Otavalo is a small town situated around two hours outside of Quito, the journey if the roads were straight would probably take less then half that time but it does afford some amazing views of the deep valleys that penetrate into the landscape as you wind your way along.
Otavalo is most famous for its indigenous market and is called the Plaza de Ponchos where you will find jewellery, embroidery, musical instruments and a large choice of artwork uniquely Ecuadorian. This also includes the famous Panama Hats from the towns of Manabi and Azuay. The local name for the Panama Hats is Jipiiapa, which was so named because of the workers who wore them while building the Panama Canal. You will also see Otavalan weaving that originates from the Imbabura Province, and as the name suggests the products are designed and crafted by Otavalan Indians.
Strolling around the different market stools you immediately notice the vibrancy of the materials in which they choose to weave there various cloths and there are some very cool looking Ponchos straight out of " A Fist Full Of Dollars" and i was tempted to be the man with no name but seeing as
A lot where these hats leaving me to believe there about to Moonwalk any minute
I do have one I moved on. There are also the famous Pan-pipes you hear of and for around $10.
There are also a lot of woven items from the Llama a famous indigenous animal similar to a Goat or Sheep but bigger.
It seems for the Indigenous Ecuadorians embroidery is an important form of artistic expression and they have a long tradition of weaving abilities, far surpassing those of Europe in the same era. The most talented weavers could produce material with as many as five hundred two-ply woollen wefts per inch. The highest figure attained in Europe before the industrial revolution was a mere one hundred.
Originally, traditional resources were used such as cotton and llama and alpaca wool to create complicated brocades, tapestries, double cloth and gauze. However, with the arrival of Spanish in the mid 1500's, new resources were introduced, such as silk embroidery yarns. The ZuleteÃ±a women quickly incorporated these yarns into their weavings, and centuries later they are now renowned for their hand embroidery expertise, unique designs and colours.
ZuleteÃ±o embroidery was originally used to decorate the ZuleteÃ±a women’s clothing. The style was so unique it actually became a form
of cultural identification that has persisted to the present day, when so many folk arts are being lost.
Without doubt, this is in part due to former Ecuadorian president Galo Plaza Lasso and his wife DoÃ±a Rosario who helped by creating workshops and incorporating it into teaching.
There are also other odds and ends for sale of a more modern nature, DVD Players and Video's as well as Diesel jeans and designer (fake) shoes.
You can also do your weekly shopping of grain and millet a staple of the local people and all in all it is an excellent way to spend the weekend rummaging through the stores and also seeing large congregations of Indigenous people and their unique arts which are a step away from the heavily Spanish dominated culture.
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