Female gauchos in Argentina
Most of the female gauchos in Argentina follow their Father’s footsteps to become a Gaucho, the hero wanders of the Pampas. The romanticized lawless cowboys. The free-living legends of the Argentina society. Once nomad cowboys of the vast fertile grasslands of the Pampas.
Female gauchos play an essential role within the gaucho society, being the bridge between history and the new generations. Women are in fact responsible to pass on the gaucho traditions to their children and to raise them according to their own culture, uses and customs.
Rural women role
The social role of the female gauchos is therefore crucial, and not being limited to the family: most of the times includes working with the cattle to help their gauchos.
During the 19th century, the activities carried out by female gauchos were varied and normally they were in charge of milking cows, orchard work or caring for farm animals.
Those who were married divided activities with their husbands and they were in charge of sales in stores, while their husbands carried out work on farms or on their own plots.
They were also in charge of herding and taking care of the horses in the posts for travelers.
Female gauchos in Buenos Aires
A Female gaucho in buenos aires estancia
More than 120 years ago there were more than 40,000 women engaged in agriculture and other rural activities. It was very common for them to shearing, also making threads of wool, weaving and sewing. In order to contribute to the household economy, they help selling and buying animals, eggs, sweets and cakes.
Rural female gauchos were not accepted by the established society along the 19th century, because they did not meet the ideal of women, also because they were the companions of the gauchos, considered uneducated and barbarians.
Rural women performed domestic work but they were complemented with small production activities for family consumption.
Rural women in the Pampas
The Gaucho Culture
Living in the countryside for women not only means dedicating themselves to housework or to the education and care of their children, but also to work in the fields: taking care of the orchard, feeding the animals, driving the tractor, checking the plantations after the frosts, light the firewood so that the hail in an instant does not spoil the sacrifice of months of hard work and long wait, fight against the desertification of the land, milk the cows, attend to their calving, watch the cattle or wait to collect the fruits of the earth.
It is about the daily life of female gauchos, who over the years were stereotyped or represented only as mothers or housewives, although they fulfill these roles, their work as farmers and ranchers who contribute to the economy either family or paid
If we remember several years ago, the woman took care of the house and the animals. Who took care of everything? Women! But not only take care of the children and make them dinner and stay knitting socks: but everything. The animals had to be cared for, the horses had to be caught, the children had to go out, send them to school.
All the field tasks were done by the woman, the more you go back in the years, the more she did. The woman was always linked to the horse and the countryside, from performing tasks such as caring for animals, riding a horse and riding a carriage.
There was always equality, it’s not that she was relegated to a specific space. The vision of the role of women in the countryside and their different participation in the different activities: The female gauchos in the countryside dressed the same as the man, she put on pants, a sash and they breaking and riding horses; there are many cases here that she has done it with her husband.
The role of women in the field: If it is in a dairy, the couple usually goes to milk the cow, today there are few who have remained because it is done mostly with machines. But normally they go together or with an assistant.
Later, in the field, the woman does the housework, if she has a garden, if she has pigs, if she has chickens, goats, sheep. Sheep shearing is generally done as a family, the woman does it with her children and if her husband is there, he does it.
A female gaucho from a rural family from whom she learned to harvest thanks to her father and to weave with sheep’s wool thanks to her mother.
With this knowledge she began her weaving venture that includes blankets, quilts, table runners, vests and ruanas using ancient techniques. She comments that she works with “the natural fibers of the mountain, now I add color to them. I teach my daughters, who also make fabrics and help me sell online”.
Female gauchos in Buenos Aires Tourism
A female gaucho involved in the tourism
On the other hand, rural women have also found a new role that they can play through tourism, in the rural sector it is a complementary source of income and together with traditional rural activities it contributes to female empowerment.
Tourism provides women with employment opportunities, financial autonomy and in turn gives them the opportunity to establish contact with the outside world.
Although it has not yet been possible to modify the traditional division of tasks by gender in which the participation of women in the tourism sector continues to be perceived as an extension of domestic tasks.
When the roles played by women in rural tourism are analyzed, they are generally in charge of the organization and logistics of rural accommodation, where they also take care of the tourist who visits the establishment.
