A poncho is a garment designed to keep the body warm, or if made from a watertight material, to keep dry during rain. The poncho, commonly associated with the Americas, is known as traditional clothing. In Peru, the most distinctive part of men's clothing is the handwoven poncho. Nearly every <>Quechua<> man and boy has a poncho, generally red in colour decorated with intricate designs. Each district has a distinctive pattern. In some communities such as <>Huilloc<>, <>Patacancha<>, and many villages in the <>Lares<> Valley ponchos are worn as daily attire. However most men use their ponchos on special occasions such as festivals, village meetings, weddings etc. In other areas of the world, some of the local names and variants are: <>chamanto<>, only in central Chile (yet still poncho in the north and south of Chili); <>jorongo<>, <>gaban<> or <>serape<> in Mexico; and <>ruana<> in the cold regions of Colombia. Serving not only as a cloak, a poncho may also be used as a pillow and blanket. When not being used for protection against the elements, a wool poncho makes a fine wall decoration. Today ponchos are known worldwide and are worn by men, women and children.
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Q'ero Nation of Peru
The Q'ero Nation is located a one day ride on horseback from the road to Paucartambo in Cusco and is the oldest in the Inca Tradition. They live 4,300 meters high in the Peruvian Andes. They grow and eat potatoes, such as olluco and oca. Children between the ages of 7-14 attend school. Medical assistance is scarce. They work and live as a community of 800 or so people. They marry among themselves and have kept their customs alive since Incan times.
The main activity of the Q'ero, besides agriculture, is weaving. They use natural dyes for their wool. Their techniques and designs are considered to be the closest to those of their ancestors. Their weavings have been displayed at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC.
The Q'erobelieve they are the last descendants of the Inca. According to tradition, their ancestors defended themselves from invading Spanish conquistadores with the aid of the local mountain deities (los Apus) which devastated the Spanish Army near Wiraquchapampa.
The religion of the Q'ero is syncretic, consisting of a mixture of European Christianity with elements of the traditional religion of the Andes. Shamans of different levels (e.g., Altumisayuq, Pampamisayuq) still have a high reputation. They worship Mother Nature (Pachamama) as well as other mountain spirits like Apu Ausangate (Apu Ausangate) and other regional deities.
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