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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The Sacred Valley of the Incas
The Sacred Valley of the Incas or Urubamba Valley is a valley in the Andes Mountains of Peru, close to the historic Inca capital of Cusco and lying below the ancient sacred city of Machu Picchu. Surrounding this area, and far from the urban center of Cusco, weavers from different villages sit in front of backstrap and horizontal looms and make the warp and weft sing with colors and patterns as their ancestors have done for many years, thereby keeping alive a sacred tradition of weaving. These villages include Accha Alta, Ccatca, Chahuaytire, Chinchero, Mahuaypampa, Ocongate, Patabamba, Pisac, Pitumarca, to name a few. The result is a richness and variety of designs which can be seen in the variety of poncho styles, for example, their yarns, lengths, colors, patterns, fringes, bindings, drape, and heft.
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