It should be noted that rural women are characterized by their entrepreneurial and creative nature, which often allows them to manage their own businesses or work independently, this can be seen to a greater extent in the younger generations.
Female gauchos in Buenos Aires Estancia Tours
Most rural tourism ventures today are led by women, in Argentina they lead more than 80% of rural tourism.
Tourism is consolidated as a tool that can allow the empowerment of women, in several rural communities training and workshops have been provided that have a gender perspective, these provide knowledge and training to start tourism ventures generating an increase in confidence and self-esteem of groups of women.
The benefits that rural tourism can provide are varied and generate positive changes in the lives of women, discovering new roles that they can assume, but to achieve this, tourism activity must be developed with a gender perspective.
Also since 2008, October 15th marks the International Day of Rural Women, which is consolidated as a resource to make visible and value the role of these women, and in turn demand more rights.
Female gauchos in San Antonio de Areco
A Female gaucho in San Antonio de Areco
The participation of women during the Tradition Festival in San Antonio de Areco has always been a fact, even since the first editions they have contributed greatly to the Areco culture and the transmission of traditions just like men.
A woman was the one who brought the Creole loom to San Antonio de Areco and started a weaving loom school in the 1940s. Today the Creole loom is the tool used to make Areco`s ponchos and the textile handicrafts that are exhibited during the Festival of Traditions.
“She arrives with Ramona Risso de Beristayn who brings her to San Antonio de Areco, at that time the Mayor was José Antonio Guiraldes”. Ramona Risso de Beristayn remained for some time head of the “Academia de Teleras Criollas”, transmitting her knowledge, among others, to Guida O’Donnell, who taught her techniques “Guida was Ramona’s student.”
The Criollo and Pampa Loom Workshop at the Ricardo Güiraldes Gauchesco Museum exhibits the pieces made by students in the framework of the Traditions` Festival or in different events, and also began a technique of dyeing wool with natural dyes, something completely new in San Antonio de Areco.
The weaver woman has a lot of value for the traditions. The workshop serves as a meeting space for women, it is constituted as a learning space and has great cultural value since traditional practices continue to be transmitted for decades.
This is where women find themselves with a new role as artisans, which they try to show at the Festival of Tradition, but which was not valued when they were given a more visible space.
Women founding the Folckoric dances School in San Antonio de Areco
Another great contribution that Guida O’donnell made to the culture of San Antonio de Areco was in the field of dance. Supported by the “patronage” of Commodore Güiraldes, O’donnell dedicated herself to teaching and disseminating the folcloric music dances of the region such as the footprint, the “Huella” and “El Triunfo” in the historical style of Areco: “She was the one who institutionalized the dances and with dances genuinely gave it an imprint, the imprint of areco and “El Triunfo de Areco” have an imprint that was born here”
She was a folklore teacher for several generations of Areco`s neighbors, she transmitted a soft and moderate way of dancing that marks an Areco`s way of dancing southern folklore. Likewise, she carried out work on a Creole loom and transmitted her knowledge to many local women.
The dances during the Tradition`s Festival are one of the most important activities, they take place every day of the event, either as a presentation or inside a performance, even before the parade of gauchos and female gauchos begins.
Attending grocery stores was considered a male activity, in which women did not participate and if they did they were frowned upon, generally they had to stay at home to care for their children.
Women in San Antonio de Areco society
A rural woman explains: The Bessonart bar used to be, 20 years ago it was only for men, only men entered. That bar used to be a grocery store, today they made it a pub with all that old structure that it still maintains, but both women and men enter. Not before, the corner door was the bar and the side door on Zapiola street was the grocery and that’s where the women entered through the grocery. It’s not really that it was forbidden: it was machismo, you felt you couldn’t go in, they were all leaning on each other, smoking or having a beer, a “fernet” there at the door and it was like you couldn’t.
Women play a very active role in the gastronomy during the Festival of Tradition, since there are several canteens inside Parque Criollo and grocery stores or restaurants throughout Areco “There are canteens inside Parque Criollo that work hard: they work making empanadas or helping the grill.
The rural woman says: All men cut meat for example and women have to serve it. But you do it with pleasure because it’s a party, you don’t see it as much as there is a machismo in that sector. Generally it is the women who are in charge of cooking, but this changes when the barbecue is done since this activity is reserved for the gauchos.
