Gaucho (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈɡautʃo]) is a term commonly used to describe residents of the South American pampas, chacos, orPatagonian grasslands, found principally in parts of Argentina,Uruguay, Southern Chile, and Southern Brazil. In Brazil, Gaúcho(Portuguese pronunciation: [ɡaˈuʃu]) is also used to designate people from the state of Rio Grande do Sul in general.
The word gaucho could be described as a loose equivalent to theNorth American "cowboy" (vaquero, in Spanish). Like the North American word cowboy, Venezuelan or Colombian llanero, or Chilean huaso, or the Mexican charro, the term often connotes the 19th century more than the present day; then gauchos made up the majority of the rural population, herding cattle on the vast estancias, and practising hunting as their main economic activities. The word "gaucho" is sometimes used to refer to chimichurri, a steak sauce common to Argentina.
There are several conflicting hypotheses concerning the origin of the term. It may derive from the Mapuche cauchu ("vagabond")  or from the Quechua huachu ("orphan"), which gives also a different word in Spanish "guacho". The first recorded uses of the term date from around the time of Argentine independence in 1816.
Cattle were brought to the Pampas from Paraguay in 1580, by the colonial expedition of Juan de Garay. In the 18th century, the gauderios, who lived by hunting wild cattle, were recorded, most famously by the travel writer Alonso Carrió de la Vandera, when he passed through what is now northern Argentina. Commercial cattle ranching began in the second half of the 18th century.
Gauchos were generally nomadic, and lived in the Pampas, the plain that extends north fromPatagonia, bounded on the west by the Andes and extending on the east to Uruguay and the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. These nomadic riders lived by hunting wild cattle. Most gauchos were of Spanish and/or Portuguese and/or Amerindian (native American) ancestry. There are also gauchos of largely African or part African ancestry as well.
An inconclusive genetic study conducted by FAPESP (Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo) in 2007 detected aAmerindian with a, perhaps, stronger Spanish than Portuguese admixture in Brazilian gaúchos. A small African admixture was also found. The area that is Rio Grande do Sul belonged to the Spanish Crown for over two centuries before it became a Portuguese possession in 1750 (Treaty of Madrid)[clarification needed]. The results of the study were not conclusive, and raised questions that will require further attention. The study clearly showed that their MtDNA has much stronger affinities with Amerindian MtDNA in Argentina and Uruguay than with Amerindian MtDNA from other parts of Brazil and suggests that this is probably due to genetic ancestry from the now extinct Pampean Indians (Charrúa, Minuano).
The gaucho plays an important symbolic role in the nationalist feelings of this region, especially that of Argentina and Uruguay. The epic poem Martín Fierro byJosé Hernández (considered by somethe national epic of Argentina) used the gaucho as a symbol against corruption and of Argentine national tradition, pitted against Europeanising tendencies. Martín Fierro, the hero of the poem, is drafted into the Argentine military for a border war, deserts, and becomes an outlaw and fugitive. The image of the free gaucho is often contrasted to the slaves who worked the northern Brazilian lands. Further literary descriptions are found in Ricardo Güiraldes' Don Segundo Sombra.
Like the North American cowboys, as discussed in Richard W. Slatta, Cowboys of the Americas, gauchos were generally reputed to be strong, honest, silent types, but proud and capable of violence when provoked. The gaucho tendency to violence over petty matters is also recognized as a typical trait. Gauchos' use of the famous "facón" (large knife generally tucked into the rear of the gaucho sash) is legendary, often associated with considerable bloodletting. Historically, the facón was typically the only eating instrument that a gaucho carried.
Also like the cowboy, as shown in Richard W. Slatta, Cowboys of the Americas, gauchos were and remain proud and great horseriders. Typically, a gaucho's horseconstituted most of what he owned in the world. During the wars of the 19th century in the Southern Cone, the cavalries on all sides were composed almost entirely of gauchos. In Argentina, gaucho armies such as that of Martín Miguel de Güemes, slowed Spanish advances. Furthermore, many caudillos relied on gaucho armies to control the Argentine provinces.
The gaucho diet was composed almost entirely of beef while on the range, supplemented by yerba mate, an herbal tea-like drink rich in caffeine and nutrients. Argentine cooking draws influence from the simple but delicious recipes used in gaucho meals.
