even here in Peru, you will see some of the jetset crowd - albeit the younger crowd - wearing a "chullo" when in cold weather.

This lowly Peruvian hat has gained acceptance in Peru mainly because the tourists went crazy over it and it became a very profitable item to produce.

And it is popular for good reason. Generally made of alpaca wool plus synthetic fibers, the hats are light, warm, very soft, and many times lined for durability, warmth, and comfort.

Innovators have used colors and designs to make the popular version of the chullos more colorful and distinctive.

Some modern clothing designers have gone so far as to add feathers, pompons, tassels, and other adornments in places where no self-respecting Inca descendant would ever consider acceptable.

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