Women have roles related to domestic tasks that are linked to the kitchen, in turn they are the ones who must serve food, and help men during their activities. Their participation is very active in gastronomy and adds great value to the event.
This very active role in gastronomy is also kept outside the scope of the Festival, during the “yerras” is when the butchering is carried out and the women are the ones in charge of the kitchen where various dishes are cooked, they know the recipes and the procedures.
Activities of the women in San Antonio de Areco
The heads of the kitchen are always women. The men did not get close. Because the work of making blood sausages, of doing a thousand things… in making different varieties of things, respect for each job… all those sectors were women’s, they did all of that. The men did the dirtiest, toughest parts, butchering, removing the bones, mincing the meat, cooking the asado all those things… But the rest, making the foie gras… is always done by the women.
Another of the activities in which the participation of female gauchos in the Festival of Tradition can be highlighted is in the organization of the event. They receive the traditionalist centers, sometimes carrying riding chairs, helping. They receive the gauchos, write them down, welcome them, if you’re on the commission you have to do that.
The role of women is very important, not only because she is the gaucho’s companion, but also because of her participation in both the parade and the organization.
Female gauchos horseback riding
A Female gauchos ready for horseback riding
The parade in the streets of San Antonio de Areco during the Tradition`s Festival is one of the most popular activities, traditional groups from other towns or provinces, gauchos, boys and girls participate here.
Previously, women participated as companions of men on the same horse but years ago they rode on their own horse, although certain rules have been imposed on them to participate. They say that women are not horsemen, but they have the essence to ride.
In 1970 it was established that women should ride sideways and not like men rode, this situation was highly criticized and was maintained for a while but later it was left aside.
At the end of the 90s, it was discussed again how women should ride on horseback, in a search of the groups that organized the event to return to the traditions as they were before, it was decided that women should ride from the side. This decision generated great controversy, since the participation of women was conditioned, they had to comply with certain norms with which not all were identified. In the year ’93-’94 there was a great discussion.
Female gauchos clothes
The female gauchos clothing
As for the clothing: female gauchos should wear to participate in the parade, changes were also imposed, women cannot parade with pants, they must wear skirts. They didn’t want the women to parade in pants, they wanted them to do so in skirts, they don’t allow you to parade otherwise. What’s more, the women also stopped parading because of that.
The Tradition`s Festival is presented as a festive occasion, therefore the participants try to wear formal clothes and their best clothes, both men and women, which is why the idea of women wearing skirts and men typical gaucho pants. “It’s a party you have to come with the best you have, with the best horse, with the best “pilcha””
Although the women dress in country pants in their daily lives, during the event an image of the countrywoman with the skirt is shown, which is related to femininity, while the gaucho pants are reserved for the gauchos, being cataloged as a male garment that women should not wear as it would be an informal garment.
The roles that women occupy during the Tradition`s Festival are varied, they show that they are not tied to the stereotype that classifies them only as companions of the gaucho, they are also generators and transmitters of traditions.
Their participation has increased over time, they have even managed to occupy places that were previously only reserved for men, but it is a reality that there are still certain activities that are considered masculine and feminine that continue to limit the participation of both men and women. in the same.
Although there are issues that still need to be resolved, such as female gauchos participation in the rodeo, have already begun to be questioned and debated by various participants, this could mark the beginning of a very positive change that contributes to gender equality in the framework of the celebration in San Antonio de Areco.
This is the most authentic horseback riding Buenos Aires ranch tour , with real argentine cowboys (gauchos) going through the fields of the Estancia El ombu.
Historically, the gaucho, the saddle and horse, are inseparable companions that represent the life in the Pampas.
At the Estancia there are almost seventy horses of the local argentine breed “Criollo”: very well known because of its longevity, intelligence and resistance.
Horses in the Pampas
They are very responsive in the horseback riding , bred on the estate, and trained by the local ranch gauchos .
The owner of the gaucho Estancia tour has been personally taking care of them for the last 22 years.
The amazing history of Gato and Mancha
Two of this breed rode the longest equestrian raid in history, when Gato and Mancha got to New York in 1928 after travelling 18,000 kilometres.
