FACTS ON ARGENTINA
The "poncho" was an oblong piece of wool cloth with a hole to pass your head.
The gauchos turned it into an essential article of clothing to warm themselves
on their trips along the wide plain. They used it as a sleeping bag and as
a hut in the improvised camps of the men of the plain. During a knife fight,
the gaucho wrapped his left arm with his poncho forming a kind of shield that
let him stop the cuts or wounds made by the enemy dagger. The gaucho never
left his poncho. He carried it folded, on his shoulders or wrapped around
his waist and tied on th eleft, so that the knot did not bother his right
hand’s movements. Each region of Argentina has its own poncho, with
typical colors and shapes. They are hand-knitted or woven in looms.
Some of the varieties of this article of clothing are the "Apala", the "Patria"
and the "Calamaco".
"Apala": It is a wool poncho, made from the wool of the vicuna with its original
color, with light and dark stripes.
"Calamaco": It is a cheap, short, red poncho.
The "Patria" poncho is made of baize, adopted by the national army. The front
side is blue and the inner side is red, made of the same fabric. Everyhting
makes one think that the Araucanian Indians were the inventors of the poncho.
They called it "phonto" and from Chile they spread it along the Andes, However,
the poncho knows a similar ancestor called "uncu" which was worn by other
American Indians. It was a shirt without sleeves, very loose and wide. It
is also possible that the word poncho is a word of the vocabulary of the Spanish
The poncho is made up by two 7 feet long by 2 feet wide pieces of cloth, sewn
alongside, but not sewn in the middle, where a hole is left, big enough to
pass the head. Almost always it has loose ends.