A Different Way to Carry Things: The Andean “Manta”

A Different Way to Carry Things: The Andean “Manta”

All across the world, people have devised unique solutions to their daily problems. A big one being how to carry things while keeping your hands free. While some cultures have people carry things on their heads, in a cart, or in backpacks; Peruvian women have devised a unique solution with the Andean manta.

One of the most popular things used by people to carry a lot of goods is a handbag or rucksack. They can be made from synthetic materials such as plastic, or from leather, paper, etc. They can be handmade or factory made. We use them every day. Unfortunately, these bags can somethings be very heavy, which causes us to suffer. In more unfortunate scenarios, they can even break, leaving all of our belongings behind us on the street.

You can indeed find these kinds of handbags in Peruvian Andes, but there is another interesting option… the Andean people have created their own style of moving and carrying things around. The manta.

popularity of peruvian mantas in andes
An Andean woman with her manta

Traditional Peruvian mantas in Andes

Instead of using handbags, most Andean women use a special cloth called manta. You can find this cloth in every market in the Andes. It is sometimes made of Peruvian alpaca and very often has patterns and symbols of the ancient Inca.

popularity of peruvian mantas in andes
Wearing a manta while herding alpacas

If you visit Peru, and especially the Andes, you will see a lot of locals wearing special colorful material on their shoulders. Sometimes this durable material is empty and sometimes full of items like food, firewood, plants, etc. Often you will even see babies inside it! You can read another one of my articles about the use of the manta to carry babies; follow it to see some pictures and a movie.


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