Bolivia is in central South America and is landlocked by Peru, Chile, Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina. The Aymara Indians were brought under Spanish rule in the 16th century but their remote highlands home meant that they retained much of their traditional way of life, values and beliefs. The majority of Indians are miners, factory workers or farmers, growing coca, coffee, corn, cotton, and rice and tending to cattle. Traditional crafts such as weaving textiles, and making gold and silver ornaments and ceramics are still thriving. Their everyday clothes tend to be traditional in style and suited to life in the highlands, which is often cold.
As well as this helmet-shaped hat, the Aymara have other styles of hats. These include close-fitting woolly hats with earflaps, and tall felt hats. Today many men wear modern hats such as baseball caps. Men's dress in the highlands consists of a warm poncho over a homespun shirt and loose trousers. These are often made from sheep and llama wool.
Indian women commonly wear bowler hats or tall felt hats in Bolivia. These hats are said to be based on those worn by early British railwaymen. One story claims that the hats were originally dumped on the Bolivian market in the mid-19th century, by a Manchester hatter who had over-produced. The shape and style of the hats varies according to the different regions. The Aymara in the high plains region wear smallish bowler hats on top of a headscarf. Again, the headscarf protects the nape of the neck from the spirits and vampires of local superstition, as well as from the severe cold.
In their daily dress, highland Indian women wear several brightly coloured petticoats, making their full skirts stick out. Shawls are wrapped around their shoulders and the women often use them to carry their goods to market for sale. The shawl can also bundle up their purchases, extra clothing and even support babies, leaving the women's hands free. Boots are sturdy for walking on rough ground and to keep feet warm.