Group of Gauchos, Argentina


This photograph of gauchos at work in Argentina is from the Frank and Frances Carpenter Collection at the Library of Congress. Frank G. Carpenter (1855–1924) was an American writer of books on travel and world geography, whose works helped to popularize cultural anthropology and geography in the United States in the early years of the 20th century. Consisting of photographs taken and gathered by Carpenter and his daughter Frances (1890–1972) to illustrate his writings, the collection includes an estimated 16,800 photographs and 7,000 glass and film negatives. Carpenter’s South America, Social, Industrial, and Political (1900) provided this description of the gaucho and his habits and dress: “The gaucho will not work in the cities; he will not farm, nor does he like to tend sheep, but he is at home on horseback, and is always ready to ride over the plains and to tend or drive cattle. He is a nomad, and prefers odd jobs to steady work. You may see the gaucho anywhere outside of the cities, and wherever you see him he is the same…. He dresses curiously; his black head is usually covered with and old skull cap, or a soft slouch hat. On the upper part of his body hangs a blanket, often striped in bright colours, through the centre of which his head is thrust. Another blanket is wound about his waist, pulled between the legs, and fastened at the back. Out of his lower blanket white drawers, often edged at the bottom with a lace, extend down to his ankles, while bright red or blue slippers may cover his feet. He usually wears a belt of chamois leather, which may be decorated with silver buckles and bangles.”

Last updated: April 5, 2016