Gato and Mancha criollo horses
The ranch gauchos can choose for you the one that better suit your physical fitness and level of equitation skill: from beginner to Advanced ability levels in horseback riding in Buenos Aires ranch
The tack of the gauchos
While in the horseback riding in Buenos Aires ranch almost all the tack it is a “gaucho of the pampas tack”, where there is no “seat” but it is one of the most comfortable saddle.
If you prefer there is also available some English tack as well.
Saddle of the gauchos
Groups at the horseback riding Buenos aires:
If your ability is from beginner to intermediate, you can join the standard group with some other people at the gaucho ranch.
If you consider yourself, being realistic about your ability, an advanced rider you will be provided a private ride in the ranch Buenos aires.
The gauchos style horseback ride
According to your ability, you will walk, trot and canter while going the cross country in the fields of the gaucho ranch Buenos aires : grasslands, a marsh and crossing streams.
From your saddle you will have great views of the surroundings in the Estancia ranch near Buenos aires
There will be some ranch gauchos leading and guarding you while in the horseback riding in the whole Estancia trail.
Some riders in the Estancia
Length of the horseback riding buenos aires:
If you join the standard group, the horseback riding Buenos aires ranch tour will range from 30 to 40 minutes. And if you are an advanced rider, you can have an hour private horseback riding
If you book a private Real gauchos Tour Buenos Aires Areco Estancia ranch, you can choose to have two different one hour horseback rides
The fields for the horseback
The entire program of the horseback riding includes as well:
Transfer round trip from hotel Buenos Aires to gaucho town San Antonio de Areco and Estancia
Bilingual tour guide in town and Estancia. Tour guiding for about one hour and a half in gaucho town Areco
At the Buenos aires ranch Estancia El Ombu: empanadas, drinks, horseback riding , argentine asado lunch and gaucho folcloric music
Book your: Horseback ride near Buenos Aires Tour
For more information: Origins of gaucho criollo horse
Also in Spanish: Orígenes del caballo Criollo
This is the most complete Responsible Gaucho Tour in the Pampas of Buenos Aires
– Get involved and connected with the origins of the Pampas and its Gauchos.
– Discover the oldest Argentine traditions in rural labors, social activities, local food, arts and handicrafts, and support the people who keep them alive.
– Only 90 minutes away from Buenos Aires City, you will find one of the prettiest towns in the Pampas: San Antonio de Areco . A 280-year-old historical town, known as the “Cradle of Gaucho’s Traditions”.
– Experience the culture, the way of life and the characters of the Argentine farmlands, in a town that is deeply proud of preserving their traditions.
– Meet the people who practice, teach and keep our original culture alive: they use horses daily, they manufacture native handicrafts and cultivate our authentic folklore music and dance.
– Help us support the main characters of this small town that, despite the issues of modern life, they preserve their original traditions with great devotion and commitment.
The Responsible Gaucho Tour
Activities of the Responsible Gaucho Tour Areco:
– Visit to a Community program Center
– Visit to the workshop of a native Artisan of silver and leather
– Visit to a 160-year-old gauchos´ bar (Pulpería)
– Talk at a gaucho painter’s atelier
– Lunch at a local typical restaurant
– Guided tour through historical neighborhood
– Visit to an old-fashioned self-sustaining gauchos´ farm
Visit to a local Association which promotes and give jobs opportunities to special people.
It´s an association where young and adult people with different abilities produce in a handmade way “alpargatas”: typical gaucho shoes used in the countryside… very casual and comfortable shoes!
This factory is the only working opportunity this people could have in the town
This is the place where they can find a shelter, learn a technique, earn their own money through their efforts/work, and also socialize practice sports, learn theater.
Activity: During the visit, group members will visit the atelier and see how people work and how people can be inserted into society being & feeling useful.
This alpargatas shoes are the version of “Toms” a success in USA: http://www.toms.com its creator was awarded by Hillary Clinton.
Why this Responsible Gaucho Tour is considered fair and sustainable? Because through purchasing local goods (alpargatas shoes) and / or supporting with donations group guests will be helping to keep the business alive and employees to preserve their jobs.
Also in the Responsible Gaucho Tour: Visit to a typical countryside ranch
We won´t be visiting a typical touristic ranch in the Responsible Gaucho Tour. Just the opposite, we will visit a small ranch which survives thanks to the few animals they have: some horses, cows, sheep, hens and turkeys, all of them are used for the family own consumption.
