Head Cloth

About this object

History of use

Bayeta is a type of coarse cloth made on the treadle loom and is used for garments that are cut to size and sewn, such as trousers, shirts and vests. The style, the construction and the loom used are derived from Spanish peasant tradition. Handspun sheep's wool is the traditional material but synthetic yarns are now used as well. From age 5 or 6 onward, females wear a dark, tassel-ended head cloth in public situations. The length of cloth is centred on the head and the tasseled ends hang down to the skirt hem. The yarn tassels are called t'ikacha. It is a multi-purpose cloth worn for modesty, warmth and shade. It can double as an ad hoc carrying cloth for small amounts of food by forming a pouch at one end which is secured by tying the tassels. It is an expressive garment which teenagers particularly drape and tie in a variety of minor variations. Young girls use them as an adjunct to play, swinging by them from bars at school. No woman is without a head cloth. She wears it on a daily basis and for every special life and calendar event.


Bought from Marcialina Quispe Cruz who used it for approximately one year until it got too short for her. The black cloth was made by her father, Augustin Quispe Mamani, before his death in 1984. Her older brother, Domingo Quispe Cruz, hemmed and crocheted the ends and put on the tassels in 1985, cutting the length from the bolt of cloth woven by his father. Marcialina wears a head cloth whenever she is outside the immediate housing compound. It serves as a sun shade and a windbreaker. When playing volleyball with her girlfriends at school, she wraps it around her waist, out of the way. When playing on a mixed team or with males watching the game, she wears it on her head in the usual manner with the ends hanging down and she struggles to keep it in place.

Specific techniques

Commercial synthetic yarns, z spun and plied 2 s. Balanced plain weave cloth is cut and hemmed with machine stitching. Crocheted edging put on hems and yarn tassels sewn to corners.

Physical description

Rectangular black cloth with a multi-coloured yarn tassel on each corner. Narrow crocheted edging alternating bright colours extends across the two hemmed ends and partially around the corners. The colours are shades of red, orange, yellow, green and blue.