While women work in the fields, barns, and houses, men often sit at the loom and weave the yarn spun by women into fabric for traditional clothes. Those who do not know how or do not want to weave, take up other jobs, for example, in construction or forestry, while those with more education become doctors or teachers.
Salasaca is famous for its traditional fabrics, which often depict scenes from the life of the locals or recreate ancient ornaments. Martina’s husband, José Jerez Caizabanda, is a famous weaver in the district, so in addition to weaving for his family, he weaves for sale as well. The main features of the traditional outfits are skirts and shawls for women, ponchos for men, and long bands used as belts, and it takes several weeks to weave each of them. Wide-brimmed hats, used only on special occasions, are also woven from wool.
But the women are indispensable here, too. They help by cleaning and combing the wool and spinning the yarn. Whether they sit down for a chat, trot to mow the grass, or travel to see their animals, spindles and the wool they work never leave their hands.
In the early 20th century, the art of weaving was about to go extinct, but in order to preserve the old tradition so important to Salasacas, a cooperative was formed. Development programs were implemented, as well, that helped the sales of handicrafts grow; more and more men would come back to or take up weaving. Now, visitors can see the museum of traditional handicrafts in the town of Salasaca. On the central square, known as the Plaza of the Arts, it is possible to buy locally woven fabric and cloth, although most of the locals simply sell their goods from home.
The look of the Salasacas is exceptional among Ecuadorians. Men wear white trousers held by a woven band and shirts and don a typically black, sometimes white poncho over them. Women wear black skirts, also held by a woven band, wrapped around their waist several times. The length of one band, or several bands used at once, can reach up to 20 meters. Women cover their white or black blouses with colorful shawls pinned by brooches. Both men and women wear green hats every day, most of which are imported from Germany and cost around 100 Eur. For rituals and festivities, brown or traditional white woolen hats are worn.