The Cuban guayabera, garment of Cuban feeling and traditions

The Cuban guayabera, garment of Cuban feeling and traditions

Carrier of history and values like any other article of clothing in Cuba, the guayabera –a sort of lightweight man’s shirt- constitutes one of the most valuable traditions in the Biggest Island of the Antilles, extended today inside and outside of its bounds. 

Even when its origin continues being unknown, most of the bibliography assures that it was precisely here, in the central city of Sancti Spiritus, where was made up the first one at the beginnings of the XVIII century by an Andalusian immigrants married couple. 

From then on, to wear that garment has extended as much for protocol as informal occasions because of its combination of elegance and comfort in the tropical climate that prevails almost the whole year in the Island. 

For its features and cultural values, the guayabera was stated since 2010 as a wear garment of the State and Government diplomatic ceremonial, considered by the Republic Official Gazette one of the most genuine and real Cuban feeling expression. 

Among its usual characteristics, the national garment possesses trimmings and lateral cuts at the bottom which distinguishes it of a common shirt, as well as about twenty buttons and lines of five pleats - two at the front and three in the back - in form of tucks. 

Its composition seems also very symbolic, assures Carlo Figueroa, director of the Guayabera’s Museum House, institution located in Sancti Spíritus province, in the central part of the country, which is dedicated to promotion and to maintain this garment and where the biggest collection in the island is showed. 

As he explains, from its beginnings, the guayabera reminded to the Cuban flag because as much in the front as in the back a bodice in triangle shape and the lines of typical tucks remind to the national symbol. 

To that we also have to add that the Cuban history registers the wearing of the garment by Cuban’s history and culture personalities, among the first ones, the Spirituan Jose Miguel Gomez, President of the Republic between 1909 and 1913 who popularized to wear this piece of clothing in the capital. 

More than 250 of those pieces and the histories of their bearers conform the catalogue of the also known as guayabera House, among them the piece that Fidel Castro wore in the America Summit held in Cartagena of India, Colombia, one of the few occasions in that he didn't wearing his olive green uniform. 

Alicia Alonso ballet dancer’s shirts are also included, as well as guayaberas of the writers Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Miguel Angel Asturias the former leaders Hugo Chávez and Rafael Correa, the Nobel Prize for the Peace Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, the Cuban Five Heroes and Danny Glober, American actor and activist.

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