Desert Hats – 2006
A show of headdresses in Quillagua
In ancient times, a market in the oasis of quillagua was a gathering place for people from points as far away as arica and the atacama salt flat. each person a wore headdress that clearly communicated his origin.
In Northern Chile’s desert region, markets held in certain oases played a central role in the lives of the inhabitants. They allowed each group to exchange their products with others, as well as to acquire exotic goods made available through long-distance trade networks. In addition, the marketplaces were ideal locations for holding a series of social, political and ritual events – from simple family affairs to the celebration of important political agreements – that were essential to the development of these societies. Such occasions were often attended by ethnic groups from remote areas, distinguished by their clothing and headdresses. The Quillagua oasis, which is located in the middle of the Atacama Desert, was visited by diverse peoples from the coast as well as from the valleys of Arica. These traditionally wore feather diadems and hemispherical caps. From the Atacama Salt Flat oasis came individuals wearing characteristic fur caps and velvety berets; from Pica, others exhibiting helmets, hoods and disc-shaped plant-fiber hats. Undoubtedly, even from afar, the headdresses would have made it fairly easy to tell who was coming to the marketplace.