Gauchos dressed quite distinctly from North American cowboys, and used bolas or boleadoras - in Portuguese boleadeiras - (three leather bound rocks tied together with approximately three feet long leather straps) in addition to the familiar "North American" lariat or riata. The typical gaucho outfit would include a poncho (which doubled as saddle blanket and also as sleeping gear), a facón (large knife), a rebenque (leather whip), and loose-fitting trousers calledbombachas, belted with a tirador, or a chiripá, a piece of cloth used in the fashion—but not the function—of a diaper. In the wintertime, gauchos wore heavy wool ponchos to protect against cold. Nowadays, working gauchos are as likely to be found in overalls and wellington boots as in their traditional dress.
Just as the disappearance of the "Wild West" of the United States altered the character and employment of "cowboys" so too did the nature of gauchos become changed. Those with urban and academic orientations typically continue to cling to an image of gauchos that is no longer accurate or consistent with contemporary rural realities.
Gaúcho is also the common denomination of the current inhabitants of the Brazilian State of Rio Grande do Sul.
In popular culture
- Way of a Gaucho 1952 film starring Gene Tierney and Rory Calhoun.
- "The Gaucho" was a 1927 film starring Douglas Fairbanks. In it he plays the Gaucho, a heroic leader of a gang of outlaws that try to save a city overtaken by an evil general.
- La Guerra Gaucha was a 1942 Argentine film set during the Gaucho war in Salta, northern Argentina, in 1817. It is considered a classic of Argentine cinema.
- DC Comics owns two characters named El Gaucho. One was a Wonder Woman villain equipped with a flying robot horse and an electric lasso (from Wonder Woman #263) and the other one is an Argentinian masked hero (see Batmen of All Nations).
- Gaucho is the name of the 1980 album by American jazz fusion band Steely Dan, which featured a song by the same name.
- "Gaucho" is the codename of a soldier in Pallitoy's Action Force toyline. The figure was a repaint of the G.I. Joe Gung Ho figure. Gaucho was mistakenly listed as being of Mexican nationality, however.
- "Gaucho" is the name of a chain of upscale steak houses in London.
- Some teams are called the Gauchos, such as the San Diego Gauchos soccer team and theUniversity of California, Santa Barbara Gauchos athletic teams.
- ^ Allenbrothers.com
- ^ Gaucho, a possible etymology.
- ^ (Spanish) Carlos María Gorla "La frontera bonaerense y la dinámica territorial" (in "La Frontera: realidad y representaciones", CONICET - IMHCH, Argentina)
- ^ Alonso Carrió de la Vandera. El lazarillo de ciegos caminantes desde Buenos Aires. p. 23.
- ^ Andrea Rita Marrero História genética dos gaúchos: dinâmica populacional do Sul do Brasil
- ^ Andrea Rita Marrero.História genética dos gaúchos: dinâmica populacional do Sul do Brasil.
- ^ See, for instance, Andrea Rita Marrero.História genética dos gaúchos: dinâmica populacional do Sul do Brasil, p. 115: Hybrid groups can arise from distinct admixture dynamic, (Long 1991; Parra et aI. 2001) and this applies to these two sets. Despite some local interaction between Kaingang/Guarani and the populations that surround their reservations (Marrero et aI. 2006), extensive admixture between Indians and non-Indians ended in Southern Brazil (Pampa included; Flores 2003) at least two centuries ago, whereas in northern Brazil/Amazonia the introduction of Amerindian genes into non-native urban and rural populations is probably occurring until now.
- ^ Falklands.info
- ^ Leopoldo Lugones 1 in "El Payador" (1916)2 and Ricardo Rojas 3 established the cannonical view regarding the Martín Fierro as the National Epic of Argentina. The consequences of these considerations are dicussed by Jorge Luis Borges in his essay "El Martín Fierro". An assesment of the years-long discussion here, since p. 18
- ^ South-images.com Photos: gauchos in Argentina, Photo library South-Images
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Gauchos|
- (Spanish) Confederacion Gaucha Argentina
- (Spanish) Folklore del Norte Argentino
- (Portuguese) Movimento Tradicionalista Gaúcho
- (Portuguese) Página do Gaúcho
- Aldo Sessas – Gauchos
- Richard W. Slatta – Gauchos and the Vanishing Frontier
- Richard W. Slatta -- Cowboys of the Americas
- The Gauchos- Horsemen of the Pampas
- The Gaucho Tradition