– We will visit a real family living at this ranch.
– Family will open their home/ranch for guests and will share them the way they live, and invite them with a full lunch in a rustic and simple way, just the way they live.
– Why this visit is considered fair and sustainable? Because through this visit guests will be helping this family / supporting them economically so this people can preserve the place where they live and keep their traditions alive. Guests will have an unforgettable experience in a really authentic ranch.
The Tourism Areco Association
Social Responsible Gaucho Tour Areco: Camino Pampa has been always supporting and nurturing the sustainability of San Antonio de Areco as a tourism destination, and its cultural heritage in many ways:
Features of sustainability:
– It is locally based
– All the guides are locals from this town
– Has developed the only sustainable tour in Areco
– We contribute and promote these San Antonio de Areco´s Institutions:
o Apropdis: Social Community Center
o Conin San Antonio de Areco
o Asoc. de Amigos del Parque Criollo y Museo Ricardo Güiraldes
o Biblioteca Manuel Belgrano
o Asociación de Turismo de San Antonio de Areco
Conin San Antonio de Areco
If you would like to join us in this experience: Real Gaucho Tour contact
Some articles about Gaucho culture in Spanish: http://gauchoexperience.com/
The Argentina Criollo Gaucho Horse breed was originated from the old Andalusian horse brought by the Spanish conquerors. A breed of great strength and hardiness, they quickly adapted to the harsh conditions of the new geography of the Pampas and to the needs of the native and gauchos, specially those from the current province of Buenos Aires.
The ancient Andalusian horse didn’t have Arabic origins. The studs that existed in the days of the conquest, in Cordoba, Sevilla and Jerez de la Frontera, had its origins in the Barb (or Berber) horses from northern Africa, brought centuries earlier by Moorish invaders.
These horses, mixed with the native ones originated the famed Spanish horse, then known as ‘horse rider’ referring to the warriors of the Moorish tribe, who were eminent breeders and warriors.
They expanded in the Castilian kingdoms and implemented, sports and practices known as the ‘school of the rider’, which gave way to the traditions, styles, methods for breaking and riding that still pervade among gauchos in Estancias.
Parade of Criollo Horses
The Argentina Criollo Gaucho Horse breed is born
The horses of the conquerors gave rise to different types of South American horses.
“From those stallions and mares, exposed to different weathers, fed with different pastures, employed on different tasks, the descendent horses got adapted to the geographies, treacherous diseases and risks of the environment. In turn, somatic morphologies and physiological gifts managed by the crosses and selections imposed by men appeared, either within the wild herds or the cavalries.
During Colonial times, the Criollo horse became part of the history of those lands, it contributed to the construction of the new countries. The Criollo horse generated a culture around himself, a new venue for human expression. It helped indigenous groups to become riders too -Araucanos, Pampas and Tehuelches- to prolong their freedom with help of these animals, which joined their collective life, becoming their weapon, vehicle, food and passion.
Some of the animals used for warfare, brought in 1535 by Don Pedro de Mendoza, were set free after Buenos Aires was destroyed. Thanks to the conditions of the pampas, that little lot of horses adapted and reproduced portentously. The descendants formed herds of hundreds of thousands of wild horses –known as baguales- which were regarded in amazement by the Spanish conquistador Garay when he arrived to those territories in 1580.
The colonial life and stormy history of the nascent Argentina revolved around cattle and horses. Sales of leather, beef and tallow sustained the country. The cattle ranches were handled using horses until the introduction of barbed wire. The gauchos emerged as the most complete expression of man on horseback.
Some Argentina Criollo Gaucho Horse in the Pampas
Decline and new rise of the Argentina Criollo Gaucho Horse
Argentina was a country populated by native horses descendent from the Andalusian breed. However, from the mid-Nineteenth Century, British and Percherons horses were introduced to the country. The indiscriminate crossbreeding spread in search of higher horses. However they were not very functional for war, livestock or travelling. By the early Twentieth Century in some areas of the province of Buenos Aires it stopped being usual to find pure Criollos.
