Native Dress, an Element of Cultural Identity in Danger of Extinction

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Abstract

The purpose of this research is to analyse three segments of the native ethnic group of the Salasakas: the young, adults, and the elderly who still use their traditional native dress. The objective was to identify who still wears the traditional dress and which garments were most habitually worn. To that effect, a checklist of elements of native dress was formulated and corroborated for the absence or presence of a certain element or garment. The corroborative process took place during the General Assemblies attended by the family representatives of the seventeen different communities of Salasakas. Baltazar Chiliquinga (2017), the head of the Salasakas, underlined that the assemblies are mandatory, therefore making the sample representative of the total population of this ethnic group. The results are disquieting since most adults and young native Salasakas are totally unaware of the symbolic and cultural value of their traditional dress and simply do not use it, a fact that is more habitual in men than in women. However the elderly and older generations still make a habit of producing and wearing their traditional native dress, an outer manifestation of their pride of their ethnic roots as Salasakas. This research and its results should alert authorities and community leaders to take decisions and action toward safeguarding their intangible heritage roots.