August 05, 2014

There's something poetic about Ruanas. Flowing and elegant, we know there's something exotic about them, but we're not sure what. We love our alpaca ruanas, but in a universe of sleeves and buttons, how did the Ruana come about?

Ruanas, or their sewn-shut cousin, the poncho, are found throughout the cold areas of South America, from the windswept plains of Patagonia all the way up to Columbia and Venezuela. It's an ancient design: alpaca Ponchos were worn by the desert Paracas culture that began in 800 BC on the coast of Peru, and further into antiquity. The word ruana is said to come from Columbian indigenous culture, and means "Land of Blankets."

Ruanas are technique driven: the two strips of cloth woven on the simple narrow looms of ancient South America could easily be joined together to form a piece big enough to cover the whole body. It could then be belted or sewn closed at the sides, leaving armholes. This sleeveless garment, called an unku during the Inca Empire, was the standard masculine fashion of the day, woven into an amazing variety of patterns that indicated a person's place in society or the Inca bureaucracy. Over time, the unku was replaced by the open-sided poncho, which, with Spanish influence, became the present-day open-front ruana.


Zzzzzzzzz. Are you asleep yet? Do not fear: with their vibrant stripes or dignified geometrics, wearing one of our alpaca ruanas is far more exciting than this history! If you've never worn one, maybe it's time to try one out and see why they've been in style the last five centuries. Re-imagine yourself!


Click here to see our Ruanas.

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