A huaso (feminine huasa, although the term china is far more commonly used for his wife or sweetheart, whose dress can be seen in
cuecadancing) is a Chilean countryman and skilled horseman, similar to the Argentinian or Uruguayan" gaucho", the American cowboy, and Mexican " vaquero" and " charro".
Huasos (plural) live in Chile's central valley and ride horses and typically wear a straw hat called a "
chupalla". They also wear a ponchocalled a "manta" or a " chamanto" (although this is generally reserved to land owners, as it is much more expensive) over a short Andalusian waist jacket, as well as tooled leather legging over booties with raw hide leather spur holders that sustain a beautiful long shanked spur with 4" rowels, and many other typical garments.
Huasos are an important part of Chilean folkloric culture and are a vital part of parades, fiestas, and holidays. The dancing of the
cuecain which the coy china is courted by the persistent huaso, both traditionally attired, is "de rigueur" on such occasions.
In Chile the term "huaso" or "ahuasado" (in a "huaso" way) is also used disparagingly to refer to people without manners or lacking in big-city experience, akin to a
Various theories are commonly advanced: from the
Quechua"huakcha" (hispanicized as "huacho") meaning "orphan", "not belonging to a community", hence free and homeless, an important aspect of the huaso/gaucho myth, or alternatively from the Quechua "huasu", meaning either the back of an animal, or rough and rustic. Moreover the word "guaso/a" is used in Andalusian and American Spanish with the last sense. It appears that a form of folk etymologyhas operated to conflate the contrasting identities of the huaso, viewed as both a free horseman (implying some wealth and nobility) and an unsophisticated country bumpkin. Both senses can be observed in Chilean usage.
Charro(Mexican cowboy, nomad and "bandolero")
Llanero(Venezuelan and Colombian cowboy)
* [http://www.chilecollector.com/archWEBpost01/POSTHuaso.html Huaso Postcards]
* [http://www.tierradegauchos.com/Chile/huasos.htm Huaso photographs] (text in Spanish)
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