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For other uses, see Gaucho (disambiguation).
Gaucho from Argentina.
Portrait of a gaucho from Argentina. Photographed in Peru, 1868
Gaucho in ring lancing contest, Buenos Aires Province

Gaucho (Spanish: [ˈɡautʃo]) or gaúcho (Portuguese: [ɡaˈuʃu]) is a resident of the South American pampas, Gran Chaco, or Patagonian grasslands, found principally in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Southeastern Bolivia, Southern Brazil and Southern Chile. In Brazil, gaúcho is also the main demonym of the people from the state of Rio Grande do Sul.

Gaucho is an equivalent of the North American "cowboy" (vaquero, in Spanish), the Chilean huaso, the Cuban guajiro, the Venezuelan or Colombian llanero, the Puerto Rican jibaro, and the Mexican charro, which are terms that often connote 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 practicing hunting as their main economic activities.

The Gaucho plays a nationalistic symbol in both Argentina and Uruguay. The Gauchos became greatly admired and renowned in legends, folklore and in literature and became an important part of their regional cultural tradition. Beginning late in the 19th century, after the heyday of the gauchos, they were celebrated by South American writers.


There are several hypotheses concerning the origin of the term. It may derive from the Spanish term chaucho (in turn derived from Arabic chauia which means herdsman). The first recorded use of the term dates to Argentine independence in 1816. Another scenario indicates the word may derive from the Quechua word huachu (orphan, wanderer), or the Portuguese gaudério, which was designated to the inhabitants of the vast regions of Rio Grande do Sul and Río de la Plata in the 18th century or the Portuguese garrucho that points to an instrument used by the gauchos to trap and hamstring cattle. Another possible origin of the word could be from the he Moorish word hawsh which was possibly used to designate the shepherd and the wanderer, pointing the possible influence of Moorish immigrants in the Gaucho region. The 18th century chronicler Alonso Carrió de la Vandera speaks of "Gauderios" when it mentions the Gauchos or "Huasos" as poorly dressed men.


Brazilian gaucho with typical clothing on 2006 Farroupilha Parade, in Rio Grande do Sul
Modern typical party of Gaúchos in Porto Alegre, Brazil

The gaucho plays an important symbolic role in the nationalist feelings of this region, especially that of Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The epic poem Martín Fierro by José Hernández (considered by some[1] the 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 horse constituted 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 (erva mate in Portuguese), an herbal infusian made from the leaves of the yerba tree, a type of holly rich in caffeine and nutrients.

Gauchos[2] 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 a saddle blanket and as sleeping gear), a facón (large knife), a rebenque (leather whip), and loose-fitting trousers called bombachas, belted with a tirador, or a chiripá, a loincloth. In the wintertime, gauchos wore heavy wool ponchos to protect against cold.

Modern influences[edit]

Gaúcho is also the common denomination of the current inhabitants of the Brazilian State of Rio Grande do Sul.

Gauchito (a boy in the Argentine colors and a gaucho hat) was the mascot for the 1978 FIFA World Cup.

In popular culture[edit]


See also[edit]



  1. ^ Leopoldo Lugones 1 in "El Payador" (1916)2 and Ricardo Rojas 3 established the canonical view regarding the Martín Fierro as the National Epic of Argentina. The consequences of these considerations are discussed by Jorge Luis Borges in his essay "El Martín Fierro". An assessment of the years-long discussion here, since p. 18
  2. ^ South-images.com Photos: gauchos in Argentina, Photo library South-Images

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaucho — Please support Wikipedia.
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20611 news items

Thu, 11 Sep 2014 14:42:21 -0700

Northwest Indiana has plenty of popular Mexican restaurants, but the only Brazilian Steakhouse was Gaucho's at 597 U.S. 30, not far from the county line. The eatery offered a theatrical dining experience with waiters dressed like South American cowboys ...
Long Beach Press Telegram
Wed, 17 Sep 2014 10:48:45 -0700

I really don't know how they do it, because I've found that a meal at Gaucho Grill, which sits on Pine Avenue just north of Broadway in Long Beach, is an experience that makes me want to go home and take a nap. This is the antithesis of sushi, food ...
Sat, 13 Sep 2014 10:15:00 -0700

Barnwood Restaurant in Newtown is another restaurant that carries Fat Gaucho Wines. This New Haven born and distributed wine have the grapes imported from Argentina and made into wine from a vineyard at the Foothills of the Andes mountains a ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Sun, 31 Aug 2014 22:00:32 -0700

If things went to plan in Two Amigos: A Gaucho Adventure (BBC2), the two Fast Show stars would mutate from Billy Crystal to Jack Palance in City Slickers, from loquacious nebbishes into uncommunicative cowboys so leathery you could mistake faces for ...

Rant Sports

Rant Sports
Sat, 06 Sep 2014 12:07:30 -0700

In July, Ronaldinho Gaucho announced he would be leaving Atletico Mineiro, and — because of his fame — it seemed that every club was rumored to be seeking the former Brazil National Team star. He may be 34 years old, but he is still a top scorer any ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Sat, 06 Sep 2014 09:52:30 -0700

In that spirit, Two Amigos, in which Fast Show veterans John Thompson and Simon Day were whisked off to Argentina to "learn the way of the gaucho", seemed promising. Although at first John thought it might be "relaxing", he was soon (perhaps after ...

New York Times (blog)

New York Times (blog)
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 14:04:41 -0700

The 11-room, 300-acre property that's situated a 75-minute drive from Buenos Aires has a package where guests are driven to the village daily for activities like the Gaucho Games including bronco riding — where a gaucho has to stay on a bucking horse ...
Fri, 05 Sep 2014 19:15:00 -0700

Downtown Long Beach's Gaucho Grill, whose name pays homage to the skilled cowboys of Argentina, brings many of the flavors and atmosphere of the country to the table. The menu is heavy in meat, with steaks, sausages, chicken and indigenous sauces ...

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