Some ranchers, including the Argentine zootechnist Don Emilio Solanet, noticed such a serious situation and undertook the task of restoring the purity of the breed. Solanet found pure Criollos in the distant lands of Chubut. He bought a number of mares and stallions from an indigenous leader and led them on a historical journey of 1800 miles to his farm ‘El Cardal’ in the province of Buenos Aires. From that batch of horses, carefully preserved by isolation and the zeal of the indigenous tribes, the pure Criollos resurfaced. From such an effort the breed registry was born and its traits asserted.
Among the Criollo horses acquired by Solanet in Chubut, there were two mature ones ‘Gato and Mancha’. They did, between 1925 and 1928 the historic raid Buenos Aires -New York that covered 22,500 kilometers by mountains, desert and jungle. This is one of the most demanding functional testing distance that positioned the Criollo breed as the best on longest routes. Both horses returned to ‘El Cardal’ by boat, and died at thirty years of age.
Breed standard of the Criollo Horse
The breed standard adopted by associations of Criollo breeders in Argentina is: mesomorph, average height between 1.40 and 1.50 m hands. Chest 1.70 to 1.86, near land. Broad-based head and fine vertex. Medium lenght, robust neck, muscular and slightly prominent cross. Wide and square rump, good bones, remarkably broad chest, big muscular structure. Usually trot and gallop, although some pace, durable and adaptable to very stringent conditions.
Predominant colors are chestnuts, dun, auburn, roan and tobiano layers. Features are the dark stripe along the spine, also known as ‘mule stripe’, and the cebraduras or zebra stripes on the legs.
History of the Criollo breed written by Fabian Corral Burbano de Lara
In the Estancia there are near 80 criollo horses for horseback, simply pet them or admire in freedom in the pampa: just book this tour for this experience: Full Day Tour Estancia departing from Buenos Aires
The organically way of dyeing gauchos ponchos has been kept this way for centuries.
Families of dyers zealously kept the secrets of their organical dyeing for gauchos ponchos techniques, that were only transmitted from one generation to the next, within the same family.
The dyeing native method is still based on three pillars: the washing, the use of mordants and the soaking of textiles in the dye bath.
The process to dyeing gauchos ponchos
In order to avoid problems when dyeing, the preparations of the skeins is of crucial importance. If we want to achieve an even colour, the skeins must have approximately the same weight, be loosely wound and tied, and the threads have to be kept separate.
Once the wool has been washed and the grease is removed, the process of dyeing gaucho ponchos can begin.
The function of mordants is to allow a better penetration of the dye into the fibre; it also makes colours resistant to the action of light, water and rubbing.
How to dyeing gauchos ponchos
When the skeins are soaked in the dye bath they have to be evenly wet; the dyestuff correctly diluted in water and the water has to be hot.
A trick to enhance the shade of the colour is to rub ashes into the dyed wool so that it gets evenly impregnated and to soak it again in the dye bath.
Dye elements used by our aboriginal ancestors in Argentina for dyeing gauchos ponchos:
The seat of honour is for cochineal, the dried, pulverized bodies of certain female scale insects, “Dactylopius coccus”. This is a cactus-eating insect, native to tropical and subtropical America
Another important one was indigo, a leguminous bush which is the raw material for a paste that produces blue colour. It grew in subtropical and temperate zones and were used by Pampa and Araucano Indians.
Many plants were also used as dyes:
For purple: Piquillín, Cardón, Amarantus. For violet: Maqui, Palo rosa. Brown: Visco, algarrobo. Yellow: Pico de gallo, Quilcha, Aguaribay. Green: Jarrilla, Laurel, Tala, Molle. Black: Espinillo, Paracá, Guayacán.
Dyeing gauchos ponchos
Based in many different colors the ladies were weaving the ponchos of the gauchos, that were used for every day task at the Estancia or while herding the cattle in a tour through the Buenos Aires pampa.
Every design and mix of colors had a different meaning because the place were it was manufactured, because the person weaving it, and about the status of the native or gaucho wearing the poncho.
Extracted from the book: Argentine Textiles by Taranto/Marí: Buy the book here
For experiencing this artisanal process and some others from our local artisans in their own workshops in San Antonio de Areco you can take this unique Tour: Cultural & Arts Legacy of the Gauchos Full Day Tour